February is the month of love! With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, why not think about showing your home some love this year. Preventative maintenance to your Austin home pays off in the long run. By taking the time to check your home regularly, you can prevent costly repairs down the line. Also, many of these tips will help your home be more energy efficient, saving you money on utility bills now.
There are a variety of steps you can take to show your Austin home some love. I have organized this list into two categories: items inside the home and exterior maintenance items.
Interior Home Maintenance Items:
Clean Refrigerator Coils: The coolant in the coils of your fridge keeps your refrigerator cool by pulling warmth out of the fridge. When these coils get covered in dust and debris they work less efficiently. These coils are usually located on the back of your fridge, or on newer models underneath the toe panel at the front of the fridge. Before you attempt to clean your fridge coils, unplug the fridge. Locate the condenser coils, remove the kick plate if needed, and use a vacuum hose to suck up all the dust. You may need to use a narrow brush to dust off the coils before vacuuming.
Garbage Disposal: A dirty disposal can lead to an atrocious odor in your home. Keeping your disposal clean and smelling pleasantly is not too challenging. You can freeze vinegar in ice cubes, and then put the vinegar ice in your disposal and run it with water. Alternatively, you can cut up citrus and use the same strategy. If your disposal is making a buzzing sound but not running it usually means the disposal is stuck. First, unplug the disposal and make sure nothing is stuck inside. If you don’t find anything, there are two methods to fix your disposal. Your disposal usually comes with an Allen wrench. If you can find this, use it on the breaker socket located at the bottom of your disposal to fix the issue. If you can’t find the Allen wrench, approach this issue from your sink. Use a broom stick or another long item like the end of a long wooden spoon. Put the stick in the disposal and position it against the blades and work it back and forth until they move freely. Voila!
Hood Vents: Have you ever looked underneath your stove hood and checked the exhaust fan filters? If you haven’t it will likely be filthy. This is the point of the range hood filter, to collect grease. Overtime, they will become blocked with grease and could even be a fire source. So, it’s good to periodically clean your hood vent filter. Most filters easily slide or pop out from beneath the hood. Remove your filter, and fill the sink or a bucket with boiling water. Add about a quarter cup of baking soda to the water and some degreasing dish soap. Mix it up until it’s nice and soapy. Let the filter soak in this “bath” for about ten minutes. After it soaks, scrub the filter, rinse it and let it dry. Put the filter back in your hood, and you are all done!
Dryer Vents: A tale tell sign that your dryer vent needs to be cleaned is when your dryer is no longer drying clothes as well as it used to. Even if you’re not seeing this sign yet, it’s a good idea to clean your dryer vent regularly. It helps your dryer work more efficiently, and eliminates the possibility of a fire from dryer vent dust. Cleaning the dryer vent is similar to cleaning the refrigerator coils. Effectively you want to dust/brush the lint trap and vent and then vacuum up the dust. This tool can help you dust the dryer vent and the refrigerator coils.
Check Seals Around Windows and Doors: Overtime seals surrounding windows and doors wear away. This leads to a less-energy efficient home. Inside your Austin home, the cool or warm air, depending on the season, can easily flow into or out of the home. Do a visual inspection of your home to see if there are areas that need to be addressed. Look for weather stripping at doors that needs to be replaced or caulking around windows that needs to be re-done. Depending on your skill set, you can either fix these items yourself, or call in a professional.
AC System: Air conditioner filters and coils require regular maintenance to ensure your system is running efficiently. Clean or replace your air filters every couple of months to keep your HVAC running efficiently. AC falls into both the interior and exterior category. You also want to look at the evaporator coil and condenser coil of your AC system as these gather dirt and dust overtime. The dirt reduces airflow and insulates the coil preventing it from doing as good of a job at absorbing heat. Cleaning the area around the coil and removing any debris (leaves, etc) will help your system run its best. You can also sign up for regular AC maintenance programs with a local provider like ARS.
Exterior Home Maintenance Items:
Roof: Check your roof periodically to make sure there are no worn areas that need to be repaired. Maintaining your roof properly will prevent costly leaks that lead to more extensive drywall repairs later on. You also want to check the flashing that runs along the edges of your roof. Small holes or corrosion in the flashing can be easily fixed with roofing cement and a patch that matches your current flashing. Also, check the flashing by your chimney as this can come away from the chimney over time allowing water to penetrate your roof.
Gutters: While you are of the roof, check your gutters. Make sure they are not filled with debris and fix any sagging gutters so they properly disperse water away from your home. Check for lose connections along the corners of your home and make sure all down spouts are properly dispersing water away from the home. Gutters that pour water towards the base of your home can lead to costly foundation issues if not treated in a timely fashion. You may also need to look into grading your lawn so that water from gutters flows toward the edges of your property, not near your foundation.
Check Tree Limbs: Make sure your tree limbs are not getting close to the roof line, tree branches that near the roof line will cause roof damage over time as they rub along the roof. You also want to trim any branches nearing power lines. Also look out for dying trees that may fall on to your home after the next storm.
Encroaching Plants: Take a look at the plants near the base of your home as well. Climbing plants going up the side of your home are the perfect little road for pesky insects like carpenter ants and termites. Remove any such plants so they don’t allow wood destroying insects to enter your home.
Siding: Check your siding to ensure that its intact. Make sure there are no visible holes or pieces that have fallen off. Also, look for signs of water damage on your siding as this usually indicates a drainage issue or interior plumbing concern. All types of siding benefit from an annual cleaning. Consider renting a power washer to tackle this job annually, or contact me for recommendations for a pro to take care of this process for you.
Do yourself a favor and show your Austin home some love this February by utilizing some or all of the maintenance tips I outlined above. If you need a professional to help, I’m happy to provide recommendation for service providers my Austin clients or I have used in the past to tackle home maintenance.