Brush Up on Appliance Care

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Just like other household members, household appliances need routine care to keep them at their best.

The newest appliances have fewer mechanical parts and more electronic components than in the past.

“That makes them much more energy efficient and the controls are much more precise,” says Celia Kuperszmid-Lehrman, Consumer Reports’ deputy home appliance editor.  “But if they break, it tends to be a much more expensive repair."

Here’s how to get maximum mileage with fewer repair bills:

Follow Directions

“Most people never open up the use-and-care guide,” laments Eric Kleinert, Florida-based author of  “Troubleshooting and Repairing Major Appliances,”  (McGraw-Hill, 2012). Consumers often believe they already know how to maintain a new appliance because they took care of its predecessor.

“But a new appliance can be different than the old one, so you need to examine the paperwork,” says Kleinert.
Lost the original manual? Most manufacturers now provide manuals online.

While manufacturer recommendations for using a specific brand of product with an appliance, such as a particular cleaner, aren’t always essential, Kuperszmid-Lehrman says it’s important to follow recommendations for the type of products to use, and for how often to clean and service an appliance.

Keep it Clean

Wiping down appliances regularly isn’t just good housekeeping, it also can help prolong an appliance’s life.
Sticky door gaskets, for example, may not work properly, wasting energy or causing leaks. (The gasket is the seal between an appliance door and the body of the appliance.)
Regularly inspect appliance parts that have lots of little holes, such as dishwasher arms or gas stove ports, and clean out any build-up clogging the holes.

Vacuum refrigerator compressor coils every few months, says Kuperszmid-Lehrman, so the compressor isn’t stressed. Stove burner reflector bowls that are dulled with dirt won’t reflect heat efficiently to pots and pans. Clean or replace dirty reflector bowls rather than covering them with foil, which can short-circuit burners.

Don’t Forget Filters

From vacuum cleaners to dryers, appliance filters need regular cleaning or replacement. Scrape lint off the dryer filter after every load, and note whether your dishwasher has a manual or self-cleaning filter.

“A lot of European dishwashers have manual filters,” says Kuperszmid Lehrman. “If you’re noticing that food particles have been redeposited on dishes after they’re washed, it could mean your manual filter needs to be cleaned.”
© CTW Features

Tags: home appliances, maintenance, repair, upkeep