We thought it would never come. Dirty snow littered the ground, bare trees shivered, and you couldn’t leave the house without being properly insulated. But little green plants will soon begin to poke up through the soil and the birds are singing earlier in the morning. The prospect of spring feels more real. You know what else comes with the transition to this season? That’s right - spring cleaning. We’ve compiled a few tips for you to think about as you tackle some projects in your high-performance home over the next couple of months.
1.) Clean that mini-split!
The most important part of regular maintenance of your mini splits is removing and cleaning the air filters. Let the arrival of spring be a reminder to do this. Besides, chances are you’ll be using the mini splits less as the weather gets more temperate. Make sure the unit is off, and then take out the air filters. They can be wiped down with a damp cloth or wash them with soap and water in the sink. (For more advice specific to your unit, be sure to consult the owner’s manual). Clean filters keep your mini split in good working order, requiring less maintenance in the long run.
2.) Don’t forget about the outside unit!
As the snow melts, revealing whatever detritus was frozen underneath, go check around your compressor unit. Leaves may have piled up around it or an excess of dirt may have accumulated on top. Make sure it is cleared off so that it can continue functioning well.
3.) That ERV needs a breath of fresh air, too!
Like the mini-splits, the ERV needs a good cleaning as well. After all, it is the metaphorical lungs of your house. Consult the manufacturer’s recommendations for your specific unit for guidance on cleaning and general maintenance. Manufacturers typically recommend that filters be cleaned or replaced quarterly or after every 2,000 hours of use, and so if you haven’t done it yet let this be a good trigger to check that everything is ship shape. We think you’ll be equal parts pleased and disgusted at the gook that’s collected in your filter over 3 months. It’s a sure sign that the ERV is doing it’s job. Pro-tip: If you are replacing a filter, check with your local municipality about recycling your filter before tossing it. You never know what they may be able to recycle.
4.) Tackle surfaces!
Although your high-performance home was designed with a (now very clean!) ventilation system that keeps toxins and dust out, other things may be hanging out on surfaces throughout your house. Rather than resorting to traditional spray cleaners which are often full of toxic materials (especially in places where you are cooking and eating), how about making your own effective cleaner? Besides, it’s the tail end of citrus season so here’s a great excuse to eat as much of it as you can. You save all the peels, cover them with vinegar for a week, and then dilute it with some water for a safe, delightful smelling, functional cleaner. Bon Appetit made this great little video to guide you through the process.
(As noted in the story, the only surface to avoid using this cleaner on is marble, as the acidity can act as a dulling agent.)
5.) Open up those closets and see what’s inside!
Yes, we all love storage space, until the moment we realize we can no longer remember what’s in the back of the closet because so much has piled up in front of it. Pull everything out of your deep storage areas, sort through, and decide if there are things you can part with. (Marie Kondo has plenty of advice on ways to do this if you need some extra guidance.) Things that still have life in them can be donated to thrift stores. There are also plenty of local organizations serving your community who have a running list of donation needs. A quick phone call or online search can put you in touch with folks who will put your gently used but no longer needed items to good use.
6.) Finally, let the sun shine in!
It’s highly likely that winter’s snow and ice have left your windows covered in a film of salt and dirt and water spots. And, we all know the only film your high-performance windows need for optimal performance is that low-e coating. With a bucket, wet rag, dry rag and a squeegee on your tool belt, you can have them looking crystal clear (and streak free!) in no time – a solution of 1 part vinegar to 1 part water will do the trick. If you’re one of those homeowners with European style tilt and turn windows, you can clean your windows while standing inside. Lucky you! Though maybe the casement window folks are really the ones who’ve got it made. What better excuse to get outside and enjoy that cool air and the warm spring sun. We apologize in advance if we’ve designed 30+ windows into your home – that arm workout is going to be killer.
Here’s to a beautiful spring, patience through the cleaning process, and joy at having your house in order. What is your favorite thing to do during a spring clean? Do you have any tips to share? We’d love to hear them!