Most of us don’t think too much about our appliances on a day-to-day basis. We grab cold drinks from the fridge, toss our clothes in the washing machine and place the dishes in the dishwasher. It’s only when these things don’t work as we expect them to that we realize how important they are — and how much of an inconvenience it is when they don’t work.
The thing is, though, that most appliance issues can be easily avoided with basic maintenance. Taking the time to clean, inspect and give your appliances a tune-up can keep them running efficiently for years and prevent costly repairs should things go wrong. And while some maintenance tasks should be left to the pros (such as furnace cleaning and HVAC inspections) some of the most important tasks can be tackled by the average homeowner.
When it comes to the fridge, many homeowners take an “out of sight, out of mind” approach. When you can’t see the back or underside of an appliance, as is the case with most refrigerators, it’s easy to forget about what might be happening. And what is happening is actually not good. Even if you keep a tidy home, dust, cobwebs and pet hair collect on the coils of the fridge, which are located on the bottom or back of the appliance. When it builds up, it prevents the coils from releasing heat, meaning that the compressor has to work harder to keep the inside cold. This not only increases energy usage and drives up your electric bill, but it always reduces the life of the fridge and makes it more likely you will need to repair or replace sooner.
Therefore, cleaning the refrigerator coils should be a priority. Every few months, move the fridge and clean the coils using a coil cleaning brush (found at any home improvement or appliance store) and a vacuum. If you keep up with this maintenance, it should only take a few minutes, and you’ll save the aggravation of a broken-down refrigerator.
Is there anything worse than waking up to no hot water — and discovering a flood in the basement because the water heater blew overnight? While water heaters don’t last forever, you can extend their lifespan, and avoid a messy and expensive emergency, by draining the heater at least once a year. Over time, sediment can build up in the tank, causing the heating elements in electric models to fail and hot spots in gas models that will damage the tank and cause it to fail. By draining the heater (which can be done by following the instructions on the user manual) you not only reduce the chance of needing to repair or replace the hot water heater, but you also increase its efficiency.
Clear Dryer Vents
Every now and then you will see a social media post reminding you to clean out your dryer vents, often accompanied by a photo of the aftermath of a fire. Unlike many things you see on Facebook, this is actually a good idea, and you should clear your dryer vent at least once a month if you use your dryer frequently. To do so, simply use your vacuum to suck out dirt, lint, and pet hair from the vents and remove all visible debris. And of course, don’t forget to clean the lint screen every time you do a load of laundry. When you do, you reduce the risk of fire and increase the efficiency of your dryer.
These are just some of the home maintenance tasks that homeowners need to take care of to protect their home and save money on repairs. You can save even more money by investing in a home warranty plan, which will repair or replace your appliances in the event that they break down; you can check out home service warranty reviews to compare plans and find the one that works for your needs and budget.
By combining your own care and maintenance of your appliances with this protection, you can avoid shelling out thousands of dollars for new ones and save yourself the inconvenience of dealing with non-working machines.