By Diana Fishlock
Realistically, appliances aren't exciting, but a dependable refrigerator and an efficient washer and dryer help make a house a home.
Choosing the right appliances and maintaining them spares homeowners unexpected and pricey repairs down the road. Nobody wants to discover a broken stove burner while prepping for a dinner party or have the heater fail in winter. Choosing the longest lasting appliances is very important.
Luckily there are some steps people can take to get the longest, hassle-free lives out of their appliances.
TIPS FOR BUYING
Don't Go It Alone
Savvy shoppers should start their appliance search by reading consumer magazines and websites that specialize in appliance reviews. Such resources sort out functional features from the rarely used and expensive upgrades. Buyers should also read online consumer reviews, which provide insight into non-biased owner experiences. Remember, people may have written reviews right after their purchases, so the information might not cover appliance longevity.
Consider Efficient Options
The right brand and model of appliance can last a lot longer than even a similarly priced appliance. Homeowners looking to extend the life of their appliances for cost benefits should consider energy efficient models. Energy Star appliances are designed for energy efficiency and detail total usage costs on their labels. For instance, replacing an old refrigerator with an Energy Star brand saves the owner $200–$1,100 over the life of the appliance. Paying a little more upfront for long-term savings is often beneficial for homeowners balancing their mortgages, taxes, insurance and necessary home maintenance costs.
TIPS FOR MAINTAINING
Once products are home, careful cleaning and repairs keep appliances humming along. Be sure to save owners' manuals or locate them online, reading for model-specific maintenance tips.
Here are some general steps almost anybody can manage for appliance longevity:
Wipe the flexible seals around the inside edges of the door now and then. Acidic salad dressings and sticky jams wear the seals (called gaskets), and air leaks out, wasting money. Clean with a cloth or an old toothbrush with something mild such as warm water and dish detergent or a vinegar solution. Towel dry. Check the seal by shutting a dollar bill part way in the door. If it pulls out easily, the seal isn't tight.
Wash the drawers, racks and inside several times per year with a non-toxic cleanser. Remember food might touch these surfaces. Wipe out the drain hole and drip pan.
At least twice per year, vacuum the condenser coils behind and under the refrigerator to keep it running efficiently. People with pets might want to do this monthly. If coils are dirty, they need to work harder, shortening the life of the refrigerator. Appliance stores sell coil-cleaning vacuum attachments to make the job easier.
Change the water filter.
Make sure the refrigerator is level for greatest energy efficiency. Adjust the feet or shim the corner.
Oven and Stove
Clean the oven with food-safe cleanser or the oven's self-cleaning setting to have a long lasting appliance. Those little mounds of burned food on the oven floor don't just smell bad; they can catch fire. Homeowners with respiratory disorders or those sensitive to smells probably want to tackle this job on a day when they can open doors and windows.
Keep stove cooking surfaces and knobs clean. It's easier to nab a spill when it's fresh and wet than when it's dried on.
Change range hood fan filters as needed.
Homeowners with free-standing stoves should vacuum behind them annually.
Wipe down the inside, outside and door seals now and then, especially if it's used infrequently. Use a food-safe cleaner, such as dish detergent.
A worn dish rack coating can rust dishes. Buy a vinyl repair kit and recoat the racks.
Check the dishwasher floor and rotating arms for paper labels and bits of food that cause clogs.
Remove hard-water stains by running the dishwasher empty with vinegar.
Avoid using products with bleach, which can damage gaskets and stainless steel.
Remove lint before every load. Always. Every time. If the lint filter develops tears, replace it. Pull out the filter and clean lint in the filter cavity once per month by hand or with a vacuum.
Every other month, wash the lint filter with detergent to remove chemical residue.
Once per year, clear lint from the entire vent pipe. Be careful not to push the lint back into the dryer. People who use the dryer frequently should consider buying a vent brush.
Replace any vinyl dryer exhaust ducts with metal ones to reduce the risk of fire.
Inspect washing machine hoses every two years and replace immediately if split, blistered or cracked.
Replace hoses every six years even if they look fine. Turn off the water supply to the machine, unscrew the old hoses and hook up the new ones. Line up the threads and screw the hoses on tightly. Turn the water supply back on and check carefully for leaks.
What tips do you have to make your appliances last?
What are your longest lasting appliances?
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