HOUSEHOLD TIPS, TRICKS & SOLUTIONS COUNTER TOPS • • • • • • • • •
Always used a cutting board. You may not notice minor scratches at first, but over time they will dull the luster of even a hard ceramic tile finish. Wipe up spills promptly, especially those that are acidic. Natural stones are alkaline and acidic liquids will disfigure them. Some liquids, especially hot ones, will stain grout and plastic laminate. Avoid abrasive cleaners to prevent scratches. Never use cleaning products, waxes or polishes that are colored or tinted. Soapless cleaners are recommended for routine cleaning. Rinse thoroughly so residue won’t cause permanent damage. Set heavy objects down gently to avoid breaking or chipping counter tops.
Granite countertop Tile countertop
CABINETS Squeaky hinges can be lubricated with a tiny drop of lubricant or WD-40. Apply it to the top of the hinge and then open and close the door several times to work the oil into it. Wipe up any excess so it does not drip.
HOW TO FIX A DOOR THAT OPENS OR CLOSES BY ITSELF: • • • •
Remove the middle hinge pin Lay it on a flat surface that won’t be damaged, like a piece of scrap wood Use a hammer and tap the pin to put a slight bend in it Put the pin back in the door and test the door
DISHWASHER Dishwasher will not turn on (Breaker needs to be reset)
• • • •
Be sure the door is securely shut and the latch is fully engaged. Ensure the unit is plugged in and check your circuit breaker box to see if they are “tripped”. Reset the breaker if necessary. Check to see the proper buttons are selected for the cycle you have chosen and the “delay” cycle is not selected on your machine. Ensure the wall switch is in the “On” position (if applicable)
Dishes are not getting clean • • • • • •
Make sure there are no foreign objects in the bottom of the dishwasher. Make sure the dishwasher is loaded properly, do not overload. Adjust the dishes to ensure they do not obstruct the spray arms from fully spraying during cycles. Try switching dishwasher detergent. Use a rinse aid, like Jet-Dry e substitute. Use a pipe cleaner or sewing needle to remove food particles or other debris from the spray arms’ small holes. This will keep the water flowing at its maximum rate. Use a pipe cleaner to clean the sprayer arm holes
(Never use a toothpick, as the tip can break off inside of the washer arm.)
There is a sewage smell coming from the dishwasher • • • • •
Check the drain at the bottom of the dishwasher. Make sure the filter/screens are clean and there is no debris sitting at the bottom of the dishwasher. Make sure water has run (drains may be dry from no usage). Prime the dishwasher by adding 1-2 gallons of water to the inside of the machine and run the wash cycle. Check for moisture under the sink and near the dishwasher. If the drain line to the disposal is lying on the cabinet floor it can cause the dishwasher to not fully drain. This can cause disposal water to sit in the line. The line should be run to the top of the cabinet neat the sink. (see image of “high rise loop”)
ELECTRIC GLASS TOP RANGE • • •
If a heavy spill occurs and you can’t clean it right away, use a razor scraper to remove large food deposits. Apply a cooktop cleaner or baking soda mixture to get the cooked on food off (see below). Check for a blown fuse/breaker and reset if needed
HOW TO CLEAN THE GLASSTOP RANGE: • • • •
Fill a bowl with hot water and add a little dish soap. Sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda on the stove top. Get a clean rag and immerse it in the bowl soapy water mixture. Lay the rag flat over the baking soda on the stove top, wait 15 minutes, then swirl the rag to gently rub the baking soda to clean off the cooked on food.
ELECTRIC COIL RANGE Range will not turn on • •
Make sure the appliance is plugged in. Check for a blown fuse/breaker and reset if needed One of the burners does not turn on
(unplugging the burner)
One of the burners does not turn on • •
If there is power to the unit and it has electronic control, disconnect the power for 15-30 minutes then re-try. Unplug the burner and reinstall to a fully seated position to ensure it is securely plugged in.
GAS RANGE IF YOU SMELL GAS, CALL THE GAS COMPANY! DO NOT TAMPER WITH GAS APPLIANCES!
Make sure the Gas is turned OFF! •
Stainless steel tops should be cleaned with heavy-duty degreaser and a non-abrasive pad.
Take care not use too much water when cleaning, especially around the knobs. If water drips down into the holes where the knob shafts come through, the burner switches can short out and cause problems with the spark ignition system.
