Make Your Big Appliances Last

Kitchen and laundry appliances are real workhorses, making cooking and cleaning quick, easy and convenient. With just a little pampering now and then, you can keep these machines running smoothly and safely longer. That helps save you money and helps reduce the risk of damage to your home.

Nearly 10,000 residential appliance fires break out each year, causing more than $200 million in property damage, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. With any appliance, if you notice frayed wires, overheating, unusual smells, tripped circuit breakers, sparks or sputters, immediately turn off the appliance and call a service contractor. Contact the manufacturer, as well.

Problems with clothes washers, dishwashers and refrigerators with icemakers and/or water dispensers can lead to water damage. Check for signs of leaks around these appliances and don’t ignore small leaks that can lead to floods later.

Here are some simple maintenance steps that will help keep your big appliances running safely and efficiently:

  • Refrigerators: Vacuum dust from the coils behind and underneath your refrigerator to allow proper airflow. If the unit has an icemaker, check the water-supply tube for leaks.
  • Gas ranges: Remove the cooktop grills, burners, and drip pans and wash them in soapy water to improve performance and reduce the risk of fire.
  • Electric ranges: Clean cooking surfaces to prevent grease buildup. Keep flammable materials, such as towels and potholders, away from the cooktop and oven elements.
  • Washers: Replace dry, cracked or brittle hoses before they leak. Clean the tub by running the washer empty for a full cycle at a high temperature setting, using two cups of vinegar or lemon juice instead of detergent.
  • Dryers: A dirty lint filter can cause the dryer to overheat and start a fire. Clean the filter after every load and periodically clean out any lint trapped behind the dryer. Have the interior and venting system occasionally cleaned by a service professional.
  • Dishwashers: Use a soft brush to clean the gaskets around the door and frame to prevent food debris from weakening the seal and causing a leak.
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