Late summer heat is upon us, so our August home maintenance chores focus on indoor tasks as well as some easy maintenance to keep your air conditioning system running right. So crank up your AC, grab some scrub gloves, and get ready to spruce up the following often neglected areas of your home.
To-Do #1: Replace Air Conditioner Filter
The air filter on your heating and cooling system needs to be replaced every 1-3 months to keep the air in your home clean and flowing freely through the unit. For best results use a high quality air filter that’s rated to remove mold, pollen, and other microscopic particles.
- The air filter is located where the air returns to your heating/cooling unit. In some systems, the filter is in or near the air handler unit, while on others it’s behind the wall or floor return grate.
To replace the air filter:
- Turn the air conditioner off, and wait until it stops running.
- Take the cover off the air return.
- Remove the old air filter.
- Write the current date on the new air filter.
- Insert the new air filter in the return, making sure the arrow on the edge of the filter is facing in the direction of air flow. For filters with wall and floor mounted returns, the arrow should point in toward the return duct. For filters mounted in the ductwork near the air handler, the arrow should point toward the air conditioner unit.
- Put the cover back on the air return.
- Turn the air conditioner back on.
To make it easier to replace the filter next time, put a sticker on the cover with exactly what size filter you need to buy and when to replace it.
To-Do #2: Clean Air Conditioner Drain Line
Air conditioners remove water from the air in your house as they cool, and the last thing you want on a hot August day is for the condensation drain line to become clogged with algae and back the water up into your AC unit or house.
To check the drain line for clogs, pour a cup of water down the access line while someone else watches where the pipe exits outside. If the water drains slowly or not at all, it’s clogged and needs to be cleared.
To remove a clog from the line, attach a wet-dry vac to the end of the pipe, and use it to suck the clog out of the drain line.
To prevent future clogs in the air conditioner drain line, pour a cup of bleach down the access pipe to kill any algae.
To-Do #3: Clean and Maintain Bathroom Vent Fan
Running a bathroom vent fan during and for 10-20 minutes after you shower or bath is important to remove excess humidity and prevent mold or mildew from forming. Cleaning the vent fan annually will keep it running quietly and efficiently.
To clean a bathroom vent fan:
- Turn the power off to the fan.
- Remove the cover (on most fans you pull down on the cover to extend it, then compress the spring wires on each side to take it off).
- Use a brush or vacuum to remove dust from the cover, then scrub it in soapy water.
- Vacuum out the dust from inside the fan box and wipe off the blades.
- Spray the moving parts with silicone lubricant to help it run smoothly and quietly.
- Replace the vent fan cover.
- Turn the power back on.
- Check to see if the fan is working properly. If not, remove and replace the vent fan motor.
While you have the stepladder in the bathroom, remove any cobwebs, scrub mildew off the ceiling or walls, and replace burned out or old inefficient light bulbs with energy saving LED or CFL bulbs.
To-Do #4: Clean Range Hood Filter and Fan
The range hood, or an over the range microwave fan, needs to be cleaned regularly to remove built-up grease. Start by thoroughly cleaning the range hood or microwave inside and out with a citrus-based cleaner.
Be sure to clean the top, sides, and even underneath, to remove all that cooking grime. Wear gloves and be careful of sharp metal edges.
Remove the grease filter from the fan, and clean it in hot, soapy water; or run it in the dishwasher. If you can reach the fan blades, turn the power off to the fan, and wipe them down as well.
Now that your range hood is sparkling, you have a good excuse to keep it clean by doing some of your summer cooking on an outdoor grill, which can save energy by not making your air conditioner work as hard!
To-Do #5: Clean Refrigerator Coils
You can save as much as $100 a year on your power bill by vacuuming the refrigerator coils regularly! The coils can be found either on the back of the fridge or underneath the unit behind the kickplate.
To clean hard to reach coils under a fridge:
- Cover one end of a cardboard gift wrapping tube with duct tape.
- Punch holes in the side of the tube.
- Attach the open end of the tube to a vacuum cleaner.
- Remove the kickplate on the refrigerator.
- Turn the vacuum on and run the cardboard tube back and forth under the fridge to vacuum out any dust bunnies.
If the refrigerator coils are on the back, pull the fridge out from the wall to allow access, then clean them using a vacuum cleaner brush attachment. Be sure to unplug your fridge any time you’re moving it or vacuuming the coils.
To-Do #6: Clean and Test Refrigerator Door Seal
Start by cleaning the door gaskets on your refrigerator thoroughly with soap and water, then inspect the gaskets for cracks or tears.
To test how well the gasket seals, place a dollar bill between the gasket and fridge, close the door, and try to pull the bill out. If the seal is working properly, you should feel resistance as you pull. If the paper bill pulls out easily, you may need to align the refrigerator door or replace the gasket.
If the gasket isn’t sealing, start by checking to make sure the door is aligned squarely on the hinges. If it’s not, adjust as needed, following the instructions in the refrigerator manual.
If the refrigerator still isn’t sealing properly, replace the gasket by pulling the old one out of its groove (look behind it first to see if it’s held on with screws). Press the new gasket gently into the groove, and replace any screws when you’re done.