Easy Home Maintenance: Cleaning Your Box Fans!

Screen Shot 2019-09-15 at 7.35.48 PM.pngRecently, we noticed that our box fans weren’t providing much cool air. Before dropping over $150 to replace them all, I decided to see if cleaning them would improve their airflow capabilities. After all, they were still functioning mechanically, they weren’t putting out the air flow they used to.

With temperatures in excess of 80 degrees almost all year round here, box fans are a needed appliance in our home. We can’t go without them, as running the AC is cost-prohibitive.

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Oh dear.

These fans are all about a year old, and while I have vacuumed the front and back of them previously (I do it once a week), they had never been taken apart and cleaned.

Gather all the tools needed before you start. For this job you will need:

  • A sheet to cover your work area.
  • A screwdriver (our fans all have Philips head screws)
  • A dish to hold the screws while the fan is disassembled
  • All-purpose cleaner. I used Comet Lilac Bliss- it’s what we had in the house, and it worked really well.
  • A stiff-bristled brush. I used the brush I use to scrub the soap scum/hard water deposits out of the bathtubs (like this)
  • Rags or really scratchy paper towels. You need something that will trap the dirt.
  • Vacuum Cleaner with a brush attachment.
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Before: This stuff was tough to scrub off!
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Once again, my Dyson Vacuum saves the day!
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After: So fresh and so clean!

Here are my tips for deep cleaning your fans-

    1. UNPLUG THEM! It seems like a no-brainer, but I’m going to remind you to not clean appliances that are still plugged in.
    2. Remove the front and back plastic pieces of the fan. Ours were held together with 6 screws.
    3. To remove the dirt/fuzz/cat/hair/whatever grossness that was on the fan front and back, I placed them in the bathtub and sprayed them down with all-purpose cleaner. I allowed them to sit for about 20 minutes while I cleaned the fan blade and fan case.
    4. Using all-purpose cleaner and a rag, carefully spray and wipe the fan blades, both front and back sides.
    5. Using the vacuum hand tool with the brush attachment, clean the interior of the fan case, as well as the backside of the fan motor. I was amazed at the amount of fuzz, dirt, and hair was around the intakes for the fans.
    6. Once the fan blades and fan case are clean, return to the bathroom and scrub the fan front and back. Rinse and dry completely.
    7. Reattach the front and back to the fan case, plug in and test out. All 6 fans worked 100% better after being cleaned. This is now a chore that has been added to the end of season home cleaning list.
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Re-assembled and working like new!

Cleaning all of the fans took about 2 hours, and that included time to make snacks for two very starving kids, let the cat in and out a few times and help with math homework. Without distractions, I could have gotten done in about an hour.

In the future, I may invest in some of these Box Fan Filters, which until today I had no idea existed.

Taking care of appliances, like these box fans is just another way that we are able to extend the useful life of often-used items in our homes, and that saves us money in the long run.

Talk Back: What types of small things do you do to extend the life of your small appliances?

Buy Nothing Week: Frugal Living put to the test!

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I love the Buy Nothing Movement, in fact, I’ve hinted and written about it in a few of my posts recently.

Part of their movement is to try a buy nothing week, in fact they have an entire Facebook Group dedicated to it.

I started it this week with mostly successes, but we’ll be doing it again next week and I’d encourage you all to do it too!

It’s easy. Taking into consideration all of your financial obligations (rent/mortgage, utilities, groceries, gas, etc.), be mindful to not spend any funds that you don’t HAVE TO. Skip the morning drive thru in favor of setting up the coffee maker before bed the night before and making yourself a quick to go brekkie before you hit the road.

Instead of cruising the aisles of Target to combat boredom, take a walk at a local park, or visit with friends.

There are so many small ways you can save money. But this challenge is more than saving money, it’s about being more self-reliant and helping others too.

  1. Clean out your closets (maybe one per day), and instead of throwing the unwanted items away, try posting them in your local Buy Nothing Group, or on another local group (like Nextdoor, Craigslist, or even a local facebook group like a mom’s group).
  2. If there is an item you need, seek it out on one of the free venues listed above. Earlier this week, I needed a new car booster seat to replace one that was damaged in my recent car accident. I asked on our local Buy Nothing Group, and a friend and neighbor offered me one that her daughter had outgrown. It had never been in an accident and was still in date! Score!
  3. Institute substitutions! Going to bake a cake, but you’ve run out of oil? Substitute applesauce, butter, canned pumpkin, or baby food (seriously)!  A quick Google search and a search of your pantry may lead you to a surprising switch. And who knows, it may be a new favorite!
  4. You may learn a new skill! I learned to sharpen my kitchen knives using the sharpener that came with the knife set, instead of taking my knife set to the sharpener (saved $50!). I watched the video on the knife company website, and read the manual.
  5. Barter or trade. You may be surprised! My mom trades her homemade jams and jellies for fruit, veggies, and eggs.

During our Buy Nothing week, I will still have to buy milk and bread, and maybe some fruit (depending on how much we go through), but I am committing to buy only what is on my list. I will also offer up unwanted stuff from our home to my neighbors. Books, clothes, kitchen gadgets, toys, games, even pantry goods.

But don’t think we’ll sit at home staring at each other, there are tons of fun, free things for us to do! Well, we’ve got some play dates near us planned for a few days during the week, and we always get out each day to the YMCA, or the lakes (also close by) for a walk, and to feed the ducks and play at the playground, and if it’s warm enough, we go in the pool at the YMCA (our HOA pool isn’t warm enough in the winter). We’re never want for activities to fill our days.

How can you participate? Pledge to have aBuy Nothing Week! Meal plan, pack your lunch, take your coffee from home. Find free/inexpensive activities to occupy your free time. Visit a park, go to the library. Take a week off from shopping. It’s a great way to spend more time connecting with family and friends.

I do this a few times a year. It really helps us take stock of what we have, both in the physical sense of what we have in our cupboards, but also how lucky we are to have the option to say, “This week we will not spend any money and our quality of life will not suffer.” I recommend that everyone have a spending freeze week or even a day and see how much money you’ll save.

I’ll be reporting our activities and money saved this week, and for those of you who will be having their own spending freeze (or even a modified one- try going a week without the coffee shop or drive-thru), I can’t wait to hear about your savings too!