Stephanie Jones, REALTOR's Blog
115 Colonial Ave, North Andover, MA 01845
Could your home be making you sick? Could those allergies be inside rather than outside? Yes, and yes. Of course, you’ve already sussed out the obvious places: the mold in the bathroom, years of dirt in the carpet, even the drapes and blinds.
But what about the air ducts? You know, the very thing that carries the conditioned air to you from your expensive HVAC unit. Just because you use filters on your furnace and air conditioning unit doesn’t mean that those ducts are clean. Here are times to check your ducts to keep your air breathable and pristine.
When you buy new
Even if your home is new, you have no guarantee that your ducts are clean. In fact, you’ll often find layers of drywall dust, insulation, and other harmful debris in your ducts that entered during the building and testing stages of your home and its systems. If you’re prone to allergies, have your ducts cleaned before you move in.
When you buy old
If you’re a home’s second, third, or more owner, you have no idea what might be lurking in those ducts. If three owners ago had a litter of kittens, you may not find any dander in the new carpets, but there could be pet hair and dander in those ducts. Try to get having the ducts inspected and cleaned added into your seller’s closing costs or home warranty.
After a long winter
When your home is closed up for long periods due to inclement weather, dust mites find their way into your ducts. Add some damp days and that crossover period from winter to summer (usually called spring) when you try not to operate your heat or air conditioning, and you’ve set up your ducts to be breeding grounds for allergens of all types including mold spores and dust mites, and a collecting place for pollen.
When to call the pros
Even a shop vacuum with a super long hose cannot clean out most ducts from the vent back toward the fan unit. Call in a licensed and bonded professional air duct cleaning service to take care of the problem for you. Schedule them before the worst of the allergy season to clean out the ducts and install HEPA filters in the air returns and furnace. Make sure that your filters can trap microscopic particles, pet dander, and fine dust. Change them as frequently are noted on the packaging.
If you’re buying a home, be sure to ask about any special filtration included in your HVAC until. And talk to your agent about requesting adding air duct cleaning into those seller’s closing costs.
18 Perry St, North Andover, MA 01845
18 Perry St, North Andover, MA 01845
If your budget allows for it, hiring a good housekeeper is well worth the money. If you're like most professional couples, you probably already feel "maxed out" after you've put in 40 to 60 hours at your jobs . When you add parenting responsibilities into the mix, there's not too much time and energy left for cleaning the house! While certain basic house cleaning tasks are unavoidable on a daily basis, it's a relief to know that a paid house cleaner will be coming in to do a thorough job soon.
Finding a reliable housekeeper with whom you feel comfortable can be a bit of a challenge, but if you can get referrals from family, friends, and others you know, then your search should put you on the right track.
The Selection Process
Since the main reason you're hiring a cleaning person is to make your life easier, the last thing you want to deal with is dependability problems or substandard work. That's why it's important to get referrals from people you know and trust. It often pays to interview more than one prospective cleaning person because you want to find someone who is the best match for your budget and needs. When you have two or three prospects to choose from, you'll be in a better position to choose the one with the best attitude, top references, and the most agreeable personality.
Unless a cleaning person was referred to you by someone you know well, it's a good idea to request references and contact a couple of them before making any final decisions. Calling at least two of their current customers (or past bosses) should give you some helpful insights into their work habits, punctuality, and willingness to follow directions.
Although most customers will probably try to be complimentary, if you ask the right questions and look for "red flags" in their answers, you'll be surprised at what you can learn. While it may be too blunt to ask if their cleaning person is honest, a lot can be inferred from their responses to other questions. For example, if a housekeeper has been working for the same customer for several years and cleans their house while the costumer is at their office or other place of employment, then there's a good chance the cleaner does excellent (or at least satisfactory) work and can be trusted. One direct question that generally needs to be asked when talking with references is "Would you personally recommend this person?" Asking how their housekeeper responds to special requests, suggestions, or constructive criticism may also provide revealing answers.
When getting a quote from a cleaning person or house cleaning service, it's useful to get an itemized list of what chores or services would be covered in the price. There are two advantages to this. First of all, you'll be able to compare "apples to apples". Secondly, you'll be able to gauge your expectations to what was initially promised and agreed to. While there may be other issues to consider, like possible background checks and insurance coverages they carry, once you've found a house cleaner you like and trust, you've cleared the biggest hurdle in your search!