Spring cleaning is kind of like exercising—the benefits are great, but it’s hard to get yourself to do it. Here’s a little pep talk about why spring cleaning is worth the effort (and hey, I believe cleaning can count as exercise, so you can feel twice as good about your efforts).
If you have a big fridge or one that’s wedged into a tight space, it can be a pain in the tush to move it so you can get access to the back of the appliance. But, periodically (maybe once or twice a year), it’s important to shimmy your refrigerator out of its nook to clean the coils. Coils are the heat exchangers that expel heat from the fridge into the house, and when they are dirty, the coils cannot transfer heat efficiently.
The inside temperature of the refrigerator must remain cold enough to prevent food from spoiling, so allowing lint monsters or dust bunnies to insulate the coils simply means your refrigerator will work harder and longer to achieve its cold-temperature goal. Dirty coils result in higher electricity bills and a shorter overall life of the motor.
Most residential refrigerators do not require any special expertise or equipment to clean the coils. Check your owner’s manual for details, which can be found online, unless you are one of those rare individuals who can put your hands on the hard copy when you need to. I use my vacuum cleaner brush attachment to clean my refrigerator coils. You could also use a soft, flexible brush. Just be sure not to punch a hole in the coil, which would allow condensing gas to escape and cause a significant repair issue. Generally, the cleaning takes less than five minutes, not counting the procrastination time and the time to move the fridge.
Dishwasher Cleaning Filter
Some dishwashers have a self-cleaning filter, but for those that don’t, you need to clean it manually. How do you know when? If your dishes aren’t as clean (with little food specks) or you might notice an unpleasant smell. I recently discovered that my dishwasher has two filters. Check your owner’s manual for details. Consider cleaning the filter every month or so with hot water and an old toothbrush. If it’s been a while since you cleaned it last, maybe scrub the filter with a little dish soap.
You may know that you should clean the lint trap before every load of laundry, but did you know you should also deal with lint buildup in the dryer duct? A blocked duct is an energy suck and a fire hazard. Lint can restrict airflow, which leads to the dryer having to run longer to do same job—and as with the other appliances, you’ll waste energy and make the motor work longer therefore reducing the life of the motor.
Because lint is a great medium to start fire, it can be especially dangerous in a dryer duct where super-hot air blows over it constantly. You can install a rigid metal duct, which won’t trap lint the way flexible ducts can, but metal ducts are harder to work with.
Dryer ducts should be cleaned about once a year. To clean the duct, pull the dryer away from wall. Unplug it and, if it is a gas-powered dryer, turn off the gas. Then, undo the ductwork and run a long-handled brush through it. After that, blow out the lint. If possible, take the tube outside to blow it out.
Remember, the longer the tube, the more lint can get trapped. If there is a practical way to shorten the route to the outdoors, that’s best. The longer the tube, the harder and longer the dryer has to work. Be sure to reconnect everything well once you’re all done. There’s nothing more frustrating than having the duct blow off during your first load of laundry.
Next week, I’ll share a few more spring cleaning recommendations.
If you have questions about property management or real estate, please contact me at email@example.com or call (707) 462-4000. If you have an idea for a future column, share it with me and if I use it, I’ll send you a $25 gift certificate to Schat’s Bakery.
Dick Selzer is a real estate broker who has been in the business for more than 45 years.