Spring Cleaning to Avoid Disaster – Part II

As I mentioned last week, spring cleaning is kind of like exercising—the benefits are great, but it’s hard to get yourself to do it. Here’s are a few more recommendations to keep your house in peak condition.

HVAC Filters

Like most appliances, heating and air conditioning systems run more efficiently when their filters aren’t covered in dust. Cleaning the filters every few months keeps the air in the house cleaner, reduces the electricity required to heat or cool the house, and improves the longevity of the HVAC system’s motor.

Washing Machine Filters

In addition to cleaning your dryer’s lint trap before every load of laundry and the dryer duct at least once a year, it turns out some washing machines also have filters that require cleaning. Many are self-cleaning, but not all. (Check your owner’s manual for details on your specific model.)

Any time you pull your washer away from the wall, check the water-supply hoses. If they are not in perfect condition, replace them. For the cost of a couple of hoses, you can save a lot of money and heartache preventing the damage from a leaky supply hose.

Shower Drain

I find removing gunk from the shower drain to be particularly unappealing, but it must be done. Every time any family member showers, they leave behind soap scum and hair in the shower drain. As it accumulates, it begins to block the drain. It’s better to tackle the cleaning now rather than at 6:00 am on a school day when your teenage daughter explains in the most dramatic way possible that she cannot possibly go to school without a shower, and she cannot take a shower because the water won’t drain.

If you have a clogged drain, you can generally take care of it with rubber gloves and a metal coat hanger bent to form a little hook on one end and a make-shift handle on the other. You can also find inexpensive, specialized tools to pull hair and other gunk out of the drain, sometimes shaped like a little plastic Christmas tree.

If you notice an odor, you may have a bigger problem—one that requires a plumber. If after you clean the drain, it still appears clogged, a sewer lateral or septic system could have problems. It is best to deal with this immediately; I mean right now, not waiting until this afternoon.

Gutters on house

Another gunky area to clean can be gutters. Even if there are no trees surrounding the house, most roofs have shingles that wear out over time. So, whether it’s leaves or dirt and grit from shingles that get washed into the gutters, it’s best to clean the gutters a couple of times a year. If you don’t, that wet grime can cause metal gutters to rust and if there’s too much for the gutters, the water can spill over the edge and cause little mini-floods. Grab a pair of gloves and a ladder, and just scoop the leaves and gunk out with your hands.

In our family, the rule is that no one gets on a ladder after the age of 70. That’s what kids and grandkids are for. If the downspouts are blocked, you can use a stick to poke a few holes at the top where the leaves from the trough are stuck to break the clog. If it’s a bad one, run the hose with enough pressure to clear the muck.

If you have questions about property management or real estate, please contact me at rselzer@selzerrealty.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.

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