Spring has officially sprung, and with the arrival of warmer weather, now is an opportune time to give your home a post-winter deep clean. A thorough spring cleaning goes beyond everyday surfaces and tackles the nooks and crannies of your living space. It’s a great time to start fresh by purging old and underused items in your garage, closets and cabinets. It’s also the perfect opportunity to perform a maintenance checkup on major household appliances, like your washing machine, stove and fridge.
Conducting a yearly maintenance checkup is not only beneficial in extending the lifespan of your appliances, but also ensures that they will be running optimally when you need them the most. Is there anything worse than your dryer breaking down before an important job interview, or the oven giving out just as your guests are set to arrive for a dinner party, or your air conditioner malfunctioning in the dead of summer?
Here’s a maintenance checklist to help ensure your large home appliances are in top shape this spring:
- Coils: To clean your coils, locate where they are on your fridge – whether they’re at the bottom or at the back of the appliance – and remove the access panel. Gently remove any debris and dirt with a vacuum or brush before replacing the panel. Cleaning your fridge coils annually can actually help to reduce your electricity bill, as dirtier coils require more time and energy to chill food.
- Water filter: If your fridge has a water filter, clean or replace this every five to six months to avoid impurities and contaminants in the water.
- Door seals: If the door seals are leaking or don’t seem tight enough, replacing these will ensure your refrigerator is running in an energy efficient manner.
Oven and stove maintenance
- Stovetop: While it’s important to give your stovetop a regular clean, a deeper scrub down is vital for preventing overheating and potential fire hazards from baked-on food particles. For electric stovetops, wipe down the cooking surface with warm, soapy water before applying a layer of glass cooktop cleaner or baking soda paste and leaving to dry. Once fully hardened, remove the paste with a scrubber or non-abrasive tool to remove baked-on food and stains. If you have a coil stove top, carefully remove each coil by hand and wash down without fully submerging in water before reassembling. For gas cooktops, be sure to remove the grates and burner caps, and wash with hot water and soap. Carefully wipe down the surface of the stove without getting the igniters or electrical components wet.
- Range hood: Oven range hood filters must be cleaned or replaced to ensure proper functioning of the appliance. You can clean your filter by letting it soak in hot water and degreasing dish soap before scrubbing off the remaining debris. Allow the filters to dry completely before reinserting.
- Oven door seals: Similar to refrigerator door seals, these are required to ensure ovens can heat efficiently, and should be regularly cleaned with warm water and soap, and replaced if/when necessary.
- Oven drip pans and racks: Ensure oven drip pans and racks are routinely cleaned to avoid potential fire hazards. Soak greasy items in hot water with degreasing dish soap or cleaning vinegar to remove splatters, stains and food particles.
- Rust removal: Remove any visible rust from your dishwasher by running an empty cycle with a calcium, lime and rust remover solution. A water and baking soda paste or a combination of water and vinegar can also be effective against rust.
- Spray/pump area: Clean around this area in the base of your dishwasher to promote seamless drainage.
- Filter: Hard water and leftover food can build up in your dishwasher. Cleaning the filter will extend the life of your appliance and ensure this build-up is not continually being released onto your dishes during the cleaning cycle. To clean, simply pull the cylindrical filter from the base of your dishwasher and gently wash it with a brush under warm running water.
Washing machine maintenance
- Hose lines: Prevent flooding in your home by ensuring no cracks or breakage are present in your washer’s hose lines. Perform a thorough check once per year, and replace them every five years.
- Washer drum: Prevent build up in the drum of your washing machine by regularly running a cleaning cycle with a dedicated cleaner or water and bleach every few months. Using a damp rag, thoroughly wipe the rubber liner and inside of the door.
- Dryer vent: In addition to clearing out your dryer’s lint trap after each load, the dryer vent should be cleaned at least once per year to clear out lint build up and to prevent fire hazards. Disconnect the dryer before pulling it away from the wall and removing the dryer duct. Use your vacuum cleaner inside and around the vent to catch leftover lint. Remember to clean the exterior vent too by removing the cover and removing any debris.
- Dryer drum: Using a damp rag, clean the inside of your dryer drum, the rubber liner and the door. If necessary, soak and wash the lint trap, but ensure it is completely dry before replacing it.
Air Conditioner maintenance (outdoor unit)
- Condenser unit: Spring is the best time to run maintenance on your HVAC A/C unit. The weather is warm enough to run a cooling test cycle, yet not cool enough to withstand a few days with no air conditioning if your unit requires major repairs. Begin by turning off the power and removing the winter cover from your outdoor unit. Remove the cage and pull out any leaves and debris that may have accumulated on the bottom.
- Fins and fan: Using a paint brush or other long bristled brush, carefully brush away any trapped dirt and debris that may be caught in the air conditioning unit’s fins and condenser fan. If necessary, vacuum the fins to pick up fine dust. It is safe to use a garden hose to wash the inside and outside of your unit, but avoid using a pressure washer as this can damage the fins. Reassemble the unit before turning the power back on.
- Filters and vents: Replace filters and clean out vents on a regular basis (every one to two months) to ensure clean air is circulating through your home.
Be sure to run through this appliance maintenance checklist every spring to keep your appliances operating safely and optimally, and save you money in the long run.