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Major kitchen and laundry appliances are among the most reliable products in a new home. As professional builders, we select appliances to provide the best balance of performance, energy efficiency and budget to ensure the maximum satisfaction for our new home buyers.
But the performance and durability of these items doesn’t happen by accident. It’s true that appliances are built better these days but they are also more complex. Periodic care and maintenance by homeowners is essential to keep them in optimum working order. Lack of cleaning or care can force an appliance to work harder than it needs to, straining its motor and other moving parts and, in turn, shortening its usable life. Major repairs and replacement costs can be expensive so routine preventive maintenance is worth a small effort.
Appliance manufacturers do a good job of providing maintenance tips for homeowners, as do warranty service providers for each appliance or brand. We make sure to supply those manuals to our buyers when they move in to a new house and add our recommendation that they follow the tips provided.
Even so, here are a few basic appliance care tips that have a positive impact on the durability and performance of these products:
Dishwasher. Give dishes at least a light scrub and rinse before loading them. That eases the strain on the dishwasher’s built-in system that breaks down and disposes of food particles. Dishwashers also benefit from a routine interior wash with special scale-reducing solutions to help keep the parts working properly. The dishwasher drain should be cleaned out at least twice a year.
From time to time, inspect the door seal and keep it clean. Soil, food and soap build-up on the seal can cause deterioration or mold. Replace a loose or broken seal to avoid leaks.
Refrigerator and Freezer. At least twice a year, vacuum the front grill and the radiator coil on back of the refrigerator and freezer (if you have two separate or multiple units), to help ensure proper air circulation and optimum efficiency. Don’t forget to empty and clean the drip trays located underneath the appliance.
As with the dishwasher, inspect and clean the perimeter door seal and replace any loose or moldy seals. Good seals help the appliance maintain the temperature settings with less stress to the motor.
Defrost and clean the freezer regularly, as ice build-up will block proper airflow and lower the appliance’s efficiency. To maintain an even energy use and extend motor life, keep temperatures constant and within the recommended range.
A stand-alone freezer, that might be put in a garage or on a covered porch, should be located away from direct sunlight or heat sources so that the appliance does not work harder or less efficiently than it has to. Ideally, find a cool, level and dry spot with adequate clearance at the back for good air circulation.
Laundry Equipment. Today’s increasingly popular (and more energy-efficient) front-load washers require more care than their predecessors to prevent the build-up of mold, which can cause myriad problems. To reduce that possibility, leave the door open once all of the laundry is done and wipe down the rubber gasket.
Manufacturers note that we consumers have a tendency to overload both washers and dryers. Each brand of appliance has its practical capacity, but overloading puts a strain on the belt that turns the drum. The extra strain can accelerate wear and lead to repair or replacement costs. Overloading also leads to higher energy consumption and less effective cleaning.
To maintain the dryer, disconnect the dryer duct and vacuum the duct, the areas surrounding the dryer and the dryer’s vent hood outside the house. Restricted air flow can tax the motor. If the lint filter and the areas around it are clean, the dryer will operate more efficiently and safely.
Our best advice? Review the manuals for your major appliances. But if you don’t know where they are or if you’re short of time right now, don’t wait: Follow these few maintenance tips for a longer and happier life with your appliances!
Todd Allen Miller, AIA
QMA Design+Build, LLC
5000 Boardwalk, Suite 2
Ventnor, NJ 08406
NJ New Home Builder License #037561
NJ Home Improvement Contractor #13VH01107300
(609) 822-4949 – phone
(609) 822-4429 – fax
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