Imagine what people from an earlier time would think if they saw the appliances we have in our homes now. Not only are there machines that wash dishes, but the machines even know how dirty those dishes are and can adjust their cycles accordingly. And refrigerators that you can call from your phone to find out how many eggs you have and if you’ve got to buy some on the way home? Who would believe it?

It may come the day when appliances can run themselves and don’t need you at all. Until something starts leaking or making a peculiar noise. And then as high-tech as your appliance may be, it will need an actual person to fix it.

That’s what an appliance repair plan is for. Instead of doing a search for dishwasher repair near me, coming up with a dozen or more choices, reading their reviews, and calling them all to compare prices, you make one call and are connected with a proven professional in your neighborhood. What’s even better with a plan is that one pre-determined flat fee covers the repair, including parts and labor.

Before things go wrong, though, you can extend the life of your home appliances and prevent small problems from turning into big ones by taking care of some simple maintenance routines on a regular basis.

Here are some you can manage even if you’re all thumbs:

Dust Off The Refrigerator Coils

The  most common reason why a refrigerator or freezer is sluggish or stops working is condenser coils that are dusty or covered in pet hair. Dirty coils cause the compressor to overheat and can stop the unit entirely. Cleaning them is a little messy but it’s not hard.

  1. First, unplug the refrigerator or free-standing freezer and move it away from the wall.
  2. Locate the condenser coils. Depending on the model, coils are usually behind the front base plate or behind a grill on the back of the unit.
  3. Use a coil brush, a damp cloth or a pressurized air canister to gently remove dirt and debris.
  4. Vacuum or sweep up the area so it doesn’t build back up on the coils.
  5. Plug the unit back in and you should be good to go until you clean the coils again in six months.

Check Out The Refrigerator Seals

You’ve probably never paid them any attention at all, but the rubber seals around the refrigerator and freezer doors can deteriorate and get brittle over time. This lets cold air out and warm air in, which lowers the temperature inside and makes your refrigerator use more energy to compensate.

A visual inspection may not tell the whole story, so an easy test is to 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, the seal isn’t working the way it should and needs to be replaced.

Inspect The Oven Seals

Oven seals can fail in the same way as refrigerator seals do, letting heat escape and wasting energy as well as sometimes even ruining your efforts at baking. Do the same paper test as you did with the refrigerator door.

If you have a gas oven, take another minute or two and make sure the burner ports are clear by picking debris out with a straight pin. A toothpick isn’t a good substitute because it could break off in the port.

Examine The Washing Machine Hoses

Even a small weak spot in a hose may become a crack and then break open to flood the laundry room. The most common location of leaks is at the connection, so be sure to check there.

Clean Out The Dryer Exhaust

Even if you clean the lint screen every time you use your dryer, lint still builds up in the hose and vents and not only impedes the way your machine works, but is a fire hazard as well. To clean things out, click here for tips from Bob Vila.

Just like changing the oil in your car, taking care of the simple things can keep your appliances in better working order and extend their useful lives.