spring cleaning

Maybe it’s early nesting, the change of seasons or Kyle’s recent trip to the allergy doctor, but we spent all of last weekend purging, organizing and cleaning our little house. (We also took lots of new photos, so look out for that in the coming weeks!)

One of the items on the to-do list was to have our ducts professionally cleaned. The ductwork was installed with the rest of our heating system 3 1/2 years ago, but between remodel projects and a large shedding dog, it was due for some attention. Clean ducts not only extend the life of your furnace, but they also help keep contaminants out of the forced air system (a major plus for people with allergies). The whole process took a couple of hours and scared the bejesus out of Felix (we actually thought he ran away at one point but he finally came out of hiding later that day).

The truck basically acts as a giant vacuum, with a large hose that ran down the side yard, through the basement door and connected to where the return air ties into the furnace.

Now that we’re breathing easier, let’s move on to the next basement topic – laundry. With a baby on the way and Kyle’s newly discovered allergy to dust mites, we’ve also been considering upgrading our washer and dryer. Our current mismatched set came with our home and appear to be from the late ’90s. As you can see, they are one of the few remaining relics from the last 5+ years of remodeling.

Although I doubt they’re that efficient when it comes to water usage, we haven’t been able to rationalize replacing them because they still work. The downside of course is that they’re small (compared to front-loaders) and with a center spindle (agitator?) you can’t wash large items like comforters and pillows (which gets back to the allergy issue).

So ok, let’s get some new ones! But of course we just can’t swap them out for something new. No, no…that would be too easy. You see, whoever installed the original units seems to have taken the most amount of shortcuts possible when it comes to plumbing and electrical. So we’ll need to run new plumbing and wiring and since we eventually plan to finish out this half of the basement, we might as well build out the furring wall while we’re at it (which would be an extension of the media/electrical panel you see above).

Sigh…nothing is easy in remodeling, is it? Damn you old house!

But back to appliances. It seems like the hands-down favorite is the Whirlpool Duet. What do you guys think? Any particular models that you love? Also, any tips for scoring amazing deals? Let’s hear it.

Finally, on a somewhat related basement note I thought it would be fun to do a side-by-side comparison of “mission control” and how it’s evolved over the years.

On the left, you have the 2006 version which consisted of a few fuse boxes and some questionable electrical decisions (we actually had to have the electrical service that comes into the house upgraded before we could move in. I don’t think our little house had seen a computer before). Fast forward to 2012 and we’ve got ourselves a pimped out wall o’ power. It’s pretty, right? Our architect-electrician does good work.


32 Responses to “spring cleaning”

  1. Isabelle says:

    I am also into spring clean mood at the moment; nothing more embarrassing than the sun shining in through dirty windows *ups*.
    I think my suggestions for washer/ dryer won’t help you much as I am in Europe 😉 We also just renewed our dryer and bought an air-heat-pumped-dryer which was the lowest energy using one in the market. I would have liked to also swap the washer, but it still works (also came with the house ;-)) but Toni was against it as long as it works. Anyway, we will always go for a Miele and need a toploader as the house and laundry area is too small.
    Regarding the dust-allergy, I am sure you are aware that the sleeping/ bedding area is the most sensitive one. Do you have “isolation” sheets in the US and special vacuum cleaners to clean the bed and the couch?

    • kzerbey says:

      yes thanks, felix has been banned from the bedroom;( and we’re getting dust mite proof covers for everything!

  2. Britten says:

    I had a Whirlpool Duet set for three years before selling them with my last house. We were very pleased with their performance and never had any trouble with them. It’s amazing how much more they can do in a load than old-fashioned top loaders; I can fit an entire weeks worth of my laundry into a single load. I would highly recommend them.

  3. Staci says:

    Would you mind if I ask how much the professional duct cleaning costs? At our place, I did some minor vacuuming of the nastiest parts that could be reached by taking off vent covers… but I’m very interested in getting the previous owner’s cat hair OUT once and for all!

  4. Staci says:

    Hi! Just tried to leave a comment but it disappeared. Anyway, I was wondering if I could be so nosy to ask how much a service like this costs? I’m very interested in getting all of the previous owner’s dust and cat hair out of our system for good.

  5. Heather says:

    Did the duct cleaning actually make a difference in your allergies? I’m considering having this done in my house but some Internet sources claim it does nothing or makes your allergies worse. It *seems* like it would help.

    • kzerbey says:

      Hard to say. Our big issue was that during the remodel we didn’t have a grill on our return air duct so it was sucking in all kinds of bailey hair tumbleweeds;) It did remove a lot of his hair but I’m sure not all of it. I would say it depends really on how good your furnace filter is.

  6. I love how even your spring cleaning involves major equipment! Your blog is an inspiration to not cut corners. We have also been debating upgrading to a front loading washer but I have heard about some problems with mold- it might be the exception.

