Spring Cleaning & Home Maintenance Tips For 2018


By: Christina


About a month ago, my husband and I replaced all of our kitchen appliances since the appliances we had were all in dire need of retirement. Right before the new appliance deliveries, we removed the lovely, floral kitchen wallpaper border ourselves and repainted the walls as I enjoy the insanity of DIY projects and he is kind enough to humor me. Knowing that our new fridge would be there that afternoon, we loaded our Igloo with ice and food and unplugged our 30-year-old Kenmore to clean the floor underneath.

What happened next was one of our first lessons as newlyweds and new homeowners. Neither of us could ever un-see what the backside of our refrigerator had in store...and it was GROSS. Attached to the floor and what I can only imagine was the filter lived an unholy amount of dust and black...dirt? I still don't know. It wasn't something I ever thought about before but I can promise that I will now always clean behind the fridge. On that note, here is a list of things you can do to help with your 2018 Spring cleaning and ways to help keep your family and your home clean and healthy

Cleaning inside the fridge but not behind it? May want to rethink that...

Having to replace your fridge is expensive (trust me) and researching companies, models and ratings is time consuming. Fortunately, keeping up with cleaning the inside and vacuuming out the filter is a huge preventative measure you can take to help extend the life of your investment.  Check the owner's manual for proper care and maintenance tips from the manufacturer. If you're like me and you accidentally threw the manual out with the box it all came in, you can also check online or call the manufacturer for a PDF copy of the manual.

One of the best ways to keep the fridge running well is to clean out old leftovers from the inside and remember to pull the fridge out from the wall and run a vacuum extension attachment along the walls. This will also help circulate air behind the fridge and keep the coils from overheating. To clean, mix salt and club soda and let sit on the shelves. The effervescent action of the carbonation and the abrasiveness of the salt make for a great, chemical-free cleaner.

Peeling paint? Take care of little issues before they become BIG issues...

My grandfather used to say, "a new coat of paint goes a long way". He was talking about his old cars, but I think it can apply to anything. In a world where curb appeal can make or break a home, I often wonder why some people will go to great lengths to improve the aesthetics of the inside of their homes but they don't pay attention to peeling paint on the outside. Time affects everything the same, even if it affects things differently. Over time, the paint on the outside of your house is going to dry, flake and peel.

If you're dealing with a wood exterior, flaking paint exposes wood and leaves it vulnerable to damage from weather, sun and insects. If you are selling or thinking about selling your home, it is also good to know that one of the most commonly noted bank appraisal issues is chipping and peeling paint. Whether you repair the affected areas yourself or have a professional do it for you, it is an investment you'll be happy you made. It's an easy way to protect your home from damage while making it look new again.

As for homes with siding, it's a good idea to give it all a good yearly cleaning. A garden hose and a scrub brush with some detergent (dish is best but laundry works, too) can make your siding look new again. And keep in mind that parts of the exterior that see less sunlight are more likely to form green algae film if left unattended so pay extra attention to those areas.

Windows a little drafty? There's an app for that. Just kidding...keep reading...

On a long enough timeline, caulk around your windows can get pretty dry and funky looking and causes drafts in your windows. Poorly caulked seams can make it difficult to keep the air conditioning in and make it easier for water to get in which can create mildew, especially in steamy places like kitchens, bathrooms and laundry rooms. If you're going to replace it yourself, remember to scrape the old material away before a new application. Doing this will improve the ability of your windows (and doors) to keep cold air in and hot air and water out.

If dirt is also an issue, clean your windows with an old t-shirt or rag and soapy water, and then dry them with another clean rag. Auto parts stores sell lint-free cloths and squeegees for those of us (me) who don't like streaks and love looking through a pane of sparkling glass. Also don't forget to check door and window screens for separations or tears to keep bugs out. Repair ALL tears, no matter how small. You can find screen repair kits at any local hardware or home improvement store. 

Do your window screens look like something from My Cousin Vinny? Here's a quick fix: Find a scrap of carpeting. If you don't have one, a neighbor probably does. Still no? Go to Home Depot and take a sample or two (they're free). Cleaning screens with a scrap of carpeting makes a powerful brush and can remove all of the dirt.

