FAQ

Owner

How early my property gets listed?


If your home is currently tenant occupied and managed by us, we will list your property 60 days prior to tenant move-out. If you are a new client, we will lsit your property as soon as it is professionally cleaned, repairs completed, and showing ready. If you have purchased a new construction home, we will list your property 30 days prior to closing if builder gives us written permission to show.




Should I list at market rate or higher?


We research market rents using MLS data, third-party tools such as Zillow, Rent-o-Meter. We don't list at higher rates than the market rate. In our experience, properties listed at higher rent stays in the market unrented for a long time. For the landlord, vacant home is lost money in income, utilities expenses etc. In addition, with fair market rents, tenants will be more loyal resulting in longer stay and take good care of the property.




What websites my property gets listed?


We don't list on Zillow, Trulia, and Hotpads since the day these websites started monetizing public data. However, we list your home on following websites:




Should I provide pictures for listing?


You don't need to worry if you don't have pictures taken, our staff is trained to take professional looking pictures. However, if you already have profesionally taken pictures and they truly represent your property's current condition, we will use them in our in listing.




Should I include pest control, washer dryer, landscaping, etc?


Pest control and landscaping is tenant's responsibility. However, landlord is responsible for pest control within first 30 days of move-in if tenant reports pest issues. We provide landscaping services for cost if tenant or landlord requests.




Should I self-manage or hire a property manager?


You can self-manage your property if you answer YES to MOST of the following questions. 1. Do you have time 7 days a week to show your property during pre-lease and attend issues during tenancy?
2. Do you know Fair Housing, NC Landlord-Tenant, Security Deposit etc laws?
3. Do you know how to draft lease agreement with terms protecting your home, rental income, and being fair to tenant? 4. Do you have vendors in your back pocket for most common trades like plumbing, electrical, HVAC, handyman, painters etc at reasonable prices? 5. Will your vendors attend on a priority basis for issues like plumbing leaks, no heat, CO monitor malfunction etc? 6. Do you know how to assess market rent, take professional pictures, and list on multple websites? 7. Do you know how to pre-qualify a prospect before giving a tour? 8. Do you know how to read and understand red flags on background screening report? 9. Do you accurately report income, and expenses to IRS?
10. Are you a good negotiator, and know how to present your home to prospect and tenant?




Should you allow pets, and what is pet policy?


According to Apartments.com national survey, nealry 90% of the renters have pets. If you don't allow pets, it greatly reduces your ability to rent. Instead of saying no pets altogether, it is better to allow pets with some terms such as (a) only small dogs (b) no cats etc. If you allow pets, our company wide policy is (a) no dangeraous breeds (b) $250 one-time non-refundable fee per pet (c) no more than 2 pets (d) trained, spayed and neutered (e) 5 days to remove the pet from premises causing nuisance or poses danger to neighbors (f) we do not charge monthly rent for pets




Is a short-term or long-term lease better?


Long-term is better as your turn-over costs will be lower. Sometimes short-term is better if the lease ends during good rental season (March through July).




Should I give a discount for a longer term lease?


It depends on the demand. If your property is in most sought after location, rents are expected to increase year-after-year. In this scenario, reducing the rent for longer lease is a loss for the landlord. Conversly, longer lease will bring down turnover expenses. Decision should be made on case-by-case basis.




Should you allow tenants to rent sight unseen?


Yes, provided virtual tour is given to the applicant, so the tenant is aware of the conidtion of the home prior to renting.




Do you allow my tenants to pay their rent in one lump sum?


Yes, it guarantees rental income irrespective of tenant's economic situation. However, you do need to vet the tenant through background screening.




How do you renew tenants?


If the tenant is worthy of renewing, we assess the market rent and renew the lease with appropriate increase. Tenant receives the renewal agreement, typically 60 days prior to lease expiry.




Who is the service provider for background screening?


We use industry's most trusted and accurate, TransUnion services for credit, criminal and eviction.




Do you get discounted or preferred rates for repairs?


We don't outsource repair work to 3rd party vendors unless it is specialized like garage door, appliance, HVAC repairs. Our in-house handyman is capable of addressing most common plumbing, electrical, general handyman repairs. Our handyman charges are much cheaper than market rates. For specialized repairs, our network of vendors provide discounted prices and priority to our work-orders.




How do you handle showings to prospects?


Our properties are listed on 35+ websites, and prospective tenants have the ability to schedule showings online if they meet pre-qualification criteria. Our leasing agents provide tour and explain every possible question that tenant may have.




What happens if tenant damages the property?


At the time of move-out, we prepare detailed condition report and assess the tenant caused damages vs. regular wear & tear by comparing with move-in condition report. We estimate the cost to repair damages, and deduct the cost from security deposit. The remaining security will be refunded to tenant within 30 days of the move-out.





