In spite of this being one of the strangest years on record, with COVID-19, stay-at-home orders, social distancing, masks… we must still maintain our homes. Our specialty, of course, is maintaining your home’s heating and air conditioning systems. We would like to offer some tips for maintaining your entire home, inside and out.
Since you’re probably going to opt for a stay-cation more than a vacation in 2020, and with kids likely staying at home instead of heading off to school in the fall, and all the adults working at home, it’s all that much more important to keep your home in top shape.
Summertime Interior House Maintenance
There are several things you can do to ensure your refrigerator lasts a good long time, and is ready to fall football tailgates (remember those) or those large holiday gatherings (if they happen this year).
Door Gasket: Start by examining and cleaning your refrigerator’s rubber door gasket. The gasket acts to seal in cold, and seal out heat, but can get cracked or torn over time, depending on how closely your home resembles a fraternity house. Check for cracks, tears, then clean it with soap and water. You can test the seal by closing the door on a piece of paper or dollar bills (remember paper money?). You should feel some resistance if the seal is doing its job. If the paper pulls out with little or no resistance, that could be wasting energy and costing you food spoilage dollars. If you’re a DIY type, you can probably find the gasket online, otherwise call a local appliance repair company to replace it for you.
Refrigerator Coils: As HVAC experts, we specialize in maintaining the coils on your home’s air conditioner. Guess what? Refrigerators are similar in design. As a matter of fact, our commercial HVAC techs perform refrigeration repair jobs daily. As a consumer, you can’t really deal with refrigerant leaks or major repairs, but you can vacuum the coils using an upholstery brush attachment. You can also buy a specific vacuum attachment the lets your suck all the dust from behind the coils. Coils are usually located on the back of the fridge, or sometimes on the bottom. Be careful as you remove dust, they are fairly fragile.
The hood above your range performs the important job of removing grease from the air when you cook. Whether it’s a self-contained range hood containing a fan and filter, or part of your over-the-stove microwave oven, it needs to be maintained so it will reduce cooking odors and capture tiny grease droplets from the air. Summer is a good time to remove the filter and soak in the sink with hot, soapy water. You can also run it through the dishwasher. With a standalone range hood, once you slide the filter out, you should have access to the fan blades, so go ahead and wipe those down with a good degreasing cleaner. Turn off the breaker for the hood before cleaning it, and be sure to let the filter dry thoroughly before reinstalling it.
Bathroom Ventilator Fans
The ventilator fans in your bathroom perform an important function of exhausting excess moisture from the house, rather than allowing it to get pulled back into the heating or AC system by the return air vent. Because they are frequently damp after a steamy shower or bath, they often collect dust and dirt. After killing the power by switching off the breaker, pull off the cover and clean it in hot soapy water. While you’re in there, go ahead and wipe down the blades. Frequently, the fan motor and blades can be uninstalled as a unit by removing a single screw and unplugging it right inside the opening, making it even easier to take down and clean.
Sink and Tub Drains
Like most modern conveniences, we just expect stuff like plumbing to just… work. Unfortunately, drains have double duty to drain water from the sink, tub or shower, but they also wash away any dirt or hair that comes off your when you shower. If you snake out the drain from time to time using a simple drain stick, then pour a little chlorine bleach into the drain, it’ll go a long way to keep that drain clear and smelling fresh and clean.
Shower Heads and Faucets
If your central Ohio water supply is like mine, it’s rich with mineral deposits. Unfortunately, I won’t be cashing in that gold anytime soon, as the minerals that build up on your faucet are calcium and lime. One great trick to clean a faucet or a shower is to tie a plastic bag full of white vinegar over the faucet and allow it to soak overnight. If you’re a the plumb-y DIY type, you could even remove the showerhead and soak it in vinegar. If it’s rusted or decayed from the mineral deposits, it’s actually one of the easiest pieces of plumbing to replace.
