We want you to be worry-free over the holiday season, and beyond!
Surprise! We’re talking about more than just furnace maintenance today. With the winter holiday season upon us, we thought it would be best to give every homeowner in Edmonton the gift of knowledge with our 12 Holiday Home Maintenance Tips.
So, read on, check out our guide on holiday home maintenance tips, and try to tackle a few of these simple tasks. We’ve got faith that you can accomplish every one of these tasks with a few hours of spare time and a few Youtube searches.
Do some quick humidifier maintenance
The air gets very dry winter time here in Edmonton. That can cause all kinds of issues about dry skin and getting a good night’s sleep. Most homes in Edmonton have a humidifier connected to the furnace(s). And if you suffer from poor sleep, or dry skin, you might even have a stand-alone one in your bedroom.
Maintaining them is simple. There are only two things to worry about regularly:
Replace the humidifier filter/sponge
Don’t bother trying to reuse your old filter/drum sponge. Get a new one and follow the instructions to install it. And keep the water level up. New humidifier filters or sponges are cheap. You can buy them for as low as $10! Don’t buy the cheapest if you want it to last and perform the best, though. Trying to clean them will cost more in chemicals and effort. If you have a standalone humidifier, make sure you get the right filter for your particular make and model.
Give your humidifier a quick clean
Make sure your humidifier has been cleaned since the previous winter, assuming you’re not buying a new one. Our hard water in Edmonton and surrounding areas often causes appliances with water passing through them to acquire calcium and mineral deposits. Calcium is the white/greyish coloured stuff that cakes the sides of your humidifier pans.
Realistically, if you have left this for a long time, the calcium build-up could be bad enough that you’ll never get it completely removed. So just making sure that you do your best to clear any potential blockages or high build-up areas will make a difference.
We recommend a calcium/lime/rust remover like CLR or Zep. You can find these cleaners at any place that sells cleaning chemicals.
To clean your humidifier:
- Remove the parts that can be and soak them according to the cleaner directions you use.
- Wipe down the exterior and interior
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for what should be cleaned and how best to do it. Each humidifier is different, but none are complicated.
- Reassemble and test.
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Give your bathrooms a quick audit
According to most of us, the bathroom is the most important room in the house. And with holiday guests coming over, a clean and quiet bathroom is a great way to welcome them. Beyond keeping your bathroom sanitary and fresh, there are a few things you can check to make sure you are preventing major issues in the future.
Are your toilets wasting water?
Many people don’t realize that their toilets are leaking or are wasting water unnecessarily. Did you know, when your toilet’s fill valve is not set properly, that you can waste water while it fills? Suddenly, that high-efficiency tank is using 50% more water than you expect!
If your toilet has come loose from its base, you could be leaking water into the floor without even realizing it. Maybe only a couple of tablespoons per day, but over time that can rot out the entire sub-floor.
Changing out the guts of the toilet is relatively easy. You can find toilet repair parts at any hardware store. You should even be able to find some Universal Parts that fit virtually any toilet in the past 40+ years! Expect to pay $10-30 for various parts or a complete toilet repair kit.
Don’t want to worry about fixing your toilet? We do these jobs every day for customers across the Capital Region.
Worried about toilet repair work being difficult? Check out some instructional videos on Youtube first. Most parts manufacturers have put videos together so you can quickly know how to fix your leaky/wasteful toilet.
Check for signs of mould & mildew
According to most of us, the bathroom is the most scrutinized room in the house when guests visit. The danger here is that, especially in older homes, mould quickly grows around the bathtub, behind the toilet and under the sink. It’s not healthy. It needs to be cleared away and fresh sealant/caulking put around the tub. Do it now before you have guests coming to stay.
Don’t panic; not all mould that is black is “black mould.” Get a mould removal cleaner, spray down the area. Follow that with a good scrub. You should be able to remove surface mould this way easily.
Caulking that has been ‘infected’ with mould or mildew should be replaced. There is a bit of an art to this to make it look great (we’ve all seen lousy caulking jobs). So if you are unsure of this, feel free to reach out to us. We do this type of thing all the time as plumbers.
Check your overhead garage door
While this has nothing to do with your furnace or home comfort, a properly operating garage door can save you a fortune on heating bills. Additionally, you could prevent a breakdown/malfunction on the coldest days of the year.
