Keep your appliances running longer

HOUSTON The idea is to keep things clean, but it means you have to look hard for some of the dirt. Knowing how to perform some basic maintenance can really pay off.

Polly Bijur wants to keep her five-year-old refrigerator running as long as possible.

"I'm hoping it lasts like 15 years. My old refrigerator, I had to buy a new one after about seven. So I'm really hoping this one lasts longer," said Bijur.

So she turned to Consumer Reports' Appliance Expert Jim Nanni for some advice.

"Most newer refrigerators have a fan and coil underneath that can collect dirt during operation. So one of the important steps is to remove this dirt and debris to maintain peak performance," said Nanni.

Also, check the gaskets around the door to make sure you've got a good seal. To do that, close a dollar bill in the door. If it falls out, your gaskets need replacing.

As for your vacuum, simple maintenance can keep it going longer, too. The belt often breaks, but it's cheap and easy to replace yourself. Don't let the bag get jam-packed. Changing it before it's overstuffed will reduce the stress on the motor.

A washing machine that shakes a lot on the spin cycle can get damaged. You want to be sure it's level.

"The washing machine itself typically has adjustable legs that will allow you to make sure it doesn't rock," said Nanni.

Be sure to check the water hoses for wear and tear too.

"Anything that you can do to maintain your appliances would help to extend their life and cost you less in the long run," Nanni said.

For all the other home appliances, check your owner's manual. It has tips on cleaning and keeping your appliances working longer.

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