Spring doesn’t officially start until March 19th, and living in Arizona has the benefits of feeling the warmer weather a bit earlier than the rest of the country. The sun is shining and the attack of allergens let us know that spring is just on the horizon for all of us here in Prescott and Prescott Valley.
As the sun rises earlier, we’re becoming more motivated to declutter from our winter storage. Tossing unwanted household items or donating the warm clothes the kids have outgrown are a great start – but have you thought about what could prevent safety hazards and prolong the longevity of your home?
Here are some tips to help you get a jumpstart on creating a cleaner, safer home:
Clean Your Dryer Vents
Really. When was the last time you pulled your dryer out and cleaned out the vents? Dryer vents accumulate highly flammable lint, and failure to properly clean them is the number one cause of dryer fires. According to the National Fire Protection Agency, more than 15,000 dryer fires occurred in the U.S in 2010.
Aside from the obvious safety hazards, if you’re noticing that it takes 2-3 cycles to dry a load of towels, it’s probably time to clean out your dryer vents. Here’s how:
First, visually inspect the outside vent opening and remove any obstructions — usually these are animal nests. Vents at ground level are perfect for rodent nests (chipmunks, squirrels and rats). Upper level vents are more attractive to birds.
Next, tackle the lint. There are several options for removing lint buildup.
- A flexible brush with an extendable wand will grab the lint for easy removal.
- An air compressor will blow it out.
- A combination vacuum cleaner and brush will suck it out. (Just make sure the vacuum hose is long enough.)
Replace Your Air Filters
Changing your air filter is perhaps one of the quickest and easiest ways to maximize the efficiency of your HVAC system, as well as purifying your home’s air. Here are the steps to changing your air filter:
- Find your air filter location. You may have more than one air filter in the home to service. The return air register, the air handler cabinet and even a window AC unit will all have an air filter that requires replacement or cleaning.
- Get the correct size. Disposable air filters usually come surrounded by a cardboard frame, while reusable washable air filters have a plastic frame; either will indicate the specific size of the filter. When you search for a replacement, choose the same size. For filters that don’t indicate size, use a measuring tape to measure the length, width and thickness of the filter. Use these numbers to select a new filter.
- Place the filter correctly. Most filters are printed with an arrow that indicates furnace filter air flow. Place the filter with an arrow pointing toward the furnace, in the direction of air flow. Correct placement is important. The unit will use more energy if the filter is not properly installed; it has to work harder to pull air through the opposing side.
- Check air filters monthly. Replace or clean as needed and be sure you properly install your replacement filters. Dirty air filters make the unit work harder and impact your indoor air quality; the same is true if the air filter is backwards.
Clean Your Gutters
Cleaning your gutters is an important task to help avoid expensive damage to your home and yard. If ignored, clogged gutters can cause:
- Detachment: The weight of several seasons’ debris can pull gutters away from your house, which can damage the roof and fascia.
- Water damage: An obstructed water path can cause water to leak into the roof or overflow down to the foundation. This moisture can cause mold growth and rot, which can affect your home’s structural integrity, as well as your family’s health.
When you’re cleaning your gutter, take the following steps to ensure your safety and a thorough job:
- Use a tall ladder. Pick one that extends three feet over the gutter. Secure the ladder on even ground, preferably on pavement.
- Wear protective gear. A long-sleeve shirt and work gloves can help keep your arms and hands safe from sharp objects.
- Remove the clog. Scoop large debris with a small shovel or garden trowel, and drop them into a bucket hanging from your ladder or onto a tarp on the ground.
- Flush it out. Once you’re done clearing debris, use a garden hose to rinse out the gutters. This is also a great way to check for leaks.
Clean Behind Your Fridge
Pull your fridge out to remove dirt and debris from around your refrigerator. Check to make sure there aren’t any leaks if you’ve got a built-in water filtration system. Regularly cleaning behind and beneath your fridge will allow you to immediately spot and resolve any immediate leaks to prevent hard water stains and mold from developing.