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Updated: Aug 20, 2019

Depending on the type of person you are, one of the above titles may speak to you. Are you a homeowner that runs a tight ship and is constantly cleaning, caulking, tightening or improving? Or, are you the type that has a contact in your phone for every home maintenance disaster? Well, it takes all kinds of people to make the world go around so whatever “type” you are, know that appliance disasters can be avoided with just a little TLC and consistent maintenance.


Clean coils in your refrigerator. Dirt, dust, and pet hair can clog up refrigerator coils, restricting air flow and causing the refrigerator to work harder to keep cool. Once or twice a year, use a handheld vacuum to clean the coils and suck up any loose particles. The location of refrigerator coils varies by model, but most can be found either behind the kick plate (the front panel near the floor) or at the rear of the fridge.

Change your refrigerator water filter. Filters that don't efficiently remove contaminants and impurities could expose you to harmful water. Instructions for changing the filter vary by model, but most are as easy as turning the filter a quarter inch and popping it out or locking it in place. Perform this simple task every three to six months, depending on water usage.

Set the right temperature. Keep the fridge between 37 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit and the freezer at 0 degrees.

Check the door seals. A loose seal allows cool air to seep out, wasting energy and causing your fridge to work harder than it needs to. First make sure the seals are free of food residue. (Clean them about twice a year, using a toothbrush and a solution of baking soda and water.) Then try the dollar-bill test: Close the bill in the door so that half is in and half is out. If it slips out easily, you may need to have the door seals checked by a pro.


Verify your oven door has a tight seal. Without a proper seal, your oven can lose more than 20 percent of its heat. The result is that food takes longer to cook or cooks unevenly. To check the seal's condition, open the oven door and locate the rubber or fiberglass gasket around the perimeter of the door. Feel for any broken, torn, or deformed areas, and close the door to see if you can find any leaks. If you do, replace the seal.

Clean or replace dirty range hood or downdraft vent filters. Wash metal-mesh grease filters by hand in soapy water, or run them through the dishwasher. Charcoal or paper filters should not be washed. Replace them instead.

Clean the interior and exterior. For the Control panel Use a light-duty cleaner or simply soap and water with a rag. Using abrasive pads or too harsh of a cleaner can wear off the decal indicators, which identify the knob controls for each burner. If these decals get worn off from overzealous cleaning, the whole control panel may require replacement. Door cleaning: Keeping the front panel, window, and outer door glass clean is important because it prevents spills from staining the panel or glass when it heats up during oven operation. Only clean the front when your range or oven is completely cool. For spills on the front panel that are tough to remove, use a heavy-duty degreaser. Smooth electric stove tops: If a heavy spill occurs, use a razor scraper to remove large food deposits. Apply a cooktop cleaner. Remove the remaining residue with a scratch-free pad and then apply a coat of cooktop protectant. Solid burner element: Some stove/ranges have heating element burners that are solid metal, there are no coils and the stove/range isn’t glass or ceramic. You can clean these solid burners using a solid surface element cleaner. Gas stove tops, burner bowls and grates: Some gas stove tops are made of porcelain coated steel and can be cleaned exactly the same as an electric smooth top. Stainless steel tops should be cleaned with heavy-duty degreaser and a non-abrasive pad. Take care not use too much water when cleaning, especially around the knobs. If water drips down into the holes where the knob shafts come through, the burner switches can short out and cause problems with the spark ignition system. Grates and burner pans can be difficult to clean. However, before you purchase new ones, you can try and clean them with grate cleaner. Oven interior: You should clean the interior of your oven three to four times per year. Spills and drips should be removed as soon as possible, as they will smoke and may eventually catch on fire. Avoid detergent/soap use inside of an oven for both self-cleaning and non-self-cleaning ovens. Racks: Clean the racks in the sink. Let them soak for 10 minutes. Then, using regular kitchen sponges, scrub the racks. Most racks should not be left in an oven during a self-clean cycle as they can warp out of shape. Oven interior Self-cleaning ovens: Carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using the self-cleaning function. This feature heats the interior of the oven to a temperature so high, it incinerates food particles and spills. The length of the process varies from model to model but generally lasts for 2 to 4 hours. If you’re hosting a big-cooking holiday like Thanksgiving, run the self-cleaning feature a few weeks in advance, due to risk of an issue with the door latch or an electrical component. Important: Never use a cleaning solution to clean the interior of a self-cleaning oven unless it is made specifically for self-cleaning ovens. Oven interior Non-self-cleaning ovens: Simply wait until the oven is cool to the touch, remove the oven racks and spray oven cleaner directly onto the interior surface. Wipe with a clean rag. Broiler pan: Most broiler pans are made of porcelain-coated steel that can be cleaned periodically with a non-abrasive cleaner. If the pan is damaged, replace it.


