Home and Living is happy to introduce Steve Ash, a Senior Repairman at PartSelect.com who has come to tell us: How to keep your appliances looking, and running, like new
Forever new: Easy ways to maintain and refresh your home appliances
Decades of experience in the appliance industry has taught me how fond consumers are of “newness.” We all want to keep our products brand-new forever, and for good reason — that new sweater will never fit quite as well as it did the first time you wore it, and your latest laptop won’t be operating at lightning speed next year.
Although you can’t stop time, when it comes to some of the most expensive appliances in your home, there are a number of things you can do to maintain their look and efficiency and keep them running well beyond their warranty.
And if your appliances are already heavily worn, take heart. These tips can help restore your pieces to like-new condition and even postpone the need for costly replacements.
Remember how smoothly your racks slid in and out when your dishwasher was new? Replacing the racks altogether is an easy way to put an end to irritating jams and give a new feel to an old product. In fact, upper and lower dishwasher racks are two of the most commonly replaced dishwasher parts.
Lower racks are easy to replace, as they normally just roll out. Replacing a top rack is simple, too, but requires you to remove the rack stops before you make the swap.
If your dishwasher is new, be aware that racks are typically coated with a vinyl material that can be damaged with rough use. If this happens, use a vinyl repair kit (around $10, available at most hardware stores and online) to recoat any affected areas before they become too rusted.
Cleaning tip: Place a shallow dish of vinegar in the top rack of your dishwasher and a tablespoon of baking soda in the soap dispenser. Then run this otherwise empty cycle on the hottest setting available.
Regularly check your dryer’s external vent cap outside of the house for a buildup of lint or dust, which might cause your dryer to work harder and less efficiently. A restricted vent system will reduce airflow and can create excessive heat buildup in the dryer. This could cause premature failure of the thermostats or the motor, and it can be a potential fire hazard.
Cleaning tip: Don’t forget to regularly remove lint from your dryer’s vent trap. This, too, will help reduce the risk of overheating and fire. Run a vacuum over the screen to make sure you capture tiny lint particles that might get trapped in the mesh.
Refrigerators circulate air to function. To do this, a condenser typically pulls room air, which unavoidably contains dust, pet hair, etc., across the bottom of the refrigerator. These airborne materials can build up over the vent, restricting airflow through the appliance and causing it to overheat and potentially break down.
To remedy this issue, vacuum your refrigerator’s external condenser with a brush-type wand. Depending on your model, remove the fridge’s kick plate (the front panel near the floor) or reach around the back of the fridge to clean. This will restore normal airflow and re-establish your fridge’s original efficiency.
Cleaning tip: Regularly wipe down your refrigerator’sgaskets — the plastic strip that forms a seal between the fridge and doors. Once it’s dry, coat the gasket with a thin film of Vaseline to maintain elasticity and form a better seal. This will help keep cool air inside where it belongs.
Finally, for all of your household appliances,be sure to fix minor problems before they become larger ones. When unusual symptoms, such as noises or leaks, arise, investigate immediately and correct the faulty components before they damage the entire appliance.
For help identifying an appliance problem, enter your appliance’s model number into the Instant Repairman at PartSelect.com for a full diagnosis. You might be surprised to find out how easy the solution is.
Visit the slideshow for photos.