Maintenance Tips to Extend the Life of Your Home Appliances and Systems

Maintenance Tips to Extend the Life of Your Home Appliances and Systems

It’s common knowledge that you need to take proper care of your car if you want it to last longer and minimize expensive repairs. So why do we overlook our home appliances and home systems? After all, when you add them all up they probably cost as much (if not more!), than your car. Think about it, and if you’re a homeowner, take a look at the standard appliances and systems within your house:


Each and every one of these appliances and systems needs to be properly maintained, but the good news is that the maintenance is typically very easy. It’s just a matter of setting time aside every few months to tend to them. After all, like a car, the better care you take of them, the longer they’ll last, the fewer headaches you’ll have from breakdowns, and the more money you’ll save in the long run. Now let’s dive into some maintenance tips for some of your largest home appliances and systems.

HVAC Maintenance

HVAC Maintenance:

Make no mistake, your HVAC unit, short for ‘heating, ventilation and air conditioning’, is among the most expensive appliances and systems in your home. This system includes multiple parts, such as: the air handler (usually located in the attic, basement or closet); condensing unit (this sits outside of your home); and vents and ducts. And, let’s remember that your HVAC works hard, year-round to ensure you’re comfortable through the heated months of the summer or the cold winter nights. So, show your HVAC some love with these simple maintenance tips:

  • Air Handler Maintenance: Check the air filter monthly and change as needed, typically every 30 – 90 days. Use a high quality filter. Clear clogs and ensure proper flow of the condensate line (learn how here). And, keep your fan setting on ‘auto’ so it’s not working overtime when unnecessary.
  • Condensing Unit Maintenance: Clear away debris, leaves or weeds so the unit can ‘breathe’. Also keep in mind that this machinery takes a beating during heavy rainfalls and storms so just check it out when the weather subsides to ensure it’s still in proper condition and that debris is cleared away.
  • Vents and Ducts Maintenance: Inspect ducts for dust build-up, mold or debris. Schedule maintenance to clean your ducts and vents to ensure healthy airflow throughout your home. This can help minimize allergens in the air.

And remember, these tips not only maintain your HVAC unit to lengthen its lifespan, but also increase energy efficiency, minimize costly repairs, better regulate temperature, and reduce air pollutants in your home. 

Plus, it’s highly recommended to schedule two tune-ups a year to maintain the highest function and care for your unit. The optimal times to do so are in the fall, when you’re preparing for winter and in the Spring when summer is on the horizon. You can check out American Home Shield offerings to see what a tune-up entails, and to learn more about the benefits of a home service plan. Not only is American Home Shield a leader in the home warranty service industry, but they also earned the Women’s Choice Award for being the most recommended among women across America for the last 7 years.

Oven Maintenance Tips

Oven Maintenance Tips:

  • Clean Up: Ideally, you’ll want to wipe spills and drips as soon as possible. The more grease build-up, the harder your oven has to work to heat things up, and when you overtax your appliance, it may wear out more quickly than anticipated. Plus, let’s not forget that this will be more energy-consuming which guessed it – more money. And if you’re cringing just thinking of the work ahead of you... don’t sweat it. Here is a great guide on how to properly clean your oven and oven racks.
  • Don’t Use the ‘Self Clean’ Feature: Ever wonder what this feature really does? We’ll tell you. It uses intense heat to incinerate the buildup in your oven. The problem is that this huge heat overload isn’t great for your oven. Some people even experience issues right after using the self-clean feature, so we recommend steering clear, and going with a good old-fashioned scrubbing. Check out the link above for tips, like being sure not to use steel wool as that will scratch the protecting covering inside your oven (yikes!).
  • Check the Door Seal: You know that thick fabric that runs around the door of the oven? It keeps heat in and cooler air out. Kind of like the plastic that runs around the door of your refrigerator, which does the opposite. To ensure optimal energy efficiency and that no heat is escaping, both of which can cause damage to other parts of your oven, you’ll want to make sure the seal is even with no bumps.
  • Use a Surge Protector: All ovens use electricity in their control panels, and so this means all ovens can be damaged from a power surge. To prevent this, just use a surge protector so you don’t have to worry about your oven getting fried (no pun intended)!

