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Five home maintenance tasks you can do yourself

When it comes to home maintenance, it's certainly good to know your limits, but there'splenty you can do on your own. Here are five ways you can get your place ready for spring:

1.Unclog that slow drain: You've dumped the drain goo down your bathroom drains and they're still running slowly? Try a plastic drain snake. For a couple of bucks at your local hardware store, you can get one of these flexible, barbed sticks and save yourself a big bill. Hold the handle, run it down the sink or bathtub drain and, while you may not like what you pull up, it will help open the drain.
2.Activate your self-cleaning oven option: A clean oven is an efficient oven. If you have a self-cleaning oven, you can clean it with the press of a button. Before doing anything, read your oven owner's manual and consider picking a nice spring day. You'll want to follow the manufacturer's exact cleaning instructions, and you'll likely want to open the windows and plan an afternoon in the backyard with your family and pets so no one gets overpowered by heat or fumes. While self-cleaning ovens are well-insulated, they still get really hot inside — up to 900 degrees — and you may want a breeze going through your home to carry away any burning food aromas from all those baking spills.
3.Replace your furnace filter: A simple one, but you'd be amazed by how often people forget this routine task. And it couldn't be easier — just slide the old filter out and slide the new one in. Rule of thumb: Replace every three months to keep your furnace/air conditioner working efficiently.
4.Replace your smoke detector batteries: Again, easy but often forgotten. If you haven't replaced them this spring, do it now! Most smoke detectors have a slide-out or hinged door for the battery. Just pop out the battery and snap in a new one for peace of mind.
5.Check your refrigerator water filter: If you have a refrigerator with a water dispenser, check the water filter. A fresh water filter not only makes your water taste better, it helps remove trace elements of contaminants or other unwanted particles. Most let you know when it's time to replace with a light or, for the fancier fridges, with an on-screen message. If you can't remember when you last did it, it's probably time. Many have instructions right on the inside of the refrigerator door and often take little more than a simple twist to remove and replace.