Tips to Prevent Equipment Breakdown

Stephanie-Marie Riquier

Is your refrigerator running? No, seriously, is it? Folks rarely think about the health of their appliances, that is, until one fails. But there are steps that you can take to avoid equipment breakdown. Here are some tips to help you keep your home running like a well-oiled machine.

1. Washer/Dryer

Between family, work, and social obligations, most Americans find themselves doing laundry at least twice a week. With all this washing up, it’s a good idea to service your washing and dryer every five years, to make sure your clothes come out as fresh as they did after the first use. After repeated use, your hose could build up unwanted filth causing it to work harder than it was built to.

Removing the old hoses on your washer and replacing them with new ones will help water move more easily into the machine, meaning it will work less, cost less, and last longer. Cleaning the dryer exhaust every three to six months can help your clothes dry faster, using less energy. It will also reduce the risk of fire.

You can also add a drip pan under your washer/dryer combo. This will not only protect your floor and other mechanical items surrounding the machines, but will also allow you to easily see if your machine is leaking sooner rather than later.

Watch this short video about how to inspect your washing machine hoses:

2. Riding Lawn Mower

Your riding lawn mower works hard during the spring and summer seasons, as your lawn transforms into a lush, green carpet for cartwheels and other forms of family fun. You can think of your riding lawn mower as a miniature car – you should change its oil every 50 hours, check its tire inflation regularly, and clean the undercarriage every few weeks to prevent it from clogging.

Although regular maintenance is certainly important, the best way to help your mower live longer is to prep it before storing it during the colder seasons. Some key ways to prep your machine for winter include changing the oil, draining the gasoline, lubing the front axles, and cleaning under the hood. Become familiar with your riding mower’s maintenance schedule to improve the longevity of your mowing machine.

3. Refrigerator

Arguably the most used machine in any household, your refrigerator has to be dependable because your food needs to be kept at a certain temperature in order to remain safe for consumption. Maintaining a refrigerator isn’t difficult, and can potentially save you hundreds of dollars in professional repairs or a replacement.

First and foremost, temperature control settings should be set to middle temperatures to increase efficiency by using less energy, and therefore extend the life of your fridge. It is important to clean the condenser coils to avoid retaining heat which will cause your compressor to work harder. You can do this yourself with a stiff brush, but be sure to unplug your fridge and power it off at the breaker before you start to avoid injury.

4. Oven

From weekday casseroles to Saturday-afternoon pies, your oven works hard to keep you fed. To keep it in good order, be sure to clean your oven at least twice a year, but avoid removing the cooktop knobs to clean beneath them. If something spills in your oven, apple pie filling, for example, be sure to wipe that up right away. And be sure not to cool your pies on the open door! This can cause wear and tear to the door hinges.

5. Boiler

By preparing your boiler before winter, you could save yourself the stress and the expense of having to replace the entire machine. Each fall, have your boiler serviced by a licensed professional who will inspect and clean it.

In addition to calling in a professional, there are steps you can take all year round to keep things running smoothly. For instance, be sure to keep items far away from the boiler’s vents, as blocked vents can prevent the boiler from working properly. You should also inspect your boiler for lime-scale. Too much build-up can compromise the heating efficiency of your boiler, so de-scale it as necessary.

What If Your Appliance Still Breaks Down?

Despite your best efforts, your appliances can still break down, whether from normal wear-and-tear or an electrical or mechanical issue. The good news is that there are several ways to protect yourself from incurring a large out-of-pocket expense.

Purchasing a Warranty

Many Americans choose to buy product-specific warranties when they purchase an appliance. Sometimes, these warranties will be included in the price of your purchase, and you can buy an additional “extended” warranty as well.

However, US News explains that “most expensive consumer products—refrigerators, washing machines, big-screen TVs and stereos, for example—are reliable and don’t break down often” and suggests that extended warranty is not worth the additional cost.

Others prefer to purchase home warranties to cover appliances, such as those listed above, for up to a year. These warranties can provide coverage for a broad range of breakdowns due to normal wear and tear, mechanical or electrical problems.

Although such warranties can act as a financial buffer for those with expensive tastes, they may not cover all types of damage, such as damage caused by an act of nature. Furthermore, you likely will not be able to select your repair person, or decide whether the appliance should be repaired or replaced. The annual cost of a home warranty can range from about $250 to $1,700, and averages nearly $1,000.

