Yesterday I wrote about electrical panels, water main valves, and fire evacuation. Today’s post continues with our theme: what to do when you’ve divorced your handyman.
- Heater and hot water tank maintenance
Your heater and hot water tank hum along like unsung heroes most of the time. But every once in a while they need a little TLC. Break out your calendar and put this on your schedule: For the heater, change the air filters at least once a year. For the hot water tank, get the unit flushed annually. That goes for tankless hot water heaters, too. Especially if you live in an area with hard water.
Angie’s List usually has Big Deals for these services, so keep your eyes open and get it done. Better to do a little maintenance than replace a whole system
- Air conditioner maintenance
Just like your furnace, the whole house air conditioner needs a bit of care at the start of the hot weather season. Have a service person come out and add coolant to your system and clean/replace the air filter. In the winter, get a snug fitting cover for your outdoor unit to protect it from snow and ice. I ordered a cover for my specific manufacturer and it fits like a glove with no loose overhang or folds for rain to collect in. And I bought one that matched the color of my house. Covers start around $50 in my area and my custom cover (ordered online) ran me $70.
- Clean the gutters
Yes, yuck, but clogged gutters are the first step towards roof and foundation problems. You want rain water directed away from the house and gutters are the roadways that lead the rain to other areas of the yard or into the storm sewers.
There are plenty of home services that will clean gutters but if you do it yourself, make sure to practice safety. Don’t clean gutters on a windy day as it’s easy to be blown off balance. Make sure to wear gloves and eye protection as tiny pieces of dry leaves can end up in your eyes. Never stand on the very top step of a ladder. No falling off ladders!
And watch out for bees. They like roof eaves.
- Clean out the dryer vent
That innocent looking silver tube that comes out of your dryer and ends out the basement window is a serious fire risk. As your clothes are washed, the dryer basically beats them. The result is little free floating fabric fibers that stick to your wet clothes. We call it lint. All that lint goes into your dryer filter (clean it after EVERY load) and any escapees can end up in the dryer vent. As they collect, they form balls and eventually clogs, interfering with your dryer’s ability to DRY clothes. These little balls of lint can also heat to the point of igniting, causing a fire in your utility room.
The vent tube is relatively inexpensive, so you can replace it easily with the two supplied clamps that come with a vent kit. Or you can take the tube off, use your vacuum to suck out all of the tidbits and save yourself about $20.
Check the vent cover where it leaves the house. Because of the warmth from the dryer exhaust, this is a popular place for vermin to attempt an entry to your home. Make sure the grill screen and vent flaps work properly.
Additionally, you may notice that the area around your dryer filter is getting a bit linty. To clean this, cover the end of a pencil or a wire hanger with rubber bands. Remove the dryer filter and use the pencil to gently swirl around the sides of the vent opening to grab any loose lint. There are tiny little vacuums you can buy that will fit into this hole as well but I’ve done fine with my hanger/rubber band method. You’ll be surprised to see how much lint makes it past the filter.
For great video tutorials, do a search for “how to clean a dryer vent”. Lots of info.
Tomorrow we’ll talk more about cars, sidewalks, and the smell of gas.