Healthy Appliance Tip #1: For best dryer performance and to prevent possible fire, inspect outside vent weekly for lint obstruction and good air flow.
Healthy Appliance Tip #2: For best dishwasher performance, run water at the kitchen sink until hot just before starting your dishwasher. It’s also best to use soft water for improved washability as well as increasing the life of your appliance.
Healthy Appliance Tip #3: Using a small nylon mesh laundry bag for small articles, such as childrens socks, etc can prevent such items from entering your wash pump and causing damage. Always carefully check pockets and remove all items before washing such as keys, hair pins, safety pins, coins etc.
Healthy Appliance Tip #4: Using too much fabric softener can cause a build up over time that can actually affect your dryer’s performance. If using liquid fabric softener in the washer, use a very small amount, diluted. If your choice is a dryer sheet, appliance manufacturers now recommend cutting the dryer sheet in half. Not only will your dryer be happier, you’ll save money, too.
Healthy Appliance Tip #5: Adding a product called
Is it just me or does it seem that appliances don’t last as long as they’re supposed to?
Our dryer died after 11 years (two years before a typical dryer’s lifespan is up), and we repaired our refrigerator three times before it reached its 12th birthday (it’s supposed to live for 13 years).
Full disclosure: I wouldn’t give myself an A in appliance care. But in the future, I vow to keep up on regular maintenance that’ll keep my new dryer running longer than my last one.
Rob Carpenter, owner of a Mr. Handyman franchise in Maryland, shares some insider tips about how to extend the life of home appliances.
Refrigerators That Last
Refrigerators break down when doors don’t close tightly, forcing motors to work overtime to keep food cold. To test your door seal, close the door on a dollar bill: If the bill slips, you’ve got a problem that requires refrigerator maintenance.
Magnetic strips embedded in gaskets around refrigerator doors make doors close snugly, but they routinely wear out and should be replaced or re-magnetized every couple of years. If you’re handy, re-magnetizing is a DIY job
Before You Begin Your Shopping Trip
Think of it this way: Unlike a rug, lamp, or hat, you can’t take it back—or at least not easily. That’s why it’s called a major appliance. Here are 13 ways to avoid major buyer’s remorse.
Learn From Others’ Mistakes
I know one sadder-but-wiser home cook who won’t shut up about her pricey gas range making an annoying click click click…click click click… when the burners are set on low. Well, others suffer so you won’t have to. Your friends will be all too willing to share their appliance-related delights and bitter disappointments. Invite yourself over to kick the tires of their new front-load washer, induction cooktop, or stainless-steel microwave. Ask if which features please them most, how often they’ve had to call for repairs, and what they’d do differently if they could do it again.
Never Make an Impulse Buy
Admit it—you almost bought a car once because it had really great cup holders. You can avoid similar behavior in an appliance showroom by making a list of your priority features (“energy efficient,” “lifetime warranty”). Staple it to a list of competing showrooms and Web retailers so you
1. Does more expensive really mean better?
In general, yes. I found that more expensive dishwashers had better settings and service plans, and luxury-brand ranges had higher BTUs and a wider range of flame settings.
But there was one appliance that stymied me: the oven. During the renovation process, we stayed in two rental homes. One had a high-end oven that lost so much heat that it turned the kitchen into a sauna. The other had a midrange oven that functioned perfectly.
The secret: the door. While it’s true that fancy convection settings will go a long way toward cooking your food properly, nothing impacts the cooking process more than the heat itself
So when shopping for an oven, spend extra time in the showroom opening and closing the oven doors. Look at how they seal and ask the salesperson about the differences between seals and springs.
When in doubt, you’re likely to be happier with a less expensive oven with a proper door than with one that has a lot of bells and whistles but a mediocre seal.
2. What’s a good guideline for BTUs?
This is another case where more is not necessarily better. Unlike restaurant chefs, who require a lot of power on every
One of the first signs that your refrigerator is wearing down is when you can hear it running, especially if you hear loud rumbling sounds. Excess condensation or puddles in the fridge may indicate a sealing problem, a blocked drain tube, or a problem with temperature maintenance. Condensation or puddles under the fridge may point to a leak. If your refrigerator won’t cool, any number of problems could be causing the issue.