Purchasing an Insurance Endorsement

An alternative to warranties is equipment breakdown coverage, which is an endorsement that can be added to your homeowner’s insurance policy. For example, The Hartford offers an endorsement that covers the possessions in your home from electrical and mechanical issues for only $30 a year. It also helps cover your plumbing, heating and electrical systems, burglar and fire alarms, ceiling fans, stovetop, dishwasher, washer, dryer, television, lawn mower, swimming pool, well pump and more.

Although covered losses are limited to electrical and mechanical breakdowns, this endorsement does cost significantly less than a warranty. However, unlike store-bought warranties, this coverage never expires—it covers your household systems or items regardless of their age.

The endorsement covers repairs, replacements, additional living expenses if your home is unsuitable for occupancy, pollutant cleanup and removal, as well as up to $3,000 for spoiled food (if the electrical or mechanical breakdown involves your refrigerator). In addition, if you find yourself in need of a replacement, this endorsement also provides coverage for “green” upgrades, should you wish to purchase a more environmentally friendly option for your home.

Disclaimer: This material is for informational use only. The coverage details described above are specific to The Hartford. Other carriers’ offerings may vary. Speak with your agent or insurer for more detail on your specific policy.

Watch the video below to learn more:

31 Responses to "Tips to Prevent Equipment Breakdown"

  • Extra Mile Staff | July 16, 2018 at 7:41 pm

    Hi Nancy, you can find more information about the AARP Auto and Home Insurance Program from The Hartford by visiting our website here: If you’d prefer to speak to an agent, please call our Sales Department at 1-888-413-8970 and one of our agents will be happy to help. Thank you!

  • NANCY GORDON | July 12, 2018 at 3:26 pm

    I am with Nicor Solution. Please e mail me information about the AARP plan.

  • Extra Mile Staff | July 11, 2018 at 5:53 pm

    Hi there, if you have a home policy with The Hartford, you can call our customer service department at 1-800-423-0567 to see how you can add Equipment Breakdown Coverage to your policy. Thanks!

  • Extra Mile Staff | July 11, 2018 at 5:52 pm

    Hi there, you can learn more about Equipment Breakdown Coverage on our website or by speaking to one of our customer service representatives at 1-800-423-0567. Thanks!

  • Extra Mile Staff | July 9, 2018 at 1:17 pm

    The $500 deductible would apply to each appliance that you file a claim for. To learn more about The Hartford's Equipment Breakdown Coverage, please visit our website by clicking here.

  • Extra Mile Staff | July 9, 2018 at 1:12 pm

    Some examples of mechanical breakdown include your lawnmower's engine seizing due to lack of oil, your TV experiencing electrical breakdown, or your refrigerator suffering a compressor mechanical breakdown. Wear & tear would include damage that inevitably occurs as a result of normal wear or aging of the appliance. You can learn more on this coverage on our website by clicking here.

  • Extra Mile Staff | July 9, 2018 at 1:11 pm

    Hi there, these are all great questions. We suggest speaking to your Home Shield provider to determine if you should cancel the coverage you already have. As far as Equipment Breakdown Coverage, this does include coverage for your AC, furnace and water heater if damaged from mechanical or electrical breakdown. Some examples include your refrigerator suffering a compressor mechanical breakdown or your TV experiencing electrical breakdown. You can learn more about this coverage by visiting our website here.

  • Extra Mile Staff | July 9, 2018 at 1:11 pm

    This coverage would apply as an endorsement on to your existing homeowner’s policy with us, adding an additional $29 a year. If you pay your insurance monthly, the $29 would be spread out through your remaining payments left on your policy term. If you would like to learn more, please call our Customer Service Department at 1-800-624-5578 and one of our representatives will be able to help!

  • Extra Mile Staff | July 9, 2018 at 1:10 pm

    Hi there, these are all great questions. The $500 deductible applies every time you use this coverage. Equipment breakdown coverage protects appliances such washers and dryers if they're damaged from mechanical or electrical breakdown, assuming it would cost more than the $500 deductible to repair or replace. To learn more about this coverage, please visit our website by clicking here or call 1-800-624-5578 to speak to one of our Customer Service representatives. Thank you!

  • Extra Mile Staff | July 9, 2018 at 1:09 pm

    Yes, the $500 deductible will apply to each appliance that you file a claim for. To learn more about The Hartford's Equipment Breakdown Coverage, please visit our website by clicking here.

