Keep your house humming and your family safe through the warmer months with this spring cleaning weekend workout for your home.
Clean out your gutters
Gutters are typically out of sight and out of mind, but a gutter clogged with debris can cause a whole host of problems, particularly with summer storms on the radar.
Gutters carry rainwater away from your home during a downpour, and if they’re blocked the water has to find another direction to flow. It can find its way into your eaves, roof space or wall cavities and cause water damage.
If your gutters overflow, it can lead to water pooling around the base of your home and, with nowhere to drain to, the water may seep into your home’s foundations causing cracks.
On the flipside, as the weather warms up and leaves and sticks dry out, gutters present a fire hazard by becoming a magnet for flying embers.
Rebecca and Paul Malietoa run AIM Handyman and Gardening, servicing Sydney’s north shore and the central coast, and recommend regular gutter cleaning, especially before dry weather conditions kick in.
To clean out your gutters you’ll need a ladder, gloves and a bucket to gather debris in. You can also call in the professionals to clear your gutters for you, or to install gutter-guard to reduce maintenance requirements.
Do a garden clear-out
They say getting dirty in the garden is great for your wellbeing, but that’s not the only one reason it should be a top priority on your spring cleaning list.
By removing dead trees and debris around your property, cutting back foliage and trimming overhanging branches close to your home, you’ll not only be keeping your yard tidy and safe, you’ll also help prevent damage from falling branches and reduce the risk of a fire spreading.
“Falling branches can be a big insurance issue if they fall on a car or damage someone’s property,” says Rebecca Malietoa. “And in fire season having dead, dry debris lying around can easily start fires.”
Malietoa says too many home owners wait until peak fire season to tackle the garden.
“We do get a lot of phone calls right in the middle of summer but people should be doing their clean-up now, before the weather really warms up.”
It’s also a good idea to check for tree growth near your home’s foundations as invasive roots can interfere with pipes; and keeping your lawns mowed will help contain the spread of weeds.
Check your smoke alarms
Statistics show the risk of a fatality in a house fire is halved if there is a working smoke alarm in a residential building, but did you know that many insurance claims will be void if you haven’t done an alarm check in the past 12 months?
Fire and Rescue NSW recommends testing your alarms once a month by pressing and holding the test button for at least five seconds until you hear the beeps.
“It can be literally life-threatening if you haven’t got working fire alarms,” says Malietoa, whose services include smoke alarm and battery replacement.
And after you’ve confirmed your alarms are working, vacuum the dust from the unit to help reduce false alarms and ensure smoke can easily reach the internal sensor. The batteries should be replaced every 12 months and the entire alarm unit every 10 years.
Spring clean your appliances
The back of the fridge is not a place we visit too often, but spring is prime time to give it a clean before temperatures soar and the fridge becomes everyone’s best friend.
The condenser coils on a fridge remove heat from inside the unit, and if they’re caked in dust the fridge has to work overtime to keep cool which increases your power bills. It’s a simple matter of pulling your fridge out from the wall, turning it off and vacuuming the coils.
It’s a similar story for your airconditioning unit and rangehood: clogged filters can reduce airflow by up to 50 per cent so remove them and give them a clean using warm water and dishwashing liquid.
Malietoa says these kind of maintenance jobs often don’t hit the radar of home owners, yet they can prevent appliance breakdowns and costly repairs.
She also suggests spending a few minutes on the washer and dryer. While you may regularly clear out your dryer’s lint trap, spring is an opportune time to tackle the hose and exterior vent, which can present a fire hazard if blocked.
Change blown bulbs and check your safety switch
Swap out blown bulbs for low energy LEDs. These emit less heat than halogens so they can be covered safely with insulation without presenting a fire hazard – just make sure you’re using the correct wattage for your light fixture.
Turn the light off, wait for the bulb to cool completely, then stand on a secure surface or ladder and remove the bulb in an anti-clockwise direction, either screwing out or by pushing in, turning and releasing.
You can also do a quick test of your safety switch – the device that switches off the electricity supply if an electrical fault is detected, thereby minimising the risk of electricity-related fires and electric shock.
Each switch on your switchboard should have a test button. When you press it, it should immediately trip to the “off” position. If it doesn’t, it’s time to call the electrician.