While whitegoods appliances make our lives easier, they can also create problems if not maintained properly. An average homeowner has several thousand dollars invested in major appliances. This guide shows you how to protect that investment and assure that you get many years of reliable service out of each and provides tips on minimising your appliances’ consumption of electricity.
Older homes have fuse boxes while most new ones have circuit breakers. Both perform the same function. Whenever a short circuit or overload situation occurs, the device shuts off electricity to that circuit, preventing both shocks and fire hazards. Whenever an appliance stops working, test the outlet with a lamp. If the circuit is dead, turn off anything you know to be on the same circuit and go to your electrical box. If you have a circuit breaker, look for the one switch that is slightly out of alignment. Turn it off and turn it back on again. If you have a fuse box, replace the burnt-out fuse. Try the appliance again. If the circuit cuts off again, you may be overloading that circuit. Try the appliance in another part of the house. If it keeps causing circuits to cut off, something is wrong with the appliance. You will need professional help.
For modern dishwashers, rinsing the dishes is unnecessary and a waste of water and time. Most dishes can go from the table to the dishwasher without a stop at the sink. Wait until you have a full load before running the dishwasher. When loading the dishwasher, make sure no dishes obstruct the rotating spray arms. There’s an arm that spins under the bottom rack, another above the top rack and often a third that telescopes up through the bottom rack to spin just under the top rack. Load more fragile items in the top rack. The highest-pressure jets are directed at the lower rack to help clean pots and utensils. The dry cycle uses a lot of energy. During the winter months, when the air in the house is generally dry, you don’t need to use this option. Instead, when the dishwasher stops, open it and pull out both racks. Everything will be dry in about an hour.
Most washing machine hoses are made of reinforced rubber. As they get older, they lose some of their resiliency and may be subject to bursting. A burst hose can spray water across your laundry causing enormous damage. If your hoses are old, consider replacing them with the tougher metal hoses. As an added precaution, consider turning off the water supply to the washer whenever you’ll be away for extended periods of time. For best results, put detergent in before you load the washing machine. Several modern brands of washing machines feature dispensers that automatically add detergent, bleach or fabric softener to the wash cycle at the appropriate time for you. For most items, lowering the water temperature to warm wash and cold rinse will get your clothes clean and reduce your energy bills. Small loads use almost as much energy as large loads. When possible, wait until you have a full load before running the washing machine.
Clean the lint trap before each load. This will prevent a fire hazard, save you energy and make your clothes dry faster. To avoid wasting energy and over-drying clothes, use the automatic dry cycle. Once a year or so, use a dry paint brush to clean lint from the corners and cracks in the interior of the dryer and around the door. If you often wash athletic shoes and similar items, check to see if the manufacturer of your dryer sells a rack accessory that mounts to the back of the dryer. It will help such items dry faster and more quietly. If you have a traditional sheet-metal dryer exhaust vent, you should clean it about every five years. Disconnect the pipe at both ends and use a broom handle to push a rag through the pipe to remove the accumulated lint. If screws were used to hold the pipes together, replace them with foil tape. The screws catch lint flowing through the duct and can cause clogging. If you have the very thin, cheap plastic dryer exhaust tubes, they may be flammable and should be replaced.
Most refrigerators have more than one light. Replacement is easiest when at least one bulb is still working. When you first notice a burnt-out bulb, count the total number of bulbs in your unit. Unscrew any burnt-out bulbs and take them with you to the hardware store to make sure you buy the same type. Buy enough for the whole refrigerator so you have spares as the other bulbs wear out. Whenever frost gets to be 1/4-inch thick, it’s time to defrost. Never use ice picks or similar tools to loosen ice. Some refrigerator shelves contain cooling fluids. These racks take longer to defrost. Don’t force the process, as the racks are easily damaged. Every year or two, vacuum underneath and behind the unit. After unplugging the unit, use a crevice tool or a feather duster to help you clean the coil and all the metal parts. You may have to remove a panel to get access. This will make your unit run more efficiently and last longer. Keep the door seals and the surfaces they close against clean. This will reduce energy consumption and extend the life of the seal. If you close the door on a piece of paper and it slips out without resistance, it’s time to replace the door seal. Replacing the seal is more complicated than it looks so if you’re not especially handy, it’s a job better left to the professionals.
Many appliances involve plumbing and or electricity and the significant hazards associated with each. Often specialized knowledge or tools are needed for making repairs. For these reasons, most homeowners rely on professionals to service their equipment. And because these services are expensive, here are some tips on how to get the most bang for your buck: Don’t be misled by hourly rates: Many people pay too much attention to the hourly rate that technicians charge. This amount can vary from $50 to $100. However, a truly skilled, well-equipped service technician with a truck full of parts who charges $85 an hour can be a much wiser choice than an inexperienced hack working with inadequate tools and no parts who charges $45 per hour. The hourly rate only has meaning when it is considered along with work quality, equipment, inventory and experience.