Most consumers don’t give their home’s major appliances a second thought. That is, until a product starts to malfunction. However, regular attention to the condition and appearance of your appliances can often prevent these issues, helping you avoid unnecessary repairs and extending the lifespans of some of the most expensive items in your kitchen and laundry room.
Below Steve Ash has outlined some of the top maintenance tips for three of the most frequently used appliances in your home — the washer, clothes dryer and refrigerator. Conduct these tasks on a regular basis to keep these big-ticket purchases running smoothly, well past their warranty dates.
• Don’t overload the washing machine! In both top load and front load washing machines, clothes should be able to move freely during a wash cycle. Too-large wash loads require increased energy to move the mass of clothing.
• It is also equally important to not under-load the machine; small loads create the possibility of off-balance loads that put strain on the drive components and more importantly, waste water and energy.
• Do not overload your dryer and be careful not to dry clothes for too long. Usually 35 minutes is enough, compared to the 60 minutes users often set the timer for. Over-drying clothes is a waste of energy and creates unnecessary wear and tear on your dryer (as well as your clothes).
• Regularly check your dryer’s external vent cap outside the house for a buildup of lint or dust. Debris can prevent the cap from swinging open to release hot air. A restricted vent system will reduce airflow and can create excessive heat build-up in the dryer. This could cause premature failure of the thermostats or the motor, and it can be a potential fire hazard. It is advisable to vacuum the inside of your dryer annually or as required to prevent premature failure of components and any fire hazards.
• Maintaining your refrigerator’s gaskets, the plastic strip that forms a seal between the fridge and doors, will keep the appliance running efficiently and help extend its life. Coat the gaskets with a thin film of Vaseline to help them stay elastic and form a better seal. Wipe up a spill before it sticks to the gaskets, and you won’t have to replace them.
• Dirty or dusty refrigerator coils can restrict airflow through the appliance, causing it to overheat and potentially break down. Remove your fridge’s kick plate (the front panel near the floor) or reach around the back of the fridge and clean the coils with a handheld vacuum.
Follow these tips for long-lasting appliances and, in general, be sure to fix minor problems before they become larger ones. When unusual symptoms arise, such as leaks or noises, investigate and correct the faulty components before they cause further damage to other components of the appliance.
About the Author
Written by Steve Ash, Service Director for the DIY appliance repair resource PartSelect.com.