When was the last time you cleaned your ceiling fans? I mean REALLY cleaned them...

The other night I woke up and felt like my bedroom was about six hundred degrees. Since it's still a little too early for the AC, I turned the ceiling fan on and got back into bed. About ten minutes of sneezing later I realized that this was the one fan I did not get around to cleaning when we moved in. Gross. The next morning, I got a ladder and unscrewed all of the blades on the fan and scrubbed them in the kitchen sink. I found this great cleaning tip online and have now done it for all of the fans in our house.

Take each blade of the fan and cover them with a light coat of furniture polish. Wipe off the excess polish and lightly rub them with a cloth. They smelled a little like the polish so I let them sit outside for an hour and the screwed them back on. Such simple thing but now when I run my duster over the blades, the dust comes right off, no scrubbing needed. I also changed the direction of the fans since the goal this season is to help cool the house down, not help circulate the warm air.

Cleaning your gutters...A Cautionary Tale...

I once sold a house owned by a lovely woman in her late eighties whose husband had passed away. He had also been the primary caretaker of the home during their sixty plus year marriage. Sometime in the 1980's, he had the house repainted by a local painter who removed the gutters in order to do so. I'm unclear as to exactly what happened next but the outcome was that the homeowner and the painter got into some kind of disagreement and the painter never reattached the gutters to the house.

No one ever reattached the gutters to the house. So, for thirty or so years this house endured rain and snow with no way of the water getting to where it needed to go. Fast forward to my first time visiting this house to list it and my mold allergy took over my face - I couldn't stop sneezing. We had the house tested and sure enough it was everywhere. Four thousand dollars later and the house was considered "fully remediated". And it could have been fully avoided. Of course, this is a case of extreme neglect and I'm sure you won't do the same thing on your home.

The point of sharing this is that it was a simple thing that the homeowner did not do that caused a ton of trouble later on. Every year, we are greeted by Spring with thousands of gallons of water which grows plenty of beautiful things and a few not-so-beautiful things, namely mold. Making sure to clean out your gutters and downspouts is an easy thing you can do to avoid damage to your home, especially big ticket items like the roof and foundation

HVAC maintenance not on your To-Do list? Well, put it on there. And circle it. 

First rule of HVAC maintenance: stay on top of that filter. If you've ever not replaced your filter and had to pay someone to come out for a service call, then you already know how downright filthy those things can get. Neglecting them can also shorten the life of your system and that can get pretty expensive to fix. Always practice preventative maintenance and make sure you are replacing the filters regularly and making sure they are facing the right way.

Most experts will tell you to replace your filter every 4-6 weeks. That may seem like a lot, but it's a small price to pay to keep your HVAC system from cutting off on the hottest day of the year. If you aren't sure how to do that, call a licensed technician and have them service your AC before "I have to take care of that" turns into "I really wish I had taken care of that". Some of the largest credits I have seen given by sellers to buyers in home purchases involve HVAC systems that were not properly maintained.

Hard wired smoke detectors? No? Don't forget to replace your batteries...

If watching This Is Us has taught me anything, it's the importance of replacing the batteries in my smoke detectors...and always unplugging the Crockpot. If your detectors are battery-operated, it's good to test them regularly. I liken it to making sure I pay my car insurance every month. Sure I don't need it right now, but if I ever do, I know I'll be happy I stayed on top of my payments. To help yourself remember, always replace the batteries when you change the clocks. Once in the Spring and once in the Fall.

Last but not least, dryer lint is not a pet...

Clogged dryer filters are widely known to be one of the leading preventable causes of home fires. Always clean your dryer vent after each use and remember to vacuum the excess dust and exhaust pipe. This is one of those little things that can turn into a really big thing. If you don't start a fire, you could still compromise the length of your dryer's life. I am always surprised after drying a load of towels at how much lint comes off into the filter. This is one simple, cost effective (because it's free) thing you can do to keep your home and family safe every day.

Keeping up with regular home maintenance will save you time, money and aggravation in the long run. There are plenty of things you can do on your own or with help from the wonderful folks over at YouTube. Staying on top of things helps avoid unpleasant encounters like broken HVACs or drafty, energy draining windows. And of course, don't forget to clean behind the fridge...