The first step to being a responsible homeowner and a reliable community member is taking good care of your house — and that means every part of your house. While you might be diligent about doing the dishes and mowing the lawn, when was the last time you cleaned your refrigerator? Have you ever thought about maintenance for your water heater? And how would you go about removing lint from deep in the clothes dryer?
If you aren’t well-versed in the art and science of large appliance maintenance, you are in trouble. Appliances that aren’t maintained are more likely to need replacement sooner — but more than that, they are prone to causing damage to your home, including fire and water damage. Read on for a thorough guide to taking better care of your home appliances.
The vast majority of refrigerator maintenance — and most home appliance maintenance — is about keeping the machine clean. Every few weeks you should wipe down all shelves and drawers, and you should knock out any ice buildup in the fridge or freezer. You should also wipe down the seals around the doors, looking for signs of cracking, which indicates you need new seals. Less frequently, about once per quarter, you should find the condenser coils on your fridge, either at the bottom in the front or in the back, and vacuum up dirt and debris that have collected there.
The oven is the opposite of your refrigerator, but it requires essentially the same kind of care. You should run your oven’s cleaning feature at least every few weeks, if you use your oven often, or once per year if your oven isn’t a prime appliance. You might need to take out oven racks and clean them in the sink. You should also check the seal around the oven door and replace it when it is dry or cracked.
Over time, you might need to recalibrate your oven’s temperature. You can verify your oven is accurate by using an oven thermometer. Then, if the thermometer reads a different temp, you should consult your oven’s manual (available online) to find out how to make corrections.
Again, your primary maintenance goal is to keep the cooktop clean. If you have a glass cooktop, this means wiping it down with a soft cloth and cleaner after every use. Other stoves are a bit more difficult to care for, but you can do so with this guide for gas and/or this guide for electric coils.
Believe if or not, your dishwasher isn’t self-cleaning. Every month, you should run a dishwasher cycle without any dishes. Then, you should use baking soda and vinegar to scrub around the cleaning arm and around other moving components in the drum. This will release any stuck food particles and lengthen the life span of the appliance.
Getting into your dishwasher this often should also help you identify potential problems. For instance, if you see cracks or holes anywhere in the drum, you could be on the brink of a flooding disaster. Rust also warrants professional intervention and potential replacement of components.
Once per year, you should drain your water heater completely, to ensure that any sediment in the appliance gets flushed out before it can clog your pipes and valves. You should also test the temperature-pressure-release valve once per year, to ensure that your water heater won’t explode if something goes wrong.
If you want to go above and beyond, you might buy a water heater insulator. This blanket keeps your water heater hotter, so it doesn’t have to work as hard to produce hot water. Any time you can reduce an appliance’s workload, you are increasing its lifespan and reducing your utility bills.
While you might not consider electronics like your TV and computers to be appliances, they are indisputably critical components of a comfortable modern home — which means you need to commit to maintenance to keep them safe. You might invest in a home electronics warranty, which extends manufacturer’s warranties and all but guarantees the proper function of your smaller electronics. However, you should also maintain them with proper cleaning, like wiping them down with vinegar and a microfiber cloth, as well as with safe handling. Placing your electronics in an appropriate case is smart, especially if your electronics are mobile.
You don’t always have to pay a professional to service your appliances. With a little forethought and some elbow grease, you can almost always keep your appliances running well. Still, even with proper maintenance, your appliances and electronics can break down, so you should have service providers on hand to help when you need them.