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Everyday Cheapskate: Appliance Maintenance You Can Do Yourself

Mary Hunt on


Calcium and other mineral deposits reduce the effectiveness of humidifier pads. Replace humidifier filters and pads annually, even if they appear to be fine.


Clean or replace the air filter in your air conditioner to help the unit run more efficiently, and don't forget to give the evaporator and condenser coils an annual cleaning. Use the model number of your unit to find the correct filter.


Washing machines are responsible for more than $150 million worth of damage in homes across the U.S. every year. Imagine a river flowing from your laundry room with hundreds of gallons of water per hour over thresholds and flooring, soaking your furniture and prized collectibles. It happens. Washing machine hoses score No. 1 in the lineup of the most neglected maintenance items in a home.

If you have a washing machine, you need to check the water inlet hoses or water fill hoses at least once a year. There are two of them, and they connect the machine to the cold and hot water faucets. You cannot tell simply by looking at these hoses whether they need to be replaced. Age, chemicals in the water and buildup of calcium deposits over time can degrade rubber.

To complicate matters further, even a new hose could be old, having lived a good deal of its life in a warehouse.

If you cannot remember ever replacing your water inlet hoses, put that on your list for next weekend. Repeat in three years -- even though most manufacturers and all insurance companies recommend replacing them every three to five years. You cannot be too cautious.

There are two types of hoses: rubber hoses for about $5 each or braided stainless steel hoses for about $15 each. While stainless steel hoses have the edge when it comes to performance, they are not foolproof. The connectors can break loose, and the rubber interior of the metal hose often deteriorates.

Installing new hoses is not at all difficult. It's like attaching a garden hose. But beware: Installation error is the biggest cause of premature hose failure. Sharp kinks or bends in the hose can weaken the hose itself or the seal at the connector.

Need help? The NaturalHandyMan website is another excellent self-help website that will come to your rescue with diagnoses, repair instructions and maintenance tips for jobs around the house, plus all of your household appliances. For links to the products mentioned in this column, visit


Mary invites questions, comments and tips at, or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of, a personal finance member website and the author of "Debt-Proof Living," released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at

Copyright 2017 Creators Syndicate Inc.


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