How you care for your appliances can make all the difference in how well they work and how long they last. While a home warranty that offers appliance coverage can help cover the costs of repairs, you still have to pay a deductible to receive the benefits. The best option for avoiding expensive repairs and replacement? Taking care of them before they show signs of decline. These five appliance maintenance tips will help you get the most out of your appliances.

1. Dust Your Refrigerator

Your refrigerator uses a system of condenser coils and a compressor to cool its interior. When dust collects on the coils, they can’t release heat efficiently, which means the unit’s compressor has to work harder. If your compressor is strained, it’s likely to break down faster. Keep your compressor running stronger longer by dusting the coils every six months.

Another simple appliance maintenance tip for your fridge? Clean the seal around the doors on a regular basis to ensure the cool air stays in and the warm air stays out, further easing the strain on your fridge’s compressor.

2. Clean Your Range 

From pots that boil over to muffins that are too big for the baking tin, your stove and oven take a lot of heat when it comes to cooking messes. Make sure you regularly clean the burners (or cooktop, if you have an electric stove) and the inside of the oven, which helps the range heat up more efficiently and can lengthen its lifespan. Be careful when you’re cleaning the knobs — getting water into the knob mechanism can damage the range’s electrical system and turn a simple cleaning job into a costly repair job.

3. Scrape Your Plates

While it’s tempting to put dirty dishes straight from the table or stove into the dishwasher, food debris left on your dishware can redistribute onto your clean dishes during the wash cycle or, worse, clog the lines. To prevent this from happening, scrape food from dishes before putting them into the dishwasher. If you have a newer dishwasher, you may need to empty a filter located at the bottom of the unit that traps food and other debris.

To prevent leaks, keep the seal around the door clean, as well as the bottom edge of the door.

4. Don’t Overload Your Washing Machine

One of the most important appliance maintenance tricks you can do to keep your washing machine in top shape is not to overload it — with clothes or soap. It’s tempting to throw more clothes into the washing machine with the goal of saving water, energy or time. But what you’re saving in utilities is moot compared to the cost of repairing or replacing your washer. Make sure your laundry loads are sized appropriately for your washer’s capacity to prevent damaging the machine’s drum and wearing out its motor.

And be careful not to use too much soap, which can damage the machine’s water level pressure switch — a costly repair that can be easily avoided.

5. Replace the Filters

Many appliances in your home rely on filters to function properly. When filters are dirty, the appliances have to work harder to get the job done, which puts stress on the unit, decreases its efficiency and shortens its lifespan. When was the last time you changed or cleaned the filters on these frequently used appliances?

  • Dryer: Your dryer has a lint trap to keep lint from collecting in the dryer vent. Wipe the lint filter clean before and after each load of laundry.
  • Range hood: Your range hood or over-the-range microwave has a filter that captures grease from the stove (and, in some cases, a charcoal filter that helps reduce odors). The grease filter should be cleaned once every three months, while the charcoal filter should be replaced every six months.
  • Air conditioner: Your air conditioner uses a filter to trap dust and debris as it pulls air into the unit. How often you should change the filter for your air conditioner depends on how often you use it. If you use your air conditioner frequently, you may need to change the filter as often as once a month. Changing the filter once every three months is sufficient for light use.

But those aren’t the only appliances that have filters. Get to know the appliances in your home: Which have filters and how often do they need to be cleaned or replaced? Then, add these to your home maintenance checklist to ensure they’re maintained as needed.

Protect Your Investments

If it’s plugged into the wall, it can likely be protected with Residential Equipment Breakdown insurance. When you add Residential Equipment Breakdown Coverage to your Farm Bureau Member’s Choice policy you can protect a whole range of items, from your refrigerator and freezer to your central air conditioning system, and more. Contact your agent to learn more about this coverage and how it can help protect the items in your home.