You may not think about spring cleaning; I don't. At all. Oh, sure, there are those folks out there who make whole lists and plan their 'after winter' cleaning, but I can guarantee you that you do spring clean, even if you don't think you do. Watch your routine; you will note that you are doing just a little more than usual with Spring approaching. It's programmed into us humans, I think.
The birds and the bees and the flowers and the trees. Yep, a corn-ball old song, however, spring is screaming upon us, it will be here in no time! And here are 5 essential spring-cleaning tips for you!
The Usual Suspects
In researching a topic (Yes, I've said it before, you gotta know what you're writing about before you write it, sheesh!) I ran across Angie's List article that covers the basics for spring cleaning. You know, wiping baseboards and cupboards, dusting, you know, stuff like that. But, honestly, I don't think that's necessarily a "spring cleaning" list of items, but, instead, an all-the-time-year-round type of list.
My thoughts on spring cleaning go a little more into the maintenance side; after all, that is the department I spend all my time in.
During the winter months (and maybe even further back), you have likely noted the little items here and there that need attention. I sure have. Things like piled up stuff in the garage. You know those holiday decorations you have meant to store away? Yeah, because, dang it, there's not enough hours in the day. Oh, and by the way, since we are hypothetically standing in your garage right now:
1. Check that water heater
Well, yes, you say, it is there alright, old faithful, just humming away, warming all that water for the dishes later today, the bath, and that load of laundry needing to be done right now. So, imagine, if you will (insert a Rod Serling's voice here, for those of you old enough to know who that is) that old faithful, that white cylinder of liquid heating reliability, suddenly decided to call it quits. That water is as cold as a politician's soul, and just as slippery. Guess who is heating water on the stove for their bath. Yep, you.
What can I do?
I'd recommend draining your water heater once a year at the very least, twice a year is even better! You know that faucet on the side of the water heater? That is why it's there. Simply hook your garden hose to it, and use that hot water to, well, wash your driveway, for one. Your water will heat faster because you are flushing out all the sediment that has built up inside, and the heater will last longer too.
When your water heater is burning, it is heating the bottom steel of the tank. When sediment collects, the flame must heat that sediment first, which then heats the water. And have you ever heard your water heater make that adorable popping sound when it's heating? Well, that is mineral deposits popping, exploding inside. When minerals clot on the bottom, that creates a spot temperature difference on the bottom of the water heater, which causes faster corrosion.
And you know what? Your hot water will taste better in the shower. Don't fib; we have all tasted the hot water in the shower. Every. One. Of. Us.
I did this once, and I do not know for sure if the water heater water was the cause, but I suspect it: Don't spray that water on the yard. I'm pretty sure I killed large parts of my yard years ago with water from the water heater. No, I'm not a total idiot, I arced the water into the air so it would cool before landing on my lawn, but I think the concentration of minerals and lime were damaging to my grass.
Also, when you open that water valve faucet thingy on the water heater to drain it, it may not shut back off entirely. If your water heater is a decade old or more, and you have never drained it, don't. Let it fail, get a new one, then maintain that one. The gunk in it is more likely to stick in that valve, and not drain anyway.
2. Weed and Feed that yard
Oh, sure, you could simply lay down manure (pros: natural, effective, short nitrogen burn life, cheap, Cons: can have weed seeds in it, it smells, it draws flies) and call it a day, and I usually do just that. However, once a year or so, I put down Scott's Weed and Feed on my front yard. It feeds the lawn longer than manure does, and it knocks off all the annoying clovers and weeds that seem to pop up just to bug me.
I tried - for a full year - pulling the clovers as they came up, and you know what? The clovers won. I got more clovers. Then I started using weed and feed. Human 1, Clovers 0.
Cautions: After fertilizing your lawn, hit it with a lot of water, you want to soak that beautiful nitrogen into the soil. You do not want to leave it on the surface, because that will burn your grass.
Benefits: A lush, green, healthy yard! That healthy yard will also run the grassroots deeper, opening the soil up and allowing water to penetrate easier. Also, a thick, lush yard will choke out weeds naturally, reducing (or eliminating - to an extent) the need for more chemicals to kill weeds.
3. Let the Sun Shine
Age of Aquarius? Well, noooo... Springtime cleaning is an excellent opportunity to get the crud, cobwebs, dirt, and dust off your windows and screens! It is a fact that bright, clean sunlight is a mood enhancer, so boost your life and psyche with an easy fix!
Presently it is hard to get some cleaning products, like Windex and paper towels in the store, but did you know that newspaper works as well? Some say it works better on glass. And as far as Windex, vinegar, and ammonia, both easily gotten, works well in a cheap squirty you can get at the dollar store.
4. Breathe In, Breathe out
Hey, you know that you should change your HVAC filters frequently. How frequently? No less than yearly, but optimum is quarterly.
But, but, that's 'spensive!
Have you priced a new HVAC system? Regularly changing the air intake filters with high-quality air filters will ensure that:
- The unit lasts as long as possible
- You are reducing the likelihood of a failure just when you really don't want, or need it, like mid-summer
- Money is saved in the long run
- You're not breathing as many airborne dust mites and other icky stuff like that
You see, that gunk that your HVAC system ingests makes the whole system work harder, which requires more energy, which you pay for. Easy as pie.
Here at Management One Property Management, we have instituted a program where new air filters arrive at the properties we manage every quarter, so that hopefully those HVAC systems last as long as they can, and run as efficiently as possible over that course of time.
5. Clear that Clutter
Okay, so, the basic things come up now. Or thing: Clutter. First off, let me circle back to the water heater: Do Not Store Anything Combustible (let alone flammable) near it. Ever. Leave 3 feet of distance between the water heater and anything that can burn. As far as flammable stuff, like WD 40 cans, for example, or gasoline, just get that stuff out of the same area as the water heater or furnace for that matter.
But the other garage stuff, start a new lease on life, get it out of the unused room, the garage, the back yard. You will feel way better for it.
As a matter of fact, all these items done will make you feel like you can take on the world! Just do not challenge the world, you know, out loud.
Bonus items: Clean the oven. You and I both know it needs it. And you know what, you are going to check-in. Prove me wrong.
Another item is the air duct that your dryer vents the heat and exhaust out of. If you have not cleaned it in 3 years or more, do it now! The kits are cheap at Home Depot or Lowes; all you need is a drill. And if you're not going to do it because you have to buy something you will use only once a year or so, you can hire someone, like from Angie's List, to do it for you.
That lint in that exhaust pipe is a fire hazard, but it can also cost you money in lost efficiency. But most important is this: You do not want those exhaust gases (can you say 'Carbon Monoxide Poisoning'?) backing up and venting into your living space. Life is not perfect, but the alternative is dreadful.
Now that I have your head spinning with things you never thought of, the question is…where will you start?