Applicant

What are your qualification requirements?


We need:

  • Your total household income to be at least three (3) times the monthly rent
  • Credit score 650 or above. On a case-by-case, lower credit score may be considered with higher security deposit
  • No voilent or drug related criminal conviction in last 5 years
  • No bankruptcy in last 5 years
  • No evictions in last 5 years




I am relocating, will you provide virtual tours?


You are not alone, many people relocate to Triangle area due low property taxes, better education, job opportunities, weather etc. Pick a property you like, and schedule a tour. One of our leasing agents will give a virtual tour of the property and answer all your questions.




I like your rental property, how do I schedule a tour?


No more phone calls or emails, you can schedule a tour from your laptop or smart device by clicking this link. One of our agents will tour the property and answer all your questions.




I like one of your listings, how can I apply?


Thank you for touring the property, and your interest to be our tenant. You can complete the rental application by clicking "Apply" link in the property you are interested. Please note that application fee $50 is non-refundable, and every resident over 18 years age need to complete the application. Please upload proof of income, and copy of government issed ID at our secure site here.




How much is the deposit?


Generally, security deposit amount is equal to one month's rent. Should there be questions on your background check, the deposit may be higher. Your leasing agent can provide this information to you once your application has been submitted and reviewed.




What is your policy on pets?


All pets must be approved prior to agreeing to lease the house to you. Breed and weight are determining factors, so be sure to have this information handy when calling. Please note, that some properties might have restrictions depending on breed. A non- refundable pet fee of $250 per pet is due before move-in. We don't charge monthly pet rent. None of this money is refundable. In some cases, you may be required to provide proof that your animal is up-to-date on shots.




What are your qualification requirements?


We require that you provide proof of income that shows your total household income to be at least three (3) times the monthly rent. Additionally, we need to screen your credit, criminal, and rental history. All of the information needed to do so is gathered on our application. Having less than favorable results reported to us does not prevent you from being able to rent from us, but may very well require a higher deposit.




What do you accept as proof of income?


Pay-check stubs can be used for proof of income and we must have at least last 2 months. We also accept benefits letters from the local, state, and federal government. If you are relocating on a new job, we need copy of your offer letter.




What if I don't meet the income requirements, but I know that I can budget to comfortably cover my monthly rent?


You may be given the opportunity to pay the difference between what you qualify for and the actual rent up front. For example: your income is $4000 each month, but the house you wish to rent is $1500 per month. The requirement is that you show proof of income totaling $4500 per month. We can allow you to pay, at or before the lease is signed, the $167 difference each month in one lump sum. $167 x 12 months = $2004.




I toured your listing, what is the process to secure the property?


Once you’ve selected your new home, you will need to apply. The fee for application is $50 and is non-refundable. Everyone in the household over the age of 18 years needs to apply separately. Your application, and background screening reports will be reviewed by the property manager and approved within 48 hours. Once approved, 1. You will receive lease agreement to yuor email for digital signatures. 2. You will need to make required security deposit within 24 hours after signing to secure the property.




I'm moving in at the middle of the month. Why must I pay a full-month's rent when I've been told I'm due again on the 1st?


All rents are due on the 1st day of the month. We pro-rate your second month, so when that next ‘due day’ rolls around, you will only pay the pro-rated amount.




I filed for bankruptcy few years ago, will this prevent me from getting qualified?


No. While your credit is a very important factor in determining if you can qualify, your criminal background, previous rental history, income, etc, are all equally important, and any one of them alone reporting negatively against you will not disqualify you from renting.




Do you accept section 8 vouchers?


Some of our properties do, but majority of the homes don't accept section 8 vouchers.





Resident

When is rent due?


Rent is due the first day of every month. Rent can be paid online. Rent not received by 5th, is considered late and a late fee 5% will be assessed to your account on 6th.




How do I pay my rent?


Funds can be paid electronically via electronic funds transfer from your checking or savings account and we can set that up where you initiate the transaction manually each month from your tenant portal account or set up an automatically reoccurring payment. We will accept money orders, cashiers checks, and personal checks. We DO NOT ACCEPT CASH.




What happens if I don't pay rent?


Prevent late payments by setting up reoccurring payments. If you are late, a late fee will be assessed to account automatically on 6th. If the account has not been paid in FULL within 10 days after a late fee is assessed then we will automatically file a dispossessory action in court and all associated court costs and fees are added to the account balance and the total must be paid in FULL in certified funds.




Who should I call in case of an emergency?


Call 911, as well call your property manager at 919-355-5317




Can I change locks or keys upon my move-in?


