Appliance Maintenance You Can Do Yourself

It was Christmas Eve. Company would be arriving in a matter of hours. I opened the refrigerator only to discover everything inside had reached a balmy 70 F. This could not have happened at a worse time.

Away to my computer I flew like a flash, straight to, where I entered the make and model of our refrigerator and read all the possibilities for why it was running but not cooling.

By following the suggestions and detailed instructions, we performed eight years’ worth of maintenance by looking under the darned thing for the coils that had become hopelessly covered in refrigerator gunk. We were back up and cooling in no time at all.

One thing I learned from my holiday refrigerator crash is that, like cars, major appliances require routine maintenance to keep them working at the peak of efficiency and to guarantee a long and useful life.

Here are five simple appliance maintenance jobs all home dwellers should do—each of which takes only minutes and can be tackled by anyone.


Inspect the dish rack tines for rusting. Rust particles can ruin the pump and seals, causing a hidden leak or pump failure.

A tine repair kit, available at manufacturer websites or Amazon, can save you the cost of a new dish rack. The kits come in various colors to match yours. If the dish rack is beyond salvation, it should be replaced.


Dirty stove top drip bowls reduce the heating efficiency of the burner, so clean or replace them regularly. If you can find it, Dawn Power Dissolver will make light work of that tough job! As good second choice: Dawn Heavy Duty Degreaser. Never cover drip bowls them with foil! This can cause an electrical short in the stove or block the oven vent, which is often through the center of a back burner.


Calcium and other mineral deposits reduce the effectiveness of humidifier pads to evaporate moisture into the air. Replace humidifier filters and pads annually, even if they appear to be fine.


Clean or replace the air filter in your air conditioner to help the unit run more efficiently, and don’t forget to give the evaporator and condenser coils an annual cleaning. Use the model number of your unit to find the correct filter.


Washing machines are responsible for more than $150 million of damage in homes across the U.S. every year. Imagine a river flowing from your laundry room with hundreds of gallons of water per hour, pouring over thresholds and flooring, soaking your furniture and prized collectibles. It happens. Washing-machine hoses score number one in the lineup of the most neglected maintenance items in a home.

If you have a washing machine, you need to check the water inlet or “water-fill” hoses at least once a year. There are two of them and they connect the machine to the cold and hot water faucets. You cannot tell simply by looking at these hoses if they need to be replaced. Age, chemicals in the water and buildup of calcium deposits over time can degrade rubber.

To complicate matters further, even a “new” hose could be old, having lived a good deal of its life in a warehouse.

If you cannot remember ever replacing your water inlet hoses, put that on your list for next weekend. Repeat in three years—even though most manufacturers and all insurance companies recommend replacing the hoses every three to five years. You cannot be too cautious.

There are two types of hoses: Rubber hoses for about $5 each or braided, stainless steel hoses for about $15 each. While stainless steel hoses have the edge when it comes to performance, they are not foolproof. The connectors can break loose and the rubber interior of the metal hose often deteriorates.

Installing new hoses is not at all difficult. It’s like attaching a garden hose. But beware: Installation error is the biggest cause for premature hose failure. Sharp kinks or bends in the hose can weaken the hose itself or the seal at the connector.

Need help? is another excellent self-help website that will come to your rescue with diagnoses, repair instructions and maintenance tips for jobs around the house plus all of your household appliances.

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1 reply
  1. Cat Nap says:

    Every time I read another one of your tips I keep thinking you could write a book about earning extra income by doing these common sense projects. Not just maintenance, but looking at your bills for ways to save, and changing your buying habits, banking habits, and so on. Granted it’s not really “income” like a paying job, but by lowering your bills, or avoiding bills altogether it’s money in the bank, with no “income” tax. I learned early on about busted washer hoses. I paid what I call “The Stupid Tax” having a plumber point out the source of the flooding in the basement. I thought the hoses that a repair man kindly recommended be replaced would last forever. Now I’d better replace them again, before I have to pay the Stupid Tax again. Thanks again and again.


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