Household Tasks You Never Knew Existed

Discussion in 'Teacher Time Out' started by a2z, Jun 9, 2020.

  1. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    The "dishwasher has a filter" post got me thinking. What are some other tasks that many people don't know should be done or could be done?

    Removing plastic knobs on sinks to clean them.
    Drain the hot water heater to prevent sludge in the bottom and extend the life of the hot water heater.
    Some washing machines have accessible filters too.

    Any others?
     
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  3. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    I must have missed the post about the dishwasher filter... I don't think that any of my sinks have plastic knobs... And I definitely did not know about draining water heater.

    I am very familiar with the washing machine filter, as ours often gets full of pet fur when we wash blankets, unfortunately.

    I'm sort of what one would call a "clean-freak", so I'm curious to see what else is suggested. Off the top of my head, I can't think of anything to add to the list, but I'll chime in again when/if I do think of something.
     
  4. sevenplus

    sevenplus Connoisseur

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    H asked me to clean out the little drainage holes in the window ledges.

    And I knew about replacing smoke alarm batteries every 6 months, but it never occurred to me to replace the units themselves every 10 years or so. A very rude awakening at 3 am precipitated that knowledge.

    Washer hoses should be replaced before they fail, too.
     
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  5. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    I know about the water heater, but totally leave that job in my hubby's box of things to do, right along with replacing all alarms (radon, CO2, and smoke detectors), and I have to say that he would get to clean out all of the drain hole in the storm windows, too. I also leave him with anything that requires a ladder, indoors or out. I know I must sound useless, but I know about the filters in all my appliances, cleaning toilets, bathtubs, how to use the dishwasher (hubby is allergic to even opening the door, let alone putting a dish in or out of it), and I am quite capable of changing filters in my vacuums. I think that is a fair distribution - I've even been know to use the lawn tractor and mow the 6 acres.

    Hubby would like for me to turn off the water to the laundry after every load, but we agree to disagree over that. I take the stance that since he replaces the washer hoses on a very conservative schedule, that should override the need for me to practically climb on the washer to turn off the water. He can reach it, as can our grown son, but they both have about 6" on me, and it is hard for me to do. Maybe I will feel more inclined if a hose ever bursts, but until then, I know he keeps a checklist of maintenance items and dates, and he doesn't put things off. "In hubby I trust."
     
  6. mrsammieb

    mrsammieb Devotee

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    Do all washing machines have a filter? We have a front loading one and we wash dog covers all the time. The thought of it being dirty is grossing me out.
     
  7. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Ours is front-loading too. There's a drain that covered by a rubber lip on the bottom edge where the door opens. I find fur there all the time and just have to pick it out with my hands. The more I think about it, maybe it's not so much a filter as a drain with plastic grate that prevents larger items from getting through. Anyway, every once in awhile, when too much fur gets through the drain, we have to actually take off a cover of the machine and manually drain the washing machine because there is so much fur that the water cannot get through (and we can't even open the door until we do this). It's frustrating.
     
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  8. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    How often does he replace the hose? We've had one burst before (fortunately, we caught it before any major flooding occurred), but I have no idea how often we should be replacing them to prevent this from happening again.
     
  9. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Look for your model number inside the door and find the user guide online if you didn't save the one it came with. Mine has a not accessible filter without tools. I don't think it is designed for the regular homeowner to clean. Some have them though. Check your model.
     
  10. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    The grate on the bottom of the refrigerator and what is behind it. Yuck.
     
  11. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    Here are two things I have to put on the calendar or I forget -- here in Florida, we run out a/c units year round, basically non-stop. You have to replace the air filter MONTHLY here. If you don't, the coils get all mucked-up.

    The other thing that is unique to Florida -- because it is so hot and humid here, a/c units get mold in the drain pipes. Every month, you have to take a half a cup of vinegar and pour it in the a/c pipe, then wait a couple of minutes, and follow it with a cup or two of hot, hot water. If you forget, the pipe will fill with mold, water will backwash, and not only will the a/c stop working, but you have to take a shop vac and "suck" out all the moldy build up from the drain, and then go outside and do the same thing with the outside drain. If that doesn't do it, then you have to call the repairman to dis-assemble everything and clear it out. It is much easier (and cheaper) to just remember to pour the vinegar and hot water. (The a/c guy was kind enough to teach me how to do it, so I could keep up with it myself and not have to pay for a service call.)
     