One of the clearest signs that your dishwasher needs repair is if it’s not cleaning your dishes properly. If you always have to rewash or hand wash dishes after they’ve gone through the dishwasher, it needs to be repaired. Another sign is that it’s not using hot enough water to sanitize the dishes. If your dishes aren’t piping hot immediately after the wash cycle has ended, it’s not doing its job. A poor dishwasher seal could lead to a kitchen flood, and pooling water at the bottom means that it is not draining properly and could rust.
WASHING MACHINE REPAIR AND CLOTHES DRYER
A washer that shakes a lot could need repair. Unusual sounds from the washer usually indicate a strained motor due to overloading or improperly
A well-organized refrigerator keeps food fresh longer and lets you grab and go faster. Before you unpack groceries, spend a second thinking about the right place for everything.
Here are common sense ways to declutter and organize your fridge:
1. The front of the middle rack, near eye-level, is prime refrigerator real estate. Put priority items there, like leftovers you want eaten soon and healthy snacks. The back of the fridge is the coldest part. Store milk there, and it will stay fresh longer.
2. Don’t waste fridge space on food that doesn’t need to be chilled. Examples: fresh eggs from backyard chickens (though store-bought eggs do need refrigerating), ketchup, vinegar, jam, mayonnaise, and butter. Put those items in the pantry. You can store fresh eggs in a bowl on the counter for eight weeks.
3. Never put tomatoes in fridge, or they’ll get mushy; onions will soften; honey will thicken; potatoes will turn too starchy. Keep onions and potatoes in separate paper bags and store in a cool, dark place (a lower cabinet drawer is great).
4. Rectangular or square bins are your friends (round ones waste space, so don’t use them). Designate one for healthy snacks and another for breakfast foods like bagels
First Things First: Gas or Electric?
If you don’t have a gas supply to your house, the answer is easy. But if you can go with either gas or electric, budget and cooking preferences play a significant role in deciding. Also, some people prefer electric ranges because of safety issues — there’s no chance of a gas leak. Here’s food for thought:
Popularity: Electric smooth-top ranges are the best sellers because of price and performance. They account for more than 60% of all ranges sold.
Budget: Electric ranges are typically less expensive than their gas counterparts. However, gas ranges are usually cheaper to operate, depending on whether your natural gas rates are lower than your electricity costs.
Cooking preferences: Listen to your inner chef. Many cooks prefer gas ranges because the burner flame works as a visual temperature gauge and can heat things up quickly. Most bakers prefer electric ovens because of the consistent and even heat they generate.
Here’s a surprising fact: There are no federal energy regulations for consumer ranges, so you won’t find a model that’s Energy Star certified.
Types of Ranges and Costs
There are three standard freestanding range types: electric, gas, and dual-fuel (a gas stovetop with an electric-powered
A functional kitchen can include old appliances, but this does not mean that they make for the most enjoyable experience in the kitchen. For families that love to cook and eat together, the kitchen naturally becomes one of the most important room in the entire house. While the living room might be the traditional place to spend time with family and friends, it is not impossible for this to be the kitchen.
Following a few kitchen remodeling tips on installing new appliances can help you turn your old and outdated kitchen into one that provides you with modern features and an incredible experience.
Modern refrigerators range from models that meet your basic needs to ones that have a Wi-Fi connection and can tell you the weather for the day. Also, as refrigerators take advantage of new technology, they become more capable of storing food in an ideal manner to prolong freshness, which is ideal for leftovers.
Analyzing your wants, needs, and budget before investing in a new refrigerator will ensure that you are able to find a model that comes with all of the features that make your family happy.
Hand washing dishes is inevitable, mainly because you are bound to have dishes that
Tip 1: Barbecue only outside
Firing it up in your home, trailer, tent, or any partially enclosed area is dangerous. If the carbon monoxide doesn’t kill you, your neighbors might, especially if you set off your building’s sprinkler system by grilling on your covered balcony.
Tip 2: Grills heat up to 650 degrees or higher
Always place your grill or hibachi on a non-flammable surface. For additional protection, place a heat-resistant pad or splatter mat beneath the cooker. And FYI, plastic has an average melting point of 150 degrees.
Tip 3: Protect your home and family
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, you should barbecue at least 10 feet away from your house or any structure. Children and pets should stay at least 3 feet away from the grilling area. Just in case you need a little convincing, this visual should drive the point home.
