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Tips for keeping your home appliances trouble-free (and saving on repair bills)

January 19, 2016

Maybe you’ve had this experience with a car you’ve owned in the past: it runs like a top for years and years, and suddenly this part fails and that one needs replacement, almost as if they were programmed to start giving trouble after a number of years.

Our customers often ask us if this is the case with their kitchen and laundry appliances. Does one part failing signal the start of a never-ending saga of repair for that appliance?

Like any other machine with moving parts, home appliances — especially washers and dryers — will experience wear and tear after five to seven years of regular use, long after the manufacturer’s warranty has expired (and after any extended warranty has expired, too — check out our caveats about those in last month’s post).

For a car, everything seems to wear out together because they’ve all gone the same number of miles, and any competent technician will check all likely components for wear as part of the service. But unlike car parts, most appliance parts don’t fail in groups, they just start to fail when they wear out. For some appliances like dryers, the manufacturers produce maintenance kits if some parts statistically always wear out together. The trick is just to have someone smarter than the machine doing the diagnosis.

That “someone smarter” can be you or your hometown heroes at Nebraska Home Appliance.

A lot of preventive maintenance is nothing more than good housekeeping that you can do yourself. For instance, for washing machines, you’ll want to check the door seals every few months, especially in summer, for mold and mildew growth. We recommend Washer Magic for this task, as it’s specially formulated to kill mold and mildew spores and slow regrowth. Our parts department keeps a supply on hand for purchase.

For your dishwasher, we recommend running an empty cycle with Dishwasher Magic every three months. This product is also available at the Nebraska Home Appliance parts counter.

Your refrigerator condenser should be cleaned periodically using a coil cleaning brush (also available at our parts counter), especially before the hot, humid season begins. Some folks find this chore difficult, as it involves getting down on the floor and behind the fridge — if you’re not into contortionist feats, give us a call and we’ll be happy to do the job for you.

In fact, we recommend having a thorough, professional condenser cleaning at least once a year. Our techs are experts at extracting dust and grime from hard to reach nooks and crannies you might not even know were there! Remember, a dust-free condenser doesn’t have to work as hard, saving wear and tear on the motor and saving wear and tear on your wallet, too.

Your stove and oven, either gas or electric, should be cleaned regularly to prevent baked-on grease and grime. Every time you cook, clean food debris and spills from cooktop as they occur.

Ovens are pretty trouble free, for the most part, but if you have a gas oven, plan to replace the igniter every five to 10 years. If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, you can find replacement kits available for most makes, but if that task seems a little daunting, you know who to call, right?

One of the most appreciated labor-saving kitchen developments is the self-cleaning oven. For the most part, the self-cleaning feature is trouble free: just set and forget. But at a temperature of 1000+ degrees Fahrenheit, Murphy’s Law decrees the self-cleaning function may decide to go on the fritz at an inopportune time. So to be on the safe side, don’t clean the oven until after that special dinner party or holiday meal.