Often Neglected Home Cleaning and Maintenance


When you buy a different home, especially a pre-owned one, you often don’t get much in the way of help on how to maintain and clean things that come with the home. How is a new homeowner to know what should be done and how to do it?

Neglected Home cleaning

Of course, there are relatives and friends that can help advise you. On line sites and books and TV shows can also be of help. But lets face it, home maintenance and periodic cleaning tasks are usually well towards the bottom of most of our to-do lists! Even if we are aware that something should be done, perhaps we conveniently ‘forget’ to tackle it in a timely fashion.

After 36 years of home ownership (both homes having been bought from prior owners), here are a few of the things my spouse and I managed to put off (or never do!) well past the time we should have done them.

Dryer vent cleaning.

In our first home, the dryer was on an outside wall in the garage. It had a vent to the outside made of metal that was, at most, a foot long. We never had to clean it out (just sweep off the lint from the porch to which it vented).

Our new home has the dryer in a utility room on an interior wall. The prior owner had installed plastic venting that went up to the ceiling, traveled into the attic and across the attic floor for about 30 feet before it vented out a wall onto the roof.

My spouse replaced the plastic vent piping about 10 years into our lives here. The installation was not fun – the attic has no floor, the space is very cramped and of course it is always either very hot or very cold up there. Although the metal is much less of a fire hazard, it still accumulates lint and needs cleaning. I claim ignorance about how to do it and he tends to ‘forget’ to clean it. Guess we need to think about hiring someone else once a year to do the dirty work?

Recommended Reading

Microwave or oven vent fan filter and cleaning.

Lots of homes today don’t have kitchen vent fans that actually vent to the outside. Many are installed over the range or as part of an under cabinet microwave. I’m embarrassed to admit that until last week, I never thought about that kitchen hood vent not venting outside. Sure I cleaned the exterior and the inside that showed, but I never thought to look for a filter (it has one) or to clean the accumulated grease and dirt off the filter cover.

When I finally took off the filter cover and looked, I saw instructions saying that the filter should be changed at least once a year… ahem… we have lived here 25 years. I tried cleaning both the filter and the cover, then went looking for replacement parts. Amazingly I found them! New, clean parts on the way and for not much money either.

Clean your kitchen fan!

Floor tile grout.

Sure, you mop the tile floor, but do you ever get down and really scrub out the grout (and then reseal it)? I’ve done mine (ahem) once. I hear that Listerine can be used as a cleaner. Others swear by oxygen bleach powder. It will require some scrubbing, but is much easier than digging out that disgusting grout and replacing it! Seal it up afterward with some grout sealer.

Water heater.

Our gas water heater is original to the house (which means that it is now 30 years old). We’ve never done anything to it (besides wondering why it is mounted on a foot high plywood platform with bricks on top and having a plumber replace a leaking faucet on it years ago). I’ve come to find out that water heaters should be drained once a year to remove the build up of sediment in the tank that can corrode the tank. Hmmm. I’m afraid to touch a 30 year old heater. I’ll probably let this one slide until it just gives up the ghost and we install a new one.

Air Conditioner units.

Although we have religiously changed out the furnace filter, until a few years ago we didn’t understand that we should be hosing down the exterior unit of the air conditioner to clean the debris from it. About 3 years ago, the unit stopped cooling. Naturally it was on a blasting hot day. We called the air conditioner repair man and he came a few days later. All that was wrong was that the exterior filter was so clogged with cottonwood seeds that it couldn’t cool. Now we hose it down each spring.

Refrigerator coils.

I’m pretty sure most of you readers take care of this, but I hadn’t been cleaning the dust out from the coils of my refrigerator until just a few years back. When we first were married, we had to defrost the freezer and clean out the drip pan beneath the refrigerator. However, we never knew to clean the coils (that were then located on the back of that old frig). Although ours kept working, I’m sure we paid more and cooled less because we didn’t clean it.

Vacuum cleaner filters.

Until I bought a bagless vacuum, I didn’t realize the huge role that air filters play in the sucking power of a vacuum. Now if I don’t clean them after each session, the thing won’t suck up the dirt.

Even bagged vacuums have filters. Keep them clean for better suction!

Maybe it is just me that neglects these types of things?  Are there home maintenance or cleaning tasks that you intentionally put off or didn’t know about when you first got your home?

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