It is important that we retain the ability to access your home in the event of an emergency. Consequently, you should NOT replace or re-key any locks without prior written permission from us.




I am locked out, what should I do?


If you are locked out of the house, you are required to come to our office to pick-up and drop off the original keys during office hours. During non-office hours, there will be a charge of up to $95 for a lock-smith or office staff to provide access to the property.




Can I place a lock on bedroom doors?


No, it is against the code to place lock on bedroom doors.




I moved-out, when will I receive my security deposit?


We have up to 30 days to refund your security deposit minus damage & cleaning expenses.





Maintenance

How to properly care your Garbage Disposal?


The Do's

  1. Do keep your garbage disposal clean.
  2. Do run it regularly to prevent rust and corrosion.
  3. Do grind only biodegradable food with cold water.
  4. Do cut large items into smaller pieces.
  5. Do feed the disposal small bits at a time instead of trying to shove a large amount in at once.
  6. Do let the water continue to run for at least 20 seconds after the disposal's work is finished, flushing out any remaining particles.
The Dont's
  1. Don’t put anything in the garbage disposal that is not biodegradable food.
  2. Don’t grind glass, plastic, metal, paper, egg shells, bones, cigarette butts or anything combustible.
  3. Don’t pour grease, oil or fat into your garbage disposal or drain.
  4. Don’t use hot water when grinding food waste.
  5. Don’t grind extremely fibrous material like corn husks, celery stalks, onion skins and artichokes whose fibers can tangle and jam the motor.
  6. Don’t turn off the motor or water until grinding is complete.
  7. Don’t put expandable foods such as pasta and rice into your garbage disposal.
  8. Don’t use harsh chemicals like bleach or drain cleaners.




How to clean Garbage Disposal to eliminate bad odor?


8 Thrifty Garbage Disposal Cleaning Tips Did you know that your home’s garbage disposal needs to be cleaned regularly? During use, food particles and residue can be left behind and cause the unit to have an unpleasant odor. The good news is that you don’t have to buy special, expensive products to do the job. Your disposal can be effectively cleaned with common items that you probably already have in your kitchen. Learn some of the best ways to clean your garbage disposal with these 8 simple cleaning solutions.

  1. Ice cubes - One of the best disposal cleaning methods is with ice cubes from your freezer. Simply put a few handfuls of ice into the unit, then turn it on and run some cold water while the cubes grind. You’ll definitely hear the cubes working!
  2. Ice and rock salt - You can also add a cup or so of rock salt to the ice cubes for some extra scrubbing power. Remember to run cold water when you turn the disposal on.
  3. Baking soda and vinegar - A simple mixture of baking soda and vinegar is also a good dgarbage disposal cleaning method. Sprinkle about a half-cup of baking soda into the disposal, followed by a cup of white or apple cider vinegar. Let the mixture bubble up and sit for five to ten minutes, then turn on the disposal and run water to distribute the mixture throughout the unit.
  4. Citrus - Any type of citrus peel is a good disposal deodorizer. Lime, lemon, orange, tangerine, and grapefruit peels will all help refresh your sink and system. Be sure to cut the peels into small enough pieces for the unit to handle, then turn on the unit and run water while the peels grind.
  5. Borax - You can also sprinkle a few tablespoons of borax into the disposal, followed by running water.
  6. Hot water and dish soap - Another method of disposal cleaning requires only hot water and dish soap. This method can be particularly helpful if you have noticed an unpleasant odor coming from your unit. Using the sink stopper, plug the disposal drain and add a generous squirt of dish detergent to the sink. Run hot water into the sink until it is at least halfway full. As you release the sink stopper, turn on the disposal and let the entire sink contents drain into the unit while it runs. This cleaning method helps fill the disposal with soapy water to reach the upper portions of the unit, which often don’t get cleaned by other methods. It also helps clean the disposal drain line, which can harbor food residue and odors.
  7. Boiling water - Pouring boiling water into the disposal, by itself or following some of these other methods, can help loosen stubborn food particles.
  8. Dish soap and baking soda - It’s also important to clean the drain crevices around the disposal as well as the rubber splashguard around the drain. You can use dish soap or baking soda to do this. Use a dish brush or toothbrush to scrub underneath the splashguard flaps.
  9. Taking the time to clean your disposal will help keep your sink and kitchen smelling fresh and inviting for your family and guests. Remember to use caution when operating your disposal and when using any of these disposal cleaning methods. Never put your hand into the unit for any reason, even if the unit is off.




Is it time to replace my Garbage Disposal?


