DIY Home Cleaning: Gutters, Windows, and Vents
Taking care of your home can seem daunting, what with there being seemingly hundreds of little things that need upkeep at any given time. But what we’ve found is that if you can start with the basics and work your way up, it makes keeping a regular schedule and staying on top of your home’s health that much easier.
Some basic upkeep includes regular maintenance for your gutters, dryer vents, and windows. These chores encompass the appearance, safety, and health of your home, and cover a good cross-section of what can easily fall through the cracks. Here, we’ll talk about these three tasks, how to approach them, and why they are an important part of any home DIY handywork schedule.
Cleaning Your Dryer Vents
An important, and easy, way to start maintaining a DIY work schedule around your home is to take care of cleaning out your dryer vents. Clogged vents make your dryers run overtime, but worse, they present a fire-hazard.
Dryer vents allow hot air to leave your dryer and vent out into the outside air. All this excess air also carries all the extra lint that your dryer filter doesn’t get. Over time, the vent pipe can fill with lint, overheat, and possibly catch fire. In fact, 2,900 fires are reported annually as a result of overheating material in vents.
Working on a dryer vent starts with your equipment and depends on your dryer unit. First, you should purchase a vent dryer brush kit from Amazon. These are not very expensive, and they allow you to remove lint from the inside of the exhaust vent. You’ll also need your vacuum cleaner and the operating manual of your dryer.
- First, unplug your dryer and, if it is a gas unit, shut off the gas connection.
- Remove the lint catcher, clean it out, and vacuum it and the immediate opening where it came from.
- Disconnect the dryer vent from the dryer. Depending on the unit, you might be able to do this simply by releasing the pressure wire around the collar. You may, however, need a screwdriver or nut driver.
- Clean out the vent collar with the brush kit. Make sure to run the brush throughout the entire collar.
- Vaccuum the excess material from the pipe.
Government reports show that dryer vents clog more during the winter months due to the volume and types of clothing more often worn in colder climates. So, your cleaning schedule should include extra attention during the winter months.
Cleaning Your Gutters
Gutter cleaning is one of those tasks that many of us don’t really want to do, and don’t really know how to do if we did. Climbing on a roof, getting all that mess out of the gutters themselves… it’s not an easy job, especially when sections of our storm drain system are hard to get to.
But, if you want to avoid expensive gutter repair, then doing some regular gutter cleaning can help. Here are a few steps to consider before throwing your ladder up;
- Don’t clean the gutters from the roof. Use a ladder. Reaching down from a roof (especially one with a steep grade) is incredibly dangerous, and not worth it just to clean out your gutters. Get a reliable ladder, preferably one that offers additional support for hard-to-reach areas or for extra extension.
- Invest in the right equipment- standoff stabilizers. These add-ons can attach to your ladder and keep it off the actual gutters by pushing off and stabilizing on the roof above. This makes it safer to clean your gutters without damaging them.
- Use your hands. Get a pair of waterproof work gloves and pull out all the leaves and gunk in the gutters.
There are a few alternatives to this basic approach. The first is to avoid much of the mess that comes with gutters by installing mesh guards. These keep leaves out and make it much easier to clean the gutters.
Or, if you don’t want to take the time to install guards or even get up on a ladder, there are several models of “gutter wands” that can telescope up from the ground, and that use high-pressure water spray to dislodge and remove debris.
Cleaning Your Windows
Many of us take the time to clean our windows from the inside, but we are willing to bet that few of us spend the extra time cleaning our windows from the outside. Cleaning your windows makes your house that more attractive while providing you with a clear surface to look out from.
Cleaning exterior windows on your main floor can be a snap, with the right tools. For a quick clean, just have the following on hand:
- Your hose
- A squeegee
- A rag or strip applicator
- A bucket of water filled with cleaner
- A bottle of vinegar solution (50/50, optional)
Just wet the window surface, use your rag or strip applicator to apply the cleaner and remove dirt and spots, and wipe clean with the squeegee. If your windows are very dirty to the point that the initial cleaning doesn’t remove spot, try following up with an application of the vinegar solution. This double-dose of cleaning will break up dirt and remove spots.
For higher-up windows, use a ladder with proper supports and, if you can get it, an assistant. Better yet, use a cleaning kit that includes a lengthy cleaning head and handle. A combination of ladders and cleaning arms can make cleaning those second-story windows much easier, but our advice is that if you can avoid getting up on the ladder, avoid it.
Becoming Your Own DIY Handyman
Homeowners want to take care of their homes. And while the best bet for most maintenance and upkeep is to consult with professionals, you can also get a lot of mileage out being your own handyman. So why not start with your dryer vents, gutters, and windows? Taking care of these important pieces of your property can help you better understand the workings of your home while keeping you on top of the basics that it needs to run well, look good, and stay safe.