Daylight savings time begins this year on March 8! Turning the clocks forward for Daylight Savings Time reminds us that Spring is just around the corner. Yea! At this point we're all ready to say goodbye to winter.
When we change the clocks, it's the perfect reminder to perform some very important home maintenance items. If we don't do them, who will? And, yes, they are important and you should not procrastinate, unless you are prepared to face the unpleasant circumstances that may result.
Here is a list of important maintenance items you should get done in March.
HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning)
Your HVAC system affects the air you breathe, and lack of maintenance can lead to a myriad of health issues. Furnace filters should be replaced every month, and if you have pets you may want to replace them more often. Every 6 months your HVAC system should be cleaned and inspected by a professional, so now is the time to get that appointment set. Regular cleanings and inspections will keep your system running efficiently and avoid costly repairs in the future.
Gutters and Downspouts
Gutters keep rain and water away from the side of your home. Without regular maintenance, stuffed gutters can’t do their job and water will overflow, cause soil erosion around your home, and most likely water in your basement. Since we live in area that often experiences heavy rains in the Spring, it is important to clear out all the debris that may have gathered in your gutters and downspouts over the late fall and winter so they can handle the Spring rains.
If you're new to cleaning gutters, or want some more ideas how you might get this done easier, here is a link to a step-by-step tutorial from Bob Vila.
The sole purpose of your sump pump is to pump out excess water from your home in the case of heavy rainfall or storm. This is the time to do a quick test to make sure your sump pump is working. You don’t want to find out that it’s broken during a storm because of the flood in your basement.
To test your sump pump fill a five-gallon bucket with water and pour it slowly around the sump pump. The pump should kick on once the water level reaches a predetermined level below the basement floor. If the pump doesn’t turn on, it may be either clogged or damaged, and you should consider calling a licensed plumber for help. The pump may need to be replaced if it is 10 or more years old, which is the typical lifespan for one of these devices.
Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
The National Fire Protection Association recommends that a 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom household have 9 smoke detectors and 4 carbon monoxide alarms. They also recommend that you test them once a month, and change the batteries at least once a year. Now is a good time.
To test your smoke detectors, press and hold the test button. A piercing alarm should sound. If the sound is weak or doesn't occur, replace the batteries. To test your carbon moonixide alarms, press and hold the test button. You should hear four beeps. Press and hold the test button a second time, and after 15 minutes your alarm should return to the original setting.
Refrigerator, Dishwasher and Washing Machine
Refrigerators, dishwashers, and washing machines use up 19% of your home’s electricity. A semi-annuall check-up on these appliances can help make sure they keep running efficiently and aren’t eating away at your electric bill. You should vacuum under and behind these appliances, and use a long thin brush to get all the dust bunnies, pet hair, and food particles that accumulate on the coils of your refrigerator, located either at the bottom or back of your refrigerator. It's also the time to check to be sure there are no small leaks or other items that need professional attention.
Actually, you should be cleaning out your garbage disposal monthly to keep it functioning in an optimum manner. It can quickly become smelly and inefficient.
Here are a couple of ideas for easy cleaning of your garbage disposal. Place frozen lemon peels in the disposal and grind them up with the water running. This helps get rid of food build-up on the blades. Mix one cup of vinegar and a half-cup of baking soda, and pour it down the drain, letting it fizz for about 15 minutes. Then, with the water running, switch on the garbage disposal for a few seconds until the fizz disappears.
Did you know it is recommended that you drain your water heater at least once per year as part of its regular maintenance? And, if you have hard water, you should drain it more often. Did you also know that the life expectancy of a water heater is approximately 10 years?
Draining a water heater helps flush out sediment, usually made up of minerals and other debris, that may cause it to leak water all over your basement floor, or just simply quick working altogether. Here is a step-by-step guide to draining your water heater. If you aren’t comfortable doing a water heater drain yourself, call a professional plumber to carry it out for you.
This is not an exhaustive list of all the home maintenance items you should be performing on a regular basis, but it will get you started on the right track. To be a real expert at home maintenance, you should read and follow the maintenance recommendations in all your appliance booklets, and have the major elements of your home inspected on a regular basis by a professional (roofing, siding, foundation, plumbing, etc.). You should also periodically walk around your home, inside and outside, and look for things that are not quite right, especially any items related to water seepage or pest infestation, which can cause serious damage to your home.
Here comes Spring! Enjoy!