How to extend the lives of your appliances
Coming home to a home that works can be as easy as exercising everyday care around your appliances.
By now, you’ve likely heard about PreFix’s preventive maintenance program. We’ll come to your home twice a year to knock out dozens of tasks designed to keep your home’s appliances and systems functioning at their best. Even better, it’s free with membership. But in the months between those visits, you can do your part to extend the lives of your appliances with these quick tips.
1. Keep ‘em clean
In general, appliances operate best when they’re spick and span. This is especially true when it comes to the fridge, freezer, oven, and range.
Keep the inside of your refrigerator clean by wiping it down regularly with a damp cloth, removing old food, and not overstocking. To clean the freezer, unplug it, remove all food, and wipe down the inside with a baking soda solution. Use water to rinse, then dry the freezer with a towel before plugging it back in.
We suggest cleaning inside your oven often, as well, using the self-clean cycle, a foaming cleaner, or a homemade baking-soda solution. To degrease the stovetop, start by wiping it down with a damp cloth to loosen up the top layer of residue and then wash thoroughly with a soapy sponge to cut through the grease. Never let food debris stick around on burners, even if it requires a bit of elbow grease to remove. For tougher stains and greasy build-up, a solution of two parts baking soda and one part vinegar should do the trick.
A note of caution: Don’t spray any liquid around the knobs on an electric stove. Knobs lead to wires, and so a spritz could cause a short. Instead, spray a rag or paper towel and use that to wipe down the knobs.
2. Replace filters
When you hear the word filter, you probably imagining an air filter. While that’s high on the list of importance, some other appliances have filters you may not be as familiar with, like the refrigerator and dishwasher.
If the air filter is clogged with dust, dirt, and grime, your furnace and air conditioner have to work twice as hard to circulate air throughout your home. The system eventually strains, overheats, and burns out; in fact, clogged air filters are the one of the top causes of HVAC system failure. Beyond ensuring your unit’s longevity, regularly changing air filters ensures cleaner, fresher, healthier air in your home. Here are some numbers to help you determine how often to change your air filter:
- One occupant, no pets or allergies: every 6–12 months
- Suburban home without pets: every 90 days
- Suburban home with pets: every 60 days
If you have a water dispenser or an icemaker in your refrigerator, you’ll need a filter to remove small particles and contaminants, like lead and chlorine, and impurities that cause bad tastes or odors. The filter needs to be replaced regularly, usually twice per year.
Dishwashers are equipped with either an automatic filter that grinds food particles or a manual filter that you should clean. The grinders can be noisy, so newer, quieter dishwashers usually have manual filters. Those should be cleaned at least every three to six months, depending on how often you use your dishwasher.
3. Scrape off plates
By giving your dishes a quick rinse to get large pieces of food off the plate, you’ll be doing your dishwasher a huge favor. Something else to be cautious of is pre-washing too much. Yep, it’s possible to wash too much. The dishwasher can oversud when there’s an excess of soap with nothing to clean. Queue the leaky dishwasher.
Other ways to extend the life of your dishwasher are running hot water before starting the cycle, avoiding overloading the racks, and using powder detergent instead of gel — never, ever substitute dish soap.
4. Don’t overload your washing machine
When you pack your washer too full, clothes don’t have room to agitate. Detergent and water can’t pass between the items, making for a shoddy clean at best. Zippers and buttons may rub against and latch onto other garments, ripping holes and tears in your favorite outfits. Another peril of overloading? Orphan socks and lost underwear. We’ve all wondered where on earth they could’ve gone: If your machine is overloaded, small items can be forced down the drainage line.
As annoying as those things are, overloading can also damage your washer in the long run. When that mountain of laundry gets wet, the extra weight can damage the components and strain the motor to the point of shortening the life of the machine.
So how full is too full? If you’re packing the clothes in tight, that’s your first clue that you’re overloading. If your machine is banging around under the weight of all of your laundry, you’ve definitely gone overboard.
5. Improve your dryer’s efficiency
You’ve likely heard that the dryer’s lint screen needs to be cleaned regularly, but we’ll take this opportunity to stress its importance. Failing to do will allow your dryer vent to become clogged and force your dryer to work overtime (read: retire sooner), not to mention presenting a serious fire hazard.
A lesser-known component of most dryers is the moisture sensor designed to prevent the over-drying of clothes. If you use dryer sheets, chemical residue can wind up muffling the sensor, causing your dryer to work harder than it needs to.
Lastly, be aware of your dry time. Thirty-five minutes is typically plenty of time to dry your clothes, compared to the 60 minutes or more the dryer defaults to. Reducing dry time saves energy and decreases the strain put on your dryer, as well as on your clothes. If your dryer has an auto-dry setting, use it. Auto-dry uses only as much heat as necessary and will reduce energy consumption.
6. Seal the gaskets
The refrigerator’s gaskets (the plastic strip that forms a seal between the fridge and doors) help keep cool air inside the fridge, conserving energy. To help the gaskets stay elastic and form a better seal, periodically wipe them clean, removing all residue and coating them with a thin film of Vaseline.
Like the refrigerator, dirt, cracks, and other buildup on the gasket can cause your dishwasher to leak. Regularly cleaning the strip with soap and water can help to keep a watertight seal.
7. Get started with your PreFix membership
At some point, your appliances will begin to need regular maintenance for things best left to the experts. At PreFix, we’ll ensure all your filters are changed periodically, your dishwasher is leak free, your washer and dryer are working at maximum efficiency, and so much more.
Our twice-a-year preventive maintenance program includes the following tasks proven to maximize the lives of your appliances. We work hard to save you money on utility costs now and repairs down the line.
✓ Flush sediment from water heater
✓ Clean lint out of dryer duct and outtake
✓ Replace batteries in smoke and CO detectors
✓ Test smoke and CO detectors
✓ Provide and replace AC filters
✓ Provide and replace refrigerator water filter
✓ Inspect range burners and oven
✓ Clean AC condenser coils
✓ Clean faucet aerators, as needed
✓ Clean refrigerator condenser coils
✓ Disinfect AC condensate drain line
✓ Inspect all appliance lights, replace as needed
✓ Inspect all drains for proper flow
✓ Inspect and clean dishwasher drain filter
✓ Inspect exterior plumbing for proper insulation
✓ Inspect faucets and fixtures for leaks
✓ Inspect toilets and sinks for valve leaks
✓ Sanitize clothes washer with natural cleansing agent
✓ Sanitize dishwasher with natural cleansing agent
✓ Sanitize garbage disposal
When you’re ready to let PreFix protect your home with proven, proactive care, get started here.