25 things to do to your appliances yearly

Twenty-five tips and hints to help you maintain your household appliances for the do-it-yourselfer or the wannabe!

Purchasing a major household appliance is an investment. Repairing or replacing one can be expensive, stressful, and unnecessary. Here are 25 easy to follow tips to keep your appliances in good working order.

Washing Machine

1. Periodically check those water supply hoses on your washer. Kinks that cannot be straightened out, bulges, or cracks call for replacement of the hose. Spend a little extra on a flexible stainless steel connector; these last much longer.

2. Using a level, make sure your washer is on a flat surface. An uneven setting can cause unbalanced loads, which in the long run can cause damage to the barrel.

3. If the barrel has rust spots, try running a load of hot water and 2 cups of lemon juice. If that doesn't work, pick up an industrial iron remover at your local hardware or janitorial store.

Clothes Dryer

4. At least twice a year, unplug your dryer and use a steel vent brush to remove lint built up in the vent hose.

5. Occasionally scrub the lint screen with dish soap and water to eliminate softener and soap buildup. Be sure to rinse and dry the screen thoroughly prior to replacing.

Dishwasher

6. Twice a year, remove the strainer and soak in warm, sudsy water. Carefully remove spray arm from the bottom of the appliance and use a small, stiff wire to clean holes. Remove mineral deposits with white vinegar and replace. Scrub and rinse strainer and put back.

7. Once a month, place a bowl with about two cups of white vinegar upright in the dishwasher. Run on a normal cycle to clean mineral and soap accumulation.

Refrigerator

8. Pick up a condenser coil brush at your local appliance or hardware store so that two times each year you can clean your refrigerator coils. Newer fridges will have a grill covering the condenser coils in front on the bottom, which pops out. For an older model, you will need to pull it away from the wall, as the coils will be located on the back.

9. If you have an icemaker and/or water dispenser built into your unit, be sure to change the inline filter at least three times per year. Turning off the water supply and using a bucket to collect water in the line will keep the mess to a minimum. If you do not have an inline filter, pick one up. They are easy to install and keep mineral buildup at bay, as well as give you healthier, fresher tasting ice and water.

10. To remove ice from a manual defrost freezer, remove all food and unplug. Do this every other month to prevent too much ice from developing. Never use any tools to scrape away ice as you could easily puncture a wall and ruin your appliance. Don't use hair dryers either, as you run the risk of electrical shock.

11. Clean the door gasket monthly with a blend of one teaspoon of baking soda dissolved in a quart of warm water. This will help the gasket stay pliable, as well as clean, and hold a better seal. To test the seal, close a dollar bill in the door and try to tug it out. If it slides out easily the gasket should be replaced.



Microwave

12. Your microwave will last longer if spattered food is not left to burn up inside. Easily take off gunk by placing two cups of water and two teaspoons of baking soda in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat on high power for three minutes, and then wipe the inside with a sponge. Any mess and odor will be eliminated.

Garbage Disposal

13. Toss a couple ice cubes and lemon wedges down the drain and turn on the disposal. Doing this on a monthly basis will freshen the drain and sharpen the machine's blades.

Stove

14. Do not line burner pans with aluminum foil, as it may cover necessary vents and the aluminum can cause a short circuit. Keep pans clean by washing with warm, soapy water weekly. Scrub only with a plastic, non-abrasive pad.

15. Several times a year, clean the filter of the range vent in with dish soap and degreaser, if need be. Carefully wipe the fan blades as well if they are accessible.

Water Heater

16. Your water heater should be drained bi-annually to prevent sediment from accumulating. Use a bucket to collect and dump the water as it empties. If the residue is excessive, drain more frequently as your local water may have a higher mineral count.

17. Place bucket under copper overflow pipe near the floor and carefully press the relief valve at the top. Hot water should spray out. If it does not, replace the valve, as this is a crucial safety device.

18. As with your washing machine, check your fill line for cracks, bulges and kinks and replace with a stainless steel flex hose if necessary.

Furnace

19. If you own a natural gas unit, check with your local gas company as most will come out to inspect and light your furnace at no cost. This is especially true for elderly and shut-ins. Often they will carry small parts that may need to be replaced and install them as a service to their customers.

20. Change your furnace filters monthly to ensure good airflow. Consider purchasing a long-life, washable filter to save time and money in the long run.

Air Conditioner/Evaporative Cooler

21. Every month, clean your A/C filter with dish soap to free airflow. Rinse and dry thoroughly before replacing.

22. Never run the A/C when the temperature outdoors falls below 60 degrees as this may cause the coils to freeze up.

23. For central air, spray the unit with a garden hose once a month to remove debris and keep airflow at a maximum.

24. For evaporative coolers, replace pads at least twice each season. Check for lime buildup and replace more often if needed. Also, leave a window ajar at each end of the house. These practices will allow for better airflow and circulation.

25. At the beginning, middle, and end of the season, check your evaporative cooler's motor belt for cracks or dryness. Replace if needed. (Hint: take the old belt with you to ensure you get the right size)

As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. So mark your calendar and start upkeep on your investments to give them a long, strong lifespan!

© High Speed Ventures 2011