Q: I’ve heard plenty of my neighbors complain about being stuck inside this winter and unable to do much outdoor maintenance work. Well, I’ve been around long enough to know there’s plenty of work to do inside, too. Think you can remind folks about some important stuff they could be doing while waiting for the weather to break? – Oldster Stan, Buffalo, N.Y.
A: Stan, that’s very true. While being stuck indoors can be maddening, there are plenty of smaller home-maintenance tasks to take care of – even if it’s too cold or snowy to get out to the home-improvement store. Here are a few:
• Descale your coffeemaker or electric kettle: Check the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions online, but in most drip brewers you can flush several ounces of white vinegar through the system, rinsing thoroughly with clear water.
• Clean your dishwasher: Remove any parts that can be lifted out easily, such as racks, utensil holders, wash arms and filter. Soak smaller parts in a sinkful of vinegar-water solution and wipe down the racks, dishwasher interior and the door seal. Rinse and replace all the items, then run the empty dishwasher through a cycle to finish.
• Clean the garbage disposal by adding a few ice cubes and lemon peels and cycling it. Rinse with running water.
• Clean the wash tub of your clothes washer by filling it with hot water and one quart of white vinegar. Let it agitate for a minute and then pause the cycle so that the water sits for an hour; then resume the wash cycle to rinse.
• Vacuum the space your clothes dryer where the lint filter sits. Inspect the dryer vent for lint buildup and remove any lint you find.
• Tighten the hardware on cabinets and drawers – knobs, handles and hinges.
• Check child- and pet-proof latches and outlet covers, and replace any that are broken.
• Vacuum out the heat registers in each room, being sure to replace the floor vent covers immediately afterward so pets don’t accidentally crawl in.
• Change the air filter on your heating system (you knew I’d get that one in here).
• Rotate houseplants, shifting them to new locations to vary the air and light they receive.
HOME TIP: Take a tour of your home and make note of as many improvement or maintenance tasks that you can find. Then create a schedule to tackle a few of them at a time.
Send your questions or comments to email@example.com, or write This Is a Hammer, c/o King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475.© 2014 King Features Synd., Inc.