How to Help Your Electrical Appliances Last Longer: Tips from Your Residential Electrician
Every year people spend oodles of cash on new appliances because their older ones died prematurely. But a little regular maintenance, cleaning and intelligent usage can stretch the life of your appliances out much longer than you’d imagine. So whether you just had to buy a new washing machine or are starting to worry about your toaster, here are some general tips on how to help your electrical appliances last longer and save electricity in your home. However when in doubt or you have questions, always refer to your appliances’ user guides or manuals for specific instructions on the models in your home.
Making Your Electrical Appliances Last Longer: Washing Machines
Few appliances can make as big and expensive a mess as a washing machine that isn’t well maintained. This is particularly true because you have a lot of water swishing and churning around in there all the time:
- Switch out the fill hoses (where the water comes into the machine) every 4-5 years (schedule it every leap year for an easy memory trick). The older they get, the more they wear out—and eventually, they can burst, flooding your house and causing thousands of dollars of water damage. (NOTE: washing machine manufacturers actually recommend even turning the water faucets attached to the hoses off completely when you are not using the machine.)
- Go through everyone’s pockets to remove any loose items. Having coins, pens, gum wrappers, etc. trundling around in there can shorten the life of the drum. Even if these items don’t break the drum initially, damage to the drum can also increase the wear and tear on your clothing, which is another avoidable hassle and expense.
- No matter how tempted you are, do not overload the washing machine, and make sure clothes are evenly loaded. Overloaded and uneven loads can burn up the motor faster.
How to Make Your Electrical Appliances Last Longer: Dryers
The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that more than 15,500 home fires are caused by clothes dryers each year! At the very least, a poorly-maintained dryer can wear out faster and drive up your utility bills. To make this appliance last longer (and reduce your fire hazards and electrical bills)...
- Clean the lint trap after every single load!
- Every time you vacuum your home, make a point of simply using a brush attachment and vacuuming out the space where the lint trap goes, as far down as you can.
- Clear out your lint hoses (behind the dryer) on a regular basis. How often you need to do this (or have it done) depends on how much laundry you do. If you always have frequent loads of laundry or pets that shed a lot, then you will probably need to have it done more often, but experts generally recommend doing it at the change of each season. Forgetting to do this makes your dryer work harder, burning out the motor and wasting lots of energy.
How to Help Your Electrical Appliances Last Longer: Refrigerators
Maintaining your refrigerator not only helps it last longer but can save you money on your grocery bill by helping you avoid spoiled food. Have you ever tried these tips? If not, you should.
Vacuum those condenser coils once a year. Before you do this, be sure to unplug the refrigerator from the wall (and turn off the water lines if you have a water/ice dispenser). The coils may be on the back or on the bottom of the refrigerator. Be sure to follow the instructions in your refrigerator maintenance guide.
- Regularly clean the seal around the door. Spills from jam, ice cream, soda, milk, sauces, etc. can make a mess and crumbs can affect how well the door seals to keep the cold air in and the warmer air out.
- Defrost the freezer. Most new models do this on their own, but if yours doesn’t, you’ll have to do it yourself. Never let the ice buildup in the freezer get more than ¼ inch thick. Keep the freezer vents open and clean.
- Follow the guidelines in your refrigerator’s user manual for cleaning any drip pans, drip openings, replacing water filters and keeping the appropriate temperature settings.
How to Make Your Electrical Appliances Last Longer: Dishwashers
A clean dishwasher is a happy dishwasher, so be sure to regularly clean around the seal that keeps the water inside the dishwasher from spewing out into your kitchen. It can get mucky there and start to let water leak out. Also clean the spray arm from time to time as food bits and hard water scale can build up. If you notice your dishes aren’t getting clean, this is a good first place to start.
As for all the small appliances you have around the house, again, we urge you to keep and refer to your user’s manuals for maintenance and safety instructions. Generally speaking, though:
- If you are not using an appliance, there is no reason to keep it plugged in (toasters, blenders, hair dryers, etc.). Unplug them and keep them stowed safely (away from water and excessive dust or dirt) when not in use.
- Do not rely on power strips or extension cords to plug too many appliances into outlets as this can overload the circuits and cause damage to the appliances or even increase your fire risk.
And for any electrical safety tips, questions or concerns, or to learn more about how to help your electrical appliances last longer, give our Virginia residential electricians a call at (703) 494-3989!
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