There are some homeowners who are in a position to buy appliances every year for no other reason than they want the latest, swankiest model. But many homeowners want their appliances to last, even if they do go out of style. Some homeowners even go so far as to buy home appliances insurance for larger and more expensive appliances. Here are four tips to help appliances last:
- Install a Soft Water Filter
Few things shorten the lives of water-dependent appliances more than hard water. This is water that is full of calcium and magnesium. These minerals are good for health, but they are not good for appliances such as ice makers, dishwashers, washing machines, water heaters or coffee makers. They clog pipes with limescale, cause the appliance not to work well and may drive up energy costs.
One way to banish limescale is to install a soft water filter. When fresh water comes into the house, it’s washed through a tank filled with resin beads in a salt bath. There, the magnesium and calcium in the water are exchanged for sodium ions. This softens the water and extends the life of the appliance.
Some Specific Appliances
- Tips for the Fridge
Ideally, the fridge needs to be cleaned out completely once a season. The power should be cut off at the circuit breaker. Then, everything should be taken out, with the food placed in coolers. The crisper drawers should be allowed to come to room temperature, so they won’t crack when they’re washed with warm water. The shelves should be cleaned with warm water and baking soda but not detergents. Their fragrances will be absorbed by the food when it is returned. The shelves and crisper drawers should also be washed in baking soda and warm water and should not be put in the dishwasher.
The refrigerator door seals should be cleaned and checked to make sure they’re fairly tight. If they’re cracked or loose, they can cause cold to seep out of the interior of the refrigerator, which causes it to work harder.
The defrost pan should be pulled out from beneath the refrigerator and cleaned with warm, soapy water. If there’s mold, the pan should be cleaned with bleach and water.
It’s especially important for the refrigerator grill or its condenser coils to be cleaned at least twice a year. The refrigerator needs to vent heat, and it does so through these coils. They can be found under the grill or at the back of the refrigerator. They can be cleaned with a special brush for refrigerator coils or vacuumed with the crevice attachment. Again, the electricity needs to be turned off at the circuit box first.
- Tips for the Washing Machine
If the machine hasn’t been used in a while, pour about a cupful of vinegar into the drum and let it run, empty, for a cycle. Leave the door open for a couple of hours after every wash to allow whatever water is left to evaporate and to discourage mold. Every week, wipe the outside of the washing machine with water and a mild dishwashing liquid and use a damp cloth to remove lint or soap scum from the inside.
If the family is going on vacation in the winter, they should drain the water from the washing machine hoses to keep them from bursting and turn off the water supply. Hoses should be checked now and then and replaced every five years or so.
- Tips for the Water Heater
Call in a plumber at the beginning of spring and fall to troubleshoot the water heater. The homeowner can drain the tank themselves. This flushes out sediments that cause the anode rod in the heater to decay sooner than it might. Draining should be done fairly regularly if the homeowner has hard water. Turn off the heat, attach a garden hose to the drain valve, open the valve and let the water flow out. Another way to extend the life of a water heater is to keep the water at about 120 degrees Fahrenheit.