DIY

Refrigerators

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Your refrigerator is probably your most expensive appliance to purchase, and it can also be your most expensive appliance to own. You refrigerator is about the only appliance that you own that runs non-stop, therefore is also the biggest consumer of energy that you own.

To keep your energy cost down, and to avoid having to replace that expensive appliance, it is essential that you take proper care of your refrigerator.
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The most important thing that needs to be done to keep your refrigerator running efficiently – and to simply keep it running – is to take good care of the coils. The coils on your refrigerator are located in the rear of your refrigerator, on the bottom. These coils attract dust, and when they are covered with dust they have to work harder to maintain a cool temperature within the refrigerator. The harder they have to work, the higher your electricity bill will be. Cleaning these coils is quite simple. Simply pull your refrigerator away from the wall and then vacuum the dust off of them. The next thing that needs to be cleaned is the drip pan of the refrigerator. The drip pan is located beneath the refrigerator, and simply needs to be pulled out, emptied, and cleaned with soapy water. If you have an automatic defrost refrigerator, the water from the defrosting process flows out of a drain in the floor of the refrigerator and into the drip pan. The water remains there until it evaporates. Small particles of food can either flow through a tube to the drip pan or they can get caught in the tube and clog it. To clean the tube, simply stick a pipe cleaner into the tube and flush it with water. Do this before removing the drip pan so that the water is caught. Then, of course, remove the drip pan and clean it.áThe gaskets on your refrigerator seal the cold air in the refrigerator, and keep the warm air out. If proper care is taken of the gaskets, they should last the life of the refrigerator. All that is necessary to keep the gaskets in good shape is to wash them down with soapy water from time to time. Last but not least, if your refrigerator does not have automatic defrost, be sure to not let the frost in your freezer compartment get any deeper than a quarter of an inch.

Washers

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No washing machine operates forever and without proper washer maintenance and your washing machine repair costs can end up being more than they should be. However, it may seem strange to think that you actually need to wash your washing machine. Following are some steps to help you maintain your washer so it will continue to work for you for years to come.

Inspect the washing machine hoses and fittings on your washer. Make sure the hoses aren’t cracked or blistered, the fittings aren’t becoming corroded and no water is dripping. It’s a good idea to replace the hoses and fittings as part of regular washing machine maintenance every 3 years, even if you don’t see any problems.

Level the washing machine. Use a carpenter’s level and adjust the machine’s feet until the bubble indicates the washing machine is level. A washer that’s not level vibrates and/or bangs around with every load needs to be leveled before it breaks down.
Keep the exterior of your washing machine clean. Soaps and bleaches usually won’t damage the exterior of the washing machine, but stain removers and other chemicals you might store on top of the washer might.

Clean your machine machine tub. This should be done every three months. Set the washer on hot, and if there’s a setting for extra dirty clothes, choose that. Let the tub fill with water, then add 3 cups of white distilled vinegar and a 1/2 cup of baking soda. When the tub begins to drain, advance the cycle to spin. After the cycle ends, set the washer to cold and run another cycle.

Clean your washing machine dispensers. If you can remove them, do so and soak them in hot water. While they’re soaking, clean out the gunk that collects around them and between the top of the washer and the tub. If you can’t remove the dispensers, pour hot water through them until they’re clean for good maintenance.

How much washer detergent should I use is probably a lot less than you think. Almost everyone uses too much detergent and fabric softener in their washing machine. Your clothes will get just as clean with half the recommended amount of detergent and you can dilute your fabric softener with water or try using white distilled vinegar instead. Generally, liquid detergent is better than powder.

Never try to remove the rear panel of any washer. Call us for DIY advice before you ever try that. Many washing machines can be damaged when removing the rear panel.

Dryers

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Whether you have a gas or electric dryer, there are a number of things that you can do to keep it running longer, better, safer and cheaper. Protecting your appliances with regular maintenance makes good sense. A major appliance is an expensive addition to your home, and proper dryer maintenance can extend its life. Making more efficient use of your dryer saves you energy dollars too.

Keep your dryer exhaust vent clear. Signs of a clogged dryer vent are clothes take a long time to dry, or dryer not heating as quickly as they used to. Clogs happen fast, so check often. Clogged dryer vents make dryers run longer, shortening their useful life. Clogged dryer vents are also very dangerous and cause around 15,000 home dryer fires every year in the United states alone.

Separate items by weight. Lighter items and many synthetics need less time to dry. By separating items, you can maximize efficiency of your dryer while cutting down on unnecessary wear on the dryer.

