How to Make Home Appliances Last Longer

Dishwashers, washing machines, and other pricey appliances can last up to twice as long with these tips.

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During hard economic times, most of us want to get the most use out of items we already own. Naturally, this applies to appliances as well. With a little time and elbow grease, you can keep your appliances running in top form for years. This, in turn, helps you save money and prevents you from buying large appliances months or years before you need to.

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So what should you be doing to make your appliances last? Let's take a look.

1. Washing Machines

First, always make sure you check the pockets of your clothing as coins and other objects can, over time, damage or even break the drum in your washing machine. Even if these objects don't make the drum stop working, a damaged drum can rip or wear out your clothing much faster than normal. Even though it might seem like you're saving water, or saving yourself the effort of doing an extra load, never overload your washing machine. This puts a strain on the motor, which will cause it to wear out faster.

When was the last time you checked your washing machine's fill hoses? These are the hoses that fill your washing machine with water. They're commonly made with rubber (rather than plastic or metal). As rubber ages, it begins to degrade and crack. If the pipes burst in the middle of a load and you're not there to shut it off, the cleanup bill could top $10,000. It's not worth taking chances here. If your washing machine's fill hoses are getting old, be sure to replace them.

2. Dryers

It's important to vacuum your dryer and the inside of the ventilation hoses on a regular basis. Lint builds up and clogs filters and hoses. When this happens, your dryer has to work harder and takes longer to dry loads. Over time, this wears out the engine faster as well. It's also just as important to regularly check the dryer vent. This vent is designed to stay closed until the dryer comes on. However, the vent often gets clogged with lint. If it gets stuck closed, your dryer will have to work extra hard to expel the moist air. If it gets stuck open, your house is going to lose cold or hot air, depending on the season, and you'll waste your efforts to save energy at home and make your home more energy efficient.

3. Refrigerators

Your refrigerator has one mechanical part that's fairly easy to access. This part is the condenser coil, located at the back of the fridge. Over time, dust and dirt build up on these coils. This buildup, in turn, impairs the coils' ability to keep your fridge working efficiently. In other words, you need to clean the coils regularly, which will help keep your energy bills low. After all, your refrigerator runs 24/7, so it's important that it's as effecient as possible. To clean the condenser coil, simply unplug your refrigerator and pull it out. Then, vacuum the coils located at the outer, backside wall. If you haven't done this in a while, you might be surprised at how dusty they are!

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4. Dishwashers

It might seem redundant to clean your dishwasher, but it's essential. Open up the dishwasher and look at the top of the door; this is the area that seals up underneath your kitchen's countertop. Over time, this gets gunky. If you don't clean it regularly, this will eventually impact how well the door is sealing in water and heat. If it starts to leak, you'll have an expensive mess on your hands. It's also important to regularly check your dishwasher's spray arm. Sometimes food can get stuck in the nozzles or build-up from tapwater can clog them. If your dishes aren't getting as clean as they used to, check the spray arm first. You might just need to clean the little jets out.

Final Thoughts

It always pays to do preventative upkeep, like regularly cleaning your appliances. You use these machines often, and they need care just like your car and your home. Also, keep in mind that if an appliances does stop working, you might be able to fix it yourself. The Internet can be a wonderful resource for diagnosing a problem. And sometimes, like cleaning the jets on your dishwasher's spray arm, the fix is easy to do on your own and can save you the expense of having a professional look at it. Do you have other tips or tricks to keeping appliances in top working order?

Heather Levin resides in Michigan and is passionate about all thing green living and frugality. She shares her best tips and ideas around these topics on Money Crashers, a personal finance resource website that provides guidance on how to choose a credit card, make a budget, and save for retirement.