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Repairman's Advice on Making Appliances Last

You can make your appliances last 10 or 15 years longer by doing a few simple things today! Here's one repairman's tips.

"I was always fascinated with the way things worked, building things," said repairman Joe Jaume.

Joe Jaume has been fixing things since he was a kid. Now he does it for a living and he knows appliances inside and out. First up, something we all have a refrigerator.

"Your basic refrigerator will have a small door or panel on the bottom that is removable," said Joe. "You take your vacuum cleaner -- the first thing you do is shut your refrigerator off and you take your vacuum cleaner and you vacuum underneath all the coils."

Pull out the fridge and clean lint and dirt off the back vents, too.

"It might not seem like much but over time this little bit of lent will build up on the coils and choke off the air flow, which it turn will cause the compressor to die on you."

Every refrigerator has a compressor, and replacing it is very expensive. Joe recommends cleaning the outside vents of the refrigerator once a year. If you have pets, do it twice a year.

"By doing that you will relieve a lot of heat and hard work on your compressor," said Joe. "You'll take all the air and dust off the coils -- the refrigerator will run a lot cooler. That will lengthen the life of the compressor which is the heart of the refrigerator."

You can also extend the life of your refrigerator by taking care of the inside, too.

"Do not over pack it. Over packing the freezer is a death sentence," warns Joe. "Because it's not going to be able to cool correctly and its going to be constantly demanding cooling up front. A lot of people tend to put a lot of milk cartons, a lot of tall bottles right in front of the vents and this causes the refrigerator to run constantly. You need to make sure your vents are nice and clear, both in the freezer part and in the refrigerator part."

Also pay attention to the seals.

"These are very important. If these seals are broken or too dirty, or they have sticky stuff on them it will cause the seals to deterate," said Joe, "You need to clean these because this is what seals against the refrigerator to seal the hot air out."

Joe says by doing these simple things to your refrigerator, you can make it last 15 years longer! Or even more!

"I have worked on some from the 1960s and still running strong because the people kept them up," said Joe. Simple maintenance can add 10 years to your dryer!

"The clothes dryer, whether it be gas or electric is always vented," said Joe. "And that's one of the things that will kill the clothes dryer quickly is poor venting. Whenever the flex pipe gets this dirty, it just needs to be replaced.

Something like this is very inexpensive to do and it will prolong the life of your dryer."

And, you may clean out the lint screen between each load, but Joe says really make sure you get it all out of there.

"It's best to pull the lint out, whatever you can grab with your hand, just pull it out," said Joe. "And periodically get a vacuum cleaner and just shove it down in there and suck as much of the lent out from the inside."

Here's something you have probably never done.

"After a while your lint trap - especially if you use dryer sheets - it will develop a film on the screen. Take the lint trap out and wash it under just some water, dry it and reinstall it. This will let the air flow through again," said Joe.

Adding years to the life of your dryer is not the only benefit.

"If you keep it clean and you are reducing the amount of heat that will build up. You are reducing the chances for a fire," said Joe. "It's going to be a lot more efficient because the dryer won't have to work as hard to blow that hot air out."

For the dishwasher the most important thing is to pay attention to how you load it.

"The racks are metal covered in a thin plastic sheet," said Joe. "You don't want to put anything sharp in here because once you cut this plastic and the metal is exposed it starts to rust and the water will get underneath and travel against the plastic and bubble up. Some dishwashers have rotating arms -- whether it be on the bottom of the rack or on the top of the dishwasher. If you put in any type of dishes or pans that are too tall and hit the arm, or are in the way of the rotation of the arm, you are not going to get the full benefit of the wash. Eventually if that arm keeps hitting stuff, it's going to work its way loose and fall off."

Proper loading will also help extend the life of your washing machine.

"Every washing machine has a transmission," said Joe. "If you overload the washing machine with laundry or heavy, heavy clothing. It's going to put a strain on that transmission. It will work, but let's say you are only going to get 10 years out of that washing machine instead of 20 to 25 years. Because you are wearing out that transmission. A king size comforter will kill a washing machine -- after a couple of years of doing that you are going to make the transmission sluggish and you are going to hear bumping and grinding and all kinds of stuff and you are going to wear it out faster."

And, Joe says, a must have item in every home is a small, screened filter, or washer. They cost about 75 cents and can save you hundreds of dollars in repairs.

"Put a screen filter on the water supply going into the appliance," recommends Joe, "If the city ever flushes the water systems all the debris comes right into your home. That causes rocks, dirt, and sediment to come right into your water lines. And therefore weaken the water pump in your appliance."

So, Joe recommends to put one of these over the hookup for your washing machine, dishwasher and refrigerator.

"It will save you hundreds of dollars in repairs," said Joe.

Electric stove tops tend to be pretty durable. Be careful about putting heavy pots on the glass or ceramic surfaces that some ovens have.

For the furnace, Joe recommends having it professionally cleaned once a year. Replace the filter every month during the winter months.

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