Professional plumber repairing a broken washing machine, the customer is looking at him, repair service concept

Appliance Maintenance You Can Do Yourself to Prevent Disaster and Save Money

It was Christmas Eve. Everything was ready, our overnight company would arrive in a matter of hours. I opened the refrigerator to discover the inside had reached a balmy 70° F. This could not have happened at a worse time.

Professional plumber repairing a broken washing machine, the customer is looking at him, repair service concept

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 meltdown 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—yes, DIY appliance maintenance.

collage of DIY home appliance maintenance


Using a vacuum and or brush, clean dust from compressor coils every few months. The coils need to be super clean for the refrigerator to run efficiently. According to Family Handyman clogged condenser coils are the culprit behind 70% of refrigerator service calls. Calling in the pros for a fix can run you $90 or more per hour plus parts, not to mention the hassle of actually getting a reliable repair serviceman to show up on a moment’s notice.

Clean the door gasket with mild detergent and water. Check gasket seals by closing doors on a dollar bill. Replace the gasket if the bill falls out. Keep door opening to a minimum. Every time you open the door, cold air escapes and are replaced by warmer, more humid air.

Dishwasher Racks

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.

Range Stovetop

Dirty stovetop drip bowls reduce the heating efficiency of the burner, so clean or replace them regularly. Goo Gone Kitchen Degreaser will make light work of that tough job! Another choice: Dawn Heavy Duty Degreaser. Never cover drip bowls with foil! This can short-circuit the burner. Keep reflector bowls beneath burners shiny to help them reflect heat.


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. Mark it on the calendar to make sure you do not forget.

Air Conditioner

Clean or replace the air filter in your air conditioner every month during heavy-use seasons. This will help the unit run more efficiently, which means a longer life for this expensive piece of cooling equipment. 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. Or go to Second Nature, set up an account, find the specific filter for your unit, and you’ll get the right filter delivered to your front door once every three months. Now you don’t have to rely on memory to take care of this simple yet cost effective maintenance task.

Clothes Dryer

Clean lint filter after each use to keep air flowing freely. Each year, clean the entire exhaust duct to prevent fire.

Washing Machine

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 the 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 of premature hose failure. Sharp kinks or bends in the hose can weaken the hose itself or the seal at the connector.

Need help? and, are both excellent self-help sites that will come to your rescue with diagnoses, repair instructions. and maintenance tips for jobs around the house and help with your household appliances.

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1 reply
  1. Patricia Goff says:

    We always keep our appliances clean and unplug them when not in use. We use a lot of older appliances and have been able to fix them by following instructions online or by getting advice from hardware stores. Appliances with digital parts are not easy to repair. My wash machine and dryer are from the 80s and we love them. They work great and we have replaced parts several times. I think we paid less than $20 for them 10 years ago.
    You have to remember to keep them clean of dust and animal hair if you have animals. We keep the lint filter vacuumed out and keep the washer clean inside also. We have been able to get at least 20 years out of our appliances and we are very happy about that.


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