OVEN • •
Whenever you use the oven, it should be wiped clean of anything that overflows or spills. When you know there is a risk for overflow from the food you are cooking, place a piece of tin foil or an oven liner under the pan, at the bottom of the oven to catch any thing that may spill over.
Oven will not turn on • •
Check the bake element a black tube near the bottom of the oven. Operating normally, the bake element will glow red hot. If it does not glow, the bake element may have burned out. Check the broil element, a black tube located at the top of the oven. If the broil element does not glow red hot, it’s possible it has burned out which can cause other components to short out.
MICROWAVE OVEN • • • • •
Ensure that you never place any substances in your microwave that have the potential to harm it. For example, don’t place metals, plastics or Styrofoam containers inside your microwave as these contain toxic chemicals which can potentially get into your food. When heating liquids, ensure that the liquid container is covered with a vented lid. Avoid spills inside the microwave. If your microwave does not feature a removable glass plate, then place the food item on a paper towel before heating. Wash your microwave regularly, using very mild detergents or the chemical free recipe below. Do not use any abrasive materials to clean your microwave.
Keep your microwave looking like new!
EASY CLEAN YOUR MICROWAVE: • • •
Place a bowl of water with lemon slices inside the microwave Run it at max power for 5-7 minute. The citrus will cut the grease and the water vapor breaks the dirt crust down. Once the microwave stops, just wipe it out.
GARBAGE DISPOSAL • • • • •
Turn on the cold water before starting the disposer. Drop food waste slowly into the unit. Let the water run a few seconds after the waste is disposed to allow it to flush away. Corn husks, celery, onion skins, rice, potato skins, artichoke leaves, olive pits, bones and solid or liquid grease may cause your disposer to jam or overload. Clean garbage disposal blades by grinding up ice cubes. Freshen the smell of the disposal with vinegar and citrus fruit rinds. Turn the power switch to “Off” before taking any action, should your disposer suddenly malfunction. DO NOT use your fingers to pull out clogged matter; use pliers or tongs. Clean your garbage disposal by making vinegar ice cubes to use weekly. This helps to eliminate bacteria which can cause odor. You could also, take a bottle brush and scrub inside the disposal. This small maintenance step will go a long way to keeping it fresh.
Motor will not work or turn on • • •
Ensure the unit is plugged in. Check for a tripped circuit breaker and reset if needed. Ensure the unit is not jammed and push the reset button (usually located on the bottom of the unit) to restore power to the unit.
Disposal is making an unusual amount of noise •
Unplug the disposal, use tongs or pliers to clear all items that are jamming the blades.
Motor makes a humming noise (blades aren’t moving) • • •
After turning off the power to the disposal, use tongs or pliers to clear all items that are jamming the blades. Insert an Allen wrench that fits into the bottom center of the unit and turn the Allen wrench back and forth several times until the motor is free. Push the reset button when you are done to restore power to the unit and plug back in.
Disposal takes too long to grind all the food • • •
When using the disposal, run more cold water. Minimize the amount of food going into the disposal. After turning the power off to the disposal, use tongs or pliers to clear all items that are not acceptable for a disposal.
Keep your disposal smelling fresh • • • •
Dice lemons and place them in ice trays. Cover with vinegar and freeze. Store in a plastic bag. Toss a couple in the disposal once a week to keep it fresh.
REFRIGERATOR No power and/or motor is not turning on • •
Check to see if the unit is still plugged in. If it is plugged in, use a hair dryer or other small appliance to test the outlet and be sure it is working. Check for a blown fuse, and reset if needed.
The unit has power, the light is on, yet the fridge is not cooling • • •
Inspect the door gasket to make sure doors are closing tightly so the refrigerator is maintaining its highest level of cold. Clean grimy gaskets with soapy water and dry completely. If seals are dirty they can become loose, creating excessive moisture in the refrigerator, possibly resulting in defrost issues. Clean condenser coils in the back of your fridge every six months. These coils cool and condense refrigerant, releasing heat. If they’re clogged with dust and pet hair, they stress the compressor and waste energy.
The interior light(s) not working • •
The light bulb may need to be replaced. Ensure to replace ONLY with the same appliance type bulb already provided in the unit.
Refrigerator has an unusual odor • • • •
Clean and disinfect the drain pan. Remove any old food. Check behind the drawers for fallen food debris and clean Put a box of baking soda inside the fridge and one inside the freezer. This will absorb and eliminate a lot of odors.