You gave it your best shot. You tried a variety of troubleshooting tips and still, the issue persists. Here are some telltale signs that it’s time to replace your garbage disposal:

  1. It clogs frequently even though you are taking good care of it
  2. You have to press the reset button a lot
  3. You can’t get rid of odors
  4. The blades have become dull
  5. You have a leak that can’t be easily fixed




How to reset my Garbage Disposal?


Did you know there is a circuit breaker on your disposal? Check out this video for a brief, step-by-step guide on where to find it and how to reset it.




How to unclog my Grabage Disposal?


Do you hear your disposal motor running but the blades aren’t turning? You’re probably facing a clog. This short video will have you knocking out this issue like a pro.




My toilet is not draining, how do I unclog?





How do I reset GFCI outlet


https://www.ahs.com/home-matters/diy-tips/how-to-reset-gfci-outlets/




Why is my dishwasher not draining?





Why is my dryer is not drying clothes?





Why is my refrigerator not making ice?





Why is freezer not freezing?





Microwave is not turning on





Oven light is not workin





How do I clean my dishwasher?


https://www.ahs.com/home-matters/diy-tips/best-way-to-clean-your-dishwasher/





Appliance Care

Washing Machine Care


Regular washing machine maintenance can help reduce breakdowns and costly water damage. Keep reading to see what steps you can take. Your clothes washer offers your household loads of support, so periodically take the time to return the favor. Washing machine maintenance can help you avoid breakdowns that could put the appliance out of commission — or worse, lead to leaks and costly water damage.

  1. Don't overload the machine - Use the appropriate amount of water for the size of the load. Wash heavy or bulky items in small loads since these are harder on the appliance.
  2. Measure your detergent - Read the appliance instruction manual to make sure you use the correct type and amount of detergent for your machine. Too much soap can leave residue on your clothes and cause excess wear and tear on your washer
  3. Use right detergent - Use low-sudsing HE detergent, it works well in all types of washers.
  4. Clean the lint filter - Depending on your machine, the lint collector may be located in the agitator tube, which is the center column of most machines, or near the top of the washtub. Keep it clean to help your washer run efficiently.
  5. Wash the washing machine - Rinse away soap residue and buildup by running store-bought washing machine cleaner, or a solution of hot water, vinegar and baking soda through an empty load.
  6. Prevent musty odors and mildew - Leave the washer lid or door open between loads to dry out the unit and keep it smelling fresh. On front-loading washers, wipe down the rubber seal around the door after doing your laundry.
  7. Move the machine - Check that there is at least four inches between your washing machine and the wall to prevents hoses from kinking.
  8. Keep the machine level - A washing machine that's off kilter can vibrate, rock or walk across the floor during the spin cycle, which can damage the floor or the machine. Balance the washer by turning the legs clockwise to lower it, and counterclockwise to raise it.
  9. Replace the water hoses - Check hoses regularly for bulging, cracking, fraying, and leaks around the ends.




Clothes Dryer Care


Ignoring regular dryer maintenance can impact the machine's efficiency — and pose a fire hazard. If you spot any of these signs, your clothes dryer needs some extra attention:

  1. Dryer runs for much longer than it needs to.
  2. Clothes removed from the dryer after one cycle are still wet or damp.
  3. Dryer moves or shakes as it operates.
Follow these easy steps for dryer maintenance:
  1. Don't overload - When you pack in too many clothes, towels and sheets, your dryer has to work harder to get them dry. Trying to do its job, the motor can overheat and eventually burn out. It's also hard on the belt, pulley assembly and spindle bearings. Though unseen, these are critical components. When they have to work too hard, load after load, it causes friction and breakdowns.
  2. Clean the lint screen before or after every load - Carefully remove the screen from your dryer, wipe away the lint and clean with a used fabric softener sheet.
  3. Keep the lint screen area clear - Remove the lint screen and clean its housing cavity with a dryer lint brush. You may also use the crevice attachment on your vacuum cleaner for this task.
  4. Check the balance of your dryer - If your dryer is not level, the rotating components will wear out sooner. Adjust the feet at the bottom of the unit if the dryer moves or shakes when in use.
  5. Inspect and clean the vent system - Hire professionals to clean your ducts and vent if you notice a decrease in dryer performance. If you have pets or a large family, this could be necessary as often as twice a year. Upgrade the vent hose if needed.
  6. Check the exterior exhaust - Air should flow through the vent but is sometimes restricted by debris.
  7. Wipe down your dryer's interior - Even if there are no stains or residue inside your dryer, it's best to clean the interior monthly. Unplug the appliance, then clean the drum with a rag dipped in warm, soapy water or microfiber cloth with rubbing alcohol.
  8. Vacuum behind and underneath the dryer - Moisture, dirt and lint can accumulate quickly. Clean around the dryer every three months.