  7. lullafly says:

    Can’t wait to see all the new photos you’ve taken of the house!

    And just in case it hasn’t been suggested to you yet, I HIGHLY recommend investing in a good allergy pillow cover/case for your bed pillows. They slip right over your pillow, zip shut, and then you can slip the pillowcase over it. As someone who’s had bad dust mite and pet allergies since childhood, I can tell you they really make a world of difference.

    As Isabelle suggested, you can also buy allergy mattress covers that will help as well. I think those are a bit more expensive, but the pillow covers are definitely a cheap and instant improvement.

    • kzerbey says:

      yes, we plan on getting all of these things. I can’t wait to stop being stuffed up all the time;)

  8. hemmel says:

    We bought the Duet pair about a year ago to replace our top loaders that came with the house (sold them at a garage sale). They’ve been absolutely great. With the washer, we leave the door and drawer for the detergent cracked open after use. They dry out fine, and we have had no problems with mold.

    I’d like to know more about the wall o’ power. Especially the home networking you have. We are about to move a lot of our electronics, and I was thinking of moving our Airport Extreme to the basement (more centralized in our ranch) and branch out from there. Any pros/cons?

    • kzerbey says:

      well, the apple instructions clearly say to keep your wifi gear away from your electrical panel, mainly because I think the electromagnetic field from all the power in the electrical panel could interfere with the wifi. if you’re airport extreme is a type ‘n’ it will have a much longer range and putting it in the basment should be fine. If it’s the older ‘g’ it might not work as well.

  9. wendy says:

    i can’t have a front loader due to the laundry configuration in my basement, so went with the Whirlpool Cabrio. No center post, so can wash my queen size comforter at home! The capacity is truly amazing, and it’s an HE, so it does use water more efficiently than the old style.

  10. scotdog98 says:

    I love Young House Love because they always score great coupon deals. I don’t know if this post will help, but maybe . . . . http://www.younghouselove.com/2011/01/what-the-dealio/

    • chezerbey says:

      I re-read that post recently! Looks like the models they got have since been discontinued (maybe part of their sweet deal?), but we’ll definitely check out the big box coupon options.

  11. My partner had a Whilpool Duet set and liked it. We currently have a Samsung front-loader set and they’ve been nothing but trouble. We’ve had issues with the control unit, the supply valves, and the door seal gaskets in the Samsung washer, to the point that it was replaced once under its extended warranty for the control unit, replaced, had two seals get caught and ripped while washing bedding. Samsung gave us our money back when the valve failed.

    • kzerbey says:

      thats a bummer. I just heard from someone else about maintenance issues with the samsung as well. so far no bad news about the duets.

  12. I’m a fellow allergy sufferer. Dust mites, cats, and now dogs among many other things. We of course have the boxspring, materess, and pillows all covered in dust mite proof covers (see your allergy doctor mine gave me strong recommendations of which to buy because some are better than others I guess). We are also tearing out all of the carpet in the bedrooms and switching to hardwood. We also keep a no dogs in the bedroom rule because that is where my allergies are the worst (it works well for us because my husband works nights and won’t wake me getting the dog in and out of our bedroom in the middle of the night). Leather furniture is helpful too. I take a generic Zyrtec and a nasal spray every morning and I’m good.

    The explanation in the comments of why you had your ducts cleaned makes total sense. But in general duct cleaning is a load of crap. As an HVAC engineer I know that your ducts are only as clean as your keep your house. (Note: If you just bought a house from a dirty previous owner it might worth looking into.) They usually stick a camera in to a tight corner where the slowed velocity allows stuff to build up and show you how dirty your ducts are. Well if they are getting dirty because of a poor ductwork layout they will again be dirty in a matter of weeks in the same spot. Nothing you can do about that but to change the duct. Ductwork it not a environment dust mites want to live in with the hard sides, fast moving air, and low humidity they would much prefer to live in your house. (See this link: http://www.natlallergy.com/article.asp?ai=143)

    A high grade filter and a clean house are all you need to help your allergies HVAC wise. When we had our geothermal system installed we upgraded to a top of the line filter system and it has made a big impact on my allergies. The biggest problem I have with most high efficiency/HEPA filters are that the replacement filters can cost a lot ($100-150) and they are supposed to be changed every 6 months or so. We got the Trane Clean Air Effects (http://www.trane.com/Residential/Questions/Clean-Air) because it has 3 levels of filtering and all of the filters are washable/reusable. No costly replacement filters and less landfill waste. We’ve had it for 3 years and we absolutely love it! Even through demo it’s able to keep up we just have to wash it out a little more frequently.

    LOL sorry for the long comment but I hope that is helpful to someone!