To keep a leak from ruining your home and the items inside, make sure all adults in the family can locate and operate the main water shutoff and individual shutoff valves in the kitchen and bathrooms. The main valve is located at the water meter. Other valves are located under sinks, behind each toilet and on top of the water heater. If you have water flowing down your hallway, you don’t want to be looking all over the house for the shut off valve.
Water shut off for your water heater
Water shut off for your toilet
DRAINS • • • •
Grease build-up is the most frequent cause of clogs. NEVER pour hot grease down the drain. Once it cools it will coagulate and become stuck in the pipe. Petroleum-based products such as paint thinner will damage pipes and should never be poured down drains. Almost all bathtub and shower drains have strainers to keep soap and hair from getting into the drain. Simply keep these strainers clean to help avoid clogging and avoid letting large chunks of soap, hair or other debris from getting into the drain in the first place. Remove hair and foreign matter from sink and tub stoppers every time you clean to ensure good drainage.
HOW TO UNCLOG A DRAIN: • • • •
Flush the sink with boiling water Try using a plunger. Make sure there is a good seal around the opening and plunge vigorously 6-10 times. Pour 1/2 cup of baking soda down the drain followed by 1/2 cup of vinegar. Wait 15 minutes and follow with more boiling water. If that doesn’t work, pour 1 cup of baking soda and 1/2 cup of salt down the drain. Let this mixture sit a few hours or overnight. Follow with at least 2 cups of boiling water.
Water shut off for your washer (hot and cold)
TOILETS • • • • • •
Don’t treat your toilets as a universal garbage disposal. It will get clogged and stop working. Keep a plumber’s plunger handy. If a clog occurs, shut off the water valve located behind the toilet. A few vigorous pumps of the plunger will usually free the clog. Do not use harsh chemical drain cleaners. These can damage the toilet seat and cause leaks. Never use a toilet as a ladder. Don’t stand or sit on a toilet tank lid. Avoid putting any pressure against a tank by leaning back against the tank.
Cup Style Plunger
Flange Style Plunger
Water is “running” in the toilet constantly • • • •
Adjust the screw on top of the fill valve to adjust the float and set the water level. Turn the screw counterclockwise (L) to add MORE water to the tank and clockwise (R) for LESS water NOTE: The water level must be set lower than the top of the overflow tube. Check the float to make sure it has not corroded or become stuck in place, not allowing it to “float” with the water level. Ensure the chain to the flapper is not tangled or twisted not allowing the flapper to fully close and seal after each flush. Replace the flapper if it has become warped or damaged/not creating a good seal. If you cannot find an exact replacement for your model toilet, a universal brand flapper is adequate.
Toilet leaks water onto the floor • • • • •
Check the supply line for leaks. The fill valve has a seal at the bottom of the tank. If this seal is split or corroded it can cause a leak at the bottom of the toilet tank. If the toilet is clogged: Use snake or plunger to loosen the clog. Make sure there is enough water in the bowl to cover half of the rubber cup on the plunger and fully covering the hole. This will ensure a good seal. Occasionally, the fill valve line will come out of the overflow tube and splashes water out of the top of the toile. Remove the top of the tank and ensure this has not occurred. If the problem does not stop, turn off the water at the shut off valve behind the toilet. Catch any water with a pan or bucket before and during repairs.
Testing a toilet for a leak • • •
Check the water level in the tank to be sure that the water is not overflowing by way of the overflow pipe (the pipe in the middle of the tank with a small piece of tubing connected to it). If water is running into the overflow pipe, you can adjust the water level by turning the screw on top of the fill valve. Turn counterclockwise (L) to ADD more water to the tank and clockwise (R) for less water. The water should stop approximately one inch below the top of the overflow tube. There may be a water level mark stamped on the side of the tank. Test the flush valve mechanism by putting a few drops of food coloring into the tank. Check the bowl after 15 minutes, if the water in the toilet bowl has changed color, the ball or flapper is leaking and needs to be replaced.
WATER HEATER • • • •
If your water heater begins to leak: Close the shutoff valve located on top of the unit and turn off the breaker. If it is a gas heater, close the gas supply valve, too. To avoid scalding and burning, we recommend keeping the water heater on the “normal” setting. Always maintain 2 feet of clearance around the appliance unless the manual specifically states otherwise.
