Your pre-win­ter tasks: Clean ap­pli­ances, do safety checks

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - FRONT PAGE -

By now, you’ve prob­a­bly com­pleted all the ma­jor home main­te­nance tasks to get ready for win­ter, such as chang­ing your HVAC fil­ters, weath­er­proof­ing your home, get­ting a fur­nace in­spec­tion and so forth. But in the midst of all this, you may be won­der­ing what you’re miss­ing. Some­times the small­est de­tails give you the big­gest headaches. But you can head those off by at­tend­ing to these sim­ple tasks. Many tasks around the home build up over time — and you might not even think about them, even dur­ing a ma­jor house­hold clean­ing. Take some time to go through your house and hit all the smaller things you rarely think about.

Give your dish­washer and re­frig­er­a­tor a good clean­ing. All that buildup inside the dish­washer can slow down its ef­fec­tive­ness, and you’ll ap­pre­ci­ate a fresh re­frig­er­a­tor when hol­i­day cook­ing gets go­ing.

Take a look at all your ap­pli­ances for clean­ing needs. You prob­a­bly keep your mi­crowave and oven rea­son­ably clean al­ready, but they could likely use a good scrub. Toast­ers and toaster ovens build up crumbs, so take out the lower crumb trap and clean it out.

Check your clothes dryer lint trap and the out­go­ing hoses for lint buildup. Long-term lint can cre­ate a fire haz­ard. Con­sider hir­ing a pro­fes­sional to clear out your dryer vents.

Your garbage dis­posal builds up gunk that’s both smelly and dam­ag­ing to the dis­posal it­self. Clean it by run­ning wa­ter and emp­ty­ing ice cubes into the dis­posal, then let wa­ter run for a minute. Chop up a lemon and feed it down the dis­posal to get rid of un­pleas­ant smells. Don’t use caus­tic drain clean­ers on the dis­posal, which can cor­rode its in­nards. Also, don’t for­get to clean the rub­ber splash gas­ket on the drain, which ac­cu­mu­lates nasty buildup as well.

The com­ing of win­ter, with larger crowds in your home, more elec­tri­cal us­age un­der­way and heaters op­er­at­ing, makes safety an even big­ger pri­or­ity. Take this op­por­tu­nity for a reg­u­lar safety re­view.

Test your smoke de­tec­tors, over­head fire sprin­klers, car­bon monox­ide de­tec­tors and any other ma­jor safety sen­sors in your home. You don’t want to lose pre­cious min­utes be­cause you over­looked a AA bat­tery re­place­ment.

Check your fire ex­tin­guisher and make sure it’s up to date. If you don’t have one, get one; an ex­tin­guisher is a vi­tal safety tool in any home. Make sure every­one in your fam­ily knows where it is and how to use it in an emer­gency.

Re­view your home evac­u­a­tion plan with your fam­ily, in­clud­ing al­ter­nate routes out of the house and where to meet if you get sep­a­rated.

If you don’t al­ready have a home emer­gency kit full of FEMA-rec­om­mended gear, make sure you com­pile one. It should in­clude first aid; safety and sur­vival ba­sics; and enough food, wa­ter and med­i­ca­tion to sus­tain every­one in your house­hold for three days. If you do have one al­ready, check it and make sure ev­ery­thing’s in good or­der. You’ll be glad you did in the event you need it.

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