Simple cleaning tips and maintenance can help extend the useful life of several home appliances like air conditioners, laundry, and kitchen appliances, and help avoid some expensive problems. This helps me set aside more savings for major remodeling and renovation to enhance the value of my home, rather than unexpected and costly repairs.
Central air conditioner: Dirty A/C filters can cause allergies and other health issues. They also put more stress on heating and cooling equipment, often resulting in expensive repairs that can cost $1000-3000. I change furnace and return filters once monthly and latest every three months. I also make sure they are the right size (we found ours were the wrong size and propped with bricks by the previous owner). I often buy filters in multi-packs online, which cost me less than $10 each. I make sure the external unit is clean of leaves or excessive dust, otherwise the compressor gets hot and the system burns out. Every couple of years, I acid wash the exterior professionally (at a cost of about $150). I also pro-actively address any leaks with sealants instead of topping off the coolant (which is expensive and bad for the environment to leak).
Laundry Washer and Dryer: Dryer fires are real and over 15,000 occur each year. I clean the lint tray after each use and every six months try to get to harder to reach places to remove lint (like the back, top and bottom). Often, these places can be reached by just removing a couple of screws. I usually find enough lint to stuff a teddy bear, and after cleaning, my drying time is cut by 5-10%. I also get my dryer vent professionally cleaned (behind the dryer and snaked from the roof) once every 2-3 years for about $100 per service. Since I have an Energy Star model, I use the recommended HE detergent and avoid using too much. In summer, I check that the draining pipes are properly placed and are not rotting.
Kitchen Appliances: Kitchen appliances are magnets for food crumbs, dirt and grime. They also make a welcoming home for household pests like roaches, ants or mice. Many also have a water supply that can drip or leak and cause major damage. While I do clean out the toaster and microwave, it never occurred to me until recently to clean under and behind the large appliances. Now I thoroughly clean the oven at least once every six months–not just the inside, but under, behind and the sides. Unless you have a ceramic cooktop, many parts of your oven (like the top or broiler drawer) can be easily removed for cleaning. Sometimes, I even slide the oven out from the kitchen cabinet and clean the back/bottom. Similarly, I slide out and clean my fridge thoroughly. I find the back and bottom are particularly vulnerable. I also check for any leaks coming from external filter pipes or drains, which if left unnoticed may cause damage to both the appliance and the floors. Keeping these appliances free of food accumulation and grime keeps them running smoother, my home pest free and saves at least $100 in extermination costs.
Bathroom or Basement Exhaust Fan: Unless the bathroom has a window (most condos don’t), a powerful bathroom exhaust fan is a necessity. If your bathroom resembles a steam room after a shower and doesn’t dry easily, or it smells of mildew, the exhaust fan is likely not doing its job. Every few months, I turn off the breaker and clean out the plastic grill with a vacuum hose. I check to make sure the vent pipe is not collapsed. Most standard bathrooms need a 80 CFM models, but those with jacuzzis need at least 100 CFM. I had found my original fan to be worse, and $150-200 it cost me to replace has made a big difference in my home’s air quality. I never have to fear about mold now that my exhaust is doing its job.