Simple Appliance Maintenance Tips to Avoid Costly Repairs
Repairing a broken appliance can cost a bundle. Fortunately, you can keep those costs in check by performing regular maintenance on your appliance. By keeping your appliances in good working condition and taking preventative measures, you won’t just reduce your need for full-blown repairs, but you’ll extend the life of the appliance, too. If you aren’t sure where to begin, here are seven simple appliance maintenance tips to avoid costly repairs.
1. Replace or Clean Filters Consistently
A variety of appliances have filters that require some light maintenance to ensure the appliance works correctly. Along with HVAC system filters, there’s the lint trap in your dryer, range hood filter, dishwasher food trap, and many more.
If you don’t clean or replace the filters consistently, any growing buildup can lead to issues. With HVAC systems, it is harder for them to heat or cool your home if the filters are clogged up. With dryers, a lint-covered lint trap impacts drying efficiency and could be a fire hazard.
The exact replacement or cleaning schedule that you need to follow can vary depending on the system involved and the filter you’re using. Read the manufacturer recommendations to find out when you should replace each filter and follow the instructions. By doing that, you’ll improve overall airflow and functionality, reducing strain on critical systems and helping your appliances last longer.
2. Dust the Fridge Quarterly
Your fridge relies on condenser coils to dissipate heat, allowing it to keep the contents suitably cold. When dust builds up on the coils, it won’t release heat as effectively. As a result, the compressor has to work far harder to keep the fridge cold, and the more the compressor is strained, the more likely it’ll break down.
If you want to keep your fridge in tip-top shape, make sure to dust the coils every three months. That reduces the amount of buildup frequently enough to reduce strain on the compressor, potentially helping your fridge last longer.
3. Clean (or Replace) Appliance Door Seals
Seals on your appliance doors are critical to their function. With your fridge, the door seals (or gaskets) help keep cold air in and hot air out. If the seal is covered in debris, it may not do its job as effectively. As with dusty coils, the poor seal puts additional strain on the compressor, increasing the odds it’ll experience an issue earlier than it otherwise could.
With your dishwasher, the seal keeps water from leaking out when the appliance is running. If the seal isn’t in great shape, water may drip out. If this goes unnoticed, you could end up with water damage on your surrounding cabinets or flooring, and both of those issues are expensive to address.
For ovens, the seal keeps hot air inside. That reduces strain on the heating element, reducing the odds of a failure. Plus, that limits any extra stress on your AC during the summer, as the hot air isn’t leaking out into your home as much.
Check your door seals every month, cleaning away any dirt or debris you find. If the seal is no longer in great space, check about a replacement. If you are comfortable with a DIY approach, tackling a door gasket is something you may be able to do on your own. However, even if you aren’t, getting a professional to take care of it usually costs far less than replacing the appliance or other broken parts, so it’s worth doing.
4. Remove Food Debris from Dishes
If you want to keep your dishwasher in good shape, remove food debris before you place them in the appliance. While many dishwasher detergent commercials say they’ll tackle stuck-on food, that doesn’t mean you should skip wiping excess debris away or a quick pre-rinse.
When food ends up in your dishwasher, it can lead to clogs. It may damage your pump, sprayers, and drain lines, leading to potentially expensive repairs. As a result, it’s best to take a moment to clear away food debris before putting anything in the dishwasher.
5. Put Ice and Coarse Salt Down Your Disposal
If you have a garbage disposal in your sink, removing debris from the blades regularly is a wise move. It will help it run more efficiently and ensure the mechanism doesn’t get clogged up with gunk.
Usually, the easiest option is pouring some ice cubes and coarse salt into your disposal, turning on the water, and letting it run. Once you know the ice is clear, let the disposal run for an extra 30 seconds. Then, turn off the disposal and shut off the water.
If you want to go the extra mile, you can add some lemon peel into the mix. It’ll add a nice fresh scent, something you may appreciate after freeing up old food residue.
6. Clean Dryer Exhaust Lines
While most people know that cleaning the lint trap in your dryer is essential, it’s also important to tackle the exhaust line regularly. Lint, hair, and other debris can gather in the line, too.
When lint, hair, or debris gets collected in the line, it prevents proper airflow, potentially leading to decreased dryer performance and causing other parts to fail early. Additionally, the built-up material is a fire hazard. If it ignites, it may not just damage the dryer but cause smoke or fire damage in your home.
Usually, you should check the exhaust line at least once a year. However, you may want to look more frequently if you’re in a larger household, do laundry several times a week or daily, have multiple cats and dogs, or often forget to remove paper from pockets before washing and drying.
Simply remove the hose to see if any lint, hair, or debris is building up. Remove any large clumps by hand or, if they’re stuck deeper in the line, try using a straightened-out metal clothes hanger as a hook to snag it. Just make sure you are careful not to damage the line itself along the way. After that, you can vacuum any remaining particles out of the line. Finally, reattach the hose.
If the line is incredibly clogged or appears damaged, replace it. A replacement exhaust line is inexpensive and typically easy to connect, so you can likely handle it yourself. However, if you have concerns, getting a professional to take care of it probably won’t cost a bundle.
7. Check Your Washing Machine Hoses
Cracked or damaged washing machine hoses can leak. Along with potentially causing water damage in your home, it may harm the performance of your washing machine, increasing the odds of a breakdown.
Examine all exterior hoses at least once a year. If you see any signs of wear, tear, or damage – including cracks, discoloration, bulges, deformities, or weak spots – replace the hose.
Additionally, it’s smart to install new hoses every five years, even if they look fine during a visual inspection. The material does degrade over time. By doing the replacement every five years, you’re being proactive, which is always good idea.
Have you ever had to tackle any appliance maintenance and want to tell others about your experience? Do you have any other appliance maintenance tips to avoid costly repairs that others might appreciate? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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Tamila McDonald has worked as a Financial Advisor for the military for past 13 years. She has taught Personal Financial classes on every subject from credit, to life insurance, as well as all other aspects of financial management. Mrs. McDonald is an AFCPE Accredited Financial Counselor and has helped her clients to meet their short-term and long-term financial goals.