Maintenance Now or Mayhem Later


The story

As a landlady, there are few things I dread more than getting a text from a tenant. Invariably, it means something is broken or has otherwise gone wrong, and it’s going to take a pile of money or a good amount of time and petrol to sort it out. Or — horror of horrors — both.

This time it was the vacuum cleaner, the washing machine, the tall lamp, and the TV’s cable connection. All were broken, according to various text messages. My bank balance was already weeping.

Nonetheless, I told them I’d be over to investigate, and I hopped in the car.

A tweet to the cable company (gotta love social media) and the TV was back working. The lamp seemed to be properly out of action and, not having any sort of electrical training, I didn’t go wobbling the wires too much. So I was one for two.

The washing machine was full of black water so a quick Google (and, you know, some common sense) told me it was a blockage somewhere. All I had to do was find it. I opened the filter and found this:

Maintenance. Washing machine filter.

The filter vomited dirt and gunk and hair and coins and clips and plastic and an underwire…

Yup. It took me about an hour to drain out all the water through the filter, and it was only towards the end that I realised how much quicker it would’ve been to scoop out all the water in the drum with a big container first. D’oh! Learn from my mistakes, folks.

Anyway, I ran a quick cycle through the machine and, unsurprisingly, it was back on track. (I could’ve sworn I heard my wallet let out a little sigh of relief.)

Then it was the vacuum’s turn. I took the hose apart and, sure enough, I could see a whole pile of fluff stuffed at the bottom of it. My tenant had told me she’d tried to reach it with a coat hanger, but to no avail. What’d I do? Just flipped the hose and started pulling dirt out of the head.

Maintenance of vacuum cleaner. Hoover.

This was just the beginning! More fucking clips too. Some serious hair clip hara-kiri shit going on in this house, it seems.

So of all four things that were “broken”, only one required replacing. Phew! I tried to justify the poor condition of the appliances by telling myself that, to my tenants, it was “just a rental”. You never care about stuff as much when someone else is paying for it. But I started wondering when was the last time my own washing machine filter had been cleaned. (It wasn’t NEARLY as bad as the above one, but I did find a colour catcher sheet caught up in it which would’ve caused problems down the line.)

The moral

Anyway, the moral of the story is: maintenance!

It’s so important to maintain your belongings and appliances if you expect them to last. It only takes a few minutes to do regular checks on them, but it takes a LOT of time, effort and money to replace them if they die at your careless, lazy hands.

Remember, too, that a broken appliance may cost more than just a replacement. Washing machines flood and ruin floors and clothes. And dryer lint is highly combustible. A decent amount of heat (and, let’s face it, your dryer is designed to churn out a lot of it) and you could be in trouble. That shit catches fire like a motherfucker and won’t hesitate to burn your house down.

The practicalities

Here are some examples of things that need to be regularly maintained:

  • Washing machine: clean the filter once every few months, at least (unless, like me, you lose an earring, in which case you should have a look immediately)
  • Dryer: clean out the lint (small nozzle on the vacuum is great for this!)
  • Gas boiler: full service once a year by a registered gas installer (it’ll make your boiler run more efficiently, thus basically paying for the cost of the service)
  • Plugholes and drains: stop letting all your hair clog up the shower, you animal!
  • Dishwasher: remove all the filter traps (refer to the manual or good ol’ Google) and give them a good scrub every few weeks, at least
  • Vacuum cleaner: empty the bag once in a while, yeah? Unless you’ve got one of those fancy bagless ones. Ooh, get you.

  • The end

    Go check your washing machine filter now. Don’t wait ’til you’re ankle-deep in dirty water before you decide you should do something. Prevention is always better than cure, and regular maintenance will go a long way to saving you money and giving you peace of mind. Get rid of the gunk and lay waste to the lint. And buy some vacuum bags next time you’re out and about too. (They don’t exactly rank right up there with steak and potatoes on your shopping list but, like pens, they’re rarely around when you need them. Sort it out.)


    Then go collect your Boy Scout badge for ALWAYS BEING PREPARED.

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