The Busy, Budget Homeowner’s Guide to Keeping Appliances Running

Photo by Marcin Galusz on Unsplash

These days, being handy around the house is basically a full-time job. Few homeowners have the time and energy to learn how to care for their home systems; most are too busy with their real jobs to improve their handiness to a point where they can diagnose problems around the house, devise correct solutions and complete the repairs in a timely manner. However, those same homeowners also tend to struggle to pay for professionals to inspect their homes regularly to ensure everything is in tip-top shape.

Among the most high-tech — and thus the most likely to fail — elements of a home are the large appliances: the refrigerator, range and dishwasher, as well as the and clothes washer and dryer. If you want to be able to take appropriate care of these appliances to prevent catastrophic failure, but you don’t want to pivot your career into appliance maintenance and repair, read on.

Invest in the Right Insurance

If you can pay someone else to pay for expensive repairs and replacements of appliances, you will be better off. Fortunately, appliance warranty and insurance plans might already be protecting your large appliances, meaning you don’t need to shell out more money to keep your appliances safe.

Take your homeowners’ insurance, for example. This insurance is required by the bank that hold s your mortgage to protect everything in your home against unforeseeable catastrophes like “acts of God,” i.e. natural disasters, as well as water damage due to broken appliances and similar predicaments. While insurance won’t help you buy a new appliance if it simply stops working due to age and normal wear and tear, it will help you buy new if something more major goes wrong.

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Meanwhile, home warranties will help you protect your property against normal wear and tear. While you still need to perform regular maintenance on your appliances (more on that later) a warranty will pay for a service provider to fix your appliances when they stop working, and the warranty will also compensate you for replacement of your appliances should they be beyond repair. Most home sellers offer one year of home warranty to show good faith to their buyers, so you might still be protected by a warranty if you recently moved in. You can pay to continue your protection, a cost of about $300 per year for the average home.

Finally, you might not need a home warranty if your home is brand-new or you recently invested in all-new appliances. In the former case, builders guarantee the quality of their construction for at least 10 years, so if anything goes wrong — including with your appliances — you can utilize that warranty to help pay for repairs. The case is similar if you purchased new appliances: The manufacturers will stand behind their product for a certain amount of time, between one and 10 years.

Learn Basic Maintenance

Even with the right insurance, you need to take good care of your appliances. If you are especially un-handy and have a particularly full schedule, you can always outsource these tasks to qualified service providers. However, because most appliance maintenance is quick and simple — or else needs to be performed only once or twice per year — you should be able to make time to:

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Keep things clean

Simply keeping your appliances clean is the best way to ensure their continued proper function. When gunk builds up on and around your appliances, they function less efficiently and begin to break down. You should be diligent about cleaning up messes on and around your appliances, which might include scooching your appliances out of their normal position to clean up dust and debris that has fallen out of sight.

Change filters

Not all appliances have air or water filters, but most do. Most filters need to be replaced every few months. You can reduce your waste and expenses over time by investing in reusable filters, which can be hosed off, dried and used again. Some filters you should check include: your HVAC filters, your range hood filter, your dryer’s lint filter, the water filter in your refrigerator and your water heater filter.

Know what fails first

You should do research into your appliances to understand their weakest points and do your utmost to keep these parts functioning well. For example, the gaskets around oven and refrigerator doors often fail after a few years, especially if they aren’t properly cleaned or handled. By reading online about what other homeowners have struggled to fix, you can better prepare yourself and your appliances for eventual failures.

You don’t have to be handy to own a home, but it helps to know how you can do the most to keep everything you need in your home in working order. By relying on the right people and doing a little yourself to maintain your appliances, you can keep them in working order as long as you need them.

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