Home Appliances: Make Them Last Longer and Perform Better

Posted on Friday, August 31st, 2012.


Home appliances make our lives easier. Washing clothes in a cauldron or carrying blocks of ice to keep the milk from spoiling would be a burden. Appliances are essential elements in every home and we don’t give them a second thought unless they stop working.

Here are some tips for adding performance and longevity to your home appliances:

Washing machine: Replacing older water hoses is easy and should be done every five years on rubber hoses. Braided jacket hoses last ten years or longer. Worn or cracked hoses lose flexibility and are the culprit in many laundry room floods. After moving your washer make sure the hoses are seated and clamped properly so they do not slip out during use.

Dryer: Dryers are easy to maintain. Clean the lint off the filter before every load. Since lint gets stuck in the exhaust duct and restricts air flow, a yearly removal of the duct at the wall connection is recommended. This requires pulling out the dryer, unplugging, and doing the maintenance cleaning. Builders save money by installing the plastic duct but it makes sense to substitute with the metal duct when it needs to be replaced.

Refrigerator: Refrigerators pull air in from below to cool off the coils which heat up in the cooling process. Special brushes (long and very skinny) are made to clean lint off these coils. It will save you electricity if your refrigerator coils are clean plus your refrigerator will not work so hard day to day. You may need to remove the front bottom panel to reach your brush into the spaces above and below your refrigerator’s coils.

Your ice maker water line has a filter which should be changed more often than people change them. Once it gets dirty from filter out minerals and bacteria the water line filter isn’t good at filtering. In fact, it is unhealthy for you to drink from the water outlet in the door or to use the ice filtered through the overloaded filter. Newer refrigerators have easy to change filters. You can buy filters online once you know your refrigerator model number.

Finally, overloading your freezer makes it difficult for cold air to circulate up and down. If you have a bit of open space on most shelves it allows better circulation. The cold freezer air is used to chill the refrigerator side so both sides benefit.

Dishwasher: It doesn’t seem likely that dishwashers would get dirty since they slosh soapy water around each week. But the inside must be cleaned every few months, particularly at the door edge. Use baking powder and a wet paper towel to wipe the door bottom and the door perimeter.

For a deep clean (especially if you normally use the “Lite” cycle) sprinkle one cup of baking powder all around the bottom of your dishwasher interior then run it (no dishes) on Heavy Duty and Hot. This will clean the utensil baskets and all surfaces.

Bosch dishwashers have a waste basket that needs to be cleaned regularly. Check online or look in your manual (which you filed away for easy access, right?)

Annual cleaning could include removal of the spray arm (reverse threaded nut on top) and clean with warm, soapy water. Poke a thin wire in any clogged holes and scrub mineral deposits off the spray arm with white vinegar.

Range: Gas stoves may require periodic cleaning of clogged burners. Most burners lift out to be cleaned with hot soapy water. Older stoves have a pilot flame; newer stoves have spark ignition instead of a pilot flame. Each may be adjusted. Go online for guidance with your particular range.

Replacing the oven gasket usually requires disassembling the door which may be better handled by an appliance technician.

Most ovens have a self-cleaning cycle, which runs for two and a half to three hours at an automatic 850 degrees setting but only costs about $2. to run. After this cycle has cooled (best done overnight), wipe out the residue with a clean wet rag. Before running the self-clean cycle wipe out any crumbs and clean around the door edge first.

Microwave: No maintenance is required. Wipe up spills after cooking and clean around the door seal occasionally. Avoid plastic wrap as a covering when reheating foods and avoid plastics of all types in the microwave. The most common hazard is overcooked popcorn that can cause a fire so stay close by when cooking popcorn.