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With cold weather knocking at the door, I think it’s safe to say most of us, me included, look forward to enjoying many warm and cozy nights in our homes. At the worst possible time (is there a good time?) one of your appliances decides it’s time to upset the routine and make you think the entire world is caving in because it no longer runs.

Yes, sometimes it feels as if everything is going wrong at once, and a broken appliance just adds insult to misery. With some easy steps to follow before the cold weather arrives, you can ward off possible appliance failures, at least for now.

I’ll go through a list of things you can do quickly and to help get the most from the expensive but necessary appliances in your home. Here’s my list of the top five preventative measures (including common sense ones, too).

Laundry Appliances

Dryer

Your home won’t function if the laundry department fails. I’ll start with the dryer because they represent the largest percentage of early breakdowns. Many times the dryer runs, but it takes forever to dry clothes. The causes of long dry times range from failed internal components to blocked or restricted air flow.

Tip #1 Starting now, have your dryer vent professionally cleaned, and make sure the vent from the dryer to to the wall is clean and not bent or crushed.

A clean dryer vent allows the dryer to breathe and do its job. Just as important, a clean vent goes a long way toward preventing a dryer fire!

Washer

Next in line is the washer. Generally speaking, if a washer is properly set up when it’s new, it’s relatively trouble-free unless too much mechanical stress causes it to show signs of trouble.

Tip #2 The easiest and smartest way to prevent a mechanical breakdown is don’t overload the washer. Newer washers sense the wet weight of clothes to help determine if the load is too heavy, and the level of water best for the cycle selection.

Remember to use a small amount of soap. Today’s machines use only HE soaps, and it’s designed to clean clothes without using too much. Too much soap ruins your washer and your clothes.

Be wary of the instructions on the soap bottle label. I suggest using about half of their recommended level. You can thank me later when you realize your machine lasted far longer than you expected and your clothes are clean and soft!

Kitchen Appliances

Refrigerator

Many refrigerator complaints stem from improper operation and lack of recommended maintenance. The filter inside the fridge helps remove or prevent odors from foods to keep everything else smelling fresh.

Tip #3 Consult your User Guide for the location of the filter (if it has one) and change it. They’re not expensive and they do a good job.

A common issue with refrigerators with water and ice dispensers is not changing the water filter at the recommended time. The filter ensures clean water and ice, and they eventually wear out causing slow water flow and ice maker problems such as small ice cubes. In other cases, they fail and block all water flow.

Oven

Your oven is a treasured appliance because some of the world’s best recipes come to life in there! Wouldn’t it be terrible if it failed on Thanksgiving day? Of course, no one can predict when or if, your oven will fail. A few tips here might put off the inevitable for now.

Tip #4 There’s an old saying in the appliance repair business. It goes like this, “A clean machine is a happy machine!” I know it’s silly, but it’s worth remembering because it’s true. A clean oven always works better when it’s clean. I don’t mean you have to perform a self-clean on your oven today. In fact, I suggest that you wait until after the holidays.

Your oven gets up to very high temperatures during a self-clean, in the area of 700 to 900 degrees. If the ventilation around your oven isn’t sufficient and can’t exhaust the extra heat, the internal high-temperature components designed to protect against an overheat condition could fail.

If either the thermal fuse or thermostat fails, your oven no longer heats. You must hire a professional to repair this problem. To prevent this scenario from ever happening, stick to cleaning your oven the old fashioned way. Oven cleaners designed to clean a cold oven work good, but may require a little more work.

One last tip for oven maintenance is never, ever use aluminum foil inside the oven to catch spills. The foil melts into the oven liner and most are not replaceable. Use other products designed for the purpose.

Dishwasher

This handy little gadget makes our lives easier by doing the dreaded dishwashing duties for us. But, did you know you can sabotage the dishwasher and force it to make you go back to hand washing dishes again?

Tip #5 I guess it depends on who you ask, but most people say you should rinse your dishes before they go into the dishwasher. Some also say dishwasher soap contains enzymes that clean when they contact food. While that’s true, how would anyone know how much food to leave on the dishes to create the best environment for soap to clean its best?

That said, I suggest rinsing all the dishes before they go into the dishwasher. The point is remove extra food that obviously won’t make it through to the dishwasher drain. If the dishes never get rinsed, all the food left on them will find its way to the drain but some food remains in either the drain hose or in the sump.

As food builds up, the dishwasher starts to smell and its performance gets worse over time because it’s forced to use water mixed with the built up food that has nowhere to go. Someday, the dishwasher won’t drain due to the buildup and ruin your plans for clean dishes! If you lightly rinse the dishes, you give the dishwasher a clean environment to perform its work, and for much longer.

I hope these tips help you keep your home appliances running their best. As much as preventative measures help, at times you’ll need the advice of a professional. That’s where Tin Lizzee comes to the rescue. If you need advice on any appliance related problem or a hand in repairing one, you have an ally in your corner! By the way, Thomas has a new article about getting rid of the dreaded smell from washers. It’s a good read! Check it out here. Remember, we always welcome your comments. Feel free to add yours below! 

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