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Appliance Maintenance And Repair Tips

Appliance Repair R Us is a trusted source for your appliance concerns.

How to Care for Your Refrigerator
Every three months, vacuum the fan and condenser coils on the rear or bottom of the appliance using the brush attachment. Families with shedding pets should clean the coils monthly.
Every three months, clean the door gasket with warm soapy water and towel dry. Inspect the seal for snugness all the way around. Replace when loose, cracked, or torn.
Every six months, replace the unit’s water filter (when present) to ensure clean water and ice, and to prevent clogs and leaks.
Always keep food covered to prevent odors from migrating throughout the fridge and freezer. An open box of baking soda will absorb odor-causing acids for up to three months.
Always maintain an adequate amount of clearance on all sides of the appliance except for those that are zero-clearance or front-vented.
Every month, empty out the icemaker bucket and start fresh, as old cubes can absorb odors.
Every three months, verify that the appliance is level both front to back and side to side to ensure both proper door movement and ice maker operation.

How to Care for Your Washer & Dryer
Replace vinyl dryer exhaust ducts with metal ductwork to reduce fire hazards.
Before every dryer load, clean out the lint filter.
Every three months, wash the lint filter with detergent to remove invisible chemical residues that can restrict airflow.
Every month, visually inspect the dryer exhaust duct for crimps, obstructions, and unnecessary bends.
Yearly, remove and clean out the entire exhaust duct line from dryer to exterior.
Replace rubber washing machine hoses with braided-metal ones to reduce the risk of bursting.
Monthly, inspect washing machine hoses for tight fittings, bulges, cracks, and leaks. Tighten loose fittings. Replace damaged hoses.
Always ensure that the washing machine is level and on firm footing.
Always use the proper type and amount of detergent for the machine and load.
To prevent washing machine odor in front-load machines, always allow the interior to dry before shutting the door. Families with small children, however, should not leave the door ajar. Instead, use products specifically intended to eliminate odor-causing residues.

When to Replace Your Appliance
Check the owner’s manual and your records to see if the unit is still under warranty. If so, schedule a service call with an authorized technician. Warranties vary widely between manufacturers, appliances, even retailers. Most cover parts and labor for a specified time, followed by a period of just parts. If you purchased an extended warranty from the retailer, examine that document as well.
The closer an appliance is to the end of its average useful life, the wiser it is to replace rather than repair. Average Useful Life is the typical age at which an appliance needs to be replaced because it dies or proves too costly to repair. Given that most refrigerators last an average of 14 years, it may not be financially prudent to repair a 12-year-old model. Conversely, it might make sense to fix an 8-year-old built-in oven knowing that generally, it should last 16 years.
For appliances that are no longer under warranty but still in the prime of their useful life, consider the 50% rule. If the cost of the repair will be more than half the price of a comparable replacement, it’s generally wise to replace it, says Celia Kuperszmid Lehrman, deputy home editor at Consumer Reports magazine. The rationale? For the price of the repair and one future repair, you can enjoy a more reliable new machine. To help make your decision, get a repair estimate. Service calls come with a price whether or not the appliance gets fixed, so factor that into your decision. Angie’s List pegs the average cost of an appliance service call at $60 to $100, not counting the repair itself. Many service providers will deduct these charges if they’re hired to complete the repairs. If you decide to go ahead with the repair, expect additional service visits to complete the process.
Because labor accounts for more than half the cost of a typical repair, you can save big by tackling jobs yourself. Numerous online resources can help diagnose and fix common appliance ailments. Many of these same sites also maintain databases of owner’s manuals while connecting appliance owners with reputable parts suppliers. The downside? You risk causing additional damage to machines if you’re not the handy person you thought you were. Worse, there’s the danger of physical harm. And self-help repairs often nullify warranties.
Present-day appliances are so much more energy and water efficient than previous models that it can be fiscally wise to upgrade rather than repair. A modern refrigerator uses roughly half the electricity of its 20-year-old predecessor. New dishwashers get plates every bit as clean as older machines while using a fraction of the water and energy. But replacing an aging appliance with a new highly efficient one still requires some evaluation. If you intend to stay in your home for another 10 to 15 years, it may be worthwhile to upgrade to the latest efficient model. If you’re planning a move soon, it may be smarter to repair it and pass it on to the next homeowner.
There’s more to the cost of replacing an appliance than the price of the new machine. If you have built-in cook-tops and refrigerators, you may face costly modifications to countertops and cabinetry when you replace. Even so-called standard-size machines may not fit into the same space as your previous model as standards continue to evolve. Or the placement of water connections and power outlets may differ. And switching from an electric range to gas can involve a costly visit from the plumber or utility company. Likewise, upgrading from an older gas range to a newer one with electronic features may require the installation of a new wall outlet. Although these guidelines can help you make an orderly fiscal decision, you may find that your enjoyment of a new unit—perhaps your dream appliance is on sale—simply trumps everything else.

 

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