Simple Tips to Avoid Appliance Repair

Fred's Appliance
April 1, 2013

Sometimes the two most dreaded words in the English language are appliance repair. It can be costly but there are some common things you can do to keep from having to call the repair man. First, read your owner’s manuals for all your appliances. Seems simple enough, right? But a lot of people don’t bother to do this. Secondly, read this list of some upkeep tips that will save you some money. In fact, we’ll tell you approximately how much money you can save if you follow these tips. If you don’t follow them, then your repair man will thank you!

Clean refrigerator coils and gaskets. Every six months, you should vacuum the coils on the back or underside of the refrigerator. If dust builds up, it not only wastes energy but decreases air flow which can cause the condenser fan and compressor to run hotter and longer. Be sure to keep that door gasket free of sticky food such as syrup or honey. Sticky food will glue the gasket to the frame and the harder you pull on the door, eventually, the gasket will tear which will cause the door to not seal properly. Clean the door gasket with a sponge and warm water, no detergents though, because it’ll ruin the gasket. To replace a condenser fan can cost $150-$250, a compressor can cost $500-$600 and a gasket could cost $150 – $300. Or you could just buy a new refrigerator—either  way it’ll cost you money. That’s quite the motivator to keep that refrigerator running properly!

Don’t overload your washer and dryer. This means no standing on the washer and ramming the clothes in with your feet. Pay attention to those weight limits for the washer and dryer; they’re there for a good reason. If you overload a front-loading washer or dryer, you might as well buy a new machine because it’s very expensive to replace a burnt out motor or rear bearing. A dryer not only takes more time to dry the clothes if it’s overloaded but it will wear out the drum support rollers and drive belts, a  replacement cost of $250. Overloading a top-loading washer will make small items like socks float over the basket and get caught up in the pump and destroy it costing you about $150-$250. You can also burn out the drive belt or break the drive coupler, a bill of $150-$250.  So read that owner’s manual to find out the weight limits—normally it’s 6-15 pounds for top-loading washers and 18 pounds for front-loading washers.

Don’t block air vents. The refrigerator and freezer need air flow to work properly and keep the food cool. So think twice before shoving those bulk-sized packs of meat or other frozen food from a club warehouse into your freezer. If you block vents, it will lead to cooling problems in the refrigerator and the compressor and condenser fans will run longer than they need to and will result in failure way before their time. If that happens, you’d be better off to buy a new refrigerator!

Don’t slam the lid/door. Yes, accidents happen with the occasional slip of the hand and the lid slams down on your washer. But we’re talking about those people that are always slamming the lid/door to their washer or dryer and they always have an excuse: I’m in a hurry, my arms are full. If you continue dropping or slamming the lid or door, you’re just going to end up breaking either the lid or door switch. This applies to both top- and front-loading washers. Take the few seconds it takes to gently close the lid to your washer or the door to your dryer. It will save you $175-$250.

Clean the lint filter. It’s important to make sure you clean the lint from the filter after every dryer use otherwise you could have more problems than your clothes taking longer to dry. A clogged lint filter blocks the air flow and when the lint can’t go into the filter, it will collect in the dryer’s vent line and will obstruct air flow even more. If this blockage continues, the dryer will overheat and the thermal fuse will burn out. Your dryer will still start, but it won’t dry your clothes. To replace the thermal fuse and clean out the vent line will cost $200 and you may even get a fun little speech on the art of cleaning out your lint filter. A note to those who use dryer sheets: every six months, make sure to wash the filter with detergent and rinse very well. The dryer sheets leave an invisible film on the filter that also blocks air flow.

Don’t spray switches. Spraying cleaners onto your stove is a bad idea. The liquid can get behind the knobs and into the touch-control panels and burn them out. To avoid shorting, spray the cleaner on a sponge, paper towel or rag and then clean the touch-control panels and knobs. A shorted-out stove igniter switch will cost about $180-$300; a control panel will easily go for around $280-$500.

Don’t drag clothes out of the washer. If you have a front-loading washer, it’s very convenient to take clothes out the lazy-man’s way, by dragging them over the door. But by doing that you could cause damage; buttons, snaps and zippers can eventually tear up the rubber door gasket. This repair demands a lot of disassembly and will cost roughly $250-$350. So it may not be easier to lift out those heavy, wet clothes, but it’ll be cheaper!

Clean your dishwasher screen. If you don’t clean your dishwasher filter screen, little food bits that are stuck on it will break down into a nasty slime and limit cleaning functionality as well as water flow. You’ll be parting with at least $125-$200 for a repair man to come clean your dishwasher. Also, if you use too much soap, it will build up in your whole dishwasher and cut down on water flow which will ensure another cleaning visit from your friendly repair man. You only need to use no more than a teaspoon of soap for most dish loads. To get rid of soap build-up, try something like Dishwasher Magic which is available in home centers such as Lowes or your local hardware store.

If you have followed all these tips and you’re still having problems, please contact us and we’ll be glad to help!

NOTE:  Pricing listed above are strictly ballpark estimates for reference purposes only.  There are many different variables such as your particular model along with parts costs that fluctuate.

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