Dishwasher Care


  1. Don’t confuse scraping with washing: No one wants to wash their dishes before they wash their dishes; it’s just silly. But you wouldn’t want to eat a Thanksgiving dinner and then go run a marathon right after. Well, neither does your dishwasher. Scrape food bits off before loading up to help reduce particles stuck on dishes once the cycle is over.
  2. Don’t overcrowd the dishwasher: It’s something that’s easier said than done. It’s quite tempting to layer in one more bowl or plate to avoid hand washing. Just remember, it’s better to wash a few pieces by hand than it is to rerun an entire load because things were too tightly packed.
  3. Run hot water before starting the dishwasher: Before starting the cycle, turn on the faucet and run until the water is hot to the touch. This means your first dishwasher fill cycle will be hot, instead of cold, until it finally makes its way over from the hot water heater. This is an especially important tip in winter time, as it takes longer for the water to heat up.
  4. Use the correct cycle: It can be tempting to use a shorter, lighter setting to save on time and water bills, but make sure you’re washing all your super dirty dishes by hand if that’s the case. Just like doing your laundry, keep soil levels together when washing to end up with the best performance.
  5. Don’t double up on rinse aid: When looking to purchase a new soap for your dishwasher, make note if it includes a rinse aid. If it does, then there’s no need to add any extra. If it doesn’t, skip the extra purchase and just fill the reservoir with white vinegar. It’ll do the trick every time!
  6. Run an empty dishwasher with vinegar: It’s the same concept as running a vinegar load in your washing machine. You simply toss a cup of white vinegar into the bottom of an empty dishwasher and run a normal cycle. It cleans out old food particles to keep your dishwasher smelling fresh.
  7. Clean the dishwasher trap: Down in no-man’s land, under the lower sprayer, there’s usually a piece that is removable. Under it you’ll usually find bits of food that didn’t make it out the drain or even pet hair (eww) if you have a fur-ball of any kind running around your home. Sometimes the tray comes out fully so it can be rinsed in the sink; sometimes a towel is needed to remove the gunk buildup.
  8. Clean the dishwasher seals: After a few months of use, your dishwasher accumulates a little bit of ick and stick around the rubber gasket in the door and often around the soap door as well. Make sure to give them a once-over with a damp towel to keep the grime down.
  9. Check your water heater’s temperature: There’s a joke about where to put the thermometer, but we’ll pass this time around. Make sure your water heater is set between 120 and 125 degrees. Many units are shipped new set to a much lower heat. This is the ideal temperature for washing dishes; don’t be tempted to turn it higher or else it will cause water to flash dry and not roll off your dishes, taking the ends of the dirty bits with it.
  10. Test your water: Hard water is killer on dishes and your ability to really get things clean. Make sure to have things tested and soften accordingly.




Refrigerator Care


A refrigerator is one of the few household appliances that runs continually, so keeping it in tiptop shape is especially important. Taking a few minutes on a regular basis to perform some simple maintenance tasks will help your unit run more efficiently, helping to save on energy costs and expensive refrigerator repair bills. Proper maintenance can also help minimize wear and tear to the appliance and help you avoid refrigerator issues, which may increase its lifespan. With our refrigerator care, we'll teach how to keep the refrigerator in great shape.

