Simple steps to extend life of your appliances

December 27, 2011 3:20:09 PM PST
If you've recently gotten a new appliance or have one that you want to last 10 to 15 years longer, some expert tips can extend the life of your appliances.

Joe Jaume has been fixing things since he was a kid. Now he does it for a living and knows appliances inside and out.

"Your basic refrigerator will have a small door or panel on the bottom that is removable," he said. "You take your vacuum cleaner -- the first thing you do is shut your refrigerator off -- and you take your vacuum cleaner and you vacuum underneath all the coils."

Pull out the fridge and clean lint and dirt off the back vents too. It may not seem like much, but over time Jaume says a little bit of lent will build up on the coils and choke off the air flow.

"Which, in turn, will cause the compressor to die on you," he explained.

So you should clean the outside vents of the refrigerator once a year. If you have pets, do it twice a year. You can also extend the life of your refrigerator by taking care of the inside too, by clearing the area near the vents.

"Do not over-pack it," Jaume advised. "Over-packing the freezer is a death sentence, because it's not going to be able to cool correctly and it's going to be constantly demanding cooling up front."

When it comes to your dryer, there's routine maintenance as well.

"The clothes dryer, whether it be gas or electric, is always vented. And that's one of the things that will kill the clothes dryer quickly is poor venting," Jaume explained. "Inside the flex pipe you'll see lint buildup. ... Whenever the flex pipe gets dirty, it just needs to be replaced. Something like this is very inexpensive to do and it will prolong the life of your dryer."

Also, be sure to clean out the lint screen between each load and from time to time clean the area with a vacuum cleaner.

When it comes to your washing machine, don't overload it.

"It's going to put a strain on that transmission," Jaume said. "It will work, but let's say you are only going to get 10 years out of that washing machine instead of 20 to 25 years."

For the dishwasher proper loading is also important.

"The racks are metal covered in a thin plastic sheet. You don't want to put anything sharp in here because once you cut this plastic and the metal is exposed it starts to rust and the water will get underneath and travel against the plastic and bubble up," Jaume said.

Following this simple advice could save you from replacing your old appliance before its time. Our expert also recommends putting a screen filter on the water supply going into your dishwasher, refrigerator and washing machine to protect your appliances from debris.

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