State of the art tech has come home, and these days, even if you’re away, you can give voice commands to a cute little device that will turn on the air conditioning, begin cooking a casserole in the oven and start the washer’s spin cycle.
When one of your appliances or systems starts hiccupping or gives up the ghost entirely, you need a real live person to fix it. That means you’ve got to have a personal phone book full of names and numbers of the different folks who specialize in refrigerators, stoves, plumbing, HVAC and all the rest of the equipment that keeps you and your house humming along. To get all of those numbers, of course, you’ll want to do your research by combing the internet, asking friends and neighbors for recommendations and calling each repair service to compare their rates.
The good news is that you can forget all that hassle if you have a home maintenance appliance warranty plan to simplify your life and make the inevitable breakdowns less stressful. When a covered appliance malfunctions, you call the warranty company, and they connect you with a qualified, professional service contractor. Once services are performed, you only pay the pre-determined charge your plan requires, saving you money as well.
In the meantime, it doesn’t hurt to prevent problems with routine maintenance you can do yourself. Here are some tasks you can perform in 10 minutes or less while you’re waiting for water to boil or even hanging on hold with the cable company:
Check the Refrigerator Seals
With time, the rubber seals around the refrigerator and freezer doors can deteriorate. That lets air in and lowers the temperature inside, which reduces the appliance’s efficiency and can affect the quality of the food you store inside. Do a visual inspection, and then take a piece of paper and put it between the seal and the door before you close it. If you can slide the paper down with the door closed, it’s time to get the seal replaced.
Clean the Refrigerator Coils
It’s on every list of a homeowner’s must-do maintenance, but honestly, how many of us do it? Refrigerators waste energy and don’t run as well when the condenser coils are dusty or covered in pet hair. Depending on your model, the coils are either behind the kickplate at the bottom or the rear of the refrigerator. First, unplug the unit, then use an appliance brush or damp cloth to loosen debris. Follow with quick vacuuming, plug the unit back in and you’re good to go for six months.
Check the Oven Seal
The same as with the refrigerator, only in reverse, weary older oven gaskets can let heat escape and waste energy while ruining the rise on your perfect cake. While you’re in the oven, you can clean out gas burner ports with a straight pin (not a toothpick) to clear any clogs.
Inspect the Washing Machine Hoses
Even a tiny weak spot can lead to a little crack that turns into a small hole that escalates and can cause a tsunami. Steel-braided hoses aren’t generally expected to last more than about nine years, and it’s recommended that all washing machine hoses be replaced every three to five years. The most common location of leaks is at the connection point.
Clean out the Dryer Exhaust
You should clean off the lint screen every time you finish a dryer load, but at least once a year, you should clean the exhaust venting. Doing the full job will take more than 10 minutes, so when you’ve got a bit more time, you can follow these tips from a pro.
Replace Heater and AC Filters
Every season you might adjust the temperature on your thermostat, but don’t forget to change the filters on your heater and air conditioner every month or so. Snap the old one off, snap the new one in and done. If you have re-usable filters, vacuum them with the upholstery tool to remove as much dust as possible to keep the air in your house clean and breathable.
Check Cords and Plugs
You probably don’t pay much attention to the cords and plugs when you’re about to use your small appliances like toasters, toaster ovens, coffee pots, fryers. However, it’s important to check them every once in a while to make sure they’re still in good shape and not a potential fire hazard.
Now if you’re at work while you’re reading this, phone your refrigerator and ask if you need to buy milk on the way home.