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We've all been there. A major appliance breaks down when we're least expecting it. Not only is it a major inconvenience, but getting some appliances repaired could also put a serious dent in your savings.

There are a few simple maintenance measures that can extend the life of your household appliances and save you headaches from unwanted breakdowns. Follow these DIY tips to keep your major household appliances in tip-top shape.

User Manuals and Scheduling Maintenance

Every appliance comes with a manual that tells you how to install, program, and maintain it. Don't worry, it's okay if you threw yours out or can't find it. You can usually download most manuals directly from the manufacturer's website by looking for the product's serial number.

Be sure to schedule routine, seasonal maintenance just as you would for your car. Add these tasks to your regular spring and fall cleaning. A good rule of thumb to remember: do your maintenance chores for your household appliances when the clocks change twice a year.

Clean Your Clothes Dryer Properly

An improperly maintained clothes dryer can do more than breakdown. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, dryers cause 2,900 house fires annually, resulting in $35 million in property losses. Clogged lint traps, air vents, and ductwork are the leading causes — responsible for 34 percent of clothes dryer fires. After every load, remove lint from the lint screen. Once a month, suction the lint slot using your vacuum's nozzle attachment. Or use a bendable snorkel brush to snake into the tight crevice to remove accumulated lint.

At least once a year, disconnect the venting tube and vacuum that out. Be sure to unplug the dryer and disconnect the gas first. The Family Handyman has other how-to information on where lint can accumulate in a dryer, and how to remove it. The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) also has a safety page on clothes dryers that includes maintenance tips as well as proper installation, venting, and a list of items you should never put in your dryer.

Clean Your Washers Properly

Not all detergent is made for all dishwashers and washing machines. The wrong detergent could result in a sudsy buildup that lowers their efficiency and performance. Your use and repair manual will tell you which type of detergent is the best to use.

To help keep your dishwasher and washing machine performing well, run an empty load using the hottest water or sanitizing cycle to remove build up once a month. You can also use specially-formulated cleaning products.

To save some money here's a helpful video on how to clean a dishwasher using distilled white vinegar and baking soda. Be sure to clean any rubber seals with a clean cloth or toothbrush. Den Garden goes into more detail on how to clean your washing machine.

The other major issue with washing machines: burst hoses. Periodically check those for bulges, cracks, and tears. Most manufacturers recommend replacing washing machine hoses every three to five years. For more tips, check out this step-by-step guide to washer and dryer maintenance.

Keep Your Cool

To help your refrigerator keep its cool, twice a year unplug it and vacuum the condenser coils located on the back or in the front. Realtor.com explains the process of cleaning the coils in detail. If you have pets, do this more often. Clean the door gaskets with hot, soapy water. If your refrigerator has a water dispenser, replace the water filter every six months or when the indicator light comes on. Be careful of counterfeit replacement water filters, which are flooding the market.

When it comes to your household appliances, a little maintenance can go a long way to saving you from a breakdown disaster.

Disclosures

This information and recommendations contained herein is compiled from sources deemed reliable, but is not represented to be accurate or complete. In providing this information, neither KeyBank nor its affiliates are acting as your agent or is offering any tax, accounting, or legal advice.

By selecting any external link on www.Key.com, you will leave the KeyBank website and jump to an unaffiliated third party website that may offer a different privacy policy and level of security. The third party is responsible for website content and system availability. KeyBank does not offer, endorse, recommend, or guarantee any product or service available on that entity's website.

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