According to David Bohnenstiehl, the owner of ProLine A & E Services of Collinsville, there are thousands of dryer duct fires every year due to lint-blocked dryer ducts. Dave states, “It’s not only important to:

Clean the lint traps of the dryer but over time, lint will collect in the dryer vent to the exterior of the house. This will increase the chances of a duct fire as well as cause longer drying times for a normal load and potentially prevent carbon monoxide from freely escaping the room if the dryer is a gas dryer.

Clean the exhaust duct if you find that it takes longer and longer to dry that same size load, it could mean that there is lint clogging the exhaust duct end or pipe. A quick check to see if the duct is clogging is to go to the end of the duct where it exits the house and see if the duct vent cover has lint stuck to it. If so, removing the lint cover on the exterior and cleaning all the stuck lint on the cover so that the lint has free exit from the duct pipe. This can be particular important in homes that have irrigation systems that may cause dampness at the duct pipe and make lint sticky clogging the pipe. Additionally, most manufacturers of dryers recommend that dryer duct pipe be made of only flexible aluminum or rigid metal pipe to prevent lint collections on the interior walls of the pipe. Plastic and metal foil accordion-style flexible dryer ducts are not advised because these types of duct pipes can sag and collect large amounts lint.

Have your dryer cleaned internally. If you’ve never had your dryer vent cleaned or your dryer cleaned internally, call a qualified appliance repair service provider like David Bohnenstiehl of ProLine A&E Services for a free quote for a duct cleaning. Mention that you heard about them from this article and get a 10% discount for the service.”


Don’t Slam the Doors! If you continually drop or slam the lid to your washer or dryer (top or front load), you’re going to break the lid/ door switch. That’ll cost you at least $100. Avoid this repair by lowering the lid and gently closing the door.

Inspect the hoses. Every month or so make sure there are no bulges or cracks and the fittings are tight.

Don’t overload it. Oversize loads can damage your washer so break it down into smaller loads.

Use the right detergent and the right amount. Follow manufacturer guidelines.

Clean the interior and the dispensers once a month. Run an empty load with hot water and 2 cups of white vinegar. Half way through the cycle add a ½ cup of detergent and finish the cycle.

Wipe down the drum, door and gasket. Doing this once a month will help ensure the washer won’t give off odors that can seep into your laundry. TIP! Use equal parts water and vinegar to clean the gasket.

Leave the door ajar after a load.

Transfer clean laundry to the dryer as soon as it’s done. Letting wet clothes languish in the washer can trigger mold and mildew.


Wash Regularly. One of the best ways to ensure that your dishwasher is free from excess buildup is by running it regularly. Using your dishwasher frequently will keep debris from settling in the bottom of the appliance and can help reduce the amount of times that you will have to give it a thorough cleaning throughout the year.

Empty the Dishwasher. In order to perform the following tips, it’s important that you run your dishwasher through a full cycle and then empty all of the dishes from the appliance. This allows you to have easier access to the entire dishwasher and be able to perform the necessary maintenance correctly.

Inspect & Clean the Spinning Arms. Dishwashers work by spraying water out of their spinning arms onto the dishes inside. When those arms aren’t spinning properly or the holes in them are full of buildup, your dishes won’t be getting thoroughly cleaned. Check to make sure that the arms spin correctly and clean out any debris that has accumulated inside the holes with a small piece of wire, a toothpick, or small pliers.

Clean the Edges and Exterior. Many times, the offending smells that you may find coming from your dishwasher may actually be coming from the outside areas around the appliance. The edges around the door do not get washed during a regular cycle and can end up with lots of spills and pieces of food debris. A bit of regular household cleaner and a damp cloth should be enough to wipe up this yucky spot and can also be used to wash off all of the buttons and the exterior door of the appliance as well.

Other Parts You Should Clean: Under the door, on the inside. The flatware basket. The gasket. The Detergent Dispenser.

Unclog & Clean the Drain. At the very bottom of your dishwasher is the drain, and this area can be a common place where food debris, buildup, and other matter can end up. Leaving these obstacles near the drain will eventually create a clog. When your dishwasher drain is clogged, it will become less efficient and have a harder time cleaning. And nobody wants to find their dishes are not-so-sparkling clean.

THE AIR CONDITIONER/FURNACE: Unless you have special instruction in HVAC maintenance it is our advice to leave these very expensive appliances to the experts. What you can do is, keep the area around the units clean and free of debris. Have regular “checkups” with your preferred HVAC company in the spring and fall before starting up the unit.

As real estate agents, we get calls from friends, family and clients for referrals to reputable home maintenance companies. We are happy to assist you by referring those sub-contractors we know and trust. As always, call Donna 618.830.6577 or Delores 618.781.6183, the DREAM TEAM of RE/MAX Preferred if we can be of assistance with your home!

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