Give your washing machine more years

July 29, 2015

A good washing machine can last decades, if you know how to treat it. These three tips could make your washer last a years longer than it might otherwise.

Give your washing machine more years

Flush new lines

  • You've just moved into a brand-new house — shiny floors, sparkling walls, new plumbing.
  • All you need to do is move the washer and dryer into the laundry, hook them up, and you are ready to go, right? Wrong!
  • New plumbing usually contains some dirt and solder flux, stuff that can send your washer's inlet valves to an early grave.
  • So whether all the plumbing is new, or you just added hot and cold lines for the washer, you need to flush the lines before hooking up the washer.
  • It's easy: Attach the hose to the hot-water line and hold the other end of the hose in the drain standpipe or sink. Turn on the hot water, and let it run for a few minutes.
  • Do the same for the cold water.

Level your washer

If your washing machine is slightly out of level, you may not notice it. But the basket will be out of balance, putting a strain on the bearings and the motor that will shorten the life of the machine.

Not only that, if the front of the washer is higher than the back, the basket won't drain all the way, leaving a pool of water that can cause rust spots and holes. If the machine is badly out of level, you will hear the basket banging around during the wash cycle — your machine is quickly beating itself to death.

1. Using a carpenter's level, check first to see if the washer is level side to side at the back. It usually is, because the back legs are self-leveling. If not, tip the washer forward, and then let it down again to allow the back legs to readjust themselves.

2. Now check for level from front to back on one side. If it isn't level, use an adjustable wrench to raise or lower the threaded front foot on that side.

3. Check the other side the same way, and adjust the foot if necessary.

4. Finally, check across the front. If you made the other adjustments correctly, the washer should be level across the front. If it isn't, recheck the back and sides.

Winterize your washer

Do you have a washing machine in your summer cottage or do you fly south for the winter? If you don't winterize the washer before you leave, water in the inlet valve and pump can freeze and expand, cracking the valve and pump bodies. Here's how to protect your washer:

1. Turn off the hot and cold water-supply valve, and use pliers to loosen the hoses from the inlet ports on the machine.

2. Set the washer controls to fill and warm wash, and turn the washer on for about 10 seconds.

3. Pour 2 litres (2 quarts) of nontoxic antifreeze — propylene glycol — into the washer.

4. Turn the timer control to drain and spin and let the washer run for another 10 seconds. Your washer is now ready to brave the winter cold.

When you return, reconnect the water-supply hoses. Pour in 250 millilitres (1 cup) of liquid clothes detergent, and run the washer through a complete cycle before you wash any clothes.

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