Our friends at Jackson & James Overhead Door provided us with six tips for maintaining your garage door (check them all out below).. They told us the number 1 thing to do is:
Lubricate for smooth operation
When was the last time you lubricated it so that it operated smoothly without strain, so it won’t shut down on you over the holidays? If you’re concerned, get yourself some garage door lubricant (it’s specially formulated) and then make sure you spray it on the door hinges and springs. It’ll run better, quieter, and last longer.
Five more important garage door maintenance steps
Taken from our friends at Jackson & James Overhead Door in Edmonton:
- Examine & Clean Tracks – Use the microfiber cloth to meticulously wipe off any dirt, oil or other gunk on the tracks. Cleaning your door tracks is the #1 way to prevent door jams and jumps.
- Inspect Hinges – visually inspect the door hinges between the panels. Look for rust, dirt and proper lubrication. Once inspected and cleaned of any dirt, if no rust is present, use your machine oil to lubricate the hinges gently. If rust is present, you should call a professional to discuss possible remedies and solutions. Rusty hinges place unwanted stress on other door components as it opens and closes.
- Inspect Roller Wheels – Look for proper alignment, and uneven wear. If the wheels are not aligned, we suggest calling a professional to avoid a costly mistake. Lubricate the track wheels lightly.
- Examine Door Locks. It is important to note that under no circumstances should oil or grease be used in or around the lock mechanism or key channel. Instead, lubricate the lock mechanism with graphite powder, using compressed air bursts to coach the graphite deeper into the lock. If the lock has come un-aligned, call a professional to help with re-aligning your entire overhead door system.
- Inspect door’s edge, weather stripping, paint condition and driveway for damage.
Do an exterior checkup of your home.
The exterior is often neglected in home maintenance because we just don’t look at it enough.
Check your eavestroughs
Look up at the roof and the eaves. If you have an older home, one issue you might run into is an ice dam. Ice dams do not usually occur in newer homes. Still, if soffits and insulation are not correctly installed, or breaking down, you may find massive icicles and ice blocks hanging from the eaves troughs.
One way to deal with this, without redoing soffits or insulation, is to buy a snow rake - one of those long, easy to assemble items to pull the snow off the roof immediately following a snowfall. We assume you’ve already cleared the eaves troughs of all the junk that accumulates over the year.
Caution – if you’re going to use a ladder, make sure it’s properly secured, and someone is standing by to assist you.
Make sure your exterior lights are all working
Make sure all your prominent outdoor lights are working. That includes motion sensor lights outside your front door and garage. Replace bulbs, and check that your exterior light fixtures are still securely mounted.
Stock up on snow removal products
If you’re clearing snow, make sure you have rock salt or other deicing materials to keep walks clear and free of ice. And don’t forget a snow shovel, preferably ergonomic, so you don’t strain your back. And new enough that it still has an edge.
Protect your vehicle from winter’s wrath
Your car, your truck, your SUV is going to get dirty, covered with all kinds of guck. Protect the paint job by making sure all that guck gets washed off regularly. Bring an old cloth with you to wipe off hinges and the like. And to protect those windows freezing shut after the wash, open them a bit (1/2 inch maybe).
Perform some quick preventative furnace maintenance
We’ve come full circle, back to your furnace. While we would love to repair your furnace for you when it breaks, we wouldn’t want you to have a miserable holiday experience because of an untimely breakdown that could have been prevented.
If you do have any problems, ProSolutions is a phone call away, and we’ll always be there to help.
Start by changing your furnace filter
If you turned your furnace on in September, you’re already due for a new furnace filter this year. But with more people coming and going, and potential to track more dust into the house, don’t delay on this. A clogged filter will burn out your furnace faster, and the cost to replace them is so low that it makes sense to be as proactive as possible.
Remember, just because it doesn’t look dirty to you, does not mean that it is not filthy. For a fun experiment, fill a tub with water and put your old filter into it. Just watch how much the water colour changes from clear to disgusting.
If you can afford to have a couple of spare furnace filters around, we think that’s the best way to manage this routine home maintenance task. Four filters should last you a year.
Perform other quick furnace maintenance
We wrote a great guide to perform seasonal winter furnace maintenance to get you ready for the season. If you have not done the seven furnace maintenance tips, give our guide a quick review.
Don’t want the hassle of another chore during the holidays? Call us and ask us about our $99 Furnace Maintenance deal.
We hope you have a wonderful holiday with your family and friends. If you can, and the weather cooperates, get outside and take a walk. And if you take care of all the areas we suggest, expect to enjoy a trouble-free holiday.
From all of us here at ProSolutions, we hope you have a happy New Year.