We all have that fear. Your washing machine breaks in the middle of a cycle, flooding your laundry room. Your refrigerator shuts down after you just restocked with groceries. Or your oven stops working just before a large holiday meal. What many people don't realize is that these and other major appliance malfunctions can be avoided with just a little TLC.
I'm not talking about the kind of TLC that requires a professional handyman and a hefty bill. Rather, there are simple appliance maintenance tasks that you can do on your own, with little investment (time or money) and no prior experience. Here are 10 easy DIY appliance maintenance tips that you can do on your own in 10 minutes:
Photo by Flickr user thekitchendesigner.org.
1. Verify your oven door has a tight seal. Without a proper seal, your oven can lose more than 20 percent of its heat. The result is that food takes longer to cook or cooks unevenly. To check the seal's condition, open the oven door and locate the rubber or fiberglass gasket around the perimeter of the door. Feel for any broken, torn, or deformed areas, and close the door to see if you can find any leaks. If you do, replace the seal.
2. Clean or replace dirty range hood or downdraft vent filters. Wash metal-mesh grease filters by hand in soapy water, or run them through the dishwasher. Charcoal or paper filters should not be washed. Replace them instead.
3. Clean stovetop drip bowls. Remove drip bowls from underneath your burner elements and presoak them in a cleaning solution for five minutes. Then hand wash and replace. Remember to clean drip bowls immediately after spills. If spills burn into the bowls, you might need to replace them.
4. Clean coils in your refrigerator. Dirt, dust, and pet hair can clog up refrigerator coils, restricting air flow and causing the refrigerator to work harder to keep cool. Once or twice a year, use a handheld vacuum to clean the coils and suck up any loose particles. The location of refrigerator coils varies by model, but most can be found either behind the kick plate (the front panel near the floor) or at the rear of the fridge.
5. Change your refrigerator water filter. Filters that don't efficiently remove contaminants and impurities could expose you to harmful water. Instructions for changing the filter vary by model, but most are as easy as turning the filter a quarter inch and popping it out or locking it in place. Perform this simple task every three to six months, depending on water usage.
6. Fix rusty dish rack tines. Rust on the tines of your dishwasher racks can adhere to and ruin your dishes and silverware. To solve this issue, purchase a tine repair kit, and use a sealant to adhere the replacement tips over any rusty or chipped tines. Let dry for at least 24 hours before running the dishwasher.
7. Clean and deodorize your garbage disposal. Turn the disposal off and look down the drain for any large, stuck items. Use tongs or another tool--not your hands--to remove blockages. Pour a mixture of ice cubes and salt, or vinegar down the drain. Run cold water over it for 10 seconds, and turn on the unit. To remove odors, place a handful of citrus peels in the disposal, run cold water, and turn it on.
8. Clean your dryer exhaust. Lint in the dryer exhaust not only reduces appliance efficiency, it is a fire hazard. To clean, loosen the clamp and pull the exhaust off the back of the dryer. Remove large clumps of lint from the tubing and the hole in the back with your hands, or if you can't reach, gently scrape with a straightened coat hanger. Vacuum and reattach.
9. Inspect washing machine hoses. Most washing machine floods are caused by leaks in the hose. Check the hoses that connect to the back panel on your washing machine for any cracks, leaks, or weak spots on the hoses. If you find any deformities, replace the hose. And at minimum, replace the hoses every five years.
10. Clean your air conditioner filter. Clogged or dirty filters restrict air flow, reducing energy efficiency as well as the appliance's lifespan. As a result, filters should be cleaned every two to four weeks. To clean the filter, remove the front panel of the unit. If a reusable filter is in place, vacuum it to remove as much dirt as possible. Disposable filters can simply be replaced.
In a recent survey conducted by PartSelect.com, 42.5 percent of respondents indicated that lack of skill and know-how would be the greatest obstacle to a DIY repair. And half of respondents thought repairing a broken appliance would be either somewhat difficult and time consuming or very difficult and time consuming. But I'm here to tell you they don't have to be. Follow these quick and easy repair tips to keep your appliances running like new.