Tip 4: Lighter fluid can be dangerous
Before starting a fire, soak coals with an accelerant made for charcoal. Never use lighter fluid on hot briquettes. Doing so causes the fluid to vaporize and become explosive. The result could be a charbroiled yard and home.
Tip 5: Proper grilling attire
Take a cue from this grill master: Don’t wear loose or baggy clothing
We all love the look of stainless steel refrigerators—until they’re plastered with greasy, grimy fingerprints. Inside, the problem is less about shine than it is about fragrance, namely foul food odors that linger long after the food is gone. And then there are the sticky shelves. Fortunately, you can green clean your refrigerator safely and effectively using environmentally safe cleaning products you make yourself.
Green clean your refrigerator’s exterior
Commercial surface cleaners can run upwards of $10 a bottle, especially those designed specifically for stainless steel appliances. Commercially sold green cleaners are no cheaper. Try this solution instead: Add a few drops of a natural dishwashing liquid such as Mrs. Meyer’s ($4.50 for 16 ounces) or Method ($4 for 25 ounces) to warm water. Use the solution to wipe away refrigerator fingerprints, remembering to follow the steel’s natural grain.
Green clean your refrigerator’s inside
To green clean the interior of your refrigerator, whip up a batch of non-toxic solution by combining equal parts vinegar and tap water. To boost the solution’s cleaning power, warm it in a glass bowl in the microwave. At $4 for a 64-ounce jug of food-grade vinegar, you can mix up big batches for just pennies. In contrast, commercial green
Spending less money on utility bills doesn’t mean you need to rush out and purchase a whole new suite of Energy Star appliances. With occasional light maintenance and good habits, you can greatly improve the energy efficiency of your large kitchen appliances — up to about $120 annually — without sacrificing convenience.
Energy-efficiency experts tell us to focus our efforts on the biggest energy hogs in the house, and that definitely includes the fridge. Because it cycles on and off all day, every day, the refrigerator consumes more electricity than nearly every appliance in the home save for the HVAC systems. The average refrigerator costs about $90 per year to operate, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
1. Adjust the thermostat. By setting the thermostat colder than it needs to be, you might increase your fridge’s energy consumption by as much as 25% on average. Adjust the refrigerator so that it stays in the 37-40 degrees F range. For the freezer, shoot for between 0-5 degrees F. You could save up to $22 per year. If your model doesn’t display the current temps, invest in two appliance thermometers (one for the fridge, one for the freezer).
2. Clean the coils. As dust
Get the Most From Your Washer
Ninety-percent of the cost of running a washer goes to heating water. Only 10% goes to electricity needed to run the motor. Here’s how to save money while getting your clothes clean.
1. Use cold water. You can save a bundle by washing your clothes in cold water, which is a perfectly efficient way to clean most clothes. Washing a load in cold water costs only about 4 cents, compared to washing in hot/warm water for 68 cents. Annually, you’ll save $40 with an electric water heater and $30 with a gas water heater.
2. Run full loads. It takes as much electricity to wash a small load as it does a full one, so you’ll save money by only washing full loads.
3. Update your machine. If you don’t already have an Energy Star-certified washer, it’s time to get one. These energy-efficient machines use 15 gallons of water per load, compared to 23 gallons for a standard machine. If a gallon of water costs you a penny (the U.S. average), you’ll save $24 a year.
4. Buy a front-loading machine. They use two-thirds less water than top-loaders, reducing water and heating costs.
Get the Most From Your Dryer
At least a quarter of all appliance repair calls are resolved with no-brainer solutions like pushing a button or flipping a circuit breaker. Learn what to look for and how to avoid these expensive lessons.
Look for a reset button
If your disposer won’t start, push the reset button and give it a spin.
Turn the blades to loosen a jam
Don’t put tea bags or too many potato peels all at once into your disposer. That’s a sure way to clog it.
All disposers have an overload feature that automatically shuts off the power when the motor becomes overloaded and gets too hot. Once the motor cools, simply push the reset button on the side of or under the unit.
On the other hand, if it hums but doesn’t spin, it may have something stuck in it. Switch the disposer off, then try working through it by turning the blades with a special disposer wrench (sold at home centers) or by turning a bottom bolt. Many disposers have an Allen wrench for that purpose, inset on the bottom of the machine.
