Category: Homeowner Tips

Yep, it’s that time of year again. Monsoon madness. You’re likely well aware that it can wreck havoc on your landscaping.

But, did you know that monsoon season can also put extra pressure on your A/C? When debris builds up around your outdoor unit, the unit works much less effectively.

The good news is — protecting your A/C is easy. Just check your unit for debris throughout the season, and tidy it up as necessary. With that bit of extra TLC, your system will be set to finish the summer season strong!

Let me guess… you have a bit of a love-hate relationship with your dishwasher.

You love that it cuts down on scrubbing time. You hate the lack of reliability. Half the time glasses come out with that terrible cloudy film. Or, your spoon is caked in avocado bits that are now black. Ain’t that appetizing? 😉

Instead of playing roulette every time you start a wash cycle, follow these three easy steps. They’ll help your dishwasher perform at its best and extend its life.


1. Run hot water in your kitchen sink before starting the dishwasher.

Seems random. But, give it a try! Run too-hot-to-the-touch water from your kitchen faucet before you start your dishwasher. This lets your dishwasher have hot water instantly, which improves the performance… and the cleanliness of your dishes!


2. Clean your dishwasher trap.

Located under the lower sprayer of most dishwashers is a part called the trap. That thing collects any food, plastic and other materials to prevent them from entering the drain. By cleaning the trap, you reduce smells and increase the cleanliness of your dishwasher.


3. Clean your dishes before placing them in the dishwasher.

Give your dishes a gentle cleaning before loading them in. Otherwise, any particles that remain get stuck in the dishwasher trap and lower the performance of your dishwasher.


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Pool time is here. What better time to step up your pool pump maintenance than now?

Your pool pump is the star player in your swimming pool’s plumbing system. It pumps thousands of gallons of water in a week’s time. To keep it at the top of its game, take time to regularly tackle the following:

Clean out the pump and the surrounding area. Sweep out the area around the pump at least once a week, and dust off the pump itself, paying special attention to the vents for the cooling fans.

Clean out the filter. This will help the water flow freely, reducing wear and tear on the motor.

Don’t lubricate the motor. Modern pool pumps are sealed to prevent corrosion. Spraying the pump with lubricant will only damage the rubber seals and catch dirt and debris.

Check for leaks and torn seals once your pump is spick and span. If any of the seals are damaged, replace them immediately before the pump is turned back on.

Check the pressure gauge as part of your weekly maintenance. Your owner’s manual will tell you the suggested pressure level. If the pressure is about 10 psi above the guideline, it’s time to backwash or to clean out the filters, depending on your system. Letting the pressure run too high can damage the pipes and the motor.

Listen for abnormalities. If your pump is louder than normal or making a high-pitched whine, some of the parts likely have become worn or cracked.

If you keep up with your pool pump maintenance, you can greatly extend the lifespan of your pump. A smoothly running pump will use less electricity and keep your swimming pool crystal clear.

Repair and replacement of household appliances can nibble away at your bank account.  We’ve rounded up a few tips to help you prolong the life of your everyday appliances. In a nutshell, cleaning is your best friend. Cleaning can extend the life of just about any appliance and save you a significant amount of money.


For example, the coils of your refrigerator should be free of dust and debris. If dust gets into the coils or the vent, the appliance motor can overheat, resulting in a hefty service charge. Coil cleaning only takes about five minutes. Start by unplugging the refrigerator. Pull or unscrew the vent plate that protects the coils. Then, clean the coils with a vacuum hose, using a brush to wipe off any dust in sight.

It’s also helpful to pull out refrigerator drawers for regular cleaning, and icemakers can also benefit from a good cleaning twice a year. For more tricks to keep your refrigerator in tip-top shape, check out our post Tips to prolong the life of your refrigerator.


Cleaning is again your not-so-secret weapon. Make sure to clean the dishwasher gasket on a regular basis.  The gasket is the watertight seal around the door of your dishwasher. In every dishwasher, there also is a component called the trap. It collects food and hard water build-up.  Like the gasket, the trap needs regular cleaning to stay top of game, so be sure to give it the attention it needs.

It’s also helpful to remove all filters and clean them thoroughly with warm water. While you’re at it – keep the soap dispenser free of soap scum and other buildup. Use only dishwasher detergent in recommended amounts. Load the dishwasher properly, and run only when you have a full load.  If you have hard water, use an anti-limescale product once a month.


If you have a self-cleaning oven, put the self-cleaning cycle into action. Do not use any other method to clean it. Clean up spills immediately, and give the interior of your oven some TLC regularly. When you allow food to linger and build up, it just gets more difficult to clean.