Refrigerator Maintenance Tips

Refrigerator Maintenance Tips:

  • Dust Your Refrigerator Condenser Coils: These coils remove heat from the refrigerant to cool the inside of the refrigerator. If they get dusty, it can restrict airflow through the refrigerator and cause overheating. Not only does this increase the amount of energy needed to operate the fridge, but it can also lead to a premature breakdown. The great news is that this maintenance tip is easy-peesy. Simply pull your refrigerator away from the wall and wipe the coils down with a dust cloth or use a hand-held vacuum. Also be sure to remove any additional dust that has accumulated behind the refrigerator. You should do this every three months for optimal results.
  • Clean the Gaskets: The plastic strips that form a seal between the door and the refrigerator are critical to keeping your refrigerator’s cool temperature. Be sure to clean any built-up residue. A weak seal around your doors will not only cause your refrigerator to work harder to maintain the temperature inside, but it can also cause your food to spoil, which is dangerous to your health. 

Dishwasher Maintenance Tips
Dishwasher Maintenance Tips:

  • Clean the Gasket: Clean around the door and the gasket (which is the plastic strip that secures a tight seal between the door and the dishwasher). Any buildup will cause a weak seal and can lead to odors and mold in your dishwasher. The door and the gaskets are not getting cleaned when you run the dishwasher, so any food or liquids that spill into these crevices can cause odors. You can use white vinegar to remove gunk on and around the seal.
  • Remove Food Residue & Clean Your Dishwasher Drain: Clean your plates before loading. A quick rinse and swipe of the sponge will do the trick. Why? Because food particles can cause clogs in the drain hose.  And periodically clean your dishwasher drain, which is at the very bottom of your dishwasher and can collect build up. It’s always good to be prepared so learn how to unclog your dishwasher and check the dishwasher drain.
  • Inspect and Clean the Spinning Arms: Those spinning arms inside your dishwasher spray water to clean your dishes.  So, when those arms are not working properly or the small holes are clogged, your dishes won’t get squeaky clean. You can clean any debris from the small holes using a toothpick or small wire.

Washing Machine & Dryer Maintenance Tips

Washing Machine and Dryer Maintenance Tips:

We’re taking advice from the pros at American Home Shield and breaking down maintenance tips based on frequency.

  • Maintenance Before and After Each Use: For your dryer, it’s simple – clean out that lint trap before or after each load to make sure it’s working efficiently and doesn’t cause a house fire (yikes!). As for your washer, there are a few more tips. First, be sure remove your wet clothes as soon as the wash cycle is finished. If you leave them in the washing machine for too long, they may smell funny due to mold and mildew buildup. Second, leave the lid/door to your washing machine slightly open to allow air flow which will help dry and air out the inside of the tub (again, prevent mold). You can also dry the door itself as a preventative measure. Third, use the correct detergent and not too much of it. For example, if you have an HE washer, you’ll need an HE detergent. And more detergent doesn’t mean cleaner clothes; in fact it can cause buildup within the tub causing more harm than good. Last but not least, don’t overfill your washing machine (or dryer!). They should never be more than ¾ full. Keeping your loads smaller will alleviate stress on your machines...and that’s the key for longevity.
  • Maintenance Monthly: To remove mold, mildew and lint you should clean your washer and dryer every month. For your dryer, be sure to clean out the lint trap every time you use it, but on a monthly basis it’s recommended to clean the interior vent by disconnecting the exhaust tube from the back and vacuuming out any debris from the exhaust hole. For your washer, you’ll want to keep mold and mildew at bay, and you can do this by running an empty wash cycle with a mix of two cups of hot water, one cup vinegar, and two tablespoons of baking soda.  For more monthly tips visit the American Home Shield Home Matters blog.
  • Maintenance Annually: You know that large, pliable tube coming out from the back of your dryer? It’s referred to as a dryer exhaust duct or dryer vent (not to be confused with the lint trap that’s inside your dryer). It’s typically metal but can also be vinyl. Every year, you should remove, clean out, or entirely replace it. And if your dryer exhaust duct is vinyl, you should consider changing it to metal, as vinyl poses a more serious fire hazard.

Check out these specific steps from American Home Shield on how to clean a front-loader and top-loader washing machine.

Got Your Checklist?

So now you’ve got some really awesome home maintenance tips for your appliances and systems. Make sure to create a checklist and keep it handy so you can stay on top of things.

And cool fact, did you know you’re 28 times more likely to use a home service plan than your home insurance? So, for peace of mind emotionally and financially, we recommend checking out American Home Shield, which earned the Women’s Choice Award for being the most recommended home warranty service company by women across America consecutively for the past 7 years. 

To celebrate their 50th anniversary this year, American Home Shield has launched their best home service plans yet to help you protect your home and keep it running smoothly. For American Home Shield members, a home service plan is like a home warranty, but better because it includes member-exclusive pricing on maintenance services, as well as a variety of home services — from tech installation and setup to pre-season HVAC tune-ups, and more. American Home Shield plans work harder to give you peace of mind while protecting your budget.