    • chezerbey says:

      Thanks Robin, this is a great comment! Yeah, now that we’ve cleared the dog hair and construction dust, I don’t anticipate needing to have our ducts cleaned again for many years (if at all). We have the Trane Clean Air Effects filter too and it seems to still be the best option out there.

    • kzerbey says:

      yeah, thanks robin, We do have a fiborous acoustical duct liner inside our main supply line, but I’m assuming it’s too hot and dry in there for dust mites to survive. Great article, thanks for that. Yes we’ve been happy with our Trane clean FX!

  13. tarynkay says:

    IF you are planning to do cloth diapers (which I don’t care whether you do or not, none of my business) you might be better off sticking with your old washer. We have a new energy efficient washer, and we have to go through all of these extra steps in washing diapers b/c the new ones just don’t use enough water- the diapers end up getting washed in mostly pee and then of course, they smell. So you have to rinse, rinse again, and soak, and throw a towel in there to trick the water sensor- it just makes it more of a pain. We do all of this and it’s fine, but its enough that I wouldn’t replace a working washer if you are planning to do cloth.

    • Just to add that I have heard this as well but apparently some of the newer models actually now have a setting for diapers and it let’s you fill them high. This is what a friend who also cloth diapers and has a H.E. washer told me at least (not certain of the model).

    • Brittany C says:

      I was just about to leave the same comment. We bought new Samsung Frontloaders before baby was born, and it’s a nightmare washing his diapers between the low water usage and our hard water. If you’re considering cloth, I’d get on some message boards (loke babycenter or diaperswappers and check out this link http://rockingreensoap.desk.com/customer/portal/topics/30265-frontloader-forum/articles

      I had no idea my awesome new machines would be so crappy when it came to cleaning diapers! But they are awesome for all of our other things.

      • We bought a HE top load washer because we want to cloth diaper and have been quite happy with it. It is by LG and it was pretty pricey (thankfully my in laws gave the set as a house warming gift) but it is really a fabulous set with lots of bells and whistles without being hard to use. There isn’t an agitator so we can fit a lot in it (even a flat weave cotton rug), the one down side is it twists our clothes up during the spin cycle so I have to be diligent about putting anything remotely delicate in a mesh bag.

    • I used a front loading washer when my daughter was wearing cloth diapers. I had some of the same problems, but found that if I added a few pitchers of hot water at the beginning (I used the ikea plastic watering can because of the long spout) it seemed to get them clean.

  14. kateblood says:

    I also am allergic to dust, have a super shedding dog (who is also allergic to dust) and have a baby to clean up after so can totally relate to everything you’re going through!

    We bought the highest capacity LG Steam washer and dryer as a treat when we first moved into our place and I absolutely totally love them! (they are ruby red – what’s not to love!) but seriously, I wash our king size feather duvet about every 3rd month on the sanitize mode, then fluff it up again in the dryer. it’s awesome! and with all the bodily fluids that come with a new baby – I use the crap out of that sanitize mode… I also love the hand wash mode (I wash my cashmere sweaters on that) and the quick wash mode (for when you forget about your washing for a few days and it gets all stinky…) :/

    I got a pretty good deal online (google search), and found it was cheaper to have them shipped from the east coast (to the west coast), but I guess you just need to shop them around…

    we also recently bought a dyson animal, and am still amazed at how much stuff it brings up every single time!

  15. Just want to say these comments are great. I had not considered the difficultly of washing cloth diapers (or other clothes soiled with human waste) in a HE machine. Great points, everybody!

    My sister loves her Maytag Centennial EcoConserve Top Load Washer and the Samsung front loader we use at the clinic did eventually get a terrible leak, but it was after 3 years of heavy use. I personally don’t like that when I open the door, the moisture always creates a little drip that runs down the front.

  16. Norine says:

    Re pillows: I buy cheap ones and throw them out once a year. I do keep a secondary dust case on them, but after a year, $4.00 is an okay toss for me.
    Re washers: I only like top loaders because I like to soak my clothes rather than put excessive chemicals in the water. Soaking overnight can removed the most stubborn stuff from fibers because it softens and expands the fibers, which let the junk loose. I know it’s not supposed to be as water saving, but I really dislike front loaders. Their front seals will rot eventually and rust will dribble down the front of the machines. No thank you.

  17. Brian says:

    Regarding washers, my partner and I have had a Kenmore front loader (made by Electrolux) for almost eight years. Only recently have we had a problem with it, which was the failure of a circuit board. A service call and $150 we had a working washer again. It’s been a very good washer and inexpensive to own and operate.


Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] remove the awkward column in the middle of the space.  (You can see it in one of the photos from last week’s post.) To compensate for the column, Kyle first bolted a steel channel to one side of the existing beam. […]

Leave A Comment