At the end of the day, your home theater’s lifespan is determined by your care. It’s surprisingly easy to ruin fragile speakers, fry expensive electronics and blow out surge protectors. Too often, homeowners overheat their amps, blow their disc drives and melt their subwoofers. Don’t be a statistic. Check out these preventative maintenance tips:


Tip One: Get an Ethernet Surge Protector


First, nix the classic surge protector. Your surges have a backdoor into your home theater if they’re not using coax and Ethernet protection. Surge protectors without these specifications leave a “backdoor” open into your system. If lighting strikes, a surge could make it through to your cable box, your computer or your other electronics. Your cables won’t sustain the blast, and your electronics will be toast.


Tip Two: Lower the Volume


Whether you’re dealing with a flat panel TV installation or day-to-day use, you should keep an eye on your speaker volumes. When turned up too loud, an amplifier can clip—which morphs any output signals into pure, constant DC signals. Then, a speaker’s voice coil wires can melt. Even if your receiver has a high power capacity, it can still be damaged over time.


Tip Three: Keep the Vents Clear


Your subwoofer, speakers and ground-level electronics can suffer from dust damage. Dust-clogged speakers, over time, will lack ventilation. Then, you guessed it: overheating. Dust accumulation on internal electronic components can be incredibly damaging. You’ll need to protect your equipment from failing by keeping it elevated. If your home theater installation doesn’t give you any wiggle room, check for dust at least once per month. You won’t regret it.


Tip Four: Don’t Touch the Lens


If you’re using a projector, don’t touch its lens. It’s your home theater’s eyeball, and it can easily be damaged. Your finger’s oils can smear a lens, creating long-lasting damage. Check with your projector’s provider, and only use approved materials when cleaning it. Always avoid harsh chemicals.


It’s a good idea to wrap up any outdoor speakers, and keep any indoor wires untangled. A lot of home theater connoisseurs boast about heat management—and for good reason. Your home theater’s ability to maintain itself is directly related to how much air flow it has. Tangled wires can get hot, leaving your system open to damages. Discuss installation options with your provider, and install your system for maximum protection.