How many time have you heard people say, “they just don’t make them like they used to”? Though this sentiment may be nothing more than a nostalgia-fueled opinion, it doesn’t mean that consumers are prepared to accept products that aren’t able to stand the test of time.
In fact, you’ve invested a lot into your appliances, so it isn’t unreasonable to attempt to extend their operating life — even if they aren’t “made the way they once were”. This article will explore a number of ways in which you can care for the major appliances in your home so that they last as long as possible.
Though perhaps not a standard in every home, the dishwasher is one of the powerhouses of the appliance world. Given that it works so hard, a little upkeep goes a long way to keep it running well over the long haul. If you live in an area with hard water, mineral deposits can begin to build up over time, resulting in clogged or otherwise compromised functionality.
Fortunately, periodically running an empty load using white vinegar is enough to dissolve these deposits. When it comes to food scrap build-up, the best practice is to pre-rinse dishes before placing them in the dishwasher. Additional tips to keeping your dishwasher running include:
- Inspect the rubber gasket located along the door to identify signs of wear. A compromised gasket can result in leaks and can lead to an expensive and time-consuming cleanup.
- Periodically inspect the filter located at the bottom of the dishwasher. The filter traps food remnants and any that are left can begin to break down, causing an odor to emanate from your dishwasher.
- Don’t overstock your dishwasher. While it might be tempting to load it beyond capacity, doing so will result in dishes that aren’t clean, and will require you to run the machine more often than you should.
First and foremost, take advantage of your oven’s self-cleaning option. It may take a couple hours to run, but it’s an otherwise simple way to keep your oven clean without the use of harsh chemicals or elbow grease. Food deposits can build up in the burner head, resulting in an inconsistent flame.
Use a pin or paper clip to gently clear these particles from a clogged ignition port. Alternately, if you’ve got a glass cooktop oven, clogged ignition ports won’t be on your list of things to watch out for. Having said that, get into the habit of not dragging pots and pans from one element to the other. You might not realize it, but doing so can damage the elements, reducing the cooktop’s ability to heat evenly.
There may be a lot you don’t understand about your refrigerator, but there is something you can do to help prevent the most common reason it will malfunction. Sound easy? It actually is, provided you can move the fridge enough to access the condenser coils clean.
Basically, the coils contain the element responsible for drawing heat out of your refrigerator. If dirty or dusty, these coils will have a much more difficult go of it, causing the compressor to work harder than it should. While this might not lead to a disaster in your kitchen, it will reduce the lifespan of the fridge, and you’ll likely end up seeing an increase in your utility bills.
To clean the condenser coils, unplug the refrigerator. If the coils are located on the back of the unit, use your vacuum or a coil brush (available at most hardware stores) to make quick work of any dust that has collected on the coils. Some refrigerator coils are located beneath the refrigerator and can be accessed easily enough via a panel on the front of the appliance.
Like the dishwasher, one of the best things you can do to increase the longevity of your washing machine is to avoid overfilling it. Excessively heavy loads tend to force you to replace components earlier than you’d normally have to. Overloading can also lead to detergent build up in the drum, meaning you’ll need to run the rinse cycle a second time to get your clothes clean.
It might sound silly, but close your washing machine gently rather than slamming the door shut to avoid damaging the door switch. While small, this is a vital component that lets your washing machine know that it can begin the wash cycle.
On the maintenance side, inspect the screens where the hoses connect to your washing machine and remove anything that may have been captured. Lastly, if you didn’t make sure the washing machine was level when you installed it, take out your level and make sure that it is sitting evenly on the floor. Uneven surfaces invite a greater than normal amount of vibration, which is a fantastic way of shortening your washer’s life expectancy. Fortunately, leveling a washing machine is relatively easy as most modern units have independently adjustable feet.
Many of the rules of thumb that apply to your washing machine will also ring true for your dryer — don’t overload it, don’t slam the doors, and make sure it’s sitting on an even surface. In addition to emptying the lint trap after every use (which will help your clothes get dryer, quicker) regularly check the exhaust ports to locate any potential obstructions that could decrease the dryer’s performance.
As a homeowner, you can attest that money doesn’t grow on trees. Knowing that, it’s important to keep in mind that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Taking steps to regularly maintain your hard-working appliances will prevent small issues from turning into big, expensive problems. If however, your appliances are past the point of preventative care, it might be time to shop for premium appliances that will last for years to come; more so now that you’re armed with a few maintenance tips.