Household appliances are an investment for anyone. Sure, some appliances you may be able to do without, but if certain ones fail, they can be a serious inconvenience to your life. So, how do you keep household appliances working smoothly for years to come?
Naturally, you want to get the most life out of them as possible.
Keeping them clean and using them properly is a given. But exactly what should you be keeping clean?
What else can you do?
Here is a list of simple, preventive maintenance and care tips homeowners can do to keep household appliances working smoothly and lengthen their life for years.
General Household Appliance Maintenance and Care Tips
- Don’t overload. Washers, dryers, refrigerators, freezers or dishwashers. We know, we know…we’ve all done that at some time or another, right? But overloading can cause problems.
- Washers and dryers have weight limits and exceeding this puts increased strain on the motors, belts and various other moving parts.
- Refrigerator and freezer contents act similar to cold packs that radiate cold in your picnic cooler. Appliances that have minimal contents allows for better airflow, but also makes the appliance work hard because there is minimal contents to radiate coolness. On the flip side, overstuffed refrigerators and freezers can block vents and hinder cold air circulation.
- Overloaded dishwashers can prevent the water spray from reaching the dishes well enough to do a thorough job.
- Clean or change filters regularly. For appliances with filters, such as clothes dryers, some dishwasher and washing machine inlet ports and screens, refrigerators with ice maker or water dispenser filters, it is important to clean or change filters regularly.
Keeping lint, debris, pet hair, hard water deposits and food build up to a minimum not only improves efficiency, but can also prevent the motor from overheating. How often you clean or change filters will depend on the appliance, usage frequency and your home environment.
- Use the right product. Use recommended detergents and other cleaning products for each appliance. Examples include high efficiency laundry detergent for front loading washers, not using oven cleaner on self-cleaning ovens, etc.
General Gas Appliance Maintenance and Care Tips
For some household appliances, gas powered options are available. Dryers, stoves and ovens are all available. Most, but not all, older gas appliances have a pilot light similar to furnaces or hot water heaters. Newer ones have electric igniters.
- Never block normal air flow or store combustible or highly flammable products such as cleaning products, cleaning cloths on or near the appliance.
- Check the pilot light. If your appliance has a pilot light, a blue flame is normal and means that the appliance is working properly. If it is any other color, there is a problem and the appliance should be serviced.
- Don’t touch the igniter. Oils from your skin damages the igniter filament, preventing it from lighting.
- Don’t block burner or igniter ports. Remove food crumbs from blocking the burner and igniter ports with compressed air.
Appliance-Specific Maintenance and Care Tips
After reviewing general maintenance and care tips, it is time to look at appliance-specific recommendations to keep household appliances working smoothly:
Refrigerators and Freezers
These household appliances run 24/7 and are probably the ones it would be more difficult to deal with if something goes wrong. Here are a few more maintenance considerations:
- Make sure doors are properly sealing. Door seals keep the cold in. Test the seal by putting a thin piece of paper in the door and close it. If the paper moves from its original placement, check the door for dust, dirt, crumbs, or other debris and clean with warm, soapy water.
- Clean condenser coils. Coils (usually found on the back or bottom) help remove heat from the inside of the unit. Dust, pet hair, and debris can cause the compressor to run more often, interfering with efficiency. The recommended cleaning frequency is 6 months, or every 3 months if you have multiple pets, dusty, conditions, etc.
- Check for frost build up. Unless your freezer has a defrost cycle, there may be times when you have to deal with frost build up. Frost naturally happens over time from condensation build up from repeatedly opening and closing doors. Leaky door seals are also a culprit, so if you notice more ice buildup than usual, check the condition of your seals.
- Don’t overload refrigerators or freezers. Overloading is probably a bigger problem than not having enough contents in your refrigerator or freezer, so it’s worth mentioning again. Besides keeping contents cold, the reduced air flow makes you appliance’s motor work harder to cool newly added items.
Stoves and Ovens
Stoves and ovens are pretty simple and maintenance free. Whether they are gas or electric, the #1 rule is to keep them clean.
