Just like a person, your home needs regular check ups to stay in tip-top condition. As we head into a new season, spend a weekend doing little DIY projects that will keep your home running smoothly (and safely).
1. Test Smoke and Fire Alarms
Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors can save your family’s lives by alerting you to danger—but only if they are working properly. Alarms should be tested and cleaned monthly to ensure that they’re functional. To test, press and hold the test button until you hear a loud alarm. If the alarm doesn’t go off or if the sound is weak, it’s time to replace the device. To clean, run the soft brush attachment of your vacuum cleaner along the top and side of the device to remove any dirt or dust that is blocking the grates.
There are two types of alarms: hard-wired and battery-operated. If your devices are battery-operated, get in the habit of replacing the batteries twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall. (You may want to set a reminder on your phone so you remember to change the batteries in the fall.) And remember that these units don’t last forever: check each device for its expiration date and replace the units before that date. At a minimum, you should have one alarm on every floor of your house.
2. Replace HVAC Filters
HVAC filters keep your heating and cooling systems running smoothly and improve the air quality in your home—but only if you change the filter on a regular basis. Although how frequently you need to replace the filter depends on a variety of factors, as a general rule of thumb inexpensive fiberglass filters should be replaced every 30 days while higher-quality pleated air filters will last between three to six months. If anyone in your home suffers from allergies or asthma or if you live in an area with a lot of pollution, you should replace the filters more often.
3. Clean Dryer Vents
Clogged dryer vents cause nearly 17,000 fires in the United States every year. Keep yours running safely and efficiently by cleaning the vent once a year. You can hire a professional to clean it, or you can do it yourself in an afternoon. Start by unplugging the dryer and pulling it away from the wall; if you have a gas dryer, you should also turn off the supply valve. Disconnect the duct from the back of the dryer, then use your hand to carefully scoop out as much lint as you can from the pipe. Using the hose attachment of a vacuum, clean around the hole at the back of the dryer and then suck as much lint as you can out of the duct. Next, head outside and remove the vent cover and vacuum out the dryer vent from the outside. Reattach the vent cover and ductwork and plug the dryer back in.
4. Inspect Your Home’s Siding and Roof
Head outside to see if winter took a toll on your home’s exterior. Take a walk around the perimeter of your home and carefully inspect the siding. Are there any loose or rotted boards or shingles? Do you see any flaking paint? Step back and take a look at the roof. Are there any missing shingles or loose flashing? Repair any minor damage now before it causes bigger problems down the road.
5. Clean Out Gutters
April showers bring May flowers—and they also bring a great opportunity to check that your home’s gutters are working properly. Wait for a rainy day, then inspect your gutters to see if water is flowing through the downspouts. If no water is emptying from the downspouts or if water is overflowing and spilling over the edge of the gutters, it’s time to spring clean the gutters. This is another job where you can hire a pro or do it yourself. If you choose to do it yourself, our Gutter Scoop makes the job easier because it’s specially designed to keep water from dripping on you. Once you’ve finished cleaning all the debris out of the gutters, consider adding Gutter Guards and Downspout Guards to keep water flowing freely.