Bicycle Maintenance You Can Do in Your Own Driveway

For some people, their bicycle is their main method of transportation. Whether it’s commuting to work or getting groceries, a bicycle can be an excellent way to save money, stay in shape, and enjoy the ride to your destination. For those of us who live too far away from work to cycle there, bicycles can still be a fun activity to that also helps you stay in shape.

Just like your car, your bicycle requires regular maintenance to keep your rides smooth and safe. Local bike shops will be able to give your bicycle a tune-up or make difficult repairs. However, there are a lot of maintenance tasks that can be done right from home with your average toolkit.

In this article, we’ll go over basic bike maintenance that you can do in your driveway that will keep your bike in good  working condition.

Safety Check

Before you ride your bike, it’s good to perform a basic safety check in your driveway before leaving your home. You’ll want to check:

  • tires, to see if they’re properly inflated, have enough tread, and don’t have any cracks
  • brakes, to see if both the front and rear brakes work properly and that they’re touching the rims when pressed
  • chain and shifters, to make sure the chain is lubricated and that the shifters are functioning correctly

Cleaning and lubrication

Cleaning your bicycle regularly isn’t just a matter of aesthetics. A clean bike is a safe bike and the process of cleaning helps you discover any potential issues with the bicycle. On a monthly basis, clean the frame and rims of your bike with a cloth. Look for any cracks in the frame, loose bolts or screws on any of the mechanisms.

Cleaning and lubricating the chain of your bike will significantly increase its lifespan and will prevent your chain from malfunctioning when you’re out on a ride. First, turn your bike upside down so that it is balanced on the sea and handlebars. Wipe off the grime that has built up on the chain with a rag. If necessary, use a degreaser and a small brush to scrub any remaining residue from between the links, then wipe down the chain once more. Apply a drop of chain lubricant to each chain link while you rotate the pedals.

While you have the lubricant out, also be sure to apply a small amount to the brake levers an derailleurs (the part that moves the chain onto the different sized sprockets to change gears). Also lubricate the brake cables and gear cables to make sure they can move freely and do not freeze up.

Repairs and replacement

Sometimes, in spite of proper care and maintenance you’re going to beed to make some repairs to your bicycle. The most common fixes you’ll need to make are changing flat tires and replacing worn brake pads, and chain issues like a skipping link. Depending on your bicycle, you can often find tutorials online that will help you find the tools you need to make these repairs from home. Otherwise, you could always give business to your local bike shop.

Smoke Detector Safety

Smoke detectors save lives. Many people may be lulled into a false sense of security thinking they have smoke detectors in their home. Smoke detectors that are not installed or maintained properly are not safe. Here are a few tips on what you need to know about buying, installing, and maintaining your smoke detectors:

What should I buy?

The National Burn Institute recommends only buying smoke alarms tested by Underwriters Laboratories (UL). You will also want to make sure the smoke detector has a battery backup. Smoke detectors that don’t work in a power outage are no good. Consider buying a combination smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector, they may be more expensive, but well worth the money.

There are two main types of smoke alarms, which are categorized by the type of smoke detection sensor used in the alarm. They are ionization and photoelectric.

Ionization smoke detectors

Ionization detectors respond quickly to flaming fires with smaller combustion particles. They contain a chamber with two plates that generate a small, continuous electric current. When smoke enters the ionization chamber, the smoke particles disrupt the current flow, which triggers the alarm.

Photoelectric smoke detectors

Photoelectric detectors respond more quickly to smoldering fires. They use a light beam and light receptor. When smoke is present between the light and receptor, the photocell sensor triggers the alarm.

Combination smoke detectors

The best smoke alarms can sense both types of fires (flaming and smoldering). For the highest degree of safety and preparedness, there are combination smoke alarms also that combine ionization and photoelectric detectors into one unit, called dual sensor smoke alarms.

Check with your local fire department to see what kind of detector they recommend.

Installation and Maintenance

Smoke detectors should be installed on each floor, outside of every bedroom and sleeping area and near any air vents. Detectors should also be installed high on walls or on ceilings because smoke rises. Avoid installing detectors near windows, doors or where there are openings where smoke can escape.

Check with your local fire department for specific regulations on the placement of detectors.

Smoke detectors have a lifespan of about seven to 10 years, and it’s important to replace old detectors according to the model’s recommendations. Test your alarm’s batteries monthly and remember to replace all batteries at least once a year. Clean and vacuum the grill of your detector to get rid of dust and debris. Other maintenance includes a monthly testing of the alarm and cleaning with a vacuum hose about once every month.