  1. Don’t Overcrowd - When filling your refrigerator and freezer, be careful not to block the any vents or controls.
  2. Close the Door - Keeping the refrigerator door closed is one of the best ways to ensure proper refrigerator maintenance. This is because the refrigerator has to work harder to maintain the correct temperatures when the door is opened frequently. Think about the items you need out of the fridge before you open the door, and retrieve them all at once. Make sure the door is closed tightly when you’re through.
  3. Don’t place hot or steaming food - Placing hot, steaming food in your fridge will raise the temperature of the unit and of the contents, making the appliance work harder to stabilize. While food safety is very important, take a few minutes to let hot items cool down before storing them in your refrigerator.
  4. Maintain the Temperature - Check the temperature often in both the refrigerator and freezer sections of your unit. This is important for food safety as well as for helping the fridge run efficiently. The refrigerator compartment should be around 37 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit and the freezer section should be set at zero degrees Fahrenheit. If you have an older model or if you suspect that your fridge or freezer isn’t cooling correctly, you can purchase an inexpensive refrigerator thermometer at most hardware and home improvement stores.
  5. Check the Gasket - If your gasket isn’t sealing well, cold air can be escaping, which makes the unit work harder and use more energy to maintain the right temperature. Inspect the gasket frequently for signs of wear and tear. If it’s cracked or deteriorated, you should replace it to avoid refrigerator problems. As a part of your fridge maintenance routine, be sure to clean the gasket regularly with warm, soapy water to help prevent crumbs and spills from harming the seal.
  6. Stay Level - If your refrigerator is not level, the doors may not close completely or seal properly, and the motor may have to strain unnecessarily. Use a level tool on the shelves to check your refrigerator’s position. Adjust the feet of the refrigerator if necessary to keep the unit even on all sides.
  7. Cover Food - Store food properly in containers with securely fitting tops, or covered tightly with foil or plastic wrap. This will help minimize moisture in the unit.
  8. Empty the ice - While this won’t help your freezer run any more efficiently, it may help your drinks taste better. Oftentimes, the ice at the top of the dispenser container gets used while the ice on the bottom just sits there for long periods and becomes stale. Empty the entire container periodically and let it refill from the bottom to make sure all the ice stays fresh.
  9. Change Filters - Many people don’t realize that refrigerator ice makers and water dispensers usually have filters that need changing. Check your manufacturer’s instructions for specific recommendations and replacement information for your model. Keeping the filters changed will help keep your icemaker and water dispenser clean and will help these components run efficiently. A good way to remember to change your fridge filters is to do it when you change other filters around your home.
  10. Light it up - You may not think that working light bulbs will make a big difference, but if you can’t see what you’re looking for inside the refrigerator, you may keep the door open longer. Change any interior light bulbs that burn out promptly so that your family members don’t have to fumble around in dark shelves and drawers.
  11. Clean the Coils – This task is already performed by our technicians prior to your move-in. Although you may not be able to see the coils, keeping them free of dust, debris, and pet hair really does help the refrigerator operate more smoothly and efficiently. The coils are usually located at the bottom of the unit or in the back. You may have to remove a grill to get to them, but usually that just involves snapping off a plate or removing a few simple screws. If your unit’s coils are in the back, you may have to roll or move the unit away from the wall, which also gives you the chance to clean the floor underneath the fridge. You can purchase a special coil-cleaning tool for the job, but a vacuum cleaner attachment or a stiff brush can also do the trick. Just run the vacuum or brush over and under the coils, removing dust as you go. Clean the condenser fan, too. The coils should be cleaned in this manner once or twice a year, and more often if you have pets that shed.




Oven Care


The best way to help lengthen your oven’s lifespan? Just a little TLC.

  1. Keep it clean. Keeping your oven clean will make a difference. The easiest way to stay on top of it is to wipe up spills when they happen. That’s not always possible, though. Sometimes you have to wait until the oven cools, and by then, the good intention has gone out the door. As grease and spills build up, the oven has to work harder to do its job, especially heating elements. That also causes more energy consumption.
  2. Don’t use the self-clean feature. If your oven has a self-cleaning feature, don’t use it. It sounds like a good idea — using intense heat to incinerate the build-up — but this heat overload will prematurely wear out your oven. Instead, put a little elbow grease on it (pun intended). Take out the racks and either wash them by hand or put them in the dishwasher.
  3. Clean the drip pans. When they get dingy looking, replace them. They aren’t very expensive. And if you have an electric oven, refrain from wrapping the drip pans in foil. The foil presents a possible opportunity for short circuiting the heating element.
  4. Check the door seals. Like the weather-proofing on your house, the door seals keep the heat inside the oven. This keeps your oven from working overtime, and keeps your kitchen cooler.




Stove Care


Stoves have simple working parts, and, with occasional repair and regular cleaning, yours should keep on serving you and your family for decades. Here are six tips to help keep the kitchen stove in good shape

  1. Prevent Boil-overs - When cooking, use pots and pans that are deep enough to prevent boil-overs and splattering. Minimizing spillage will reduce cleanup work and help prolong the life of your stove.
  2. Clean Spills Quickly - Cooking spills are inevitable. The good news is you can whisk away virtually any spill with a damp sponge or paper towel if you get it while it’s still warm. So get in the habit of wiping down your stovetop after every use-your stove will gleam like new for decades, and you’ll save yourself plenty of scrubbing.
  3. Use Elbow Grease, Not Abrasives - Of course, human nature will prevail, and once in a while, you won’t wipe up stovetop spills right away. If a spill has had a chance to dry out and cook for a while, use a sponge along with a solution of dishwashing liquid and warm water or a 50-50 solution of vinegar and warm water. The longer you wait, the more elbow grease you’ll need to invest. An all-purpose cleaner is fine to use, but whatever you do, don’t give in to the temptation to grab that can of abrasive powder-you’ll create tiny scratches in the surface. The next spill will grip the scratches and be even harder to remove.
  4. Clean the Stove Parts Regularly - In addition to an after-use wipe down, periodically give your stove parts a more extensive cleaning. Wash the burner drip plates and other removable accessories (but not electric burner coils) either by hand in the sink or by running them with your next dishwasher load (if the owner’s manual for your stove says they are dishwasher safe). Carefully remove control-panel knobs (usually by pulling straight out) and clean around the knobs’ bases. Wash the knobs in hot, soapy water, rinse, and dry before replacing them.
  5. Clean Under the Hood - If your stove doesn’t have a sealed cooktop, food and grease will fall down under the burners. It’s easy to forget about this out-of-view debris, so remember to lift the cooktop to clean beneath it. Follow the owner’s manual instructions for lifting the top without damaging it. Then clean the grease buildup with a sponge and warm, soapy water or a 50-50 solution of vinegar and warm water. Rinse with clean water and a sponge.
  6. Clean that Grimy Oven Window - Oven windows tend to become so dirty we can’t even tell what’s in there, let alone whether it’s done cooking. And when you think about it, a dirty window actually reduces the efficiency of your stove because you keep opening the door to check the food. To clean the window, rub it with a damp cloth dipped in baking soda. If stuff is really baked on, wipe the window with ammonia, let it stand for 30 minutes, then scrape it off a plastic ice scraper. Don’t use a metal tool.




