Tips From Pros

American Home Shield has been a trusted ally for homeowners since 1971. We also provide confidence with our nationwide network of experienced pros. Our contractors have seen it all over the years, so as part of our 50th anniversary celebration, we're sharing some tips from our amazing pros. Stay tuned for new tips - straight from the experts!

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HVAC 

1. I recommend never closing or covering the air vents to your HVAC system because it negatively impacts the airflow through the ductwork and causes a buildup of pressure, which can cause leaky ductwork, a damaged heat exchanger, mildew buildup, and energy waste. It may seem like covering your vents will save energy, but it actually causes your system to work harder and leads to higher energy consumption. Be sure to check each room to ensure the air vents aren't covered by rugs or furniture.

-Wes McLeod, Co-owner of Comfort First Heating & Cooling, Sanford, North Carolina 

2. Some simple tips that make a big difference are to change your air filters regularly, check the batteries in your thermostat, and make sure your breakers are working.

-Jason Kent, Owner at Advanced Heating & Air Conditioning, LLC, New Albany, Mississippi

3. If you experience a cooling issue that requires a service visit during the summer months, remember to turn your system off at the thermostat and, if possible, the breaker panel. This can save you and the contractor valuable time in the event the A/C is frozen over.

 

-Michael Farraj, Owner at Budget HVAC, Cleveland, Ohio                 

4. Keep your systems cleaned and serviced twice a year to ensure they are running as efficiently as possible.

-John McElroy, HVAC Service Manager at Best Care Home Services, LLC, Memphis, Tennessee

5. Check your filters monthly for debris and dust, and change them as needed. Keeping a clean filter in your system helps prevent system malfunctions.

-John McElroy, HVAC Service Manager at Best Care Home Services, LLC, Memphis, Tennessee 

6. Find a thermostat setting that's comfortable for you and your family and leave it there to maximize efficiency.

-John McElroy, HVAC Service Manager at Best Care Home Services, LLC, Memphis, Tennessee 

7. Most air conditioners have an outdoor condensing unit/heat pump sitting outside with a fan on top to disperse heat in the summer. The metal fins on the condensing unit frequently get clogged up with dirt, pollen, and grime. Once each season, spray the outside of the unit with a water hose to clean it. Warning: Do not use a pressure washer because it will permanently damage your unit.

-Jeremy Duda, Contractor Relations Field Manager at AHS, Memphis, Tennessee

8. Remove the build-up of leaves and overgrown vegetation so they do not interfere with the airflow of your outdoor unit. You can trim any bushes or trees also so your unit has plenty of clearance, about 2 feet, on all sides. Keep a close eye if you have bushes or trees that give off excessive pollen.​

-Jeremy Duda, Contractor Relations Field Manager at AHS, Memphis, Tennessee

9. Perform annual heating system maintenance during the fall to avoid the busy winter season. 

10. Perform annual A/C system maintenance during the spring to avoid the busy summer season.

11. Listen for abnormal noises coming from your HVAC unit.

12. Visually inspect exhaust vent for rust, damage, or deterioration. 

13. Smell around the appliance for gas odors. 

14. Trim shrubs and plants near the condensing unit to ensure proper airflow and circulation.  

Plumbing

1. Clean out the area underneath your kitchen sink and remove the cleaning supplies so the plumbing is easily accessible and can be diagnosed when the contractor arrives.

 

-Tim Murray, Technician at B-N-K Plumbing, McHenry, Illinois                                                                                                                                                 

2. Always remember to disconnect your water hose before the first freeze of the year!

-Luca Toretta, Video Marketing Coordinator at Budget Heating, Cooling, & Plumbing, St. Peters, Missouri

3. If you see anything dripping, leaking, or running, take care of it sooner rather than later. Otherwise, it will cause more damage and cost more money in the long run.

-Matthew Helber, President at A Water Solution, Canal Winchester, Ohio

4. A) Clean your faucets and fixtures with soapy water - not chemicals - to keep them looking shiny and new. B) Put lemon peels in your garbage disposal to keep it smelling fresh. C) Put ice cubes in your garbage disposal and run them through to keep the blades sharp.

-Christopher Allen, Assistant Plumbing Manager at Best Care Plumbing, Heating, & Air, Memphis, Tennessee

5. Only toilet paper should be flushed down a toilet. 

6. Keep food, coffee grounds, and grease away from kitchen drains. 

7. Prevent hair and soap scum from going down bathroom drains. 

8. If you have a clogged drain, pour ½ cup of salt down the drain followed by boiling water. Continue to flush with very hot water until the clog is clear. Place a stainless steel or silicone drain catcher over the drain opening to help prevent future clogs. 

