April 2008
A Spring Cleaning Checklist For Your Gas Appliances

Itís that time of year that everyoneís getting the bug. Not the sick bug, but the cleaning bug. As you begin your spring cleaning, donít forget that your natural gas appliances need periodic cleaning, too. Hereís a checklist of things you can do to ensure that your appliances are spic and span and in good running condition.

Gas Grill
To keep your natural gas grill clean year-round, itís important to remember to clean the grates with a stiff wire grill brush every time you cook. But even when properly maintained, gas grills need a more thorough cleaning from time to time. To clean your grill, be sure to disconnect the gas before cleaning it. Using warm, soapy water, clean the grates and drip guard. Inspect the hoses for cracks, brittleness, holes, leaks or damage. Once you have finished cleaning, be sure to heat the grill completely before you cook again to ensure all of the soapy residue burns off.

Your furnace filter needs to be changed monthly during months of use to ensure that it is safely and efficiently working. So if you havenít changed your filter lately, make it part of your spring cleaning, then continue the practice each month after that. To determine the size of filter youíll need, look at the frame of the current filter for the correct dimensions. When changing the filter, be sure to properly close the filter access door.

Water Heater
Begin with your gas water heater by checking to be sure the temperature is set to 120 degrees. Any higher wastes energy and can cause scalding. If your water heater is not already insulated, go ahead and do so. A insulating blanket can be purchased at your local home improvement store.

Next, listen to your water heater to see if you detect a gurgling noise, which is a sign of buildup. To fix this problem, drain a little water from your gas water heater about every six months, starting when itís new, to avoid sediment buildup. However, doing so with older water heaters that have not been regularly drained can actually cause leakage at the drain due to buildup and corrosion, so itís best to start this practice early as a preventative measure.

Some experts also recommend completely flushing the water heater every two to three years, but this also needs to be done from the beginning.

For instructions on draining and flushing your water heater, refer to your manufacturerís instructions or home improvement books or websites.

Always let your range cool before you begin cleaning it to avoid burns. You should use warm, soapy water to clean your range, as some chemicals can cause fire when the flame is burning. To clean the grates, remove them and soak them in warm, soapy water. If this doesnít do the trick, mix one cup of vinegar to one gallon of hot water for the soaking solution. Once they are clean and dried, carefully replace them. You may want to follow the same instructions for the drip pans.

Once your range is clean, check to be sure the flame is burning blue Ė any other color can mean that you have a problem. If itís blue, have it serviced before using it again.

You should already be cleaning the lint screen after each load because a buildup of lint can cause a fire. However, it may be helpful to perform a more thorough cleaning of the vent every once in a while, since the lint screen may not trap all lint. To do so, unplug the dryer. Disconnect the vent duct from the dryer (this should only involve loosening a clamp with a screw driver). Using a vacuum attachment, vacuum out any lint inside the duct. If this requires moving the dryer, be sure to check the gas line to ensure it is properly connected and not damaged in any way. Next, clean the hinged hood cover on the outside of the house to ensure that there are no bugs, plant material or other debris blocking it.

CO Detector
While you are cleaning, test your carbon monoxide (CO) detector to be sure it is working. If needed, replace the batteries. If your CO detector has met or exceeded its lifetime (usually about five years), get a new one. Refer to manufacturerís instructions to see if you need a new one.