The most common household complaints — and how to prevent them!

Key tips to remember

  • Use common sense.
  • Unplug anything electrical before troubleshooting.
  • If you’re not sure, call a pro
Maintenance and Repairs

1. “My A/C isn’t blowing cold air.”

In July and August, those words are — pardon the irony — chilling. HVAC repairs can be costly and inconvenient. Even if the fix is simple, it’s usually $200 just to get a technician to your house.

Fortunately, for you, a little preventive care goes a long way. Replacing filters every three months keeps your ductwork clean and eases the burden of your entire cooling system. Check on your compressor unit regularly, making sure the unit is free of leaves and all the electrical connections are in good shape. Gently wash the unit’s fan with a garden hose to clean off buildup.

If your thermostat is acting up, check the batteries. You’d be surprised how often that can be the culprit.

 

2. “The garbage disposal isn’t working.”

Of course, this will happen at some point — all those food scraps funneled into a grinder with the diameter of a soda can is a recipe for disaster. The good news is the garbage disposal is actually a simple machine.

If you hit the switch and don’t even hear a sound, the motor likely overheated from overuse. Look underneath the sink for the reset button, or if that doesn’t do it, check the electrical panel for a blown circuit. 

If you hit the switch and hear a hum but get no movement, it’s probably clogged. This is a trickier fix that involves removing the housing to get to the blockage, so if you’re not comfortable, it’s best to get some help.

Preventive tip: Try not to overflow the system, and always run water for 10 seconds before, during and after each disposal.

 

3. “The fridge isn’t keeping things cold.”

We’ve all been there: You open the fridge door, and right away, you know something is wrong. The blast of chilled air is gone. The regular hum of the cooling system is replaced with eerie silence. Your plastic containers are starting to sweat.

Refrigerators are not as simple as garbage disposals; they are powered by intricate systems — with some repairs costing as much as $1000, depending on the part. However, half of refrigerator malfunctions come from a buildup in the coils, the tube-and-wire grid that cools the fluid in the compressor. Dust or pet hair are usually the source of the buildup, an excess of which adds strain to the coils and trips the overload switch.

To remedy: The coils are located at the bottom of the machine — either in front or back — and are encased with a protective, plastic housing. Just pop off the housing and clear away the area, and you should be back in business. As preventive care, clean the area regularly with a flexible vacuum extension. They cost around $15 and will go a long way toward keeping your fridge running efficiently.

 

4. “One of my burners is making that clicking noise.”

This is a common problem, usually followed by the response, “Good thing there are four of them!” And contrary to what you might think, you don’t have to hightail it out of the house (unless you smell a lot of gas, in which case you should contact your utility provider).

Before you call anyone, try the following steps.

  1. Realign the burner cap.
  2. Dry the burner cap.
  3. Remove any food or debris from the burner cap.

If none of these do the trick, it could be something more complicated, like a spark module, and you might need to call a professional.

 

5. “The washing machine smells bad.”

It’s long been said that if baking soda can’t fix an odor problem, then vinegar can. Combine the two and you’ve got a formidable and natural antiseptic combo — especially for washing machine odors, a common household problem considering the amount of bacteria that runs through a washing machine over the course of a few months.

When your washer starts emitting that funky smell, dump ¼ cup of baking soda in the detergent chamber and 2 cups of white vinegar in the drum, and run a normal cycle at high heat. That should eliminate any moldy areas and neutralize foul odors.

But why stop there? This is, after all, the machine that cleans the clothes you’re currently wearing. Using the same solution, scrub any remaining grimy areas on the inside of the door or drum. For ongoing maintenance, keep humidity out by leaving the door open, and be sure to clean the gasket inside the door every month, as rubber tends to attract mold.

 

6. “The dishwasher isn’t draining right.”

Even on brand-new machines, standing water at the bottom of your dishwasher is common. Chances are, the system just needs a quick cleaning. So, before you call a technician, try the steps below — listed in order of difficulty level. (Note: Before performing any maintenance, make sure the power is off, and bail out the standing water with a disposable cup and paper towel.)

  1. Check the drain at the bottom of the dishwasher.
  2. Clean debris from pumps.
  3. Clean sprayer arms with a wire hanger. (They are removable.)
  4. Clean filter (usually located at the bottom back of the appliance).
  5. Make sure the supply line is unclogged. (This is the line that runs from under your sink to the unit.)
  6. Clean the drain line (located below the filter).
  7. Straighten out the drain hose. (Older hoses tend to kink.)

Try as many of these steps as you’re comfortable with. Usually the first three should remedy any basic water issues. When you’re done checking, run the garbage disposal to clear any food debris, and then run the machine for a full cycle. If you continue to get standing water, try steps 4–7 and repeat the cycle. If the problem persists, it’s time for a pro.

 

Common household appliance problems tend to be fixable with a little common sense. If you encounter any of the above — and if you’re a homeowner, you most certainly will — try some of these remedies before panicking or calling a professional. Most of the time, a simple fix will do the trick. But if it doesn’t, it’s best to hire a skilled and vetted technician rather than trying yourself and making the problem worse. A Cinch home warranty plan is convenient, cost effective and keeps your home working right. Get your free quote today!


The information in this article is intended to provide guidance on the proper maintenance and care of systems and appliances in the home. Not all of the topics mentioned are covered by our home warranty or maintenance plans. Please review your home warranty contract carefully to understand your coverage.