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Stories From the Field: Cleaning is Preventative Maintenance

Stories From the Field: Cleaning is Preventative Maintenance

Est. Reading Time: 3 minutes

Written by: Jake Miller, Certified Professional Home Inspector

Have you ever had a light bulb moment? You know what I’m talking about: When you walk into a room and all of a sudden an idea hits you and a light bulb turns on in your head. That hit me not too long ago when I did an inspection on a home that was built in the early 1950’s. This home was incredible. Yes there were things that needed to be updated, but, the thing that stood out most to me was how
clean it was, and that was the light bulb moment: Cleaning IS preventative maintenance.

When someone begins to talk about preventative maintenance, most people will get a glossy-eyed look and tune out the conversation, mainly because it can seem like a daunting task. It can for me, too! After work, family, and other obligations, it can be easy to just sit back and hope our homes will just stay as-is. Unfortunately, time affects our homes like it does everything else.  But, what I noticed from the field is that the homes that paid attention to these smaller details were often doing well in some bigger categories of preventative maintenance. Not only do the little tasks prevent problems from growing larger, but it creates a habit of paying attention to your home, and catching things before they’re a problem. Let’s break this down to smaller areas that can be handled easily and fairly quickly, and things you can begin to do this week.

There are a few different areas that I have found that people often neglect when it comes to cleaning that make a big impact: The Forgotten Places

Bathtub Surround


The bathtub surround is one area of the home that isn’t always cleaned well, particularly the area where the tub and the walls meet. This area catches a lot of water when shower is being used. To clean this area, take your favorite shower cleaner, spray the corners of your shower and use a medium stiffness bristled brush to clean. If the area is looking like some of the grout and/or the caulking is coming out or missing, it would be recommended to remove the old and replace with new. By cleaning the grout and joint area, you are slowing the possibility of mold growth and lengthening the life of your shower and tub. 

Under the Kitchen Sink

If under your kitchen sink looks anything like mine, it’s full of plastic bags from the grocery store, maybe a couple of rolls of paper towels, and lots of cleaning supplies. Though these things are always useful, they tend to block views of any potential issues that may be happening under your sink. Also, bottles of chemicals could have tipped over and started to leak, causing damage to the cabinet itself. So, it is recommended to take some time a couple of times a year to pull everything out to evaluate the plumbing for your sink and faucet and clean up any mess that may have happened due to old spills. Keeping this area clean will help elevate any potential damage to your walls, cabinets, and flooring.

Bathroom Ceiling Vents

If your home has ceiling vents installed in the bathroom and/or the laundry room, it should be cleaned on a regular basis. The vent was installed to help reduce moisture in the bathroom or laundry room while it is being used. If it is clogged with lint or other debris, this will decrease the functionality of the vent and may lead to premature wear or failure. To clean the vent, carefully remove the outer cover and clean the cover with mild, warm soapy water and dry well. Also, the vent itself should be cleaned of debris by using a cloth to wipe it out. If a vacuum is needed, be careful not to hit the fan portion of your vent.

Final Thoughts

As you think about your home (or potential home), try to think through your home and the places you don’t think about much. Write them down to take a look at to see if cleaning is needed. Cleaning areas that are often forgotten about will be greatly beneficial in the long term preventative maintenance of your home. The little areas that may be neglected over time tend to add up and could lead to bigger issues down the road.