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10 Things You Can Do to Keep Your Appliances Running Like New

Major appliances such as dishwashers, refrigerators, washers and dryers are a big investment. Potentially costly to repair, they are even more expensive to replace. However, it is possible to help ward off those repairs and keep your appliances running longer by performing a few easy maintenance practices. And the best thing is that you don't need to be very mechanically-minded to keep your appliances in great shape - just some common sense and a little elbow grease. Here are some things you can do to keep your appliances running like new.

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Check Your Oven is Sealed Just like your refrigerator and your dishwasher, your oven has a door gasket (seal) that locks in the heat produced by the appliance. When the gasket becomes cracked or torn, its function is compromised - ultimately leading to longer preheating times and fluctuating temperatures. Verify your oven has a tight seal by placing a sheet of paper between the door and oven, close the oven door, then see if you can pull the paper out of the door. If you can pull the paper out, there is a gap in the seal and the gasket needs to be fixed or replaced.

Clean or Replace Dirty Range Hood or Downdraft Vent Filters After removing the grease filter from your range hood, soak it in warm soapy water with some baking soda. Then scrub them with a non-abrasive brush, rinse, and dry. This method will ensure your filter is working to its full potential. You can even run the filters through the dishwasher for the ultimate clean. The steam should loosen any built-up grease and the water spray will get in all of the filter's nooks and crannies.

Clean Stove Top Drip Bowls When your stove top drip pans have gone from shiny silver to coal black here's 6 steps to get them sparkling again:

  1. Place the drip pans in the sink in very hot water and let soak for 10 minutes.
  2. Drain the water from the sink and pour in distilled white vinegar to cover the baked-on food and grease. Let them sit in the vinegar for 30 minutes.
  3. Next, don't drain the vinegar, but sprinkle baking soda on top of the vinegar and use your fingers to rub the baking soda into the burnt-on crust.
  4. Let the baking soda and vinegar work on the stains for at least 15 minutes. You may notice the burnt residue start to flake away.
  5. After about 15 minutes, rinse the drip pans with hot water, apply more baking soda and really work the baking soda into the remaining stains.
  6. Rinse again and towel-dry.

Clean Coils in Your Refrigerator When a fridge is not running properly, dirty condenser coils could be the reason, unless there is an issue with the circuit or other parts of the fridge. Dirty condenser coils cause the fridge's compressor to overheat, which in turn causes the compressor to stop working, and ultimately, the entire refrigeration process stops as well.

The solution to these problems is simple - to clean the dust and grime that is sticking to the condenser coils. You can do this easily by dislodging the dust from the condenser coils with a duster while vacuuming up the dust before it can settle again on the coils.

To remove grime, wipe the coils with a rag soaked in soapy water. But do this only when the fridge is unplugged. The damp rag will easily remove the grime that is stubbornly sticking on the coils. If not, use a coil brush. Since a rag may not be sufficient enough to remove grime from hard to reach areas, the brush can be used for further cleaning. Afterwards, wipe the coils with a clean dry cloth. Before plugging the unit back, allow the coils to dry completely.

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Cleaning the coils should be done at least once a year for maintenance. If there are pets inside the house, then every 6 months is a better option.

Change Your Refrigerator Water Filter But there's a bit of maintenance that comes along with having any refrigerator that can dispense water, and just like you change the oil in your car, you'll need to change the water filter in your refrigerator with a replacement filter at least every 6 months. Here are 3 main reasons why:

  1. Your filter clogs
    It reaches a point where it will no longer filter because it's packed with dirt and debris. You know it's past time to change your filter when water stops flowing out.
  2. Carbon reaches maximum capacity
    Water continues to flow through the filter even if the surface area is full, but the water carries contaminants along with it. When all the spaces in an old carbon filter are taken, particles accumulate or pass through the filter.
  3. Your filter grows bacteria
    A loaded carbon filter collects particles that living organisms feed off of and becomes a breeding ground for bacteria.

Clean and Deodorize Your Garbage Disposal Your garbage disposal breaks down waste so that it can better navigate the tight confines of your home plumbing. If you want to keep your garbage disposal working in top-top shape, it is going to require proper maintenance and upkeep. Thankfully, deodorizing this is one of the easiest of all DIY kitchen projects - and you can probably do it with items that you already have!

To remove trapped sludge in your garbage disposal:

This cleaning method floods the garbage disposal with hot, soapy water, cleaning and deodorizing areas that are usually difficult to reach.

If that doesn't shift the food particles, try this natural home remedy. A little natural foaming action can do an excellent job of removing food particles trapped under your garbage disposal's rubber flaps.

While many foods are safe to put down the garbage disposal, there are some food items you should steer clear of to prevent future drain clogs. These include fruit peels, ground coffee, and ice cubes (contrary to popular belief), as well as bones, fats/oils, stringy veg (like celery), and egg shells.

Clean Your Dryer Vent Exhaust A clean dryer vent is important if you value energy efficiency and lower energy bills. If your dryer vent is clogged or blocked, it will have to run longer to fully dry your laundry - using more energy, not to mention the risk of fire. Lint is highly flammable and can pose a severe fire hazard when dryer vents are not cleaned regularly and properly. According to the U.S. Fire Administration's National Fire Data Center, clothes dryers are responsible for more than 15,000 structure fires around the country each year, and 80 percent of those fires start with clogged dryer vents.

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Always clean the lint filter between loads of laundry, and periodically use a small vacuum to carefully clean out the inside of the dryer, as well as the lint trap. Heavy bedding in particular can be strenuous on your dryer, so consider air drying comforters and heavy blankets. You should also avoid running your dryer for several cycles in a row. Giving your dryer a break in between cycles will allow your dryer to cool down and completely ventilate the hot, humid air from the previous cycle. Be sure to call in a professional once a year to keep your vents clean and functional.

Clear Out The Crumbs In Your Toaster Most people aren't aware toasters have a crumb tray. If left unattended and overflowing, this could turn into a fire hazard. Depending on how many times you use a toaster, try emptying the crumb tray once a week.

Clean Out Your Washer's Inlet Filters & Check For Any Leaks Your washing machine's inlet filters help prevent debris or mineral deposit build-up machine water. A washer that takes forever to fill is a sure-fire sign the filters are clogged. It is important to regularly clean them in warm soapy water every three months. Replace when necessary.

Clean Your Dishwasher Drain Basket One common cause of a smelly dishwasher and dirty dishes is a dirty drain basket. The drain basket is located in the bottom of the dishwasher, and it is designed to catch bits of food debris that are too big to be washed down the drain. Each month, check the drain basket for clogged debris and empty it. You can use an old toothbrush to clean the mesh before rinsing in hot water and vinegar.

Avoiding appliance problems is not always possible, but as you see with a bit of preventative maintenance they can potentially last longer, perform more efficiently and safely, as well as help save you money in the long run.
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