5 Tips for Maintaining Your Major Home Appliances

Major appliances like refrigerators, washers, dryers, dishwashers, and others are expensive to replace and even more so to repair. But by following a few simple maintenance tips, you can avoid those repairs and extend the life of your appliances. 

Fortunately, to keep your appliances in top condition, you won’t need a lot of mechanical knowledge—just some common sense and some hard work.

1. Refrigerator

You should inspect the coils if your refrigerator stops working on a warm day. Half of the calls to service professionals about refrigerators have this issue. You can access the coils on many refrigerators by removing the front grille. Then insert a coil cleaning brush (available at home centers), pull it back, and vacuum the coils clean. 

Pull out your fridge to clean the coils if they are on the back. An added benefit? Clean coils will improve cooling and reduce your utility costs.

Fridge gaskets

The door gaskets on your refrigerator will seal correctly and last the entire life of the appliance if you keep them clean. However, if you allow food (jam and syrup I’m talking to you) to accumulate on the door gasket, they will glue the gasket to the frame. 

Pulling on a stuck door too hard eventually tears the gasket, which will cost you at least $100 to repair. Additionally, if the fridge door doesn’t seal properly, it will need to run longer, which will increase your electricity bill.

If you’ve noticed that it’s harder to open your refrigerator door because it’s sticky (or you’ve spotted mold in the crevices) it’s time to clean your refrigerator’s door seals. 

Use a sponge and warm water, to clean the door gasket, being sure to get into every fold of the gasket. Avoid using detergents because they might harm the gasket. 

Ice maker

Don’t forget to clean the ice maker. Every two to three months at the very least, the drip tray should be taken out and cleaned.

Once a month, clean the ice bucket assembly to prevent the ice from absorbing refrigerator odors. The water filter in the dispenser needs to be changed at least once every six months.

2. Garbage disposal

Empty the garbage disposal of any muck. Then clean the splash guard to eliminate that funky odor that gets built up over time. Use a toothbrush and a grease-cutting cleaner, lifting the flaps and scrubbing them thoroughly, paying special attention to the underside.

Run the disposal every day to ensure good performance and, depending on how much you use it, clean it once every two weeks. If you don’t have anything to grind up simply run cold water and/or throw in some ice cubes and rock salt to remove any gunk that might have been left behind the last time you used it.

To eliminate odors, vinegar and baking soda, or citrus rinds will kill bacteria while adding a lovely fragrance to your kitchen.

3. Washer and dryer

Heat up your dryer

Is the dryer running colder than it should?

First, make sure the machine isn’t set to “fluff air,” if your clothes dryer isn’t heating up properly. If that isn’t the problem, the lint filter might be blocked. 

Even if the filter appears clean, a nearly invisible film from dryer sheets may have covered it. Pour water into your filter to test it. Is it holding water? Then it’s past time to clean it.

A clogged filter reduces airflow, which could cause the thermostat to turn off the heat before the clothes are completely dry. Take the filter out and give it a thorough wash in hot water with some laundry detergent and a hard kitchen brush. Additionally, look for any lint that may have amassed in the exterior dryer vent. 

Avoid Overloads

By stuffing more clothes into your washer and dryer, you might believe that you are saving time, water, or energy. An overloaded washer and dryer, however, can damage their motors, belts, and moving parts. Some of the repairs are so pricey that purchasing a new machine is preferable, so don’t overload your appliances.

Keep the doors open! 

To avoid the buildup of mildew and mold, leave your washer door open once you’ve run a load of laundry. In addition, especially if you have a front loading machine, use a washing machine cleaner once a month to keep the rubber gasket in good condition. 

Also, note that you will break the lid/door switch if you frequently drop or slam the lid of your top or front-loading washer or dryer. You’ll pay at least $100 for that. By lowering the lid and gently closing the door, you can avoid this repair.

4. Oven maintenance

Take care of stove spills. The most likely cause of a stove burner not working is spilled food. 

A toothbrush can be used to clean the igniter of food spills. It’s a tiny ceramic nub that can be found on the stovetop or beneath the ceramic seal strike plate on an electronic ignition stove. 

Make sure the burner’s round ceramic seal strike plate is seated correctly as well.

Oven temp recalibration

You can recalibrate the temperature setting if the temperature in your oven seems off or if your new oven simply doesn’t heat as well as your old one. Use the directions in your manual or go online and use the model number of your oven to look for a downloadable version. 

Place a quality-made oven thermometer on the center shelf after the oven has stabilized its temperature. Then, to match the temperature setting to the thermometer reading, follow the steps outlined in your user manual.

5. Dishwasher maintenance

Clean the dishwasher regularly. A filter that has been clogged with food is typically to blame when your dishwasher no longer cleans your dishes. 

If it is clogged, water cannot reach the spray arms to clean the top rack of dishes. It takes two minutes to fix. Simply pull out the lower rack to access the dishwasher’s filter cover. (If you are unable to locate the filter, consult your owner’s manual.) 

The screen can then be cleaned off using a wet/dry vacuum. Slide the nearby float switch up and down while you’re there. Jiggle the cover up and down, and clean it with water if it sticks.

Also, remove mineral stains with water. Dishwashers struggle with hard water because mineral deposits (as well as food particles or other debris) can accumulate in the water holes in the spray arm. 

A toothpick can be used to clear the water jets in the spray arm. Additionally, the water inlet valve might start to clog, which would prevent your dishwasher from receiving enough hot water. A clogged water inlet valve needs to be replaced. A dishwasher cleaner can help get rid of some of the hard water deposits.

Bottom line, the benefits of performing some easy maintenance on your large appliances are significant, yet it doesn’t require much time or effort. A clean, well-kept appliance can last for years, giving you more money in your wallet and preventing you from getting to know your repairman on a first name basis.

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