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  12. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    He replaces them every three years, like clock-work. I am pretty sure that is being ultra conservative, but we do have somewhat acidic well water, and I don't know if that factors into it or not. If he is content to change them without giving me grief over not being able to reach the shut off valve, I'm quite OK with that time frame. Let me say, however, that the same hoses had been on my washing machine for more like ten years before we married, and there was no disaster, but it only takes one bad hose to cause flooding.
     
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  13. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    If you have any unused/infrequently used drains in your house, make sure to pour some water through them every so often to keep water in the trap. Otherwise you’ll get sewer gasses in your house.

    Check the rubber flapper in your toilet tank periodically. They can deteriorate over time and cause seeping which can increase your water bill.

    Check the cutoff valves to all water lines. Nothing like having a pipe burst on the back side of the water cutoff to teach you to check for corrosion!

    Put graphite powder in your door locks to keep them working smoothly.

    Check the dryer vent to make sure nothing it blocking it. I once had a mouse nesting in my outdoor vent cover. Birds will, too.
     
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  14. TeacherGroupie

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    Following up on Ima Teacher's remark about cutoff valves (the valves themselves are known as "angle stops", by the way): part of checking the valves is turning them on and off to ensure that they will in fact shut off the water to whatever the fixture is. If, say, the toilet angle stop works, then when - not if - the flush mechanism gives up the ghost, one simply cranks down the angle stop so water no longer enters the toilet and does whatever needs to be done while the other fixtures remain usable; if that angle stop doesn't work, then one is obliged to shut off the water to the entire house before tackling the miscreant parts, and that's ugly.

    (Does everyone know the quickest way to keep a toilet that is near overflowing from crossing the line between emergency and ick-all-over-the-floor disaster?)
     
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  15. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    No... please share!
     
  16. txmomteacher2

    txmomteacher2 Enthusiast

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    This is not unique to hot humid places. We live in the desert of west Texas. We just bought a house two weeks ago. Three days after we moved in the AC unit started leaking. Yes it was because there was mold and sludge built up in the lines. Also somehow a rock but that's another story. lol
     
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  17. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Love to hear what you have to say. Wondering if there is some secret trick.
    I say, what has to be done depends on what is going on inside that back tank - unless you have a magic trick.
    I've had the flapper fail to close. I had to manually close it because the chain got tangled. One time it came detached and the flapper moved and wouldn't close all of the way.
    I've had the float fail to move and had to manually pull it up. Hard water build up.
    I've had to take the refill line and move it because I couldn't get the float to stop it.
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2020
  18. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Did you know the exhaust fans in the bathrooms eventually get clogged up with dust making them louder and less efficient? The covers pop off so they can be cleaned.

    How about those vent hood filters? Some are dishwasher washable. Others are replaceable (new ones with carbon).
     
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  19. TeacherGroupie

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    Yes, @a2z, the trick to keeping the almost-overflowing toilet bowl from disaster involves the tank. Please note that the explanation that follows applies chiefly to toilets produced for home use in the US, the kind with a side-mounted flush lever. Commercial toilets and toilets in other locales may work differently.

    What makes a toilet bowl flush is water flowing quickly into it from the tank above it and then flowing quickly down the passage at the bottom. The very fastest way to stop that flow is to reach into the tank - this requires removing the tank lid - and shove the flapper valve back down so it seals the hole through which the water is flowing. But it can be hard to see where that valve is when water is swirling around the tank. What's more, if the toilet bowl is near overflowing, it's because most of the water that was in the tank has already gone into the bowl - but water is still entering the bowl via the overflow tube through the holes around the toilet rim, and THAT is why the level of, um, liquid in the bowl is still rising.