Dust is an enemy of paddle ceiling fans and tends to collect over time. You can use a simple solution like a clothes dryer sheet attached to a paint roller to remove that dust, or you can simply connect to your Amazon account and order one of those great little ceiling fan dusters. Either way, you’ll come out ahead, especially if you have allergies or asthma.
Clothes Dryer Exhaust
This maintenance item falls under the category of SAFETY as well as hygiene. Did you know the accumulation of lint in the exhaust ductwork is blamed on more than 15,000 fires annually in the USA? Hopefully, you’re not still using those corrugated plastic flexible ducts, but have switched to the flexible aluminum ducts, or even better: have hard sided ductwork installed. Either way, disconnect it at both ends (on the dryer and the end that connects to the outside exhaust vent) and vacuum thoroughly. You could also spend $20-50 and replace it. Don’t forget to vacuum and wipe down the vent to the outside, and ensure there isn’t an accumulation of lint in there.
Finally, something we are REAL experts on! We recommend inspecting your filters monthly, and replacing every 1-3 months as needed. A dirty air filter can cause so many problems with your HVAC system, from causing it to fail, to making it work harder, to driving up your utility bills. If someone in your family is an allergy sufferer, you can spend a little more and upgrade to a high-performance allergen air filter. You can take it a step further and install an electrostatic air filter to filter out all that pet dander, dust, dirt, pollen, lint, and all the other evil little things floating in your home’s air.
Refrigerator Water and Ice Filters
If your water filtration system is equipped with disposable filters, you should check and replace those every six months, or as recommended by the manufacturer. A fresh filter will keep your water and ice cubes tasting fresh as ever, and prevent early wear and tear on your system from mineral deposits and foreign elements in the water.
We’ve already discussed the joys of central Ohio hard water and the accompanying mineral deposits. One of the biggest places that happens is in your home’s hot water tank or water heater. Sediment can build up in the bottom of a water heater tank and reduce the efficiency of the water heater, as well as prematurely rust the bottom of the tank. Most modern hot water tanks are equipped with a drain hose to flush the tank. Fortunately, this is a service we offer as part of our annual maintenance agreement, if you’re not feeling the joy of DIY.
Outdoor Summertime Maintenance
You may have noticed a fungus growing on the south side of your home, or any area that doesn’t get much sunshine. You can use a solution of diluted chlorine bleach to wash the siding down (test it on a small section first to ensure it doesn’t bleach out the color). Best bet is to simply visit a big box home store and buy a bottle of siding mildew remover. It attaches to your garden hose, you spray the side of the house with it, rinse down with clear water, and voilá! Mold free.
AC Drain Line
We’ve talked about this in countless air conditioning articles. Condensate drain is a necessary part of the AC system that helps remove moisture produced as a part of the cooling process. That drain can become clogged and cause an annoying backup near your furnace. If there is a clog, clear it out with a piece of wire or vacuum it with a shop-vac, then pour a cup of bleach down the drain to remove any mildew, bacteria and nasty odors. We check your condensate drain when we perform annual maintenance on your AC system in the spring.
We’ve covered this as important routine maintenance around your outdoor AC unit. You want to keep shrubs, grass, leaves, or other organic material at least three feet away from your unit to prevent issues. If you haven’t already done it, you can also use a widely available AC coil spray cleaner and gently clean the coil fins to remove cottonwood pollen from those fins. Believe me, it will add years to the life of your AC system.
Perform these routine maintenance tasks on your home to keep your household humming along into fall.
Dor-Mar to the Rescue!
Schedule an appointment for HVAC system troubleshooting or maintenance with us today by using our online contact form, or call one of our seven neighborhood offices listed below. We pride ourselves on our customer-focused service, and our reviews show it.
Dor-Mar…Your Climate Hero!
*Please note: neither the Centers for Disease Control(CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), nor the manufacturer of our UV-C Devices have officially announced whether UV-C kills the current strain of Corona Virus (COVID-19). We urge you to err on the side of caution until we have a definitive answer, and take other measures to prevent the acquisition or spread of this virus.