Appliance maintenance guide

Appliance maintenance guide



From your washing machine to your air conditioner, your household appliances simplify many aspects of everyday life. They can make your chores easier and faster to finish, freeing up your time to focus on more important things like work, studies and fun.

Although you rely heavily on your household appliances, you probably don’t give much thought to their day-to-day maintenance. It’s only once a valuable machine breaks down that you realize you may have been taking it for granted.

Regular upkeep can help extend an appliance’s life span and ensure more efficient functioning. This guide provides actionable, simple steps you can take to help keep the various appliances in your house running smoothly.


The importance of maintaining your appliances

Taking the time out of your already busy life to take care of tasks like vacuuming refrigerator coils or cleaning your dishwasher isn’t exactly appealing. However, it’s well worth the effort. Here are some benefits you can expect from investing effort into major appliance upkeep:

  • Avoid inconvenient breakdowns. Nobody wants to discover their oven is broken on Thanksgiving Day — or find out that their air conditioning is broken on a hot summer day. Regular maintenance and care can help avoid these nasty surprises.
  • Extend appliance life span. Proper care can also help ensure your appliances last for as long as possible. While appliances like dishwashers aren’t designed to last a lifetime, you don’t want to have to replace them prematurely because you didn’t maintain them.
  • Save money. Avoiding the expense of emergency appliance repair and replacement will save you money in the big picture. Maintaining a home is expensive, and cutting costs when possible can help alleviate financial strain.

Altogether, this can add up to greater peace of mind as a homeowner. You can rest easy knowing that you’re doing all you can to protect the home you’ve built and minimizing the need for avoidable appliance repair or replacement. In case issues do arise, a home warranty from Cinch Home Services can help cover the costs.

Read on for some actionable appliance maintenance tips.


Dishwasher maintenance tips


Debris, soap residue and bits of food can get stuck and make it difficult for the dishwasher to drain or for the appliance’s spray arms to reach all the dishes in the racks. Regular dishwasher cleaning can help prevent clogs.

Here’s how to clean the various parts of your dishwasher:

  • Spray arms: You can easily clean the spray arms (the parts that move like a helicopter rotor) in the sink. There should be a bolt at the center of the spray arm, which you can remove. If there’s no bolt, lift the spray arm and rock it back and forth gently to ease it out of its secure attachment. To clean it, hold the spray arm under running water and use a cotton swab to poke out any food that’s stuck.
  • Drain filter: A dirty drain filter can cause bad odors and leave your dishwasher with a rotten smell. To access the filter, take out the bottom rack of the dishwasher. You can then take out the filter and use a mixture of soap and hot water to clean it in the sink. Finally, wipe out the drain with a sponge before reinserting the cleaned filter.
  • Dishwasher walls: Buildup on the inner walls of your dishwasher can create some slime over time. Wipe down the interior sides of the dishwasher and the upper and lower racks using a sponge soaked in white vinegar. This substance is neutralizing and natural, eliminating the need for chemical cleaners.
  • Drain hose: A clogged drain hose can result in your dishwasher flooding your kitchen. If your dishwasher has that rancid odor after taking the above steps, pull the dishwasher out from the counter and check the hose at the back. Ensure the hose isn’t bent or damaged. If it is, it needs to be replaced.

Every six months, give your dishwasher a cleansing cycle with white vinegar. Simply put one cup of white vinegar in a bowl in the dishwasher’s top rack and run the appliance on the hottest cycle you can. The vinegar’s acids can help remove foul-smelling deposits in the dishwasher and eliminate odors.

When to call a professional

Even with your DIY care, you should schedule regular dishwasher maintenance — especially if you’re noticing issues like increased water bills or dishes coming out dirty. A detailed inspection will include a thorough look at all the parts, like the gasket, draining mechanism, motor shaft and more.


Refrigerator maintenance tips

Your refrigerator holds the food that you and your family consume. For the sake of your health and hygiene, you want to ensure this is a sanitary space. Follow these tips for keeping your refrigerator neat and tidy:

  • Coils: Your refrigerator relies on condenser coils filled with refrigerant to achieve a cooling effect. If the coils are dirty, they won’t work as effectively, prolonging cooling periods and wasting electricity. You can get to the coils by removing the refrigerator’s front grill. Use a small vacuum brush to remove dust and dirt.
  • Gaskets: The door gaskets help keep your refrigerator properly sealed, keeping cold air in and warm air out. Sticky goods like honey, jams and syrups can get stuck in the gaskets and ruin them. Use a sponge soaked in warm, soapy water to clean them.
  • Shelving: Finally, once every three months, take all the items out of your refrigerator and give it a thorough wipe down. Use a sponge soaked in soapy water to clean the shelving and bins. Finally, place a fresh box of open baking soda in the back of the fridge to keep odors at bay.

If your refrigerator has a water filter, you should also check and change this every three to six months, depending on how often you use it. Check your owner’s manual for details on what kind of filter will fit. An old filter will no longer remove impurities effectively, which can expose you to contaminants.

When to call a professional

Expert maintenance can help keep your refrigerator running smoothly. A comprehensive refrigerator maintenance appointment will include an electrical system inspection, defrosting evaporation inspection, a thermostat check and more. An expert will also be able to provide more thorough cleaning of the door gasket, condenser coils and drip pan.