Water shut off valve
The white “tick” mark is the recommended setting of 120 F or 49 C O
CARPET • • • • • •
Frequent vacuuming is the key to maintaining your carpeting. It is normal for your new carpet to shed loose fibers for quite some time. Frequent vacuuming will take care of the problem. If a tuft of carpet appears which is longer than the surrounding carpet, don’t pull it out. Instead, trim it flush with the rest of the surface. Stain removal is easier when it’s done promptly. Test any commercial cleaning product on a section of carpet that isn’t easily seen, such as in a closet. (See our chemical free recipe below) To add years to the life of your carpets, have them professionally cleaned every six months.
TILE • • • • • • •
Remove grit and fine particles with frequent sweeping, vacuuming or damp mopping because they will scratch or dull your tile floor. When damp mopping, use clean water and wring the mop head thoroughly to prevent water spotting. A mild nonabrasive detergent can be used, but rinse well to avoid leaving a film that will look dull. Do not use vinegar or other acid-based cleaners; this will cause premature deterioration of grout. Don’t use steel wool, scouring powders, or other abrasives that can scratch the finish of your ceramic tile. Use furniture coasters and rubber feet to protect your floors when moving heave furniture or objects. Stains can be removed from natural stone tile using a little bleach.
HOW TO CLEAN GROUT: • • • • • •
7 cups of water 1/2 cup of baking soda 1/3 cup of lemon juice 1/4 cup vinegar Put the mixture in a spray bottle and spray grout Wait 5-10 minutes & SCRUB
HARDWOOD • • • • • •
Clean your hardwood flooring as frequently as you would carpets. Sweep and clean with a soft, dry mop or cloth. Never use water, water-based cleaners, bleach or one-step floor cleaners on hardwood. Flooding a wood floor with water will cause staining and warping. Wipe up liquid spills quickly. To prevent scratches, gouges and dents, never drag heavy furniture or appliances across a hardwood floor, and avoid walking on them with high-heeled shoes. Waxing and buffing is best done by a professional.
VINYL • • • • •
Sweep frequently. Use warm water and cleaning products made specifically for vinyl flooring. Abrasive cleansers will permanently dull vinyl finishes and full-strength bleach will etch into and destroy the surface. Heavy appliances, dropped tools, furniture legs, high-heeled shoes and rough use can all permanently damage soft vinyl flooring. Prevent indentations with felt floor protectors. Rubber-backed rugs will discolor vinyl floors.
Yellowing from rubber-backed rug
LAMINATE FLOORING • • • • •
Clean regularly with a vacuum and damp mop. Deep cleaning requires a soap-free cleaner designed for laminate floors. Grease and most liquid spills can be cleaned up with warm water and mild detergent. Remember not to use too much water since it can cause irreparable damage to your floor. Use a soft cloth moistened with mineral spirits or nail polish remover on crayon, asphalt, shoe polish, paint and nail polish. Let wax and chewing gum harden then scrape gently with a dull, plastic scrapper such as a credit card. Never use wax, sand, lacquer, steel wool or abrasives on laminate flooring.
HOW TO CLEAN SMALL STAINS ON CARPET: • • •
Pour enough vinegar to soak the stain THEN add a small amount of baking soda. (If you do the reverse, you will have a bubbly mess that won’t do the trick) Let the spot dry for a day or two before sweeping and then vacuuming. (Cover the spot with a bowl or plate so baking soda isn’t kicked around)
WOOD BURNING FIREPLACE • • • • •
A fireplace is not intended to heat your entire home or serve as a primary heating source. Only burn dry, cured fire wood. Other lumber and construction scraps may be treated with chemicals. Close the damper when not using your wood fireplace to prevent warm indoor air — and the dollars you’re spending to heat it — from rushing up the chimney. Keep bi-fold glass doors open when burning a fire to allow heat to get into the room. To burn a fire safely, build it slowly, adding more wood as it heats.
GAS LOG FIREPLACE • •
Do not move or replace the gas log element. This is a job for a professional who is licensed to work with gas appliances. Never put wood or other materials in your gas fireplace. The sealed gas unit is not designed to burn wood, paper or other materials and doing so could actually render the gas log useless.
Wood Burning Fireplace
Gas Log Fireplace
HVAC - HEATING and A/C • • • • • •
Reduce your operating costs by changing the filters monthly or even more frequently in very dusty areas. Keep all vents and registers clean and free of dust, cobwebs and debris. Keep landscaping two feet away from outdoor units to allow a free flow of air. Save energy by partly closing registers in rooms that aren’t in use. Since hot air rises, in summer open upstairs registers completely and close them on the lower floors. When winter comes, reverse the process. Try to keep your thermostat at a constant temperature so your system isn’t constantly changing back and forth. If power to the AC system was turned off for winter, turn it on and wait 24 hours before you run it. This will give the compressor time to warm up before it operates.
