How To Extend the Lives of These 5 Major Appliances

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Major appliances are expensive. Unfortunately, prices have increased significantly in the last few years partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic and related microchip shortage and supply chain issues.

Tips To Extend the Lives of Appliances

We want our appliances to last a long time. Let’s talk about some steps you can take to keep your appliances running well for years to come.

Refrigerator

While you may not think a lot about maintenance on your refrigerator, there are steps you should take regularly to maintain it.

Clean the dust. Did you know that dust accumulates around the compressor and coils? This can hamper airflow. Reduced airflow can cause temperature issues and also shorten the life of the refrigerator.

Once or twice a year you should clean the compressor and coils. Depending on the refrigerator’s make and model, you access the compressor from the back or from the front. Your user manual will tell you where the compressor is located. If you can’t locate your user manual, visit the manufacturer’s website to download a copy.

You can buy special brushes specifically designed for cleaning the compressor and coils, but a vacuum cleaner with attachments also works well.

Be sure to unplug the refrigerator before cleaning it. It’s best to allow airflow around the refrigerator, so don’t position it too close to the wall or in an extremely tight space.

Check the plastic. Keep the plastic seal around the refrigerator door clean, and check for any kind of damage. The plastic seal ensures that the door is closing properly which conserves energy and keeps the temperature stable. Wipe the seal down with a damp cloth often, and if you spot any signs of damage, have the seal replaced.

Choose the correct temperature. Most modern refrigerators show the recommended temperature setting on the adjustment knob. You can also refer to the user manual. Using a higher-than-recommended setting causes the refrigerator motor to work harder than it should.

Keep it level. Be sure the refrigerator is standing on a level surface. If it is uneven, the door may not close properly, and that will let the cold air escape, which makes the motor work harder than it needs to.

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Avoid placing your refrigerator next to a heating outlet or in an extremely hot or cold location and avoid direct sunlight. Any temperature extremes can cause it to work harder to maintain an ideal temperature.

Oven

Keep the stovetop and oven clean. Clean up any spills in the oven as they happen. An accumulation of grime and grease can force the heating element to work harder.

Check the back of the oven for dust buildup. Use a vacuum with attachments to clean any dust or debris from the back and bottom of the oven.

Keep it clean. Appliance experts offer different opinions on using the oven’s self-cleaning feature, but many agree you shouldn’t use it at all, as doing so can shorten the lifespan of the oven by heating the oven to extremely high temperatures. This can put stress on the heating elements and internal parts and may even cause damage to the glass oven door.

I just clean my oven anytime a spill or leak happens and give it a good cleaning every few months which is not difficult since I clean as I go.

Check the seal around the oven door. If it is dirty or damaged, the oven will not heat up properly and it may take longer to cook your food. If you notice damage to the seal, schedule a service call to have it replaced.

Washing Machine

Never overload or underload the washing machine. Doing so causes it to work harder, and that can strain the motor, belts, transmission and other parts. Clothes should be able to move around freely during the wash cycle, as your clothes will not be cleaned properly if they can’t move freely.

Also, avoid washing very small loads of laundry which can cause the washer to go off balance and can strain the washer’s parts. It is also not energy efficient.

Clothes Dryer

Clean the lint filter after each use. This keeps the dryer from overheating and ensures that your clothes will dry faster. A clogged lint filter is also a fire hazard. Clean the lint trap as well. You can buy a special brush that will fit into the lint trap and remove debris. I use that along with my vacuum for cleaning.

Also, clean the exhaust hose and vent cap. Remove the hose a few times a year and use a vacuum to clean the debris and inspect the vent cap to ensure it is not clogged with lint.

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Watch your load size. Don’t overload the dryer. Clothes will not dry properly, and you will need to run the dryer for a longer period of time, which can put a strain on the hardware and drive up your electric bill.

Furnace

Schedule yearly maintenance with a qualified professional. They will inspect the furnace for any signs of damage and do a thorough cleaning and tuneup. They should also check for carbon monoxide leaks. I normally schedule a service call in the late summer or early fall to ensure my furnace is ready for the upcoming winter months.

Replace your filters often. When the filters become clogged with dust, the furnace must work harder to heat your home stressing the system. Change filters several times during the heating season. Also, be sure you are using the correct filter for your furnace. An ill-fitting filter will not work properly. Filters often go on sale during off months so watch for this and stock up.

Update the thermostat. If you live in an older home, you may want to consider replacing the thermostat which can improve overall efficiency and offer updated features.

Clean the area around your furnace. If your furnace is located in the basement or utility room, those locations may not get cleaned as often. If there is a lot of dust and debris near the furnace it can get into the furnace causing damage. Keep the area around the furnace clean. And never place anything flammable or combustible near your furnace.

Final Thoughts

If you need to replace a major appliance, consider the “scratch and dent” section of your local appliance store. I purchase my appliances almost exclusively from that section. Most often, the flaws are very minor. My current refrigerator has a very tiny scratch near the bottom on the side. My oven has a small dent on the back. My washer and dryer were also purchased in the scratch and dent section.

Minor scratches, dents and other flaws do not affect the performance of the appliances, and I made sure I got the same manufacturer’s warranties as I would on any other appliance. Purchasing from the scratch and dent section has saved me hundreds of dollars!

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