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When to toss it

If a small appliance is broken, like a coffee maker or a toaster, it’s better to toss it and purchase a new unit. However, Krull recommends calling a servicer for higher-end small appliances, like a KitchenAid mixer. Those appliances will often have parts available. 
When it comes to larger appliances, if you need a new part and the part costs more than what the appliance is worth, it’s better to replace the appliance itself.
Unless they stop functioning altogether, Krull said, most appliances don’t really show “signs” when they need to be replaced or tossed. But often, new energy-efficient appliances will end up saving you money in energy costs compared to an older appliance that still works fine. 




Cut energy costs and frustration
The do’s and dont's of DIY appliance care

09/25/14



 When it comes to home appliances, maintenance is key to saving a buck (and your sanity). While major repair will require a service technician, any homeowner can improve the efficiency and longevity of their machines with regular upkeep and by using them properly.

“A washing machine is going to do a more effective job for you if it’s not overloaded,” Glenn Krull, owner of Glenn’s Appliances in Manchester, said. “When people overload their dryers, the dryer gets too hot and it burns up the parts and it shortens the life of the unit.”
The same can be said about detergent: less is more.
“If you got tons of suds … it will eat the rear bearing up in the back of your machine,” Larry Preston, co-owner of Mr. Appliance, said. 
Another simple tip is to clean off plates prior to loading the dishwasher. When food clogs up the pumps and filters, the only way to correct the problem is to call a technician 
“If you don’t have a servicer come in and you try to do it yourself and don’t put it back together properly, you’ll have a slight flood in your kitchen,” he said.
Here are a few appliance fixes you can do yourself and some that you should leave to the pros.
 
DIY: keep ’em clean
Most people know to clean out the lint trap in the dryer (which, Krull said, if cleaned after every load will keep the machine running efficiently), but many homeowners don’t clean the venting from the back of the dryer that exits the house. Krull recommends this is a job that should be done every six months to prevent major issues.
“You waste a lot of money when you’re not doing that,” Krull said. “We will actually go into a house on a service call somebody says their dryer is leaking water. That sounds kind of strange when a dryer is leaking water, but what is happening is so much lint has gotten into the vent and caused the vent to dip down, and water is built up in there.”
Preston recommends using a screwdriver to take off the bottom panel once a year to vacuum underneath. Keeping up with lint — in the vents, trap, and underneath — will help prevent fire hazards.
“It’s a major safety concern, and something very easy to do,” Preston said. 
A refrigerator’s cooling grill should be vacuumed once or twice a year (depending on how often you clean under your fridge, or if you have pets), which will allow it to run more efficiently.
Got a smelly washing machine? Preston recommends picking up Affresh tablets.
“That keeps the drum clean and gets rid of the mildew odor,” he said. And keeping the door closed will only cause more problems, so keep it ajar slightly — “You’ve got warmth and moisture, it just fosters mold and mildew,” Preston said.
Sometimes customers call in with loose or wobbly spray bars on the top or bottom of the dishwasher, Preston said. That’s an easy fix for do-it-yourselfers, too.
“Most of them are a very simple thread-cap type of situation. Most customers can just put them right back on. It’s doesn’t take a technician to do that,” he said.
 
A little more work: replace a belt
Depending on the machine, replacing a belt on a washing machine can be tricky, but it’s something a lot of do-it-yourselfers are capable of doing, Krull said.
“That’s right on the edge of whether you want to do it yourself. Sometimes it’s cheaper for you in the long-run to have that technician come out and do it instead of you putting a belt in,” he said.
If you have a front load washing machine, Preston said that most units have a door to the pump. Many times, coins, lint, hair and debris build up there. Cleaning that out is an easy fix, but if the impeller (which looks like a propeller, he said) is broken, that’s going to require a technician.
“If it’s not pumping out water at the end of the cycle, then it’s broken,” Preston said. 
Refrigerator not as cool as it should be? Chances are, the fan that blows air into the refrigerator section stops blowing air because it has frosted up, Preston said. The part probably needs to be replaced.
“Here’s a trick that will get you by for a little while: Often times, the freezer’s working fine and the refrigerator is not. It’s iced up in the freezer. Simply defrosting it for 12 to 24 hours in many cases resolves the issue, until it frosts back up again,” he said.
 
Don’t try this at home: gas appliance work
“I honestly feel if you don’t know much about appliances, if you have to break the integrity of the appliance, meaning opening up the cabinets and what have you, you’re probably better off having a technician take care of it. Because there’s moving parts in there, there’s open wiring, they don’t close off,” Krull said. “You can not only do something [harmful] to the machine but do something to yourself, too.”
Krull said that when it comes to any gas appliance, don’t try to fix it yourself. Likewise, never work on a microwave. Even if it’s unplugged, the capacitor has enough charge that can stop your heart and kill you, Preston said.
“That’s why they don’t sell magnetron tubes to consumers. They have to be sold to appliance repair specialists,” Preston said.
There’s also the types of projects that are going to cost you more in the long run if you don’t do them correctly. 
“I’ve seen people try to replace bake elements [on ovens] that didn’t really know what they were doing, and they don’t unplug the range and it causes a short and it blows out the clock, which is like a $300 part, and that could have only cost maybe a $100 to have it done,” Krull said. 
 
As seen in the September 25, 2014 issue of the Hippo.





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