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Household Maintenance – An Organizing Necessity Part 2

household maintenance - appliances

Recently I talked about how household maintenance was important for a clean and organized home. There is another part of household maintenance that is not so visible. It is easy to overlook the importance of regular maintenance for our appliances.

Yet, who hasn’t experienced the Thanksgiving trauma of a stove or refrigerator that has just failed? Or the dead washer or dryer after coming home from a trip with a ton of dirty laundry? Maybe returning home after a trip and finding water standing on the floor because a hot water heater died?

In order to function efficiently and last longer our household appliances also need regular maintenance.

I have learned the hard way that it is a good idea to tune up major household appliances before a major holiday – especially those in the kitchen. Read on to find out what I do to maintain these appliances and when I schedule it.

Fall appliance maintenance:


It’s important to keep door gaskets clean to maintain a good seal and make them last the life of the refrigerator. You do not want to have to replace the gaskets when they start pulling away from the door.  If the door doesn’t seal properly, the refrigerator must run longer to cool, and it will run up your electric bill.

Clean the gaskets with warm water and a sponge or rag. Don’t use detergents because they can damage the gasket. Clean the grate under the fridge and back panel once a year. When coils are clogged with dust, pet hair, or cobwebs they can’t efficiently release heat. This means your compressor works harder which will use more energy and shorten the life of your refrigerator.


My only icemaker is in my refrigerator and I don’t use it but if you have an icemaker or water filter change the filter at least every 6 months. Check your manual for more details.


If you have an oven with a self-cleaning option, use this option every 6 months (or after the cherry pie overflows and makes a real mess). After the oven is thoroughly cool, wipe it down with water and white vinegar.

Clean an oven without the self-cleaning option about every 3 to 6 months. Of course, the best time to clean an oven is as soon as you have a mishap or notice that it is dirty. It’s a lot easier to clean if overflows and splatters don’t get reheated several times.


Whether your stove top is electric or gas it should be kept clean at all times. If you have a burner that won’t light, there is probably spilled food clogging the igniter. Clean it with a toothbrush to gently loosen the food. Also make sure that the round ceramic seal strike plate is properly seated on the burner.

If the stove top is a smooth surface, it is easy to wipe off after every use – once it has cooled. as you’re cleaning the kitchen counters. Use a mixture of 8 oz. of water, 8 oz of vinegar, and a touch of lemon juice.

Kitchen exhaust fan

The kitchen exhaust fan should be regularly cleaned to make sure it is working efficiently. If you use it often, it should be cleaned every 3 months.  It is important to clean it to remove grease and prevent fires.


When cleaning the dishwasher use the white vinegar and water mixture. If your dishwasher isn’t getting dishes clean check the filter because it might be clogged. This is something I learned while working on this blog. It is recommended that you take off the cover (check your manual if you can’t find it) and vacuum to clean off screen and then clean it with water.

While the next two items are not appliances, I feel that they are also household maintenance areas that can be overlooked.

In the early summer I check maintenance on:


I check the caulking at least annually to prevent water from seeping out. If water starts seeping out, you will end up with floor damage and in my case, water seeping down into my crawl space.

I don’t have a fireplace in this home but if you do, check maintenance on:


Clean your chimney every 50 to 70 burns depending on how green your wood is. The last thing you want is a chimney fire.

End of Summer regular appliance maintenance:


As you clean your laundry area, schedule time to vacuum lint from your dryer vent. The dryer doesn’t function at its best when lint accumulates.

Also, built-up lint inside the dryer cabinets causes more than 15,000 fires every year. Experts recommend washing the lint filter until you see water running through it about every 3 months. After you do this, check the outside dryer vent for any build up there.

I give the washer a good clean inside and then pull it out from the wall and clean behind it while checking the connections.

Water heater

You should drain some water from it each year.  Sediment collects at the bottom of the tank and causes hot spots on gas heaters that can damage the tank. On electric heaters it can cause the lower heating elements to fail. So, draining the water heater annually will lower energy bills and extend the life of the heater.

