It wasn’t so long ago that washers, dryers, dishwashers, and refrigerators were thought of as luxuries that few could afford.
As we all know, that this is no longer true today. These time saving devises have replaced the workhorse of yesterday and
are just as critical in the running of our daily lives. So it isn’t surprising that consumers will run out immediately to replace
one that died a sudden death. We may still balk at the prices, but the necessity far out weighs the cost. So we eventually
end up going home with a new appliance and hundreds of dollars poorer.
And no, they really aren’t built like they use to be. This is due to the fact that today’s appliances are made to be ‘affordable’ opposed to durability. In the 1950s a simple clothes dryer would cost around $230, which is equivalent to $1600 in today’s market. That would also explain why only 10 percent of the population owned one. Today that number is closer to 80
percent, with the cost running around $370.
Whether we like it or not, we just have to accept that our appliance will never hold up like those from the ‘good old days’.
Still there are simple steps you can take to help prolong the life of your appliances and improve their performance. As
an added bonus with proper maintenance you will improve their energy efficiency, saving you money.
Don’t overload the machine! An overloaded washer is more likely to get off balance, causing wear on the suspension of
the machine. This extra strain is hard on motors, belts and clutches. Although, many new models no longer have belts,
they still have clutches and drive couplings that can be affected by overloading.
Using too much soap in your loads can also cause problems. The use of too much soap can cause a build up of a residue
on the outer tub, which can shorten the life of pumps.
Clean the lint filter. People don’t realize how important it is to clean the filter after each load. The way a dryer evaporates
water from the clothes is by expelling moisture out through the vent, but first it goes through the lint filter. If the lint filter is restricted or partially restricted the exhaust is reduced significantly. This will greatly increase the drying time and add unnecessary wear on the machine. Keep in mind that an electric dryer uses 20 amps of electricity, which is equivalent to
a 2-ton air conditioner. It should be noted that many manufacturers suggest a periodical cleaning by a professional to
prevent fire hazards.
One of the most common repairs (and easily prevented) to refrigerators is replacing door gaskets. Sticky residue from
food or spilled drinks can cause gaskets to stick to the refrigerator cabinet, resulting in unwanted wear and tear on the
rubber gasket. A periodic cleaning with a warm wet cloth can help prevent this damage.
Cleaning the condenser several times a year will help prolong the life of your refrigerator. It can also save money on your energy bill. Some of the new lower-end refrigerators are equipt with a static condenser, which don’t require cleaning. As
for the rest of us, we still need to dig out the vacuum cleaner and give it a good cleaning. The coils of the condenser are located at the back on older models and underneath on newer models.
Use a rinsing agent in your dishwasher will help to extend its life and prevent lime buildup. You should periodically place
a small container filled with a cup of distilled white vinegar into the regular wash cycle. The dishwasher will disperse the vinegar and help dissolve mineral and soap residues.
Clean your burners and oven regularly. Any baked on food will increase energy usage and shorten the life of the heating element.
As with all products, consult the owners manual for proper cleaning of the appliance surfaces. Ironically, in our modern ‘throwaway’ society it’s a good bet that the appliance will look as great the date it died as when you bought it. If you are
curious about the average life expectancy, you can check out ‘Appliance Life Expectancy’ for a table of appliances. Still,
with a little effort we can strive to keep these work horses running as along as possible.