9. Only grind biodegradable food with cold water. 

10. Avoid using a garbage disposal if you are on a septic system. 

11. To clean the disposal, feed a full tray of ice cubes through it while running cold water. 

12. To prevent stoppages, remember to run cold water before, during, and after operation. 

Appliances

1. Do not use self-clean on ovens older than seven years. Due to age, insulation in the oven shrinks, making it difficult for the oven to hold temperatures. Instead, I recommend:

    1. Making sure the oven is powered off.
    2. Using a spray bottle to spray white vinegar on the door and inside the oven cavity. Let sit for 15 minutes.
    3. Scrubbing the oven clean with a paper towel.
    4. Using oven liners to prevent big food spills. They are available online (Amazon, eBay, etc.).

This will save lots of money on your electric/gas bill and can avoid service calls. You also can feel good living out the slogan "GO GREEN LIVE BETTER."

-Zeshan Bilal, Owner/Manager at Silver Star Appliances, LLC, Woodbridge, Virginia

2. If you have a high-efficiency washing machine, it's best to use high-efficiency detergent with HE on the label. For a normal-sized load of laundry, you only need 1-2 teaspoons of HE detergent. You can also read your appliance's manual for proper measuring instructions. Using too much or the wrong kind of detergent can cause damage to the machine and lead to expensive and unnecessary repairs.

-Robert and Casey Pugh, Owners at Science Appliance, Ransom Canyon, Texas

3. Clean or change your range’s hood exhaust filters regularly (approximately every 3–6 months). 

4. Clean the interior shelves, shell, and gaskets on your oven regularly. 

5. Clean the coils on the back or underneath your oven with a vacuum cleaner. 

6. Keep the refrigerator around 37°F and the freezer around 0°F. 

7. Test if the refrigerator door gasket is sealing properly by making sure it can hold a dollar bill in place when closed. 

8. Make sure the refrigerator is not overloaded and items are not blocking air circulation. 

9. If the refrigerator is not running, no sound can be heard, and the interior light is out, check for a blown fuse or a tripped circuit breaker. 

10. Adjust the level of the washing machine by turning the legs clockwise to lower them or counterclockwise to raise them. 

11. Inspect cold and hot water supply hoses on your washer for cracks or deterioration. 

12. Clean the washer every 3 months by running hot water with 3 cups of white distilled vinegar and ½ cup of baking soda. When it begins to drain, advance it to distilled vinegar and ½ cup of baking soda. When it begins to drain, advance it to spin. After the cycle ends, run it again on cold to rinse. 

13. If you have a front-loading machine, remove wet clothes immediately to avoid developing a musty odor. 

14. Avoid overloading the washer to help keep the machine on balance and in proper working order. 

15. If the washing machine tub fills with water, but the machine doesn’t run, make sure the lid is closed. If it is, ensure the switch is fully depressed. Lighten the load, and wait 15 minutes for the motor to reset. 

16. Adjust the level of the clothes dryer by turning the legs clockwise to lower them or counterclockwise to raise them. 

17. Clean the lint screen after each load of clothes has been dried. 

18. Clean the ductwork and outside the vent — your vacuum cleaner or a vent cleaning brush may help clean ducts thoroughly. 

19. If takes too long to dry a load, clean the lint screen and exhaust vent. Reduce the load and try again. 

20. Clean larger areas of your dishwasher — such as the door and interior walls — with a damp cloth. For smaller spaces, try using an old toothbrush to remove debris. 

21. Repair or remove chipped plastic coating on dish racks to prevent rust. 

22. If rust is found on the racks, use a steel wool sponge to remove the buildup. 

23. If your dishwasher is emitting a foul odor, examine the machine for signs of wet or old food debris. Clean the screen located at the bottom of the dishwasher. Pre-rinse dishes to reduce the amount of food waste in the machine. 

24. If your dishes are covered in residue or are still dirty after washing, make sure you’re not overloading the dishwasher. Check to see if any object is blocking the spray arms from spinning. Remove any debris blocking the strain screen and door gasket. 

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More tips coming soon!

AHS assumes no responsibility, and specifically disclaims all liability, for your use of any and all information contained herein.

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