Did you hear that? Whether you’re a newlywed in a century-old Tudor or a retiree in a new condo, you’re subject to the sound of that thing that goes bump in the night. You only wish it was just a goblin. Is that the first sign of an HVAC system on the brink? Did your washing machine just give up the ghost?
Silence is golden in this case, especially if you maintain a system check calendar. It can help you ensure the conveniences, necessities and protections you have in your home operate smoothly.
Here are three areas at which you can give a little extra attention:
A dishwasher should last about 10 years, Appliance Magazine says. The average American dishwasher spins out four cycles a week, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. So how does your dishwasher compare?
Danger: Water damage. Whether it’s a slow leak or a major burst, water can cause internal damage to your home’s structure and flooring, as well as other appliances. When your dishwasher finally gives out, the water can destroy or damage wiring, trim, and home furnishings.
Insurance implications: If damage occurs because of a spontaneous failure of the unit, many insurance policies typically cover it. But what if that leak or burst happened because you didn’t maintain your dishwasher? That’s a tougher scenario for homeowners.
- Every three months, run an empty cycle on the water-saving setting, with 2 cups of vinegar in the bottom of the unit. Stop the cycle halfway, and let the vinegar sit for 20 minutes.
- Run your garbage disposal before a dishwasher cycle. It drains to the same pipe as the dishwasher. Running the disposal clears the way for what the dishwasher gets rid of.
- Wipe down the outside of your dishwasher. With mild spray cleaner and a sponge, keep areas around the controls and ledge between panels free of buildup.
It takes as much energy to run U.S. air conditioning units for a year as it would for all energy costs for Africa, according to The American Weathermakers, a Chicagoland HVAC business.
Danger: It’s tough to nail down – most fire-reporting agencies consider heating equipment separately from air conditioning equipment. But there is a fire risk associated mostly with electrical malfunction of the units..
Insurance implications: Typical homeowners insurance focuses on accidents and could cover a fire caused by an electrical problem in your system. If a tree lands on your unit or lightning strikes it, your insurance policy can cover that. However, your policy doesn’t take into consideration wear and tear on your HVAC system. If it wears out, you’re on your own. .
- Check your ducts for good sealing. Cooled and heated air travels in your home through ducts. Inspect them yourself, or call an HVAC specialist to check them out.
- Mow grass or weeds around the outside of your HVAC unit. Plants that grow around its vents can obstruct airflow and compromise performance.
- In fall and winter, ice and leaves also can obstruct its vents. Buy a commercial condenser cover designed for your unit’s shape and size. It will protect better than plastic sheeting.
In 2012, there were 2.1 million burglaries in the U.S., according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report.
Danger: A faulty security system leaves your property vulnerable to burglary. Also, systems that sound an alarm for a break-in but don’t alert authorities don’t do enough to protect your property.
Insurance implications: You can save on your premiums if you have a monitored security system installed. It’s important to keep your account active and in good standing.
- Test the system monthly. Most security companies are happy to test your system if you just call.
- Check sensors weekly, especially around windows. Adhesives fasten many sensors, and with time, they can come loose.
- Replace standby batteries every 3 to 5 years. Write the year you replaced on your battery with a permanent marker as a reminder.
Think you’re done? Not yet. Come back for Part 2 of Time for a System Check on Friday.