Hit the reset button
If the circuit breaker hasn’t tripped, look for a GFCI.
When a light goes out or a switch doesn’t work, you should first
Many people think of cleaning as a chore, but periodic maintenance of your household appliances can potentially save you from a list of repairs. Regular upkeep, such as replacing worn appliance parts, will improve the appliance’s efficiency while also keeping more money in your wallet. Take 10 minutes out of your schedule to try one of these 10 quick and easy maintenance tips.
Verify Oven Door Has Tight Seal:
Over 20% of your oven’s heat can escape if the door is not sealed properly.
Open the oven door and locate the rubber gasket around the perimeter of the door.
Feel for any broken, torn or deformed areas on your seal. Close the door and see if you can find any leaks.
Replace the gasket if necessary.
Clean or Replace Dirty Vent Filters:
Metal-mesh grease filters can be washed by hand in soapy water or you can put them in your dishwasher for a thorough cleaning.
Don’t attempt to wash charcoal or paper filters; they need to be replaced.
Clean Stovetop Drip Bowls:
Remove drip bowls from underneath your burner elements.
Presoak the drip bowls in a cleaning solution for 5 minutes. Then wash, clean and replace.
Remember to clean drip bowls immediately after
Determining how much electricity your appliances and home electronics use can help you understand how much money you are spending to use them. Use the information below to estimate how much electricity an appliance is using and how much the electricity costs so you can decide whether to invest in a more energy-efficient appliance.
There are several ways to estimate how much electricity your appliances and home electronics use:
Reviewing the Energy Guide label. The label provides an estimate of the average energy consumption and cost to operate the specific model of the appliance you are using. Note that all not all appliances or home electronics are required to have an Energy Guide.
Using an electricity usage monitor to get readings of how much electricity an appliance is using
Calculating annual energy consumption and costs using the formulas provided below
Installing a whole house energy monitoring system.
ELECTRICITY USAGE MONITORS
Electricity usage monitors are easy to use and can measure the electricity usage of any device that runs on 120 volts. (But it can’t be used with large appliances that use 220 volts, such as electric clothes dryers, central air conditioners, or water heaters.) You can buy electricity usage monitors at most hardware
As floor plans open up, integrated appliances help make spaces look like extended parts of the living areas. What appears to be a serving buffet actually conceals a dishwasher and an undercounter refrigerator. Many appliance manufacturers offer the option of custom fronts that can be matched to surrounding cabinets and furniture, making workhorse appliances virtually disappear from view.
With its basic white-on-white scheme, demure black countertops, and stainless steel accents, this modern kitchen in Berlin is calm and quiet. The real heros are the frameless Euro-style cabinets with touch-latch doors — an absence of pulls and knobs helps keep the small kitchen from looking too busy.
The Pretty (and Practical) Pantry
No need for a walk-in pantry when you have a cleverly designed cabinet like this one. Every inch — including the back of the doors — gets put to good use hiding small appliances, stashing jars of spices and condiments, and storing utensils.
Drawer-type refrigerators let you squeeze fridges and freezers into lower cabinets. Great for small kitchens or to sneak an extra refrigerator right next to a busy workspace. Add drawer fronts that match surrounding cabinetry for a sleek, modern look.
Streamlined simplicity is
Nothing makes a kitchen sparkle like clean appliances. So show your appliances a little cleaning love, and they’ll thank you by looking and performing better.
The space behind your refrigerator is arguably the dirtiest couple of square feet in your house. It’s a meeting place for dust, gunk, and a host of other stuff that’s fallen behind the big guy.
To clean, pull out the refrigerator and mop up whatever you find. Then, vacuum refrigerator coils behind or beneath your fridge, which will put less stress on the fridge’s motor and prolong its life.
Replace loose door gaskets — check your owner’s manual for replacement part numbers and find new gaskets at home improvement centers or by searching online. You’ll get the added benefit of saving energy with a tighter seal. Monthly, wipe gaskets down with warm, soapy water; rinse and dry.
A little soapy water or a 50-50 solution of water and white vinegar will clean and shine the inside and outside of your fridge. Wipe down shelves and crispers weekly, or whenever you spot a spill. Remove fingerprints on stainless steel exteriors with a damp cloth.
