Appliance Maintenance & Breakdown Prevention Tips
There’s nothing like a suite of household appliances that run smoothly, reliably, and without any technical hiccups. It’s amazing how much of your time is freed up by, say, a working dishwasher, a blessedly quiet clothes dryer, or an oven that actually means it when it says it’s self-cleaning. In the same way, it can be a major disruption to your normal routine when any of your household appliances run into problems or fall into disrepair. That’s why doing regular home maintenance of your appliances is so important—it goes an incredibly long way in keeping things operating normally, saving you time, money, and stress in the long run.
While it’s a good idea to call professionals about any maintenance or upkeep that you’re not sure about, or that carries major safety risks, there are quite a few ways you can keep your appliances in top shape all by yourself.
The golden rule - turn it off and on again
If you’re experiencing any problem with your home appliance, and it’s an unclear problem and not an obvious one, there’s one thing you should always try before calling your appliance repair person: simply turn it off and on again. Some appliances will have a power or reset switch somewhere on them, often near the connection to the power cord. This can be a great option for something like a garburator motor, which has a tendency to overheat and shut off if it’s overloaded. Similarly, if your oven temperature seems off, or your dishwasher is making a strange beeping when you try to start it, you might be able to reset the system by simply turning it off and on again. If you can’t find a button somewhere on the unit itself, you can always try switching off the breaker it’s connected to, waiting a couple of minutes, and turning it back on. Just ensure that you’re not cutting the power to anything too crucial while doing this!
Check your filters!
Many of the appliances in your home use a filter of some kind to keep particles and debris out of your unit. Depending on the appliance, and the make and model, the procedure to check and clear your unit’s filter may change somewhat. However, with a little research, you can find detailed instructions on how to access, clean, and possibly replace the filters on just about any appliance in your house. Here are the appliances whose filters you should be checking in on frequently:
- Dishwashers – Considering the dishwasher’s nasty job of clearing all manners of food debris off your dirty plates and flatware, it’s no surprise that it can become clogged up over time. If your dishes aren’t coming up clean, the most likely culprit is a filter full of food, preventing the water from spraying throughout the unit like it’s meant to. Look up the instructions for your unit and take a couple minutes every couple of months to clear out this filter and keep your dishes coming out clean.
- Dryers – As the hot air in your electric clothes dryer circulates throughout your load of wet laundry, it creates a large amount of steam and hot air that needs to be vented out of the unit. This is done through an exhaust line, which will take the hot air and steam to an exterior outlet somewhere on the outside of your home. There’s a screen at the dryer side of this exhaust line, which is meant to block lint from entering the line and gradually building up inside of it. If you go too long without clearing this screen, you not only hurt the efficiency of your dryer and increase your utility bill, but you also run the risk of starting a fire in your laundry room. For best results, always clean out the lint screen after each load. This screen is typically located at the front of your dryer and within easy reach. While you’re at it, shine a light into the exhaust line and see if you notice excessive lint build-up inside. If there’s any major amount of lint, you’ll want to give an appliance repair company a call as soon as you can, in order to prevent any major hassle later on. We recommend pulling the dryer away from the wall every couple of months and having the dryer vent cleared of any debris by a professional.
- Refrigerator water dispensers – Depending on how often you’re using the water dispenser on your refrigerator, you should check and replace the filter every three to six months. Not only will a water filter stop removing contaminants as effectively over time, it could begin to fill with mold or mildew, which can wind up being very harmful to consume. Take the couple of minutes necessary to research your refrigerator, and replace the filter as needed.
Clean up spills and messes as soon as possible
Whether it’s your refrigerator, stove, or oven, food spills can turn from minor inconvenience to major problem in just a short amount of time. In the case of refrigerators, you could begin to develop a mold problem that spreads throughout the unit, giving everything inside a disgusting aroma that can be really difficult to get rid of.
On the more dangerous side, spills in your stovetop or oven can be a major hazard for your safety and your food preparation. Grease in particular will burn as it’s heated, making it even harder to remove, or possibly even starting a fire. But grease can also get into the hardware and electrical components of your appliance, creating a huge mess at best, or a malfunctioned unit at worst.
No matter what you’ve spilled in your appliance, know that cleaning it straight away is always the best option to keep your appliances in great shape.
Regularly check for leaks
Many of our home’s appliances rely on a sturdy connection to your home plumbing system in order to do their dishwashers. It’s a good idea to visually inspect your washing machine, dishwasher, and refrigerator for leaks every time you need to use them. This will not only help you avoid any confusing troubles with your appliances, but also save you from the stressful and costly problem of a major water leak. When it comes to preventive maintenance, few tips are as important as checking for this sign of trouble in order to save yourself an appliance-related headache later on.