I have a contract with a maintenance company for checking maintenance on:


How often you change filters depends on your situation, but they should be changed at least every 90 days. You need to change them more often if you have pets that shed. Keep debris from collecting on your outside AC unit.


Remembering to maintain our appliances on a regular basis can be tricky. Help yourself remember by putting a reminder at the beginning of each month to do some regular household maintenance for your appliances. Decide what needs a little maintenance, schedule time to do it, and then just follow your plan.

If you want help setting up a maintenance plan or are working on a project and want some guidance and support, join Diane Quintana and me in our Clear Space For You virtual organizing group. The group will offer ideas, support, and gentle accountability for working on developing plans or projects.

Jonda S. Beattie, Professional Organizer owner of Time Space Organization, and co-owner of Release, Repurpose, Reorganize. She is based in the Metro-Atlanta area. As presenter, award-winning author, as well as a retired special education teacher she uses her listening skills, problem solving skills, knowledge of different learning techniques, ADHD specialty, and paper management skills to help clients.




  • I don’t have most of these, but this was an excellent reminder to look after those that I do!

  • While many of these things I do on a regular basis. I’m with you; cleaning several of these areas in the fall, especially before Thanksgiving, is key for me. I found that oven cleaning was key the month before Thanksgiving because I had a situation where the oven pilot light stopped working because of my Christmas Eve Gathering. It was so stressful. Now I know better. =)

    A few years ago, I realized there was a filter in my microwave exhaust. Who knew? I found out about it on my Facebook feed. Now, I have added that one to my list of “filters to change” tasks. Thanks for sharing your maintenance tasks. It’s important to know to protect the expensive items we purchased over the years.

  • What a comprehensive list of appliance maintenance tasks! I’ve been there with the stove that broke the day of Thanksgiving or when I was back from vacation doing laundry when the dryer busted. None of these things are fun. Both appliances were very old, so that had more to do with them than lack of maintenance. However, it’s still important to tend to our things to prevent worse challenges. It’s why you brush your teeth or have annual doctor visits.

    Thank you for the self-cleaning oven schedule. I clean it less often because I only sometimes use it. I love the self-cleaning feature, but it creates a strong scent that I don’t like. Therefore, I do it when I’m out of the house.

  • Seana Turner says:

    I learned the hard way on that coil maintenance need. I have a sub-zero, and I didn’t “see” the grate because it was kind of hidden behind the lower drawer. One day the fridge just stopped working. Of course, I was away. Long story short, I hadn’t ever cleaned the coil (in many years). The good news is, he was able to replace it, and show me how to remove the cover and clean it. Now I am on to this task, and do it at least once a year (maybe more). I don’t want to have to replace this expensive fridge!!!

    So wonderful to have an overview like this to show what should be done each year.

  • Julie Bestry says:

    As a renter, little of this maintenance is something I can (or must) do on my own. I’ve never used my fireplace in the 26 years I’ve lived here, but the complex sends a nice chimney sweep (who, sadly, is nothing like Dick Van Dyke’s version from Mary Poppins). My HVAC unit and water heater are overseen by the complex. But I have to tend to my own kitchen, bathroom, and laundry maintenance. For a while, I dithered over the dishwasher until I verified once and for all — mine has no filter! I don’t use my ice maker, so that’s another thing I can skip. (I had mine turned off soon after I moved in, as the fridge is from the 80s and the water can’t be filtered.) I was delighted to learn (far too late in life) that electric range stovetops lift up, allowing cleaning underneath; I don’t cook often except on the stovetop, causing a new maintenance worker to stop for a double-take, shocked at how clean my oven interior was. Funny how when you don’t use something, it stays pristine! 😉

    You’ve inspired me to see if I can get some help to pull my fridge out and vacuum those coils in the back; it’s surely overdue.

    Excellent reminders that everyone, but especially new homeowners, should take to heart.

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