- For electric stoves, the main consideration is to keep the burner coils of an electric stove top free of food crumbs. Also watch for exposed wires at the burner coil plug.
- For gas stove tops, keep the burner ports clog free, watch for burners not striking, and do not let excessive grease build up occur.
- Most gas and electric ovens have self-cleaning features that allow you to just wipe out the ashes of any food residue burned off. The important thing here is to NOT use oven cleaner on a self-cleaning oven because it will ruin the surface. ALWAYS follow manufacturer’s instructions for your specific model.
- For gas ovens, do not use aluminum foil around the burners or in the oven. This could potentially block exhaust vents, resulting in carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Maintain fresh air flow during operation Use an externally vented hood range or an open window to provide safe fresh air. This will also aid in burner efficiency.
Like stoves and ovens, dishwashers are pretty easy to maintain. Here are a few things to look for:
- Clean door gaskets and seals to prevent leaks
- Keep the drain clear. Check the pump arm and spray area, sump area and spray arms to make sure they are clean and clog free to keep the drain clear and dishes clean.
Washers & Dryers
- Don’t overfill. Overfilling can wear out motor and drive belts, and it’s hard on other moving parts, too.
- Don’t slam doors. Have you ever noticed how the cycle will stop when you open the door? Many appliances have switches that are door activated as a safety precaution. Slamming the doors can break them.
- Sanitize the washer. Do you have Itchy skin that only seems to appear at night? Musty or foul odors? Bacteria buildup in the washing machine drum and seals could be the culprit. See the links for how to use bleach or white vinegar to sanitize the washer and seals. Commercial options, such as Affresh, are also available.
- Clean or replace the small filters located in the water supply hoses that attach to the machine. These filters trap sediment in your water as your machine fills. They can also build up hard water deposits.
- Also check the water supply hoses to make sure they are in good condition. Replace them if they are brittle, cracked or leaking.
- Clean the lint trap filter well after each use. Lint buildup in the trap, as well as under and in a dryer can be a serious fire hazard, not to mention limiting air flow and drying time.
- Thoroughly clean the whole dryer venting components. Whatever lint escapes the trap will clog the rest of the venting components so it is important to check the whole system. Components include the lint trap housing (the space where the lint trap filter sits), the vent hose or pipe and the exterior vent.
- Replace flexible vent hoses. Most houses have just a short section of flexible hose, with the remaining portion being rigid metal duct (usually embedded in the walls or crawl spaces). Lightweight, metal foil or plastic flex hoses are most commonly used.
The wavy ridges clog with lint and crush easily, restricting airflow and creating a potential fire hazard. For these reasons, flex hoses should be replaced at least annually for most households and more often if you do a lot of laundry, to lessen fire risk.
Rigid metal duct is the preferred option (where possible) because its smooth interior collects less lint and doesn’t restrict airflow. An easier, cheaper and faster alternative to rigid metal is a heavy duty metal flexible hose. While it may not be as fire resistant, removing and reinstalling it makes cleanup faster.
- Check the exterior vent. Make sure it pops open when the dryer is running and closes completely when the dryer is off. If it doesn’t work properly, open the cover and remove any lint and check for other obstructions.
- Clean around and underneath the dryer to get any lint, dust, pet hair, etc., that accumulates. You can use a long, flexible vent brush every month or so to reduce lint build up and fire hazards.
- Use your vacuum cleaner attachments for cleaning all of your dryer vent components.
How Art’s Furniture Can Help
Most of these maintenance tips to keep household appliances working smoothly are easy to do without outside help. And they cover the majority of situations you might encounter.
In the article, these items were specifically mentioned as maintenance tip solutions. Art’s typically has them in stock:
- Affresh washing machine cleaner, dishwasher cleaner, and garbage disposal cleaner for removing odors and bacteria
- Heavy duty metal flex dryer vent hose
Art’s also offers appliance repair service on Amana, Maytag, Whirlpool, Speed Queen and most other brands, with limited refrigeration repairs. You can learn more at our appliance service and repair webpage.