When it comes to taking care of Fall cleaning and prepping for Winter the “to do” list can get quite long. While many people focus on the yard and exterior of their home, it’s easy to forget that there’s quite a bit to do inside as well – like cleaning your heating appliances. Similar to making sure your car has a clean oil and air filter, a clean heater system doesn’t just look nice it also works more efficiently AND uses less fuel.
If you have radiant heated floors, you are off the hook, but for those of us with radiators or baseboard heaters it’s time to break out the cleaning supplies, but don’t worry – it’s easy!
Tips for Cleaning Your Radiators
Make sure your heat is off and the radiator is cool. Prep the area by putting down newspaper, plastic, or a drop cloth on the floor beneath the radiator and against the wall behind it. The simplest way to blow out the dust from the hard to reach places is by using an air compressor. But if you don’t have one handy, you can use a blow dryer or compressed air in a can (the same stuff you use to clean your keyboards and electronics).
Once you’ve loosened and blown on the dust, use a narrow nozzle on your vacuum and suck up the debris. For stubborn dirt, clean the radiator with warm soapy water. Avoid using abrasive cleaners and sponges as they could damage the finish of your radiator. Don’t use an abrasive cleaner as you may damage the radiator’s surface finish. Dry it and turn your radiator back on.
Tips for Cleaning Your Baseboard Heater
Turn your thermostat off or to its lowest setting and make sure your baseboard heaters are cool to the touch. Remove the front cover on each baseboard heater and check under the fin tubing to ensure it is free from the edge of the carpet, toys, and other larger items that may have gotten stuck, to ensure you’ll have good air flow beneath the tubing. Dirt can reduce the amount of heat the fins radiate. Use the brush nozzle on your vacuum and clean the fin tubing along its entire length. The fins can easily bend so work slowly. Once it’s clear from hair, dirt, and debris, you’ll want to inspect the fins to make sure there isn’t any damage. If there is damage it won’t work properly. If the fins are bent or out of shape, you can easily fix them instead of replacing them by using a putty knife or other flat tool to re-establish uniform spacing. Afterward, if the heat is not on, gently wipe the fins with a slightly damp microfiber cloth. Now that the baseboard is clean and in proper shape you can reinstall the front cover. Make sure the louver vents are open and reset your thermostat.
It can be surprising how quickly dirt and debris builds up on and under radiators and baseboard heaters. It’s always best to clean them right before the heating season begins and once again about halfway through Winter, especially if you have pets. If you have small children, you’ll want to check weekly to make sure toys, crayons, and other items don’t end up under or in your heaters.