3 ways to protect your kitchen appliances

November 17, 2015

Appliance abuse and neglect can speed up the breakdown rate of refrigerators, ranges and dishwashers, helping keep appliance repairmen busy. Here are three ways to prolong the lives of your kitchen appliances.

3 ways to protect your kitchen appliances

1. Avoid damage to your glass-top electric range

  • Because ranges don't have many moving parts (no motors, no belts), they tend to last a good long while — with one major exception. Damage done to a glass top, which can be costly to replace, makes the repair not worth the money
  • The most obvious way to break the glass is to bang a heavy pot on it — an impact break. But did you know that improper heating can also crack the glass?
  • Using concave-bottomed pans can trap heat and cause the glass to crack. Using oversized pots and pans can do the same
  • To avoid this use flat-bottomed pots and pans and make sure they are not larger than each burner

2. Keep refrigerator condenser coils clean

  • By far the most expensive part on your refrigerator is the compressor, part of the sealed cooling system. The sealed system is often protected under a special five-year warranty, and it should last at least twice that long
  • But you've got to clean the dust that builds up on the refrigerator's condenser coils, usually located behind a grille on the bottom of the fridge. If not, the compressor will be forced to work harder and it may eventually overheat
  • If it fails prematurely — but after the warranty is void — you'll likely have to replace the fridge, since a repair will be too costly
  • Once a year (twice if you have furry pets), snap off the grille and clean the dust from the condenser coils using a vacuum cleaner and a condenser coil cleaning brush (an inexpensive accessory) — a tapered bottle brush on a plunger-length handle
  • Gently brush the bottom surface and in between the coils, then vacuum. Repeat until the coils are dust-free. Do not poke at the coils with a vacuum cleaner's hard-plastic crevice tool. That could damage the coils
  • Bonus tip: a full freezer is more efficient than an empty freezer, which has nothing to hold the cold. An efficient freezer not only prolongs the life of the compressor — and the fridge itself — but also saves energy. Fill your empty freezer shelves with bag ice, frozen veggies or even plastic milk jugs filled with water

3. Keep rust out of your dishwasher

  • Thanks to rust, dishwashers, like clothes washers, can be ruined by one small nick in the vinyl-coated rack
  • Once the metal inside begins to rust, you can't stop it. The rust will stain your dishes until you replace either the rack or the machine
  • Replacing a dish rack can set you back one-quarter the price of a brand-new machine
  • Hand-wash skillets, colanders and other kitchenware with sharp edges. Never force a pan into a too-small space

Eventually, all kitchen appliances will run out of steam, but you can keep them useful longer by following these basic maintenance suggestions.

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