    So the best approach is to find the float - which regulates water flow into the tank and the bowl - and pull it up, gently, to the point that the refill valve closes and the water stops. Floats in US home toilets tend to be of one of two types. A ball float is literally an elongated ball, about the diameter of a softball, that's screwed onto one end of a longish metal rod: grab the metal rod and pull up gently till the refill valve closes. A cup valve or Flushmaster valve is a cylinder that moves up and down the refill tube: ease it upward till the valve closes. Hold the float up until enough water has trickled out of the bowl that you can safely release it. But when I found myself having to deal with clogged toilets quite often ("regularly" is, um, not the right word), it turned out that one of the little hangers that comes with a set of men's socks could be used to hold up the Flushmaster float, and a standard hanger could be laid across the top of the tank, under the ball-float rod, to hold up the ball float. Your gallonage may vary, of course.

    Toilet tank lids are generally made of the same heavy ceramic as toilet tanks and bowls, so it is a very good idea to practice removing the lid and performing the appropriate maneuvers before the need arises.
     
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  20. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    Did they just start going off because they were too old? The ones in my house are embarrassingly old, as in I don't even want to say how old they are :oops:. I know that I should replace them, but I've been hesitant to because they never go off for no reason. Every apartment I've ever lived in had new smoke detectors and they'd go off for no reason at all at least 4-5 times per year. Few things have the ability to drive me so crazy. I know mine need to be replaced but I'm afraid I'm going to end up with something worse.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2020
  21. CherryOak

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    I have never thought about the hose or locks. Thanks! How about... washing the dryer filter. Sometimes, a clear, invisible layer of buildup clogs it up.
     
  22. TeacherGroupie

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    If your smoke detectors are that old, they're likely to be the photoelectric type. A photoelectric smoke detector is good at detecting the sorts of fires that smolder for a while before flaming, but dust can get into the works over time and make the smoke detector less accurate. For fires that flame more quickly, an ionization-type detector is a better bet - but if a substance gains or loses ions long enough, in due course it's going to stop being that substance, so ionization smoke detectors stop being as effective after ten years.
     
  23. sevenplus

    sevenplus Connoisseur

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    Ours were 16 years old. They were all wired together so one going bad set them all off. All 7 of them. And, of course it happened at 3 am. We couldn't get them to stop for a while. It was not fun at all.
     
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  24. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Did you know that using fabric softener in many of the washing machines with the dispenser units (rather than throwing it in the water or the cone on the old agitator units) will cause a build up inside the dispensing system? That needs to have vinegar or other agents to break down the softener's build up in the dispensing system.
     
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  25. Tired Teacher

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    OMGoodness! I can attest to that. I had 1 bust and water was hitting the walls and ceiling so hard it ripped the wallpaper off the laundry room. As it hit the ceiling, it came back down. When I 1st saw it happen, I thought a water pipe upstairs was busted. Check hoses! :)
     
  26. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    I use a Sharpie to write install dates on hoses, smoke detectors, water heater, or anything else I might need to know the age of.
     
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  27. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Or gum. :(
     
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  28. sevenplus

    sevenplus Connoisseur

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    Well, thanks to this thread I'm headed to Home Depot to buy a special kind of screwdriver I need to get to the inner filter and traps of my dishwasher.
     
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  29. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    The only filters I clean are the ones that are accessible and indicated in the user guide.
     
  30. sevenplus

    sevenplus Connoisseur

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    There are no accessible filters in this model and I saw some eye-opening YouTube videos. Seems simple enough and should improve my dishwashing experience!
     
  31. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    You are brave.
     
  32. sevenplus

    sevenplus Connoisseur

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    I haven't run it yet but I was able to reassemble it without event. Except for when my 5-year-old lost the special screwdriver bit I bought last night. Fortunately the next size up (the screwdriver came with several bits) also fit.

    Honestly, it wasn't dirty at all. Our dishwasher is 16 years old (I think it's the original one) but I always rinse the dishes of all food before running it. I was ready for it to be disgusting and it wasn't at all.
     

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  33. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    That makes sense. If you wash your dishes before you wash your dishes there is nothing to filter.
     
  34. sevenplus

    sevenplus Connoisseur

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    Right, but with our hard water I thought there'd be a lot more buildup after 16 years. The water dispenser area of our fridge gets disgusting, as do our faucets.
     

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