It's easy to take home appliances for granted. These unsung housework heroes keep our food cold, our clothes clean, and our dishes sparkling. When they break, the delicate balance of running a home seems to crumble instantly. Although nothing lasts forever, it is possible to extend the lifespan of your appliances. Here are 17 tips for care and maintenance.
Have you moved into a home with new appliances? Reading the owner’s manual is the simplest way to help your appliances live long and prosper. It's not just extraneous paperwork. The owner's manual can actually help you use your appliances according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. This holds off wear and tear and helps them last longer.
It might sound funny to clean your washing machine or dishwasher, but these workhorses need love, too. Regular cleanings prevent the buildup of grime, grease, and dust that can impact the performance of an appliance and, ultimately, its longevity.
If you read the owner's manual when you had your appliances delivered or moved to your new home, hopefully you are using them correctly. Believe it or not, there's actually a proper way to load a dishwasher and recommended temperature settings for your HVAC unit. Overloading your appliances or using them on the wrong settings can lead to stress on motors and other moving parts.
Cleaning appliances are designed to be used with specific detergents. If you notice your dishwasher is not getting rid of grime, it might be the type of soap you use. In addition, using the wrong detergent in a washing machine or dishwasher could damage moving parts and finishes. Once again, stick with the manufacturer's recommendations to prolong the life of your appliances and get the best performance.
Does food in your freezer sprout freezer burn after just a few days? Does it take a long time for your oven to preheat? This might be a sign of degrading seals and gaskets. Check these regularly and replace them as needed.
As with small appliances, whole-house systems, such as your HVAC unit, need regular inspections and maintenance. Annually cleaning the coils on your air conditioning unit and replacing furnace filters on a regular schedule can go a long way toward extending the life of these critical systems.
Don't ignore the blinking light on your refrigerator indicating the need for a new water filter. Water filters catch small debris that can build up over time. If you don’t replace your filters, eventually you will be drinking water with that debris. Excessive debris buildup can also cause a blockage in your dishwasher, washing machine, and water dispenser in your fridge.
Most appliances come with required clearances — the distance between your appliance and the wall, ceiling or other appliances. If you don't maintain the proper clearance, your appliance may work harder than it needs to, shortening its life.
Humidity and standing water around your electrical connections or at the base of your appliances can cause corrosion and deterioration. This situation is also very unsafe because water and electricity are not traditionally a good mix. If your appliances are exposed to excessive humidity, invest in a dehumidifier to keep things dry. However, if your home floods, you may need to completely replace your appliances and remodel your home.
Surge protectors are a great addition to any home. These regulate the amount of electricity that flows to your appliance. When an electrical surge arises, the excess power can damage your appliances. Surge protectors will protect your appliances from unwanted spikes.
It may seem like common sense, but use your appliance in the manner in which it was intended. Don’t store sweaters in your oven, cook fish in your dishwasher, or use blenders as choppers.
Running full loads in your dishwasher and washing machine is more energy efficient than cleaning a few pieces of clothing or dishes at a time. Washing machines and dishwashers are designed to be filled and work better when properly loaded. On the other hand, don’t overfill these appliances either. It's hard on the appliance and could result in uneven cleaning.
Indoor appliances that connect to water sources or gas lines must be inspected regularly. Over time, the connections can crack or leak, which can be deadly in some cases. Cracked hoses are an affordable fix, especially if you catch and replace them early.
Hard water has excess minerals that can build up inside appliances, hoses, and connectors. If your water is hard, consider adding a water-softening system recommended by the appliance manufacturer to minimize these deposits.
As with your laptop, smart appliances come with software that occasionally needs an update. Smart appliances may increase the value of your home, but only if they are properly updated and cared for. When possible, set your smart appliances to update automatically. If not, pay attention to any update notifications and install them as soon as possible.
When it comes to maintaining and extending the lifespan of your appliances, one of the best things you can do is address minor problems as they arise. Small problems can become larger and more expensive to fix. Be alert for unusual sounds, different smells, or poor performance that might indicate a need for service or maintenance.
Maintaining appliances is one of the hidden costs of homeownership that new homeowners may not have considered. Adding a line in your family budget for maintenance and eventual replacement is a good idea.