Keeping Appliances From Breaking Down

Is the Old Adage True? They Don’t Make Them Like They Used To?!

It’s the middle of the summer heat here in the Midwestern United States, this means grilling and chilling. After a weekend of fun, many people will come back inside expecting their homes to be nice and cool with the help of their ac unit. They expect to reach into their refrigerator and pull out a cold beverage and sit and enjoy their favorite TV show. These are just a few of the things that create a personal level of comfort in your home. We live in a time where if it is broke, or out of style, it gets replaced. Instead of buying new appliances, let’s consider making them last beyond their manufacturers warranty with a little TLC. Is the old adage true? They don’t make them like they used to? Or is this a case where people today would rather replace and get something brand new than get it fixed or buy second hand appliances instead?

It’s a hot summer day you come inside to cool off in the air conditioning, but it’s sweltering! You go and find where your ac unit is outside. You have to remove a bunch of overgrown foliage just to get to it. It sounds like it is running, but you don’t know how to figure out why its not making your house cool like it was yesterday. You didn’t do anything to it, so it must have just died! So you are going to put in an emergency call to the heating and cooling company. You are going to look for the one that has the highest ratings on or maybe just post a message on Facebook to all your friends. You are going to ask them what companies they have used recently. If these companies were responsive, reasonably priced and if they got the problem fixed right away!

One of our local best here in Sioux Falls is for heating and air conditioning needs. The service center sounds swamped! Hopefully they can get someone out today! It is about 4:45pm you hope that the serviceman will still make it before heading home for the day. Then the doorbell rings! You jump up and run to the door afraid if you aren’t there fast enough that he will turn around and call it the end of his day. Greeting him with sweat on your brow, you lead him around the back of the house to show him where the unit is. The serviceman quickly points out that the overgrown brushes make it hard for your ac unit to have proper airflow. This will cause your unit to work harder than it needs to when trying to cool your house. Embarrassed you say, yeah I’ve been meaning to get to the yard work, just been busy. When really you never considered needing to trim the bushes on that side of your house, because no one sees them! The serviceman does a few more things and finds a slow leak. Then he charges up the ac unit and says that should do it.  He then mentions you will need to have the unit charged up every other year because of the leak. As long as the leak doesn’t get any worse it should be fine, he also recommends cutting back the bushes. You pay the service fee and go back inside thankful this was a small thing to fix rather than the whole system!

Now that you are back inside, you can feel the air beginning to cool. How could you not know that you needed to trim back the bushes to help keep your air conditioning unit running? Home ownership isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be! Maybe there are other things about this house you haven’t considered that need maintenance. Looking around, you live here, but you have no idea how to maintain any of these appliances.

Not everyone has a handyman in their back pocket, but I happen to have one. My dad is a building and grounds supervisor for a school corporation in Indiana. He has to maintain all sorts of small and large appliances throughout many different buildings. I put in a call to dad to find out what else I might need to know about how to keep my home running.

Handyman Dad’s Top List of

How to Keep Appliances from Breaking Down

  1. Follow manufacturers recommendations: One recommendation is to not overload appliances. i.e. The dishwasher, washer, dryer and refrigerator all run longer if they are not jammed full while they are in use. Smaller loads of dishes allow for better flow of the water while it is running, same with the clothes washer. The clothes dryer will dry your clothes using less heat if it is not too full. The fridge will have to run harder longer to maintain the cool temp if it is too full. Some people consider getting a second fridge for their basement, garage or game room for beverages.
  2. Read the directions when it comes to proper installation of any appliance. Don’t toss those instructions away, make sure you follow them and you will get the best use out of your appliance.
  3. Keep the coils clean. Read the manufacturers suggestion on how often the appliances need to be cleaned.
  4. Wipe off gaskets on the doors so they don’t dry out or crack. Gaskets are those rubber things that seal in the cool air on your refrigerator or seal in the water on your dishwasher, clothes washer, and dryer. Wipe a little petroleum jelly on the gaskets and this will help extend their life.
  5. Keep proper distances from walls for good ventilation for motors or compressors. Allow some space between the walls, cabinets around your appliances giving them room to breath. This helps keep them from overheating and their cooling fans will run properly.
  6. Replace air filters as recommended. There is a relatively new company,, that will ship you a new air filter for you’re ac unit every 3 months as recommended by the manufacturer. This will help remind you when to change the filter and what size you need, as those are too easily forgotten.
  7. Keep the vent clear on your clothes dryer. Be sure to keep the vent pipe as short as possible and have it cleaned regularly.
  8. Keep appliances level, if your washing machine is not level, it will shake while it is running and will have more wear and tear on it earlier than it should. The feet beneath the washer twist to raise or lower each foot, so you should be able to get the unit level.
  9. Replace hoses for washing machines periodically. Remember to turn off the water source and to let the hose drain or you might have a little mess to clean up!
  10. Check electrical connections and the integrity of power cords. If you are like me, you will need a pro to look at this, because I do not trust myself around electrical wiring. Having a service call is still cheaper than replacing the whole unit! A lot of the servicemen will show you what to look for, so you will know in the future what to look for if something needs replaced.
  11. Buy the warranty – buying a house, request a warranty! All of my household appliances are covered under a warranty. I purchased this warranty the day I bought the house. The monthly fee is reasonable, roughly $42 a month. I have used the warranty to replace my water heater. Money well spent!

One very important thing to do takes no skill at all! Make a reminder on your home calendar or in your phone. This will help you remember to keep your appliances from breaking down and change filters, trim hedges back, clean coils, have routine maintenance, etc. All of these things are all easily forgotten! Is the old adage true, They Don’t Make Them Like They Used To? Or are we not taking proper care of our home appliances? A little neglect can create a huge problem, knowing how things run in your home and how to give them a little TLC can help extend the life expectancy of your home appliances and save you tons of headaches, time waiting for servicemen and most of all MONEY!



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