Clean the dryer lint filter on your dryer after each use. This will maintain good air flow, which helps dry clothes faster.

Clean your dryer’s exhaust duct annually. Keeping the dryer’s exhaust duct free of lint will reduce the number of clogs. It will also keep you safer. Clogged dryer ducts are a fire hazard, so keep them clear.

Use your dryer efficiently. If you have a number of loads to do, don’t fold a load by pulling items out of the dryer one at a time. Instead, pull an entire load out and reload with wet clothes while the dryer is still hot. Fold the freshly dried clothes while the new load is drying. This will keep the dryer from cooling down between loads and having to come back up to temperature. Changing your routine slightly will extend the life of the dryer and save on energy.

Use only the drying time you need. Don’t set the dryer for 70 minutes when 50 minutes will do the job. Do some creative observation to see how long it really takes to dry your clothes. Once you have a good idea, choose a more precise dryer setting for each load.

Consider using a clothesline instead of your dryer. When drying large items like bedspreads, comforters and area rugs, use a clothesline for the bulk of the drying. When the items are almost dry, use the dryer to fluff dry and soften them for a few minutes before folding.

Dishwashers

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A dishwasher is generally a low maintenance appliance. Below are some tips for keeping it clean and running well.

Dishwasher cleaning and deodorizing:
For exterior cleaning, just wash the exterior of your dishwasher with a damp sponge and a little dish detergent. For rust removal on the INSIDE of your dishwasher try fine steel wool or a rust remover product.

On many dishwashers, there’s a dishwasher filter near the bottom, or under the lower spray arm that needs to be cleaned once a month. If you have this sort of filter, check your owner’s manual to find out how to remove and clean it. If it has holes in it, replace it to protect the pump and motor seals from particles that may be in the dishwasher.
Over time, the small holes in the dishwasher spray arm(s) may become clogged with bits of paper, toothpicks, glass, etc. Your dishwasher will do a better job of cleaning your dishes if you take a moment to clean out these small holes, from time to time. Remove the spray arm and clean it by poking a piece of stiff wire through the holes. Then shake the spray arm to make sure nothing is inside, such as seeds from fruit like watermelon. Finally, scrub any mineral deposits off the spray arm with hot distilled white vinegar. (The cap holding the spray arm in place is typically reverse-threaded, which means you should turn it clockwise to remove it. Be careful not to drop the nut or washer into the motor.)
After 3-5 years of use it’s a very good idea to replace all of your spray arms. Most dishwashers have two or three of them and usually aren’t too expensive relative to the dishwasher.

Dish rack repairs
If the plastic coating wears off of the tines of the dish racks in your dishwasher, they may corrode and rust. Promptly repair cut or chipped plastic coating on racks to prevent rust. Use steel wool to remove rust and cap the damaged rack tines with slip-on rubber tips. You can get a dishwasher rack repair kit from Nutterman’s.

Water Heaters

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The gas-fired water heater installed in your home is designed to give you years of trouble free service if maintained properly. Carefully read and follow the instructions in the manufacturer’s manual. Make sure you understand how your water heater works and its different parts. The guidelines below only include routine maintenance items and should not be a substitute to the manufacturer’s manual.

Safety Tips
Water temperature over 125°F (52°C) can cause severe burns instantly resulting in severe injury or death. Test water before bathing or showering.
• Do not operate water heater if you notice soot build up.
• Do not operate water heater if flood damaged.
• Do not obstruct water heater air intake with insulating jacket.


If you smell gas:
• Do no try to light any appliance.
• Do not touch any electrical switch; do not use any phone in your building.
• Immediately call your gas supplier from a neighbor’s phone.
Follow the gas supplier’s instructions. If you cannot reach your gas supplier, call the fire department.Read the manufacturer’s manual thoroughly, make sure you understand and follow all warning labels. Call the manufacturer or a service technician and ask them to clarify anything you are not sure about.
Routine Maintenance

1. Vacuum around base of water heater for dust, dirt, & lint.
2. Inspect insulation, if any, on the water heater tank exterior. Make sure it is mounted correctly and it is not blocking the combustion air in let or the exhaust vent.
3. Every six months open the drain valve at the water heater tank bottom and drain two or three gallons of water from the heater to remove any sediment that may have accumulated in the tank bottom. Drain more often if you notice that the drain water contains a high degree of sediment.
4. Every six months do a visual inspection of the air intake screen. Clean any lint accumulations
5. Annually, have a qualified technician inspect the anode rod. Replace if corroded or pitted.
6. Annually, operate the temperature-pressure relief valve manually. Replace if necessary.
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