Spring has sprung, and it’s time for the annual ritual of spring cleaning. But while you’re clearing out your wardrobe and cleaning your gutters, have you also thought about maintenance work that will keep your home safe and your family healthy?
Annual home health and safety projects need to be on the top of our spring cleaning to-do list. Read on for a list of five of the most important spring cleaning projects to keep your home environment clean and secure.
1. Check Your Detectors
Working smoke alarms increase your chance of surviving a fire by 50 percent, and functional carbon monoxide detectors could prevent some of the 480 carbon monoxide poisoning deaths a year. As such, it’s important that you give your detectors some extra attention during spring cleaning.
In addition to your monthly detector checks, make it a habit replace the batteries in your alarms every year. The National Fire Protection Association says both a smoke and carbon monoxide alarm should be installed in every bedroom where people sleep, outside each designated sleeping area, and on each level of the home, so add new monitors wherever needed. Some brands of carbon monoxide detectors do have expiration dates, so check those during your upkeep, too.
2. Clean the Air in Your Home
Air pollution inside your home — where pollutants are more concentrated — can be more dangerous than the air pollution outside. While vacuuming and dusting help a little, you should use spring cleaning as an opportunity to remove dust and pollutant buildup in hard-to-reach spots, like under furniture and on top of shelves. Clear out and dust your closet, too, in addition to cleaning your blinds, curtains, and area rugs.
You should also be changing your home’s air filter every other month and vacuuming the filter covers at least once a year. The National Air Duct Cleaners Association further urges homeowners to schedule a professional HVAC cleaning anytime they notice that the ducts are dirty. So while your system may only need a thorough wash every few years, spring cleaning is a great time to do a quick inspection. If the vents seem noticeably dirty or dusty, contact a licensed professional right away. The job should take a couple hours and cost a few hundred dollars.
3. Inspect Your Outdoor Lighting
If you’re like most homeowners, you rarely think about your outdoor lights — they’re pretty self-sufficient. But while your porch light can be a deterrent to home thieves, it can be also act as an advertisement to intruders if it’s not functioning properly. Leaving a porch light constantly on or off lets potential home invaders know that you’re likely not home.
To combat this, put your lights on a timer or install motion sensing lights. If your lights are already on motion sensors, make sure to give the detector lens a good cleaning. For any lights in need of changing, consider upgrading to longer-lasting LED bulbs, and don’t forget to check the wiring for signs of corrosion from the harsh winter weather while you’re up on the ladder.
4. Conduct a Mold Inspection
Mold can be a hidden danger in homes. The Centers for Disease Control warns against mold, which can cause stuffiness, coughing, skin rashes, and throat or eye irritation. Left untreated, mold exposure can lead to asthma and even permanent lung damage.
You should be regularly cleaning all damp areas of your home — including bathrooms and kitchen sinks — with mold cleaner. Annually, go a bit further: scrub bathroom fans and make sure the ventilation system works. Inspect for any plumbing leaks around visible pipes, and check for moisture traps around the ceiling corners of your bathrooms.
5. Audit Your Home’s Security
Do you keep an updated inventory of the valuables in your home? Or hide a key under your door mat? Little vulnerabilities can lead to big expenses down the road, so don’t forget to check for any possible security issues. If you have an alarm system, for example, you should ideally be testing the sensors once a month, but this task becomes even more imperative around spring cleaning efforts, as having contractors doing work around the home could damage or disrupt the system.
To make sure your alarm is functioning properly, verify that the sensors respond reliably when a door or window is opened, watching to see if the “zones” on your keypad light up with the corresponding entrances. It’s also a good idea to walk back and forth in front of motion sensors to ensure they activate, and to change the batteries in any sensors that lag. Finally, give your security monitoring company a call to inform the operator you want to test system, then set off the alarm and verify that the signal was actually received back at the monitoring station.
Though these tasks may seem like extra work during an already busy time, keeping your family’s home happy should be your ultimate priority. Make your home safer and better for your health by adding some of these annual home maintenance projects to your spring cleaning list.