Avoid overloading your appliances
Your time is precious, and we completely understand the temptation to save yourself some time by really loading up your appliances. However, like passing off an impossible workload to the office’s newest intern, overloading an appliance can lead to the unit quitting on you unexpectedly. There are a number of risks associated with overloaded appliances.
A beyond-capacity dishwasher is more likely to become gummed up with food debris, causing a load of still-dirty dishes or even a water leak. Likewise, an overloaded washing machine or clothes dryer is more likely to put unhealthy strain on the motor and other hardware, leading to possible breakage and malfunction that can put them out of commission until you can replace the parts.
Treat your appliances with care
In general, respecting your appliances as the carefully engineered, expensive workhorses that they are is a great way to extend their lives as far as possible. Beyond regular check-ups and avoiding overloading them, treating them with general care is a good idea. Simple things such as not slamming your refrigerator door can actually make a huge difference in the longevity of the various parts and components that keep it running. Similarly, don’t constantly drop the lid of your top-loading washer or dryer to close. Inevitably, you’ll eventually break the lid latch, and that means money will go down the drain for a replacement.
Be proactive about cleaning
In addition to following the above maintenance tips, there are some proactive preventive cleaning tips you can try as well.
- Rinse everything before you put it in the dishwasher. Without rinsing, the extra food that makes its way down the drain can stick in the hose and start to smell or make your dishwasher’s performance get worse over time, because it’s being forced to use water mixed with built up food with nowhere to go. This means that at some point, it will no longer drain due to the buildup. That’s why rinsing your dishes goes a long way.
- Have your dryer vent cleaned professionally and ensure the vent from the dryer to the wall is clean, as well as not bent or crushed. By keeping your vent clean it allows it to breathe and goes a long way to preventing a fire.
- For washers, less is more, especially when it comes to soap. Washers today only take high efficiency soaps designed to clean clothes using little product. Too much soap not only ruins your washer, but also it sometimes causes leaks as well as ruins your clothes.
- Take once or twice a year to take your fridge out and vacuum the coils to clean any loose dirt, dust, and pet dander which can restrict air flow causing your fridge to work harder to keep cool. The coils are found either behind the fridge or behind the kick plate (front panel near the floor), varying by make and model.
- Make sure your hood range or downdraft vent filters are cleaned or replaced regularly. If they are charcoal or paper they should be replaced, not washed. If they are metal-mesh grease filters, wash by hand with soapy water, or run them through the dishwasher.
- Clean your stove top’s drip bowls too. Remove them from underneath the elements and presoak in a cleaning solution for five minutes, hand wash, then replace. Be sure to clean the drip bowls directly after a spill. If a spill burns into the bowl, you might need to replace it.
- After the holidays or any large cooking sessions, it’s recommended to perform a self-clean on your oven (if it has that option). If your oven doesn’t have that option, use oven cleaning products post-use (wait until it’s cooled down, not hot) to wipe up any spills so they don’t get caked on. Some products can catch spills at the bottom of the oven, but avoid the aluminum foil kinds at all costs as they’re highly flammable.
- Clean and deodorize your garbage disposal to help it last. Turn off the disposal and check the drain for large, stuck items. Using tongs or other tools (do not use your hands!) remove any blockages. To clean, pour a mix of ice cubes and salt, or vinegar down the drain then run cold water over it for 10 seconds and turn on the unit. To remove any smells, a handful of citrus peels can be placed down the disposal, run cold water, and then turn it on.
Keeping Your Appliances in Top Shape with Starfix
We’re the first to understand that home maintenance of all the appliances that make up your routine can be a bit daunting. This is simply a short list of tips and tricks to try and solve any potential problems yourself before calling in the experts.
However, sometimes the problem is more complicated, and nothing you’re trying seems to be fixing it. Or perhaps you don’t have the know-how, confidence, or simply the time to do all this upkeep yourself. That’s why having a high-quality appliance repair company at your disposal can be such an asset.
When you leave your home appliance maintenance up to Starfix, you’re placing your confidence in us. We understand the disruption that an appliance malfunction is called, which is why we are big believers in frequent check-ins and preventive maintenance. When you call us for a repair, or simply for a routine check-up of your appliances, we send out our expert technicians to handle the job promptly, professionally, and effectively. Our experience in the industry is expansive, and we have repaired and maintained appliances from just about every leading brand.
If you have more questions about home appliance maintenance, or you’re ready to get proactive about taking care of them, please contact us today!