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Maintaining your home appliances 101

You may not realize how much you depend on your major appliances until one of them breaks down at a crucial moment: a dryer that won’t dry your child’s team uniform right before the big game or the oven quits as you’re roasting the Thanksgiving turkey.

Calling a repairman is usually costly, but necessary when disaster strikes. However, you can ward off the repairman – think of eating garlic to keep Dracula at bay – by doing some simple preventive maintenance on a regular basis. It doesn’t require mechanical genius; it simply calls for time and effort. You’ll help prevent upsetting breakdowns and extend the lifetime of your appliances at the same time.

Read your appliance manual

First and foremost, when you buy an appliance, read the instruction manual that comes along with it. The manual will advise you about the “care and feeding” of your new possession, give you an estimated lifetime and offer tips for extending that lifetime. It’s worth designating a desk drawer or a file in your filing cabinet to instruction manuals so you can always lay your hands on them when they’re needed.

Each of your appliances has different preventive maintenance requirements. Do them as suggested and you’ll undoubtedly avoid major disasters.

Fridge maintenance

Cleaning the coils

Clean the condenser coils with a vacuum to remove dust, dirt and pet hair. Or, if you prefer, clean them with soap and warm water and dry them with a towel or a sponge. If the coils are caked with dirt, the refrigerator must work harder to chill food, increasing the electricity needed to run the unit and upping your bills.

Door seals

Check the seal on your refrigerator to ensure that it is tight. The seal is responsible for the refrigerator’s efficiency, so if it’s leaking replace it.

Water filters

Clean or replace the water filter in your fridge to ensure that impurities and contaminants are being removed. Generally, all that’s required is turning the filter a quarter of an inch and locking it in place or popping it out. Do this every three to six months, depending on how much water you drink.

Lifespan

A refrigerators lifespan is usually around 13 years, while freezers last 11 to 12 years if you take proper care of them.

Stove and oven maintenance

Lifepspan

Electric stoves should last about 13 years, while gas stoves live to a ripe old age of 15 if they’re cared for.

Stovetop cleaning

Clean your electric stovetop to avoid food and dirt buildup and prevent it from overworking. Twice weekly applications of glass cleaner are best for glass stovetops. Use mild soap and warm water on burner models, cleaning the removable parts and the area around the burner. You’ll avoid fire hazards and prevent poor heating. For gas stoves, clean the grills with soapy water and clean up spills from the burners to prevent the ports from clogging and reducing the stove’s efficiency.

Door seals

Ensure that the seal around your oven door is tight, or your oven can lose up to 20 percent of its heat. Locate the gasket, whether rubber or fiberglass and run over it to detect any malformed, broken or torn spots. If you find any, replace the seal.

Drip pans

And clean them up immediately if you’re baking them in your oven. Repairmen suggest that cleaning spills quickly and using drip pans are preferable to using the oven’s electric cleaning function.

Range hoods

Range hood filters or downdraft vent filters need cleaning or replacement. Metal mesh grease filters can go into the dishwasher, or you can wash them by hand with soapy water. Replace any paper or charcoal filters.

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Dishwasher maintenance

Lifespan

Expect your dishwasher to last for about nine years.

Gasket cleaning

Keep the door gaskets and bottom edge clean so leaks don’t occur. Water and bleach do the trick.

Cleaning

Clear out any objects around the spray arms or pump area so they don’t clog the drainage system.

Filter cleaning

Clean the filter, removing debris and any deposits left by hard water.

Rust

Remove rust from the tines of your dishwasher racks or you may find marks on your dishes and silver. You can purchase a tine repair kit for this purpose.

Washing machine maintenance

Lifespan

Your washer should last about 11 years if it’s a front-loader and 14 if it’s a top-loader.

Avoid slams

Don’t slam the door on your washer or dryer or you could break the switch.

Hose lines

Check for leaks, cracks or weak spots in the hoses to prevent flooding. Even if you don’t find any, replace them every five years. Steel clad hoses are sturdier.

Light loads

Don’t overload your washer or you risk wearing out the motor.

Pocket protection

Check clothes pockets for paper, coins or other forgotten items before you run the wash. Foreign items lodged in the washer can cause problems.

Dryer maintenance

Lifespan

Expect your dryer to last 13-14 years with good care.

Lint filter cleaning

Clean out the dryer’s lint filter with a paper towel or a brush after each load. Leftover lint can be a fire hazard if it collects in the burner area or around the heating element.

Exhaust cleaning

Remove lint from the dryer’s exhaust at the rear of the dryer. Loosen the clamp and remove the exhaust. Use your hands to pull out clumps of lint from the hole and the tubing. Vacuum the exhaust before putting it back in place.

Outside vent review

Be sure to have the outside dryer vent checked annually.

If you follow these guidelines, the chances are that your appliances will remain in good condition and last longer. And if you have questions about how you can insure your household appliances, you can contact Square One at 1.855.331.6933 or get an online quote by clicking the button below.

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Protect your family

Even when you take precautions, accidents can happen. Home insurance is one way to protect your family against financial losses from accidents. And, home insurance can start from as little as $12/month.

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