From the Forums: 3 Cleaning and Maintenance Tasks You Shouldn’t Neglect

Posted by: on January 18th, 2013 | 2 Comments
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Artist's rendering of yucky stuff growing on a dirty refrigerator coil

What’s growing on the refrigerator coil?


Owning a home means keeping up with regular cleaning and maintenance chores around the house. This keeps your appliances and heating and cooling systems running smoothly, which saves money and helps prevent breakdowns. Home Depot associate Chris Long, who posts on our How-To Community Forums under the handle Newf, has suggested a few of the most neglected household cleaning and maintenance tasks.

His short list is based on his many years of experience helping customers in the aisles of Home Depot stores. He says these maintenance tasks are actually quite easy, but will help avoid expensive repairs.

Don’t Neglect These Cleaning and Maintenance Tasks:

Clean the Refrigerator Coils

“Probably the most neglected cleaning item of all time, brushing and vacuuming out the coils on a regular basis will keep your refrigerator running like new for many years,” Chris writes. “Not keeping the coils clean forces the motor and compressor to run longer to keep the insides cold. Eventually the refrigerator can’t keep up and this leads to an early demise.”

Some manufacturers will say it’s not necessary to clean the coils under “normal” conditions. But what’s normal?

“Under dusty or greasy conditions, or where there are pets the coils should be cleaned every 2-3 months … I clean mine twice a year and find plenty of dust to get off the coils,” Chris writes.

Chris recommends using a shop vac and a universal appliance brush. “Set the vacuum hose at the front of the fridge as close as you can get to the coils. Run the brush back and forth through each opening in the coil grate. A flashlight will help you see the dust fly off the coils and into the vacuum hose. A household canister vacuum or an upright with hose attachments will also work, but there’s nothing like a wet/dry vac to pull all the dust your brush creates right out of the air.”


Artists' rendering of gross stuff on the inside of a dryer vent

Is there gross stuff in your dryer vent?

Clean the Dryer Vent

When Chris recommends cleaning the dryer vent, he isn’t talking just about the lint filter screen that you wipe off every time you dry a load of clothes. Those small lint screens don’t catch all the lint. The small particles that get through will eventually build up inside the dryer and will block the vent ducting that runs to the outside of your house.

“Buildups will accumulate at the most restrictive spots,” Chris says. “In a well-designed solid wall vent, the buildup will likely be greatest right at the outside wall and on the ‘flapper’ that keeps cold air out. When flexible ducting is used, buildups can occur just about anywhere.”

You can use a universal appliance brush, as mentioned above. Chris recommends brushing the lent out of your dryer every three months, when you change your furnace or air conditioning filter.

Which brings us to …


Artists' rendering of gross stuff attached to a faucet aerator



Clean Your Faucet Aerators

“When your faucet seems tired and cranky, spitting and spurting water instead of providing a smooth flow, it’s probably just a clogged aerator,” as Chris so vividly explains. There’s a whole thread on How-To Forums about how a dirty aerator can cause a faucet to run slow.

Chris’ five-minute aerator cleaning routine is easy:

  • Unscrew the aerator with a pair of pliers, but use a small towel or other soft material as a buffer to prevent scratching the metal finish.
  • Pull off the rubber washer and pop out the inside parts.
  • Use an old toothbrush and perhaps a pick or wooden toothpick to dislodge the rust and rinse it away.

Once reassembled, the faucet now should run like new.

We have more advice and project ideas from our experts. Visit the Forums for DIY tips and and gardening advice from our store associates. From the Forums is our weekly column highlighting the best of The Home Depot’s Community Forums.

Illustrations by Joey Young

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  1. Another neglected task that is fairly easy for homeowners is draining the sediment out of water heaters. It will increase energy efficiency and prolong the life of the tank.