Electric Cooktop Care


A dirty ceramic stovetop is not only unsightly but can also become a health hazard for everyone in the house. We’ve put together a few tips and steps on how to keep your cooktop clean.

  1. Sprinkle baking soda on the cooktop, ensuring the entire surface is covered. You can use a container with tiny holes punched through to make this easier and help get an even distribution of powder on the cooktop.
  2. Using a spray bottle, spray a small amount of white vinegar on the baking soda – the vinegar should be just enough to get the baking soda bubbling. The bubbling effect will start working on dirt and stains on the cooktop, making it easier to clean even the toughest of stains.
  3. Soak a dishcloth (or two) in warm soapy water for a few minutes. Be sure to use a large enough cloth to cover the entire cooktop, and wring out any excess water. Next, lay the damp towel over the bubbling baking soda, a wait for 15 minutes. This should help loosen any food materials and stains on the cooktop making the cleaning process even easier.
  4. Use the damp towel to wipe off the baking soda from the cooktop. It’s best to use circular motions when wiping the contents away, so that residue on the stovetop can be scrubbed off easily and without much effort. Rinse the cloth clean with water, wring it again, and continue to wipe off the remaining residue off the surface. Once this is done, you can then allow it to air-dry or use a dry microfiber cloth to remove any remaining water.




Gas Cooktop Care


After all, you always wipe down your stovetop after you use it so it should be clean, right? Truth be told, your gas range top goes deeper than just the surface. Food may overflow, crumbs will drop, and heat will make any debris burnt and crispy. Thankfully, there are ways to clean up this mess that finds itself on and under the surface. And, you should know that it is easier than it may seem!

  1. Cleaning the Grates - The first step in cleaning your gas stovetop would be to remove the grates. These heavy, cast iron grates may be durable, but they do take a beating while cooking. Spills and other residues get burnt onto the burner every time you use it. Over time, this buildup gets thicker and thicker. This may lead you to believe that getting the grates clean will take a lot of work and require heavy scrubbing.
    • Fill up your sink or a bucket with hot soapy water, using your dish soap. Then place the grates in the soapy water to soak. Then, as they are soaking, mix baking soda with a little bit of water, creating a thick, paste-like substance. Remove the grates from the soapy water and cover them with this baking soda paste. Let them sit for about 20-minutes.
    • Use a sponge and scrub the residue on the grates and run it under water to clean it off. All debris that was on these burner grates should be removed.
    • Make this process easier in the future by performing routine care. Fill a spray bottle with plain white vinegar and spray down the burners after each use. Let the vinegar sit on the grates for approximately ten minutes or so, then wipe off. The vinegar does not allow the grease to latch on, keeping your burners cleaner.
  2. Careful with the Fuel Ports - When you remove the grates, you are looking at the burner caps. Remove these and add them to the bucket of hot, soapy water to soak. If they are too bad, they may require the above baking soda paste treatment.
    • Below the burner cap is where you will find the fuel port. This is where the flame comes from when you light your burner. Sometimes, in gas ranges, food particles can find their way down into these fuel ports, clogging them and making it more difficult to distribute even heat. If you have ever seen a bright burst of flame when lighting your burner, this comes from food bits around the fuel ports, too.
    • Examine them and make sure all holes are open and debris free. Rumor has it that the best tool for clearing a clogged port is an unbent paperclip. It seems to be the perfect size to fit right in the space.
  3. Caring for the Surface - Initially, you want to wipe down the surface to make sure that you remove all unstuck debris. Get it off of there so you know what you are working with. Then, using a wet, soapy sponge (NOT the scrubbing side) gently begin wiping down the surface. You may need smaller rags to find your way into crevices. Or, sometimes a soft toothbrush will be beneficial. Note: Do not use any other type of toothbrush than soft or you may risk scratching the surface. If you find you have areas that are heavily soiled with stuck-on debris, here’s what you can do. Wet a cloth and place it in the microwave for 30-seconds. Then, place the steamy wet cloth over the stuck-on debris and let it sit for a few minutes. This will loosen what is stuck, allowing you to wipe it off much easier. Once your surface is clean, wipe it down with a dry cloth. Then, replace your burner tops and grates.
  4. Don’t Forget the Knobs - Lastly, it is easy to forget about your knobs if you are simply focused on the top of your range. But, believe it or not, your knobs get really dirty, too. Follow the same method as with cleaning the surface above. If possible, remove the knobs and place them in the hot, soapy water to soak. Then, gently wipe them down, dry them with the soft cloth, and replace them.
  5. How Often Should You Clean Your Gas Range Top? - So, simply stated, you should clean your gas range top after every use by wiping it down, carefully cleaning up crumbs and spills. Then, every month or two (or when you notice a lacking appearance), perform a deeper cleaning.