Your Stovetop and Oven
Most ovens have self-cleaning options. We heartily recommend letting the oven do the
When an appliance is old and isn’t working efficiently, it’s easy to decide to replace rather than repair the machine — may it rest in peace.
But appliances often break before their time, making the repair-or-replace decision harder.
If money is tight, you may have to repair the appliance and hope for the best. But if you’ve got some coin, then replacing with a new, energy-efficient model often is the better way to go.
That’s a lot of ifs, and the repair-or-replace dilemma often is hard to resolve. Here are some guidelines that will help you decide.
Is It Really Broken?
When appliances stop working, we get so rattled that the obvious escapes us. Before you panic, make sure:
The appliance is plugged in.
Circuit breakers haven’t tripped. (I once replaced a blender only to discover that the circuit needed resetting.)
Flooring hasn’t become uneven, which can stop some appliances from turning on.
Vents and filters aren’t clogged with lint and dust.
Is It Still Under Warranty?
Check your owner’s manual or records to see if the sick appliance is still under warranty. Most warranties on major appliances cover labor and parts for a year; some extend coverage of parts for two years. If it’s still covered, schedule
When you’re shopping for appliances, think of two price tags. The first one covers the purchase price — think of it as a down payment. The second price tag is the cost of operating the appliance during its lifetime. You’ll be paying on that second price tag every month with your utility bill for the next 10 to 20 years, depending on the appliance. Refrigerators last an average of 12 years; clothes washers last about 11 years; and room air conditioners last about 9 years.
THE ENERGY STAR LABEL
When you shop for a new appliance, look for the ENERGY STAR label. ENERGY STAR products usually exceed minimum federal standards by a substantial amount.
The ENERGY STAR logo is on all qualified products that meet specific standards for energy efficiency. ENERGY STAR-qualified products exceed the federal minimum standards for efficiency and quality — sometimes significantly. Look for the label on appliances, electronics, water heaters, windows, and other products that consume energy in your home.
THE ENERGYGUIDE LABEL
To help you figure out whether an appliance is energy efficient, the federal government requires most appliances to display the bright yellow and black EnergyGuide label. Although these labels will not show you which appliance is
You can save energy in your kitchen through more efficient use of your dishwasher, refrigerator and freezer, and other common appliances.
Most of the energy used by a dishwasher is for water heating. The EnergyGuide label estimates how much power is needed per year to run the appliance and to heat the water based on the yearly cost of natural gas and electric water heating.
DISHWASHER WATER-SAVING TIPS
Check the manual that came with your dishwasher for the manufacturer’s recommendations on water temperature; many have internal heating elements that allow you to set the water heater in your home to a lower temperature (120° F).
Scrape, don’t rinse, off large food pieces and bones. Soaking or pre-washing is generally only recommended in cases of burned- or dried-on food.
Be sure your dishwasher is full (not overloaded) when you run it.
Avoid using the “rinse hold” on your machine for just a few soiled dishes. It uses 3-7 gallons of hot water each use.
Let your dishes air dry; if you don’t have an automatic air-dry switch, turn off the control knob after the final rinse and prop the door open slightly so the dishes will dry faster.
LONG-TERM SAVINGS TIP
1. Verify your oven door has a tight seal. Without a proper seal, your oven can lose more than 20 percent of its heat. The result is that food takes longer to cook or cooks unevenly. To check the seal’s condition, open the oven door and locate the rubber or fiberglass gasket around the perimeter of the door. Feel for any broken, torn, or deformed areas, and close the door to see if you can find any leaks. If you do, replace the seal.
2. Clean or replace dirty range hood or downdraft vent filters. Wash metal-mesh grease filters by hand in soapy water, or run them through the dishwasher. Charcoal or paper filters should not be washed. Replace them instead.
3. Clean stovetop drip bowls. Remove drip bowls from underneath your burner elements and presoak them in a cleaning solution for five minutes. Then hand wash and replace. Remember to clean drip bowls immediately after spills. If spills burn into the bowls, you might need to replace them.
4. Clean coils in your refrigerator. Dirt, dust, and pet hair can clog up refrigerator coils, restricting air flow and causing the refrigerator to work harder to keep cool. Once or twice a year,