It’s that time of year again. Daylight saving time takes effect on Sunday, which means we’ll set our clocks forward and lose a precious hour of sleep that night. For those of us who already feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day, the thought of losing time might sound stressful. But there is a silver lining to springing forward.
“Daylight saving time means more hours of sunlight and often more energy to get things done around the home,” says Dave Quandt, vice president of field operations for American Home Shield, a home warranty company.
“We often put maintenance or honey-do lists off during the cold of winter for various reasons: snow, extreme cold temperatures, or not enough sunlight hours during the day. But when spring comes around and we have seemingly more workable hours in the day, we are likely more energized to get things done.”
Now that we’re about to reap that bounty of daylight hours, it’s time to start making a list of tasks to tackle. Being proactive and getting ahead of potential issues can make for a smooth transition into springtime, when you should be out enjoying the nice weather. Here are some home maintenance tasks that are easy to handle.
1. Reverse your ceiling fans
Springtime brings warmer weather, which means you’ll probably be using your ceiling fan more often.
“With springtime and warmer months upon us, reversing the direction of ceiling fans is a simple, practical, and energy-efficient method of saving on your cooling or heating bill. During warm months, ceiling fans should be facing forward and running in a counterclockwise motion, thus forcing cool air downward,” says Claire Cole, a researcher who works on behalf of Cinch Home Services.
She says to reverse your fan, locate the direction switch near the motor, switch it in the opposite direction, and then turn the fan on to check it.
2. Inspect your HVAC filter
“Proper maintenance of your HVAC system can help you extend its life and avoid expensive repairs. Changing your HVAC filters before the spring months will help your unit run efficiently, lower your electric consumption, improve air quality indoors, and maximize your unit’s life span,” says Cole.
To check your HVAC filter, remove it and hold it up to an overhead light. If light cannot be seen through the filter, it’s time to get a new one.
3. Clean out gutters and downspouts
Changing seasons and extreme weather can leave a lot of buildup and mess around your home, especially in your gutters and downspouts.
“Dead leaves and debris have likely accumulated in these areas over the winter, and removing them from gutters is critical for allowing rainwater to flow freely away from your roof,” says Cole.
“In order to save from a potentially costly roof repair, one should wear gloves, use a ladder, and clear out any blockages weighing down the gutters,” says Cole. “Additionally, it’s important to check downspouts for clogs to ensure that water flows freely from the gutters and into the ground.”
4. Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends checking your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors twice a year, which makes this the perfect time to do that. If you do not have those, this is the perfect time to purchase and install them!
Smoke alarms should be placed on every level of your home, inside each bedroom, and outside sleeping areas, while carbon monoxide alarms should be placed on every level of your home and outside sleeping areas, according to the commission.
Some smoke alarms have a built-in 10-year battery, which eliminates the need for battery replacements for the life of the alarm. But if you do not have this type of alarm, you should replace the battery every six months and replace the smoke alarm itself every 10 years.
5. Ensure the refrigerator, washing machine, and dishwasher run well
“Filters need to be cleaned and replaced on a regular basis, so you’ll want to inspect these for your refrigerator, washing machine, and dishwasher to extend their lives, ensure they operate more efficiently, and save yourself money in the long run,” says Cole.
Additionally, it’s a good idea to clean the back coils of your refrigerator twice a year.
To clean the coils, unplug the refrigerator and move it away from the wall. Remove the refrigerator’s bottom panel, brush away dirt with a soft-bristled brush, vacuum up dust, repeat with the vacuum brush attachment, and then replace the refrigerator’s bottom panel. Plug the refrigerator back in the wall.
6. Clear garbage disposal
Clogged drains in your garbage disposal can cause hazardous material to seep into or under your home and cause problems like wood rotting, pests, and flooding in your home with wastewater.
“Restoration companies cost thousands of dollars once the damages are done, so being proactive is key in this situation,” says Jerry Schrader, the owner of Augerpros Plumbing and Drain.
Schrader says if it’s a clogged P-trap (the U-shaped pipe under your sink that catches debris), drain the water from the sink and to get a large pan that fits under the P-trap. Unscrew the P-trap and dig out the debris.
Grinding ice cubes and running cold water is also a good way to loosen debris and food particles trapped in the garbage disposal.
7. Drain your water heater
Experts says heating water is one of the largest contributors to household energy consumption and cost—up to 25% of your home’s energy bill.
“In order to improve the unit’s life span and performance, it’s important to drain your water heater at least once a year, as it helps remove sediment that causes clogs and prevents the water heater from running efficiently,” says Cole.
She says most manufacturers recommend flushing your water heater once a year, but areas with hard water may need draining more often.
“Be sure to consult your owners manual first. However, to drain a water heater, the only tool you’ll usually need is a garden hose,” says Cole. “Generally, you’ll need to shut off the water heater’s power and water supplies, and then attach a hose to the unit and let the water drain.”