Preparing for the worst is just prudent. It doesn’t mean anything will happen, but Murphy’s Law can pretty much be counted on to bend in your direction once in a while. That’s why your home and its contents are insured for damage, destruction and theft. It gives you peace of mind even if you never need to make a claim.
But what do you do when when one of your home’s appliances or functional systems go on the blink? You’re on your own to find the service person who knows just what to do about your refrigerator, stove, washer, plumbing or HVAC. Most of the time, you wind up digging through listings on the internet, asking neighbors and friends for references and calling each repair service to compare their rates and check their availability.
The good news is that you don’t have to bother with that if you have a home warranty plan. Even better news is that repair service contracted through a home warranty costs can be far less than if you deal directly with a repair company.
With a home warranty plan, you make one call no matter what the issue is, and you’re connected with a proven, reliable, local professional who will diagnose and resolve your problem for a flat service call fee that often includes parts. If you own income properties, it’s a particularly efficient and cost-effective way to make sure your investment and tenants are cared for.
So, yes, home warranties are definitely worth it.
In the meantime, it’s smart to ward off problems with routine maintenance you can do yourself with a minimum amount of time and effort. Here are some of them:
Check the Refrigerator Seals
The rubber seals around the refrigerator and freezer doors can deteriorate over time. When they don’t hold a tight seal, air gets in and raises the temperature inside, which reduces the appliance’s efficiency and can affect the quality of the food stored inside. Do a visual inspection and then take a piece of paper and put it between the seal and the door before you close it. If you can slide the paper down with the door closed, it’s time to get the seal replaced.
Clean the Refrigerator Coils
Refrigerators use more energy and don’t run as well when the condenser coils are dusty or covered in pet hair. Depending on your model, the coils are either behind the kickplate at the bottom or at the rear of the refrigerator. First unplug the unit, and then use an appliance brush or damp cloth to loosen debris. Follow with quick vacuuming under the refrigerator, plug the unit back in, and you’re set for another six months.
Check the Oven Seal
Weakened older oven gaskets can let heat escape and waste energy while affecting the rise on your cupcakes. You can check the oven seal the same way you did the fridge. While you’re at it, you can clean out gas burner ports with a straight pin (not a toothpick, which can break off) to clear any clogs if your oven uses gas.
Inspect the Washing Machine Hoses
Even a tiny weak spot in a hose can lead to a little crack that turns into a small hole that gets bigger still until it causes a flood. It’s recommended that all washing machine hoses be replaced every three to five years. The most common location of leaks is at the connection, so check that, too.
Clean out the Dryer Exhaust
You should clean off the lint screen every time you finish drying a load of clothes, but at least once a year you should clean the exhaust venting. To do it right, you can follow these tips from a pro.
Replace Heater and AC Filters
In the winter, it’s the heater, and in the summer, it’s the air conditioner, but whichever you’re using at the moment, don’t forget to change the filter every month or so. Snap the old one off, snap the new one in, and that’s it. If you have re-usable filters, vacuum them with the upholstery tool to remove as much dust as possible to keep the air in your house clean and healthy to breathe.
Check Cords and Plugs
While you’ve got safety on your mind, check the cords and plugs on your small appliances like toasters, toaster ovens, coffee pots and fryers the next time you use them to make sure they’re still in good shape and not a potential fire hazard.