Garbage disposal:              

To keep your garbage disposal at its best, be careful about what you put down it. Food high in fiber is notorious for wrecking havoc on garbage disposals. Whether it be celery, cornhusks, potato skins or seafood shells, save those scraps for the trash. Never put rice in the garbage disposal; it’s another clogging culprit.

To freshen your disposal, occasionally grind half of a lime or lemon in it while running cold water. Keep the strong flow of cold water running throughout grinding, and continue it for at least 30 seconds after turning off grinder.

Washer and Dryer:

Overloading your washer or dryer might be a nice way to get more clothes clean in one fell swoop. But unfortunately, when you cram your washer or dryer to the brim, its performance is impacted. Over time it can take a toll and add to repair needs. So, resist the temptation to overload, and make sure to choose the correct load size.

While you’re at it, be sure to use the proper laundry detergent for your particular model, whether it be high efficiency or regular detergent. Make it a habit to clean the dryer lint filter prior to each load, and clean the dryer exhaust vent routinely. This will both protect your dryer’s performance and prevent possible fires.

That dishwasher of yours… how long will it last? What about that AC unit in the house you’re about to buy? Can you count on it running strong for another five years?

We’re certainly no fortune tellers here, but a glance at the average life expectancies of home systems and appliances can give you a good idea of what to assume. These home systems and appliances can have a big impact on your budget as a homeowner, so it’s great to think about these averages when considering the costs of homeownership. We hope this helps you build a realistic budget for home maintenance.

Oh, and we’re guessing you already know this, but we’ll throw it out there anyways. Life is ultra unpredictable (yes, we’re getting all philosophical on you). That means you may very well encounter home systems and appliances that completely defy these norms. Your deviant dishwasher may throw in the towel at 6 years; or it may beat the odds and keep on keepin’ on for a good 15. The moral — take it all with a grain of salt.

And, a big thanks to our friends at Advantage Inspection Service; they were kind enough to share this information with us and to encourage us to pass it along to you too.

Average Lifespans of Home Systems, Appliances and Components

Home Systems / Appliances Average Life Expectancy


Gas stove Max 15 years
Clothes dryers 10-12 years
Clothes washers 6-8 years
Refrigerators 6-8 years
Dishwashers 8-10 years
Microwave ovens 8-10 years
Heating and air conditioning systems Max 10-15 years
Smoke detectors 10 years
Carbon monoxide detectors 5 years
Garage door openers 10-15 years


Other Home Components Average Life Expectancy


Metal and concrete tile roofs 50+ years
Asphalt shingle roofs 15-25 years
Wood shake roofs 15-20 years
Natural wood, marble, slate ceramic and granite floorings 30+ years
Vinyl floors 15-20 years
Carpet 8-10 years
Asphalt and cement driveways 25-50 years
Chimneys and fireplaces Lifetime
Brick veneers Lifetime
Brick/block walls Lifetime

Estimates based on research from the National Association of Home Builders.

Home maintenance.

If you’re like most people, you throw it in the same category as a trip to the dentist, visiting the post office during peak holiday season or working on your taxes.


Can home maintenance please get less annoying?

Yes. It can!  Here are five ideas to help you…

  • Bust out the tunes. Music works wonders. Pick whatever will put you in a good mood and refresh the dull tasks.
  • Recruit someone. Don’t go it alone. Invite a friend to keep you company, then head to their home to return the favor. Or, get your family on board to help!
  • Get your zen on. Instead of letting your thoughts wander, stay present in the task. Feel the weight and texture of the tools in your hand. Breathe in the air. Be glad that your body is able to do this task.
  • Pick a prize. What will entice you to get to the finish line? A night out at a favorite restaurant? A trip to the movies? Once you finish the list, reward yourself!
  • Hire a pro. If home maintenance ain’t your thing, call us at 602.733.5000! Or email


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Our free guide will help you decide if a home warranty is right for you!Get Your Guide To Home Warranties

That funky smell.

It’s one of the biggest complaints from owners of front-loading washing machines. If you have one, you know what we’re talking about.

The energy savings from high-efficiency machines is awesome! But, that smell… is NOT.

Here’s how to avoid the bad smell, plus a few more pointers to keep your washer and dryer in top shape.