The AC unit will not turn on • •
Check the circuit breaker and reset if needed. Confirm AC disconnect switch is attached and fully engaged.
The air is not cool enough • • • • •
Remove all debris from and around the unit so that air can properly circulate through the fans and replace/clean the filters. Verify that condenser coil has not frozen over. If it has Frozen over, the AC unit must be left off until it thaws out. Ensure the vents are closed in rooms that are not being used. Locate the lever on one side that will control the opening and closing of the vent. Balance the air-system by opening and closing the vents to balance the air flow. Wide open vents maximize airflow, half open or closed will minimize the airflow. 2-Story homes: Close downstairs vents halfway to allow maximum airflow upstairs where heat has risen.
(frozen over condenser coil)
There is no heat • • • • •
Ensure unit is plugged in. Check for blown breaker/fuse and reset if needed. Check unit switch or the switch on the wall for the unit. Verify the gas has not been turned off by the utility company. Ensure the thermostat is set to “heat”. Ensure the temperature is set to at least 3 degrees higher than what it is currently set at to ensure the thermostat registers the difference and turns “on”.
(Breaker needs to be reset)
Rooms are not warm enough • • • • •
Ensure the registers are open. Clean and vacuum the registers. Replace the filter. Make sure the vents are closed in rooms that are not being used. Locate the lever on one side that will control the opening and closing of the Vent. Balance the air-system by opening and closing the vents to balance the air flow. Wide open vents maximize airflow, half open or closed will minimize the airflow.
Remember to change your air filters at least every 3 months, depending on which filters you use and keep the register dust free to help your system run more efficiently .
SMOKE DETECTORS • • •
Please do not remove or disable the smoke detectors. They’ve been installed for your protection. Replace the batteries and test your smoke alarms when you change the clocks for daylight savings. A chirping sound means the battery is dying and it needs to be replaced.
CEILINGS and WALLS Aside from occasional cleaning, your walls and ceilings won’t require much special attention if you follow these recommendations. • • • •
Never use strong chemicals or abrasive cleaners on painted surfaces. Before you use any cleaner, test it on an out-of-the-way surface such as the inside of a closet. Excessive scrubbing with abrasive material will damage the texturing on your walls. Remove small smudges by gently washing with a soft slightly damp sponge or cloth. Dry thoroughly--too much water can ruin wall board.
• • •
Open and close all windows gently to avoid cracking or breaking the glass. Keep the tracks and weep holes free of dirt and debris. To prevent scratches, use a broom or brush to loosen debris then vacuum it up with a brush attachment. Mini-blinds can be kept clean by dusting with a Swiffer duster.
STREAK FREE WINDOW CLEANER: • • •
2 cups water 3 TBS vinegar 1/2 tsp dish detergent (liquid)
Spray the solution then wipe with crumpled newspapers. The newspaper helps prevent streaks. Wash one side of the glass in an up and down direction and on the other side scrub side to side. This will help determine which side has the streaks that need to be polished out.
PREVENT FROZEN PIPES • • • • •
As winter approaches and colder temperatures set in most plumbers see a nice increase in business. Frozen pipes are one of the most common and costly plumbing problems, but here are some basic preventive steps you can take: Don’t leave a garden hoses connected to an outside hose bib if you expect tem peratures to drop below zero; residual water in outdoor hoses can expand and potentially break faucets. Insulate outdoor faucet bibs to prevent them from freezing; look at Home Depot or other home improvement stores for simple kits that make this a cheap, quick do-it-yourself job. Also check your outdoor faucets for leaks or drips which could lead to cracks during a freeze. If you expect a cold spell with below-freezing temperatures it’s a good idea to turn off the water to your outdoor faucets and sprinkler system if your home has shut off valves inside the garage, crawl space or basement. It may be worth having these installed if you live in a colder climate and your home doesn’t already have them! Consider insulating pipes in areas of your home that are not heated such as crawl spaces and the garage with heat cables controlled by a thermostat (most effective, but more costly) or heat tape (cheap but less effective).
Look for signs of leaks in exposed pipes, where pipes run through the walls or the foundation of your home. Signs of a leak include puddles of water and watermarks. Look for signs of corrosion. Corrosion of pipes can cause leaks and bad pipe connections if not corrected. A sign of corrosion is green stains around brass and copper fittings and on shutoff valves, and yellow or orange stains on old steel pipe.