Guide to Maintaining Your Appliances During the Summer Months

Your appliances are designed to work and work hard. Year after year, they kept you cool, warm, or just make your day easier. But as the temperatures rise, your appliances have to work harder to keep funtioning at their capacity and keep you from seeing red. When they do have problems, we seem lost as to what to do. And, according to Murphy’s Law, it always seems to be the ones that you need and take for granted the most-the air conditioner and the refrigerator! So to make certain that you don’t have to memorize the phone number of your local handy man or appliance repair shop, here are a few tips to save you this aggravation during the summer months.

REFRIGERATOR/FREEZER: Be certain to keep your refrigerator at 40 degrees F and the freezer at 5 degrees F, which is what most manufacturers advise. Make certain that the motor; coils and vents are free from dust. You can use a vacuum or brush to clean the coils. This helps the motor cool more easily. Also check and lubricate the gaskets periodically. A full refrigerator/freezer is more efficient than a near empty one. If your freezer is empty, either turn it off or fill it will plastic jugs filled with water (with lids preferably), to take up space. The air spaces behind and under the refrigerator need enough room to allow hot air to escape from the compressor and coils and permit good circulation. Check and replace all seals and gaskets for wear and cracks.

DRYER: If your dryer is located inside your house, make certain that it is vented to the outside to reduce the workload on your air conditioner. Clean out the dryer exhaust duct, damper, and space under the dryer.

WASHER: Make certain rusting is not occurring around the inner edges of the tub. This could be a sign of leakage. Also make certain that your return hose is securely placed or else water may be leaking down and under your washer causing rusting problems. Check electrical cords to make certain that there is no fraying. Loose wiring and water don’t mix!

AC/HEATING: These really should be replaced monthly but replacing the filters in your furnace will make it run more efficiently. Dirty filters cause your system to work harder and therefore increasing costs and possibly can cause fires.

CEILING FANS: Although this seems like a minor purchase to replace, who wants to spend their weekend shopping around? Make certain that the blades are cleaned regularly and that the fan motor is lubricated, especially older ones. It is also a good idea to check the base of the fan to make certain that it is secure and in balance.

AIR CONDITIONER: This is something that needs to be checked yearly (or pay the consequences of replacing a very expensive ‘appliance’) and you most likely will need an air conditioner specialist to inspect your system. It may cost some now but it’s worth what it will cost in the long run. Here are some items that need to be checked:

Have the evaporator coil cleaned

Fans and motors lubricated

Belts either changed or checked for tightening

Have the electrical safeties and capacitors, checked.

Check drain pans for leaks

Check the condensation drain

Test the crankcase heater

Check the calibration of the thermostat

Have the wiring visually checked for potential short circuits

WATER HEATER: If your heater is gas, check the venting. Light a match next to the vent and wave it out (don’t blow it out). See if the smoke is pulled up into the vent. If it isn’t, have a professional inspect and repair it. Otherwise, carbon monoxide and other combustibles can build up in the home. Check around the base of your water heater for evidence of leaks. If your water heater is over 5 years old, it should be checked monthly for any leakage or rusting at the bottom. If water leakage or rust is found, the water heater should be replaced. This rule also applies to the top of the water heater. Older units can leak and rust on top before they do on the bottom. Also, check the floor around your water heater for water damage.

DISHWASHER: Rusting is an issue with appliances at any time of year but during the summer especially with your dishwasher being used more frequently (kids at home; parities, etc.) so be certain that it is running well. Check around the door and inside around the spray arm. Also check insulation around the door. If this is worn, you might have leakage therefore causing water damage to either your cabinetry or floor (if it’s a mobile unit).

GARBAGE DISPOSALS: To make certain that the next clogs that your disposal gets is not its last, there are a few things that you can do to maintain it for further used. The blades in a disposal can become dull. The story that feeding your disposal glass or chicken bones to sharpen it, is just that…a rather wild story. The only safe material to put into your disposal to sharpen the blades is ice. There are also items to avoid placing into a disposal in order to prevent future problems and they are: stringy vegetables, cornhusks, grease, fat from animal meat and eggshells. If you have poured greased down your drain, flush it out with running hot (not warm) water.

If you maintain your appliances at least twice a year (summer and before winter), they will most likely live a long healthy life. And you won’t be spending a miserably hot weekend in your local appliance store rather than at the local pool!

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