How to keep your high-efficiency washer from smelling

  1. Remove damp clothes immediately.  Ever run a load on Sunday then forget about it until Tuesday? We’re guilty too, but DON’T do that! It’s the recipe for a smelly washing machine. Do whatever it takes — set a reminder on your phone or put a simple sticky note in a visible place — so you fetch that load promptly!
  2. Leave the door ajar.  Okay, the Type A folks among us hate this, but DON’T close the door right after you wash a load. You need to allow air to circulate. A perk of living in Arizona — our dry climate means it should dry out more quickly than many other places.
  3. Clean the rubber seal around the door.  We get it — who wants to clean the machine that’s supposed to do the cleaning? But this really isn’t so hard, and it’s worth it to avoid a smelly laundry room. A solution of half vinegar and half water is all it takes. Apply this regularly to prevent buildup of hair, debris or water around the seal.
  4. Run a cleaning cycle too.  Pour distilled white vinegar where you would normally put detergent, and run the machine as normal. This helps clean out and deodorize the whole shebang. If you want, you can also purchase a product specifically to clean the drum and keep things smelling fresh.
  5. Level your washer, if needed.  This won’t help with the smell, but it’s a bonus tip to help extend the life of your washing machine. If your washer is rattling or shaking, don’t just ignore it. By leveling it out, you’ll prevent damage to your floors, walls and machine.

Ways to take care of your high-efficiency dryer too

  1. Clean out the lint filter.  This is a must for any dryer and can prevent fires too. Beyond simply removing the lint that accumulates, rinse the lint trap with water every so often. Nothing fancy — just a quick rinse under the sink will do!
  2. Check the dryer exhaust.  You know that big metal duct at the back of your dryer? Often debris builds up in there and prevents air from moving easily through the exhaust. That makes it hard for your dryer to dry clothes properly. It can also create a smelly or humid laundry room and can cause fires. No bueno. The best way to clean it out is to get a brush designed specifically to reach far in and remove lint from the walls of the duct.

Ah, the thrills of homeownership 😉 Regular maintenance may not be exciting, but that bit of time and effort can help you keep your machines running for as long as possible! If you’d prefer, you can, of course, hire a professional to help you tackle these things.

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Does this sound like you? You know you should do a few things to take care of your home, but it’s hard to keep up. Where do you even begin? Is it possible to take care of your home without it taking over your life? Yes, it is! Focus on these few items, and you’ll have a solid foundation.

Replace your smoke detector batteries.

Frequency: 1x / year

These simple devices are powerful life-savers when maintained. Test them monthly, and replace the batteries at least once a year.

Clean your refrigerator coils.

Frequency: 2-4x / year

Pull out the refrigerator and vacuum the coils. This prevents dust and debris from slowing your fridge down.

Clean your exterior dryer vent.

Frequency: 1x / 6 months

Over time your dryer vent can get clogged with debris and lint. Cleaning it regularly helps it run properly and prevents fires.

Change your HVAC filters.

Frequency: 1x / month

A dirty filter makes it hard for your AC system to run well. Changing the filter is easy and can extend the life of your system.

Clean your HVAC coils.

Frequency: 1x / year

This helps extend the life of your AC condenser and prevents overheating. Especially important here in Arizona!

Flush your water heater.

Frequency: 1x / year

Over time, sediment and minerals build up in your water heater and break down the tank liner and components. Flushing your water heater helps you avoid premature failure and excess energy use.


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It’s a good idea to flush your water heater once per year or anytime you change your element. You water heater builds up sediment and minerals that break down the tank liner and components that can lead to premature failure and excess energy use.

To flush you water heater:

1. Set your pilot light valve down to the “pilot” setting. Do not turn off the gas to the heater.

2. Turn off the water supply, both hot and cold.

3. Attach a garden hose to the drainage valve at the bottom of your tank.

4. Position the other end of the hose safely away outside to drain.

5. Turn on a hot water faucet in the house from a nearby source to allow air into the top of your tank.

6. Turn on the drain valve, and allow tank to empty for five minutes.

7. Once the tank has completely emptied, turn on the cold water supply on to flush out any remaining sediment from the tank.

8. After 5 minutes, inspect the water being evacuated and look for any sediment. If it’s clear, you’ve properly flushed your tank of accumulated matter and disconnect the hose.

9. Return the pilot control to the previous setting and allow ample time for the water to heat back up. Then, turn on the hot water supply.

10. You’re set to use your clean water supply.

Steve Higgins, our VP of Field Operations, talks with ABC15 about some easy ways to save energy at home.

  • This segment touches on topics like:
  • Turning down the temperature on your water heater
  • Using a programmable thermostat
  • Changing the filter for your air conditioning unit
  • Changing out light bulbs to the newer CFLs
  • Considering air purification systems
  • Upgrading your pool pump

Aired: 3/25/2017 9:49:21 AM


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