There is nothing worse than coming home from work and finding that your ice cream has melted and your ground beef is warm due to a broken refrigerator. Or discovering that your air conditioner does not work on the first really hot day of the year. Or watching in horror as water gushes from your water heater onto the garage floor.
Fortunately, these stressful and costly issues can often be prevented with a proactive home maintenance approach. For example, check out the following checklist that can help prevent expensive repairs:
Maintain Your Water Heater
If your relaxing shower turns freezing cold within a few minutes, your water heater is trying to tell you that it is due for a checkup. If you ignore the health of your water heater, it will eventually fail, causing water to pour from the unit and your family to endure cold showers while you get it replaced. To prevent this, and the high water heater prices for a new one, hire a licensed plumber to give your unit a regular checkup —this usually involves checking the pressure valves, flushing the unit and making sure a gas-powered unit has a well-working pilot light.
If your unit is between 8 to 12 years old and/or is showing signs of failing, it is a good idea to replace it before it gives out. Call several local companies to check their water heater prices and rather than try to do this job yourself, pay for professional water heater installation. Properly installing a new water heater is a tricky job that requires a great deal of skill—you don’t want to run the risk of hooking up a gas line incorrectly or not setting it up according to code. Water heater installation costs also vary; in the case of a 50-gallon natural gas heater, installing it will run you between $800 and $1,600. Then, once the new unit is in place, be sure to arrange for regular tune-ups to keep it running as long as possible.
Clean A/C Coils, Fins, and Filters
In order for your air conditioner to run as efficiently as possible and to last for a long time, it is imperative that you maintain and clean some of its parts. According to Energy.Gov, the best way to take care of your A/C unit is to regularly change its filters. Clogged and dirty filters will block normal airflow as well as get dirt right into the evaporator coil. As a rule of thumb, change your filters once a month and if you have pets, are doing home improvement projects that are kicking up a lot of dust or you use your system a lot, change the filters more often.
The evaporator coil and condenser coil also get dirty over time, which will cause the unit to require more energy to run. To keep the outside coils as clean as you can, remove dirt and debris that are near the condenser unit. The aluminum fins on the evaporator and coils can easily bend and block airflow; invest in a fin comb that will help move them back into the correct shape. While changing filters is an easy task, you can certainly hire a local A/C professional to clean the coils and condensers and adjust the fins—it will be a great investment to keep the unit working properly.
Care for Your Fridge
To keep your milk cold and your Popsicles frozen, a fridge also requires regular maintenance. As Repair Clinic notes, the large, radiator-like coils on the back or beneath your refrigerator remove heat from the appliance. When they get dusty, it is hard for them to do their job. Buy a long-handled bristle brush at a local home improvement store and clean the coils twice a year—check the owner’s manual for information on where they are located and how to do this job safely. This one tip will go a long way in keeping your fridge cooling efficiently. Also, check the rubber door seal regularly; if it looks dirty clean it with something like Goo Gone, and if it is cracked or worn in parts replace it as soon as possible.
An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure
When looking around your home at your appliances and various systems that keep it running smoothly, remember this classic saying. Instead of waiting for things to break and replacing them, strive to be proactive with maintenance. In the long run, it will be far better for your budget.