How to Avoid Appliance Repairs

Written by Bob Meadows, owner of B&D Appliance Repair Service
Updated August 6, 2015
repairman working on a washing machine
Knowing how to keep your appliances running smoothly can spare you the stress of an expensive repair. (Photo by Brandon Smith)

Cleaning and maintenance tips to extend the life of your appliances and save you money on costly repairs.

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We all depend on our household appliances. But we often take for granted that our milk will stay cold, the dishes will be spotless and that those clothes in the washing machine will come out clean.

It’s inevitable that one of your appliances will break down one day and you’ll be faced with a repair-or-replace decision, but there are things you can do to help prolong the life of the appliances you rely on every day. I’ve been an appliance repair technician for more than 30 years now, so I see daily how appliance failures and breakdowns can be prevented with the right maintenance.

MORE: 10 Tips to Extend the Life of Home Appliances

Here are some guidelines and maintenance tasks to perform periodically to help save you money and frustration:

Washing machines

Make sure your empty everything out of all your pockets before you wash your clothes. Coins left behind in pockets can damage the washing machine’s pump, and a forgotten fountain pen can permanently ruin a whole load of laundry.

Never overload the machine. Heavy or off-balance loads can destroy a washing machine. Most people think that if a washing machine features a larger tub, it can handle much larger loads, but if you want your washing machine to last, do smaller loads.

MORE: 5 Common Washing Machine Mistakes to Avoid

Dryers

You should always clean the lint screen before every load, but lint will still build up inside the dryer and the dryer vent line. To prevent the possibility of a dryer or dryer vent fire, it’s extremely important to have your dryer taken apart and vacuumed out every few years, as well as cleaning out the dryer vent line.

Refrigerators

If you want your refrigerator to last a long time, you must keep the condenser clean. A dirty condenser will cause the refrigerator compressor to overheat and fail prematurely. I check the condenser on every refrigerator I work on and most of the time they are packed with lint and animal hair. Most people just don’t know or they forget to do this crucial maintenance.

RELATED: Video: How to Clean Refrigerator Coils

Replacing a refrigerator is expensive and it only takes a few minutes to vacuum out the condenser and prolong the lifespan of your refrigerator compressor.

Dishwashers

Rinse all the food off dishes with warm water before you load them into the dishwasher. You may have heard that it’s OK to leave food on your dishes, but it’s not. The food has to go somewhere and it usually ends up clogging the pump, drain lines or spray arms, and then you’ll need to call an appliance repair service.

VIDEO: How to Maintain Your Appliances

Ovens and ranges

If and when you use the oven’s self-cleaning cycle, the oven gets very hot. The extreme heat emits toxic fumes that can be harmful to your health and cause expensive oven components to fail. Often, I’m called out to repair an oven right after someone has used the self-clean cycle. If you wipe up any spills in the oven right after they occur, you should never have to use the self-clean cycle.

On most gas ranges and cooktops, the igniter switches are located directly under the burner control knobs. Be very careful and don’t let any moisture get on these switches, as a spill from cooking or cleaning can cause these switches to fail and catch fire.

Following these few simple tips will save you money and unnecessary frustration. Before making the decision to replace a broken appliance, have it checked out by an honest appliance repair service.  Repairing what you have may be a lot wiser and less expensive than buying new, and a trustworthy and experienced appliance technician can help you with that decision.

MORE: Don't Get Ripped Off by Appliance Repair Scams

Editor's Note: This is an updated version of an article that was originally posted on March 14, 2013.

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About this Experts Contributor: Bob Meadows began his career as an appliance technician in 1980 and is the owner of B&D Appliance Repair in Palmdale and Lancaster, California, which he started with his wife, Donna, in 1998. Follow this #ALExperts contributor on Twitter @ApplianceGuyBob or via Google+.

As of Aug. 6, 2015, this service provider was highly rated on Angi. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angi for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angi.

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