For many new homeowners, the most exciting part of your new home purchase is being able to make all the changes to your home that you want. More often than not, as soon as the boxes are unpacked—or even before—new paint is going up, carpet is being installed, and landscaping is being spruced up.
A new home can be so exciting and overwhelming that many new homeowners forget there are maintenance tasks that your home REQUIRES before making the changes your heart desires.
Required home maintenance tasks are often easier to remember and undertake if broken down into monthly, quarterly/seasonally, and yearly task lists. There are quite a few tasks that are easy to remember, and inexpensive to do; however, it's the big tasks that are often overlooked that may cause some serious pocketbook pain later if they are not part of a regular maintenance routine.
For this post, we will cover the monthly tasks that can help keep your home in tip-top shape with very little investment required. Monthly tasks really shouldn't take more than 30 minutes of your time and can be done inside the home. The acronym FED (Filters, Extinguisher, and Disposal) can guide you.
Both your HVAC and your range hood should be cleaned or replaced and will keep the air in your home fresh.
The Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning System or HVAC in your home is easily overlooked when it functions properly, but when something goes wrong, you will definitely feel it. Within the air system is a filter that collects pollution and debris that is floating around in the air around your home. As the filter becomes clogged and dirty, your HVAC system has to work harder to bring air in to cool or warm the home. This is a waste of energy and can result in higher energy bills. Additionally, a filter that is no longer collecting dust, dander, and hair can be a major contributor to indoor allergies and odors.
There is a four-step process to changing out your filter, and if done on the anniversary date of your birthday every month, you will easily remember to do the task regularly.
Step 1. Buy a new filter.
Check your owner’s manual to your HVAC to determine the correct size filter. Filters can range in price from a few bucks to $20 or $30 for a top-of-the-line filter. There are also reusable filters that just have to be rinsed with water.
Step 2. Turn off the unit.
Be sure to turn off your HVAC unit before attempting to change the filter, for your own safety. If you can't figure out how to turn off the unit itself, you should turn off the breaker.
Step 3. Remove the old filter.
Most air filters are located on the right side of the unit. The filter should easily pull out of its slot in the furnace. It's not common, but sometimes filters are found in air vents in your home. If that is the case, you will likely need to contact a professional to change the filter.
Step 4. Insert new filter
Simply slide the new filter into place. There are arrows on the new filter to indicate which side should be facing the outside air. You’re done!
Another filter in your home that is often overlooked is your range filter. Commonly located above your stove or near the air intake around your range, this filter has a tendency to become clogged with grease from cooking. Not only does a clogged filter become a health hazard due to mildew and bacteria build-up, but it is also a fire hazard and easily flammable when not properly cleaned or replaced. These range filters are typically made of metal and can be washed with soap and water, dried, and put back in place or a filter replacement is available for purchase for around $5.00.
Fire extinguishers should be inspected for ease of access, visibility and proper pressure. They can be purchased for $15 to $50 at any big-box hardware store. They should always come with a manufacturer's tab that outlines an inspection schedule and necessary replacement date. The following steps should be followed to assure you that when needed, your extinguisher will work properly.
Step 1. Ensure your extinguisher is in its correct location and is easy to see and access in case of an emergency. The last thing you want to do is have to unload cleaning products or boxes if your kitchen is going up in flames.
Step 2. Inspect to be sure that the extinguisher hasn’t been tampered with or used. All fire extinguishers have a seal or indicator that breaks when used.
Step 3. Be certain the pull pin remains in the handle, and if missing, have the extinguisher professionally inspected or replace.
Step 4. Ensure the gauge’s needle, if your extinguisher is equipped with one, reads the correct operating range (this is most commonly a green section).
Step 5. Look for physical damage on the exterior of the canister. A dropped fire extinguisher may not operate when needed, and should be immediately replaced.
Step 6. Dust off the extinguisher to be sure there are no bugs or debris that may restrict the hose or nozzle from working properly.
Disposals should be cleaned and checked routinely. Monthly maintenance of your disposal, if nothing more, can prevent a stinky situation in the future. There are various options for cleaning your disposal, and various cleaning product options that can be dropped into the disposal to assist in freshening things up. Spending big bucks isn’t necessary, as some common household items can be used to remove build-up and add sparkle:
Option 1. Empty a tray of ice cubes into the sink, and push down the drain. Turn on the disposal (once hands and utensils are clear of the area), and allow the ice cubes to grind to a slushy mixture. Rinse with a light stream of cold water. The grinding of the ice helps to sharpen the blades of the disposal and removes accumulated food waste.
Option 2. Use 1/2 cup of baking soda mixed with one cup of vinegar, and pour into the grind chamber. Allow the mixture to foam and fizz while you boil a pot of water. Pour the boiling water into the drain to clear debris. You can also mix one gallon of water with one tablespoon of liquid chlorine bleach and pour into the drain. Allow it to sit for several minutes and then flush with cold water. Additionally, you can place lemon, orange, or other citrus peels into the grind chamber and run with cool water to have a refreshing scent.
To be honest, it probably took you longer to read this article than it would have to complete these monthly tasks. By following these suggestions, you may be able to extend the life of some of your homes vital systems, or at least keep your home a pleasant place to live. In our next post, we will cover quarterly maintenance tasks, so stay tuned!