  • Extra Mile Staff | July 9, 2018 at 1:08 pm

    This is a great question. Equipment Breakdown protection doesn't cover appliances that are damaged from wear and tear which includes damage that inevitably occurs as a result of normal wear or aging of the appliance. You can learn more on this coverage on our website by clicking here or call 1-800-624-5578 to speak to one of our Customer Service representatives. Thank you!

  • Extra Mile Staff | July 9, 2018 at 1:07 pm

    This is a great question. Please call our Customer Service department at 1-800-624-5578 and one of our representatives will be happy to assist. Thank you!

  • Extra Mile Staff | July 9, 2018 at 1:07 pm

    These are all great questions. Please call our Customer Service department at 1-800-624-5578 and one of our representatives will be happy to assist. Thank you!

  • Extra Mile Staff | July 9, 2018 at 1:06 pm

    Yes you can! Equipment Breakdown Coverage is also available to add on your Hartford renter’s policy. You can add the coverage by filling out our smart form with your policy information. Thank you!

  • Extra Mile Staff | July 9, 2018 at 1:04 pm

    Hi there, we can help! You can get a quick homeowners quote by clicking here. Thank you!

  • Karen Smith | July 2, 2018 at 6:47 pm

    Please send more info on hvac. My unit is only 7 years old.

  • Kathy Rutland | July 1, 2018 at 9:26 pm

    I need detail on specific costs /coverages. What happens if 2 items breaks down at the same time? Would that be 1,000.00 for me to pay for both? I would like: Heating and air, Refrigerator, Stove only.

  • Kathy Rutland | July 1, 2018 at 9:13 pm

    I am interested... How do I enroll through my homeowners insurance?

  • Marian E. Lohff | June 30, 2018 at 5:42 am

    I would like to add this coverage to my Home Owners policy. M, Lohff

  • Bob Or Sherry Robinson | June 28, 2018 at 5:59 pm

    How do I enroll on our Homeowenr’s policy with Hartford through A.A.R.P.?

  • Helena Moss | June 28, 2018 at 2:57 am

    Can i get this coverage on my appliances if i rent a home?

  • jo brett | June 28, 2018 at 12:36 am

    Sorry: second email since the edit function did not work for me. In addition to the question regarding: is a depreciation factor applied to an older appliance that cannot be repaired? How many times does an attempt to repair an appliance need to be made before it is deemed unrepairable? Is a separate $500 deductible applied each time the repairman comes out to work on the same appliance? Lastly, since this policy covers things like electrical and plumbing systems, does it cover lines outside of the house...either electrical lines or the main water line from the house to the street? Thank you....Jo

  • jo brett | June 28, 2018 at 12:14 am

    What if my appliance is 20 yrs old....if it can't be fixed, does your policy pay a depreciated value for this appliance or does it pay replacement value. Please explain. Thank you.

  • Marsha Brauen | June 27, 2018 at 9:49 pm

    What is not covered with these plans?

  • Gene Van Vleet | June 27, 2018 at 5:58 pm

    Is the $500 deductible for each piece of equipment?

  • Gary Martin | June 27, 2018 at 5:54 pm

    Please email me more information about the specific coverage of the policy. Greater detail of costs and coverage. Is it always a $500 deductible? If your ceiling fan, or drier, or washer,or microwave needs repair/replace it doesn't seem like it would ever cover the costs. Please explain. Thank you.

  • Robert J Yaklich | June 27, 2018 at 3:56 pm

    I would like to know the monthly fee for this insurane

  • Debra Crain | June 27, 2018 at 3:16 pm

    I am interested in the Equipment Breakdown Coverage and will probably add to my coverage. Now I wonder if I should cancel my Home Shield $50.00 a month equipment coverage? Does the Equipment Breakdown coverage include A/C-Furnace and water heater breakdown? I am a bit confused if the coverage is only for equipment breakdown causes by an electrical problem or both electrical and mechanical problems. What is considered a mechanical problem? How is an electrical issue defined? Again, I am trying to determine if I should cancel my Home Shield warranty insurance. Thank you

  • Ulysses Clark | June 27, 2018 at 3:05 pm

    Define mechanical breakdown and how is it different from wear & tear.

  • kabiru rahmon | May 7, 2018 at 6:23 pm

    break down of appliances

  • Peter McHugh | October 9, 2017 at 2:05 pm

    like the insurance idea for appliances. Didn't know this was available

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