How to Get the Most out of Your Appliances
Follow these maintenance tips to help prolong the lifespan of your major household appliances.
Most new appliances are a major investment and you want to get the most use out of them before it’s time to upgrade or replace them again. While purchasing new appliances such as dishwashers, refrigerators, ovens/stoves and washer/dryers may be expensive, you can often find good deals throughout the year – many times around certain holidays – and most come with warranties. With proper use, care and maintenance, you can keep your appliances in good working order and running for many years.
User Tips for Common Household Appliances
You may think operating your dishwasher or using your refrigerator needs no explanation and while that may be true, there are some simple things you can do to ensure they are functioning properly and aren’t at risk for any future problems. It’s also a good idea to have your major appliances inspected by a technician at least once a year, especially if you think you may need to replace them soon. To help avoid having to replace appliances, it's good to know how to use, clean and care for them. It can mean the difference between having appliances last for an extended period of time versus having to buy new appliances more often than the average lifespan.
- Keep everything clean – This includes the interior and exterior parts of the refrigerator. Organize your fridge and make items easily accessible to reduce the amount of “open-door” time, and keep the top of the fridge clear of items as this can trap heat inside, which can make the compressor to work overtime. It’s also important to clean (and replace when necessary) condenser coils and the gasket (rubber door seal).
- Pay attention to temperature – Adjust the temperature to the mid-point setting (between 36 and 38 degrees Fahrenheit for the refrigerator and between 0 and 5 degrees Fahrenheit for the freezer) to improve energy efficiency. Let hot items cool completely (at least to room temperature) and cover them tightly before storing them in the refrigerator. Keep refrigerators away from heat sources including ovens/stoves, dishwashers and heat vents. Following all of these tips will help decrease any heat inside of the appliance and reduce compressor usage to balance out any external temperature extremes.
- Load dishwashers correctly – It's OK to load to capacity, but don't overload this appliance as it may not clean everything sufficiently and you'll end up having to use more water and energy to run it for a second cycle. Overloading can also lead to the dishwasher not running smoothly over time, which could cause it to need repairs sooner and more frequently than anticipated.
- Remove excess food on dishes – While most dishwashers are equipped with a food disposal system, you should still scrape off as much food and debris as possible before loading and starting the cleaning cycle. This helps ensure a thorough cleaning and could also help prevent any future issues. For added energy efficiency, avoid pre-rinsing dishes in the sink which will also eliminate wasting water.
- Don't rely on the dishwasher to "clean" itself – You may think that when you run your dishwasher that it will get a good cleaning, but you should run it when it's empty with a cup of white vinegar, lemon juice or another cleaning agent to remove any build-up and residue. Make sure to clean the spray arms by using a toothpick or tweezers to first remove anything that's clogging the small holes and openings in the arms and then finish by scrubbing the entire arm with a toothbrush.
Clean the oven regularly – You can do this by safely using its self-cleaning feature, or put a little elbow grease into the cleaning process by taking out the racks and spraying them and the entire interior with an oven cleaning spray. Don't forget to clean the cook/stove top and burners, too, especially if there are spills or burnt-on grease to help maintain good performance.
- Replace the thermostat – If your oven's temperature seems either too hot or doesn't heat up hot enough to cook food, you may need to upgrade to a new thermostat to ensure that the temperature is properly regulated.
- Don't slam the door – Opening and closing with too much force may result in a loose seal or door and detached hinges. Also avoid hanging heavy objects off the door as it can weaken the handle.
- Remove dryer lint – Do this after every load of laundry to avoid a fire hazard and to keep it running efficiently. Too much buildup in the lint trap/screen can result in longer drying time, which uses more energy and electricity than needed.
- Sanitize the washer once a month – This method works for both front- and top-loading washing machines. First, fill the washer completely (using the largest load setting) with hot water. Then, add a quart of white vinegar or bleach (you can also add a cup of baking soda) and let the washer agitate for a few minutes before stopping the cycle so everything can soak in the washer tub for an hour. This helps sanitize and flush any debris or buildup.
- Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations – Use the proper amount and type of detergent depending on the machine model and load size. If you have a high efficiency (HE) washer, make sure to only use HE detergent so that you don't damage the appliance. Similarly, premeasured laundry pods/packs can also damage some models.
The information and advice contained in this article is intended as a general guide for informational purposes only. It does not take into account your personal situation. While we at Resolve have significant experience and history operating in the home restoration industry and working closely with construction contractors, we are not licensed as a general or specialty contractor. We encourage you to consider the information we’ve provided but urge you not to rely upon it in place of appropriate professional advice from a licensed, experienced construction contractor.