Home appliances offer life convenience beyond measure and, it is possible that their life spans are taken for granted. Here are some thoughts on prioritizing their longevity.
Determine an appliance’s age by locating the serial number (usually inside). Manufacturers use codes within this number to record the production date.
How much an appliance is used, and how well it is cared for, will directly affect its performance. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) offers the following information to gauge the average time each unit will last, and tips for care.
Dishwasher: 9 years
- Only run when dishwasher is full; don’t overload.
- Clean filter regularly – remove to scrub with hot, soapy water.
- Pre-rinse dishes before loading to avoid buildup inside the unit.
Microwave: 9 years
- Slamming the microwave’s door can damage the latch mechanisms.
- Only use microwave-safe dishes; keep metals out of the microwave.
- Do not run the microwave when empty.
Washing machine: 10 years
- Keep machine is on a well-supported, level surface to prevent excessive vibration.
- Avoid overloading the washing machine, to prevent strain on the motor and transmitters; evenly balance clothing in the drum.
- Check the pockets of all clothing before washing; metal items like keys or coins can damage the drum.
Garbage disposal: 12 years
- Use cold water when running the disposal; this keeps fats and oils solid as they pass through the system.
- Allow the disposal to work for an extra minute or two with running water to flush any bits of food away.
- Do not place hard items such as bones, popcorn kernels, eggshells, or coffee grounds in the disposal.
Dryer: 13 years
- Clean dryer lint trap after every use.
- Use a soft cloth and mild cleaner on the inside of the dryer to remove residue from dryer sheets.
- Clean the dryer vent at least once a year to prevent excessive lint buildup that can develop into a fire hazard.
Refrigerator: 13 years
- Avoid over packing the fridge, as it blocks airflow and may cause damage to the compressor and spoil food.
- Clean the condenser coils (located on the back or bottom of the refrigerator) twice a year with a vacuum and a soft-bristle brush attachment.
- Wipe down the rubber door gaskets with a rag and mild cleanser regularly.
- Replace gaskets that appear worn out or brittle.
Stove: 13 years (electric); 15 years (gas)
- Wipe down stovetop daily to avoid an accumulation of grime.
- Do not spray cleaning fluid directly on the control panels or knobs; this may cause corrosion or a short circuit. Use a damp rag with a mild dishwashing liquid to clean these areas.
- Replace the oven door’s seal if cracked or frayed, to help prevent heat from leaking out.
Repair or replace?
- Practice the 50-50 rule: If the appliance is more than 50 percent through its average life span and the repair costs more than 50 percent of the price of a new model, it may be time to replace it.
- Check your home warranty contract, for the possible coverage of replacement appliances.
- Replace older appliances before they break down; take advantage of January sales and retailers’ holiday weekend specials.
- Popular months for sales: January-stoves; May-refrigerators; September and October-washers, dryers, dishwashers.