Cleaning as DIY Preventative Maintenance
It’s never any fun when stuff in your home doesn’t work the way it should. Of course, if you live in an apartment, there’s maintenance service to handle any issues. However, there’s still a certain degree of effort on your part – making the call, taking time to be a home (if you are uncomfortable having maintenance in your apartment when you’re not there), and securing pets. If you own your place, it’s finding a trustworthy contractor, scheduling service, taking time off to be at home, paying the bill, and the inevitable wait for service. But if doing some simple things around your home could prevent future hassles, why not incorporate cleaning as DIY preventative maintenance into your routine? Today we’ll review some simple, easy, and effective things you can do to save yourself from future maintenance headaches.
Are hard water stains, greasy deposits, or drainage issues plaguing your dishwasher? Follow these easy three steps every three months to ensure your dishwasher smells nice and works effectively.
- To deep clean your dishwasher, remove any foreign material you find from the drain.
- Place a small, dishwasher-safe bowl full of white vinegar on the top rack and run a complete wash cycle on the hottest setting.
- Then sprinkle a handful of baking soda across the bottom of your dishwasher and run for a short hot water cycle.
Dust Fridge Coils
Condenser coils help cool refrigerant as it flows, maintaining the refrigerator’s temperature. If the coils get coated in dust and dirt, it becomes difficult for them to do their job, forcing the condenser to work harder to cool the refrigerant. When this happens, you may hear the refrigerator making noise as the condenser runs constantly. You may also notice these additional problems:
- Extra energy usage and higher utility bills
- Refrigerator doesn’t cool sufficiently
- Condenser malfunctions
It’s recommended that you clean condenser coils every 6 months (more often if you have pets). Here’s how to clean refrigerator coils with the right methods and equipment.
- Unplug the fridge.
- Locate the coils. They are typically located on the back of the refrigerator or in the front behind a base grille or kick plate.
- If the coils are in the back, move fridge away from the wall. If there’s any resistance, don’t force the fridge to move as you may damage vinyl flooring.
- Use the hose attachment to vacuum in around the coils.
- Vacuum any loosened dust from the floor.
- Plug the fridge back in and push back into place.
Check HVAC Filter
Dirt and debris in your filter can obstruct airflow, increasing the workload of your system. By replacing the filter regularly, you can reduce wear and tear on your air conditioner while allowing the free movement of air for improved indoor comfort. To make sure your furnace and air conditioner run smoothly, check the filter periodically especially if you have shedding pets. Signs your filter might be ready for a change include:
- Your AC is cold enough
- Your electric bill has increased
- There’s more dust near your air vents
- Your HVAC closet is dusty
When vacuuming or dusting, don’t forget to dust your air vents and cold air returns.
Check For Leaks
When cleaning your apartment, be sure to watch for water around the toilet and under sinks which may indicate a leak. Do call your leasing/management office if you see any water where it doesn’t belong so the leak can be addressed before it becomes serious. If you own your place, now’s the time to find a reliable plumber or handyperson.
Fix Slow Drains
Don’t you hate it when you’re showering and the water starts backing up around your ankles? Then when the water finally drains, there’s a soap-scummy mess left to clean up. Most of the time, a slow bathroom sink drain or tub drain is a result of soap scum build up and/or hair clogs. Preventative maintenance is these areas is quick, easy, and inexpensive. Simply follow these steps:
- Let the hot water run for a minute to warm up pipes
- Pour about ½ cup of baking soda down the drain. If you have a pop up drain closure, use a funnel or a piece of paper to guide the baking soda into the drain.
- Pour in one cup of white vinegar. It will fizz up like a science experiment; if you have kids (or are a kid a heart), they will love to watch this process.
- Let sit for about 10 minutes.
- Rinse with hot water.
Perform this preventative maintenance once every month or so to keep your drains flowing.
Clean Kitchen Filter
Whether you have a range hood or microwave above your stove, it’s important to clean the buildup of cooking grease on a periodic basis to keep the vent or microwave fan working properly. If you’ve never cleaned it, or haven’t cleaned it in a while, be forewarned: it won’t be pretty. Greasy buildup is, well, gross. Here’s how to get rid of the yuck:
- Remove the filter
- Fill your sink with boiling water
- Add a generous squirt of de-greasing dish soap, like Dawn, and add ¼ cup baking soda. Swish with a wooden spoon or something with a handle so as to not burn your hand.
- Submerge the greasy filter
- Soak for about 10 minutes
- Scrub with a non-abrasive scrub brush adding more dish soap if needed
- Rinse thoroughly in hot water
- Dry with paper towels or a clean cloth
- Replace the filter
If you cook a lot, especially on the stove top, cleaning your vents once a month is a good maintenance strategy.
When your disposal is working well, it’s such a great convenience. When it’s not, it’s a real pain. Using your disposal properly can prevent the headache of a backup.
- Keep a steady flow of cold water during and after every use
- Clean periodically by running a small amount of ice through the unit
- Grind lemon peels to keep the disposal smelling fresh
- Don’t use hot water when actively using the disposal
- Don’t fill the disposal before running. The unit will operate more efficiently if you add small amounts of food at a time.
- Don’t use any harsh chemicals or cleaning products in the unit.
- Don’t put anything in the disposal besides food
It has been said that you shouldn’t put items in your disposal that you cannot eat. You know, like bones. Or paper towels. But there are some foods that will wreak havoc if you try to get rid of them in the disposal. Never put the following foods in your disposal:
- Fruit pits
- Fibrous veggies like asparagus, corn husks and celery
- Coffee grounds (instead, sprinkle a thin layer of coffee grounds in the garden)
- Starchy foods like potato peels and pasta
- Grease and fat (a great way to get rid of grease and fat is to place in a bowl in the fridge. Once it hardens, you can pop it out of the bowl and into the trash.)
Now look at you, you are now on your way to becoming a DIYer with simple cleaning as DIY preventative maintenance. Feels empowering, right?