Major Appliance Maintenance That Prevents Home Fires and Floods

a maintenance worker fixes a homeowner's dishwasher as she watches - home warranty

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You only need to be without a refrigerator, oven, or washing machine for a few hours to be reminded how much you rely upon your home appliances. Unfortunately, they break down from time to time, often because of lack of home maintenance.

Simply completing a few DIY home maintenance projects a year can help prolong the life of your appliances and prevent a total breakdown.

Here’s a list of the quick and easy home maintenance projects every homeowner can complete, and make sure to subscribe to vipHomeLink! We’ll prompt you with personalized reminders when it’s time to complete these tasks. Plus, our vipTIPs give you the home knowledge to complete them!

Utility appliance and laundry room maintenance

a dryer trap is overwhelmed by lint
Don’t let your dryer get like this.

Cleaning your dryer vent

We have a step-by-step guide to cleaning your dryer vent, but it’s a quick, annual maintenance project that can help prevent a home fire. (More than 2,900 home fires are started by your clothes dryer annually.) This task also helps to get your clothes drier quicker and smelling springtime fresh, but don’t forget to clean out your lint trap between each load!

Changing your HVAC air filter

a home maintenance professionals installs an air filter into a HVAC unit
Replacing your HVAC filters takes less than 15 minutes!

Your HVAC air filters may need to be changed as frequently as every month or as rarely as once a year. Most units will need their air filter cleaned or replaced every three months. Check your manufacturer’s instructions before starting this project. (Upload your manual to vipHomeLink for easy reference!)

If you’re replacing your air filters…

After you order and receive your replacement air filter, turn the unit off and let it cool. Then remove the access panel.

Take out the old HVAC filter and insert the new one. The arrow on the filter should point in the direction of the air flow. Close the panel and turn the unit back on.

If you’re cleaning your air filters…

Complete the same steps – turn off unit, remove access panel, and remove the HVAC filter. Then use your shower or your garden hose (outside) to clean the air filter.

Just make sure to spray the clean side, not the side with the accumulated dust or dirt. Let the filter dry and place back in your unit. Close the access panel and turn the unit back on.

Learn more tips for keeping your HVAC unit running smoothly in our spring HVAC checklist!

Replacing the water hoses on your washing machine

two braided metal hoses are entwined together - one has red accents and one has blue
Braided metal hoses help to prevent water damage.

Inspect your hoses annually for any leaks as a small leak can lead to a big problem, e.g. water damage. Plus, replacing them is insanely easy (I did this just last week – Content Manager Susie) The whole process shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes, though you may need a wrench to unhook your current hose and tighten the new one.

If you have braided metal hoses on your appliances, they should last three to five years. If you don’t have braided metal hoses, you should install them immediately. They’re less prone to leaking and can prevent a home flood courtesy of your washing machine.

Kitchen appliance maintenance

Coils are now clean on the back of a refrigerator
Dirty coils shorten the lifespan of your refrigerator.

Cleaning the coils

Dusty and dirty coils on your refrigerator causes the compressor to work overtime and shortens the lifespan of the unit. It can also increase the temperature of your refrigerator (which is not good for your Greek yogurt) and can create a fire hazard.

Every six months to a year, unplug and shimmy the refrigerator away from the wall. (Be careful!) Then locate your condenser coils in the back of the unit. Using a coil brush, remove the dust and vacuum the area.

You may also need to dust under the unit. Pull out the toe-grill and use the coil brush to pull the dust out the front. Vacuum to finish.

Replacing the carbon filter in the vent hoods

a homeowner takes out the vent hood grease filter to clean or replace
Vent hood filters need to be cleaned or replaced every month.

This is just as easy as replacing your furnace or HVAC filters. Simply remove the baffle or mesh grease filters. Unscrew the plastic housing on the blower and remove the carbon filter.

Clean the cover with a glass cleaner and then insert the new filter. Reattach plastic cover and baffle or mesh filters.

Cleaning the oven

a homeowner cleans the interior of an oven with baking soda and water
Your oven needs a scrubbing.

If your oven has a self-cleaning mode, activate it at least twice a year. After the cycle finishes, wait until the oven cools. Turn off your oven (unplug it) and use a white vinegar and water solution to clean the inside. Wipe down and turn on.

If your oven isn’t self-cleaning, fill a pan with water and set the oven to 250 degrees. This will create steam and help to loosen any caked-on food. Let the cycle run for about an hour and then give the oven time to cool. Wipe away the grime and any food particles.

Replacing the refrigerator door gaskets

a homeowner pulls a seal away from a refrigerator door
Changing the seals is a three-step process.

When you notice the refrigerator door isn’t shutting properly, there might be a cheese wedge in the way or a faulty gasket (the lining around the refrigerator door). You also may need to replace the gasket if it’s torn, bent or warped, torn, or hard.

  • Order the correct part from the manufacturer. Once it arrives, soak it in warm water to make it flexible. Then remove the old gasket.
  • Different gaskets have different removal options. You may need to lift the old seal and find a hex-key screw to loosen. Or you may need to simply pull the seal out of a groove.
  • Once the old seal is off, place the longer lip of the new seal into the groove, starting at the corners. If your unit has screws, loosely tighten them until you have the liner in place. Then tighten.
  • Check the door. If it closes properly, you’re good to go! If there is some room, either try to reinstall the seal or use a blow dryer to warm the seal and get it fitting snugly.

Cleaning and deodorizing the garbage disposal

sliced lemon in ice water (refreshing!)
Lemons freshen your garbage disposal.

You know what they say – when life gives you lemons, clean out your garbage disposal! To perform this quick maintenance task, you’ll need to:

  • Disconnect the garbage disposal.
  • Remove any items stuck in the disposal with tongs.
  • Dump ice cubes and a half-cup of rock salt into the drain.
  • Reconnect your disposal and turn it back on.
  • Disconnect again and pour a vinegar and baking soda mix down the drain.
  • Brush all the rubber parts and the sink stopper.
  • Connect again and fill your sink with warm, soapy water.
  • Run disposal as the sink drains.
  • Toss in lemon peels and run.

You should also complete this process if your unit suddenly stops working.

When to get a professional to complete home maintenance

a couple read a home inspection report while a contractor looks on
Don’t be afraid to hire a professional.

If at any time you feel uncomfortable completing a home maintenance task, contact a professional. This is especially important for any appliance repair or maintenance with gas appliances. A qualified professional has training to complete these tasks and can help keep your home safe and your appliances safe to use.

If you’re not a DIY-savvy homeowner, buy a home warranty, which should cover appliance maintenance issues.

Learn more about home warranties in our ins and outs blog!

Know what to do and when to do it!

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