Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Thrifty Thinking: How to Extend the Life of Your Washer & Dryer

By Sarah Kellner

When it comes to expiration dates, your mind probably goes to the gallon of milk in your fridge door, or maybe that ham hock in your freezer from Christmas. It might seem unfathomable, but your household appliances also have expiration dates, of sorts. The big difference is that you can drastically lengthen your appliances' lifespan with proper care and maintenance.
The biggest hurdle I had with understanding the concept of appliance maintenance was that even though these machines are designed to clean, they still need to be cleaned as well. I just figured that when I ran a cycle in the washer or dishwasher, it cleaned itself. As it turns out, the only appliance that is self-cleaning is your oven, and even that needs some help along the way.
Here are some basic tips for maintaining your washer and dryer, and extending their lifespans:
Washing Machine
Rubber drain hoses on washing machines are notorious for bursting and as a result, can cause major damage to your home and the machine itself.
The first thing you should do is make the swap from rubber to braided stainless steel mesh hoses, which are much stronger. Just be sure that when you change them out, you shut off the water supply, unplug the machine from the power outlet, and let whatever water may be sitting in the hose drain out into a bucket.
The other area to focus on for washing machine maintenance is the detergent dispenser drawer or door gasket on front-loading machines. Wipe out this area regularly and flush with water on top loaders, and wipe and dry the gasket on front loaders to keep it dry and free from mold and mildew.
Clothes Dryer
I cannot stress this enough: clean the lint filter before every single load. Doing so will not only prolong the life of your dryer but will help to reduce the risk of fire from hot, dry lint buildup.
Another tip, similar to the rubber hoses on the washer, is if your dryer is connected to the vent with flexible plastic or foil ducting (you know, the kind that looks like the arm of a space suit?), replace it with semi-rigid metal duct. This will keep it from getting bent or crushed behind your dryer, which can inhibit airflow and also contribute to hazardous lint buildup.
Finally, make sure you regularly clean the inside of this ductwork to prevent lint collection as well.
What are your tried-and-true tips for keeping your washer and dryer alive and kicking? Share them with us in the comments!
Sarah Kellner writes on DIY appliance tips for The Home Depot. Sarah provides advice on kitchen appliances, as well as washers and dryers. For a large selection of washers available online, you can visit the Home Depot website here.

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