There’s that fear. The fear of having your oven break down just before a dinner party. Or the fear of a broken washing machine full of clothes, just sitting there, getting smellier by the moment. Or coming home from the grocery store with a load of great deals to be put in the fridge or freezer only to find it’s not working.
With today’s new, efficient appliances it’s more important than ever to maintain them and keep them working well. By doing a few simple maintenance steps you can prolong their life, lower your energy bills and save money on repair and avoid the Appliance Repair nightmare!
Prolong Your Fridge’s and Freezer’s Life
Clean the condenser coils periodically. The condenser coils are responsible for cooling and condensing the refrigerant in your refrigerator and when they get clogged with dirt and lint they cannot release heat. This causes your compressor to work harder, using more energy and shortening the life of your fridge.
Clean your condenser coils at least twice a year with a coil cleaning brush and a vacuum. The coil brush can bend and gets into tight spots to loosen dirt for your vacuum to suck up.
Twice a year check and make sure the appliance is level both front to back and side to side to ensure proper door opening and closing and ice maker operation.
Every three months you should clean the door gasket with warm water (detergents can damage the gasket) and make sure the seal is still snug all the way around. Replace the gasket when it becomes loose, cracked or torn.
Don’t block the air vents in your freezer or fridge. Proper air flow is required to keep foods at the right temperature and blocking the air vents can cause the compressor and fans to run overtime which can result in fan and compressor failures.
Replacing the fridge’s water filter (if there is one) ensures clean water & ice and prevents clogs and leaks in your fridge’s water line.
To eliminate odors in your ice cubes, empty the icemaker bucket each month.
Clothes Washers and Dryers
Overloading a front loading washer or dryer can burn out the rear bearing or motor and that repair is so expensive you might be better off buying a new machine. In the dryer, the extra load weight requires a longer time to dry your clothes it also wears out the drum support rollers and drive belts. You may think you’re saving money, time and energy by cramming more clothes into your washer and dryer but heeding a manufacturer’s weight limits on your washer and dryer will help prevent expensive breakdowns. Overloading a top-loading washer you can fry the drive belts or break the drive coupler. Overloading the washer can cause socks and underwear to float over the basket where they get sucked into the pump and wreck it.
Don’t slam your washer or dryer doors – this can break switches which are expensive to replace. Gently lowering the lid or closing the door can actually save you up to $175 in a repair bill.
Clean the filter in your clothes dryer after each load for better efficiency and longer dryer life. A clogged filter means your dryer has to work harder and it takes longer to dry your clothes and wastes energy. The lint can’t pass through the filter and it still has to go somewhere so it collects in the dryer’s vent line and reduces airflow even more. Eventually, this will cause the dryer to overheat and blow the thermal fuse. The dryer will still work but there won’t be any heat.
If you use dryer sheets, wash the lint filter with detergent every 6 months. Dryer sheets leave behind an invisible film which blocks airflow.
Don’t drag your clothes out of the washer. Zippers and buttons can gradually tear up the rubber door gasket and requires a lot of disassembly which leads to an expensive repair.
Inspect washing machine hoses periodically. Most washing machine floods are caused by leaks in the hose. Check the hoses that connect to the back panel on your washing machine for any cracks, leaks or weak spots. If you find any deformities, replace the hose. At a minimum, hoses should be replaced every 5 years.
Stove and Cooktops
Don’t spray switches or control panels. Spraying switches can cause the liquid to drip onto the control panels and short them out. Instead, spray a rag or sponge and then clean. And don’t use any product which contains bleach or has a warning on the label about use on Acrylic Plastics, which make up most of the electrical parts on your range and cooktop.
Clean stovetop drip bowls. Presoak in a cleaning solution for 5 minutes and then wash by hand. Washing spills immediately keeps the spill from burning.
If you have a smooth cooktop, the good news is that it’s easier to clean up after a messy meal! The bad news is you have to use special cleaning products to avoid damaging the surface.
Since you’re checking your fridge’s gaskets, take a look at your oven door. Is the seal tight? With an improper seal you can lose up to 20% of your heat, which causes food to take longer to cook or cook unevenly. Clean the seal with warm water and check for broken, torn or deformed areas.
Wipe spills once the oven is cool to avoid burned on food which can be difficult to clean later.
If your oven has a self clean function check the owner’s manual on how to use it properly and use this function and no other cleaning method. If your oven isn’t self-cleaning use a cleanser for ovens to keep food safe.
Wash metal-mesh grease filters with warm sudsy water or place in the dishwasher often.
Clean the interior of the hood with standard household degreaser/cleaner frequently to avoid a build up of grease.
Don’t spray switches or control panels. Spraying switches can cause the liquid to drip onto the control panels and short them out. Instead, spray a rag or sponge and then clean.
Clean your dishwasher screen. If your dishwasher has a filtering screen on the bottom, clean it often. Stuck food particles turn into slime that can block water and reduce cleaning performance.
Every two months run the dishwasher (empty) with a quart of white vinegar added to the tank. This removes deposits left behind and helps keep the drain clear.
Cut back on your dishwasher soap. You don’t need more than a teaspoon to clean most loads. Avoid excess soap build up in the dishwasher which will reduce water flow by using less to begin with.
Make sure your water used to operate your dishwasher is at least 130 degrees. This will eliminate the buildup of greasy film and soap residues.
Recoat the plastic tines when they wear away to protect your dishes from rust spots. Use a vinyl repair kit for this purpose.
Clean Air Conditioner Filter Every Two to Four Weeks. A dirty or clogged air conditioner filter can restrict air flow which reduces energy efficiency and the lifespan of the air conditioner. Replace disposable filters, reusable filters should be vacuumed to remove as much dirt as possible.
Clean outside condenser coil once a year. Turn off unit and spray the coils with water at a low pressure.
Make sure you don’t over cool. The ideal temperature setting is between 75 – 78 degrees F.
Keep heat sources (lamps, TV’s etc) away from thermostats.