Oven/range maintenance tips

Food debris in your oven or on your stove isn’t only unsanitary, but it can also be a fire hazard. Regular cleaning is critical to protecting your home. If your oven has a self-cleaning function, utilize it regularly. Beforehand, take out all the pans, pots and foils. Also, remove as much food debris or grease manually first.

In general, make sure the oven door is sealing properly. To check this, open the door and find the fiberglass or rubber gasket along the edge. Feel it with your fingers to check for deformities, tears or cracks. If you notice any issues, the seal may need to be replaced.

To clean your stove cooktop, you can use a damp sponge to clean up drips and food. However, if there is food or gunk in the stove’s igniter, use a soft-bristle toothbrush to remove the debris (which can otherwise keep an electric stove from turning on).

If a burner isn’t working despite the ignition being clean, a different electrical issue might be to blame. Turn the burner off and remove it. Try gently bending the burner prongs outward. This might be all that’s needed to close the electrical current and switch the burner back on.

When to call a professional

Professional range maintenance can provide a more thorough cleaning around the burners, door caskets and exterior. It’s also an opportunity to get the electronic controls of your range and oven checked, confirm that the oven is calibrating temperatures accurately and test the oven’s self-cleaning mechanism.


Air conditioner maintenance tips

If you have a window unit air conditioner, clean it every spring before the summer heat hits. Over time, the unit can accumulate dust, pollen, pet dander and even mold or rodent droppings — a potential health threat. Use a handheld vacuum and go over all of the unit’s surfaces, especially the fins. You can also remove the exterior panel to vacuum the filter.

If you have central air, before you switch it on, take a microfiber cloth and wipe down each of the vents that channel air into the various rooms of your house. Also, change the air filter to help ensure good indoor air quality and improve cooling efficiency.

Finally, check the outdoor unit and ensure it doesn’t have any leaves, twigs or other items stuck in the fan blades. If it does, use a screwdriver to remove the protective grille on top and remove any debris. Before you do that, make sure you’ve turned off the power to the A/C unit. Also, make sure there aren’t items obstructing airflow from the outdoor unit, which can hamper efficiency.

When to call a professional

An annual air conditioning maintenance appointment will help keep your A/C running smoothly. A service professional can also take care of tasks that require using specific tools that you don’t have, such as cleaning the air ducts. If you have central air, ducts in the walls of your house channel temperature-controlled air into the home. When dust and debris build up in the ductwork, your indoor air quality can suffer.


Washer and clothes dryer maintenance tips

Proper use of your washer and clothes dryer can help prevent breakdowns. When using your washer, don’t overload it. If you stuff in too many clothes, you risk causing damage to moving parts or the motor. To clean your appliance, fill the detergent dispenser with two cups of white vinegar and run it on a hot cycle.

For your clothes dryer, it’s critical to clean the lint trap after every use. This impedes efficiency and can be a fire hazard. Next, clean the lint out of the dryer exhaust. This is located at the back of the device. You should be able to simply loosen the clamp holding the exhaust in place. Put on gloves to scoop out clumps of lint and then vacuum the rest out.

When to call a professional

Washing machine maintenance and inspection can cover various components, including the belt, motor, electrical system, hose, drains and more. An expert can also check the temperature and fill cycle. They can also clean and sanitize the entire appliance, sparing you the duty. Clothes dryer maintenance can include an inspection of the drum seal, exhaust, electricals, vents and more.


Garbage disposal maintenance tips


Using your garbage disposal correctly is critical to avoid breakdowns. Here are some quick tips for properly using this household device:

  • Run the water. Run the water when using your garbage disposal. Once the motor stops making the grinding noises that indicate it’s at work, turn off the device — but leave the water running for 15 seconds. This will carry away extra particles and clean the pipes.
  • Never use hot water. Always use cold water in your garbage disposal. Hot water will cause fatty and greasy substances to congeal and get sticky. They can then get stuck to the garbage disposal’s blades.
  • Don’t treat your garbage disposal like garbage. Your garbage disposal isn’t a trash can. Don’t put hard foods (e.g., apple seeds, bones, popcorn kernels) down it. Also, be aware of fibrous foods like onion skins or celery, which can get tangled in the blades.

Finally, clean your disposal once a week to avoid funky smells. Put a handful of ice cubes, a couple of lemon slices and one teaspoon of bleach into the disposal. Follow this up with one teaspoon of bleach and add a few more ice cubes. Finally, turn the disposal on (without running water). Once the grinding stops, keep the motor running and run cold water for half a minute.

When to call a professional

If your garbage disposal isn’t working, it’s always best to call a professional. Never put your hands in the garbage disposal! If the blades are stuck because a piece of food is wedged between them, they may spring into action automatically and cut you once the obstruction is removed. A service provider will have the tools and expertise to address the issue safely.


Protect your home appliances from expensive repairs with Cinch

Even with proper maintenance, your home appliances won’t last forever. If unexpected issues arise, you want prompt repair or replacement to ensure your household continues to run smoothly. A Cinch home warranty can help.

Home warranties help with the costs of replacing or repairing covered home appliances and built-in systems due to normal wear and tear. When something breaks down, you can easily request service through Cinch’s 24/7 support team. We’ll find a prescreened service professional to help take care of the issue. Get your free quote today.

Your home appliances make everyday life easier. Regular appliance maintenance can help avoid unwelcome breakdowns.

Your home protection is ready and waiting!