Microwave Care


Microwaves make heating food much faster. Use these few tips to keep your microwave in good shape, so that you can count on it this everyday!

  • Keeping your microwave clean is not only important for food safety and for appearances, but it can help your appliance run more efficiently and prevent damage to the interior caused by burned foods. Avoid using abrasive cleaners, which can scratch the finish, and cover your food when possible to minimize splatters. There are several natural ways to clean microwaves, including using baking soda and vinegar. Be sure to clean the exterior, too, but be careful and don’t let water or liquid cleaners get between the touchpad and the machine. Remember to clean the turntable and door glass, and check underneath periodically for fallen food particles.
  • Don’t operate your microwave oven when it’s empty. Damage to your appliance can be caused when there’s no food or liquid to absorb the microwaves.
  • When you’re in a hurry, it’s easy to inadvertently close the door too hard. In addition to damaging the latch and door assembly, you can actually blow a fuse by slamming the door. It’s best to cancel the operation or the timer before you open the door to retrieve food. And always remember to use pot holders or oven mitts when touching containers that have been inside the microwave.
  • If you have a counter or shelf microwave, make sure it’s positioned to allow air to circulate freely around it. Avoid crowding the microwave with other appliances, dishes, cookbooks, and other kitchen items. Before purchasing a microwave, carefully measure the space where it will sit and purchase an appropriately sized model for the area.
  • Plug your microwave into an electrical surge protector, or unplug it when it’s not in use. This will help protect the appliance from power fluctuations. Check the electrical cord from time to time to make sure that it hasn’t become frayed or cracked.
  • Did you know that using the pre-set cooking times on the touchpad can actually help your microwave work more efficiently and save energy? It can also help you avoid cooking accidents. Use the pre-set times when thawing foods, too.
  • If your model has a charcoal filter, be sure to change it regularly. Check your owner’s manual for instructions, but many filters should be changed every six months or sooner, depending on how often the microwave is used. Be sure to clean the grease filter per manufacturers instructions too. Many grease filters can be easily removed and soaked in hot water and dishwashing liquid. Keeping the filters clean can help your appliance run efficiently and may add to its lifespan.
  • Don’t dry non-food items in the microwave. While it can be tempting to try to dry small clothing items quickly in the microwave, some materials can flame and cause damage to the appliance, to your home, or even to people.
  • Be careful what you put inside the appliance. It’s important to use only dishes and containers that are specifically labeled as being safe for microwave use. Avoid putting anything made of metal inside the microwave (especially cutlery) or anything that is covered with aluminum foil.
  • Listen for unusual noises from your microwave, which may indicate that a belt is failing or that the motor needs to be checked. Pay attention to the buzzer or bell that alerts you when a cooking cycle is finished, and remove the food promptly. There are some minor microwave repairs and replacements that homeowners can handle themselves, such as light bulb changes and turn-table replacements. However, if anything electronic is involved, it’s probably best to call a qualified professional for help. Always disconnect power to the microwave when working on it or when cleaning it. With proper care and use, you should be able to depend on your microwave for many holiday seasons to come.
  • There are some minor microwave repairs and replacements that homeowners can handle themselves, such as light bulb changes and turn-table replacements. However, if anything electronic is involved, it’s probably best to call a qualified professional for help. Always disconnect power to the microwave when working on it or when cleaning it. With proper care and use, you should be able to depend on your microwave for many holiday seasons to come.