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The simple guide to maintaining home appliances

Steve Hutchings

By Steve Hutchings

August 24th 2016
home-applaince-maintenance-stoves

 

Our everyday electrical devices and appliances help make our lives easier in countless ways: from cooking to lighting to washing our clothes and dishes, and much more. But how many of us regularly set aside time for cleaning, servicing and maintaining home appliances? Keeping our essential household appliances in working order extends their lifespan and maximise their efficiency, thereby saving us money. It also can potentially save lives. This is particularly true when it comes to electrical maintenance, which is why an annual or half-yearly check-up of all things electrical in your home is recommended. Here are our top appliance maintenance tips, from cleaning to replacement to common risks.

 

The guide to home appliance maintenance

 

It’s best to repair or replace broken appliances immediately if you’ve spotted hazards. Keep an eye out for frayed cords or exposed live wires that need attention, or if the appliance is emitting smoke, sparks and other urgent warning signs. For less pressing household maintenance tasks, however, keep a regular schedule by jotting down when your appliances need servicing or cleaning. Ensure the record is in a visible place.

 

Light bulbs and fixtures

Maintenance tips: In terms of safety, halogen light bulbs are considered best for use in the home. Dust your light fixtures weekly and give them a thorough cleaning once a month.

When to replace: As needed; we advise replacing all your light bulbs at the same time and noting the date on the side of a bulb in permanent marker to keep you up to date.

Common risks:

  • Fire hazard in tight, enclosed spaces (such as closets)
  • Electric shock or fire if it comes into contact with water
  • Burns (when changing the light bulb)

 

Washing machine

Maintenance tips: Check the machine’s hoses for leaks and replace them if necessary every 6 months – this can help prevent a flood or electrical fault. Also, be careful not to overload the machine, to maximise its lifespan by reducing wear and tear on the machine.

When to replace: Ten to fifteen years is the average lifespan, but excessive noise, leaking or movement might indicate time for a replacement. Alternatively, rental options are now more accessible.

Common risks:

  • Potential danger of water in proximity to electrical appliances
  • Children climbing in

 

Dryer

Maintenance tips: As with washing machines, avoid overloading the machine and check the hoses for leaks twice a year. You should also empty the lint trap after every load of laundry, and clean lint and fluff from the dryer’s ducts and exhaust vent twice a year. This will reduce the risk of fire resulting from an accumulation of debris.

When to replace: Again, ten to fifteen years on average is recommended but sooner if your clothes are taking longer to dry than usual, or you notice the machine making unusual movements or sounds.

Common risks:

  • Potential danger of water in proximity to electrical appliances
  • Children climbing in
  • Fire hazard if there is an accumulation of debris blocking the airflow

 

Iron

Maintenance tips: The humble steam iron should be cleaned occasionally to prevent a buildup of mineral deposits, grime and dirt which could cause stains and wrinkles on your clothing.

When to replace: Two to five years appears to be the lifespan of the average iron, unless there are safety concerns or malfunctions.

Common risks:

  • Minor burns
  • Tripping over the cord
  • Fire hazard if it’s accidentally left on
  • Potential danger of iron coming into contact with water, particularly if you do your ironing in the laundry
  • Frayed or damaged cords

 

Stove and oven

Maintenance tips: Regular cleaning prevents a buildup of grease, spilled food, sauces, oil or fat particles that could potentially ignite a kitchen fire. It’s best to clean the stovetop every evening after use, and the oven door weekly. Give the entire oven a thorough clean monthly, or at least every three months. When to replace: Twenty years is the average lifespan of a stove and oven, unless there are safety concerns, breakage or malfunctions. Common risks:

  • Leaks of carbon monoxide if not installed correctly
  • Burns from food spillage (it’s best to turn pan handles inwards)
  • Fire hazards

 

Refrigerator

Maintenance tips: You should wash the door seals and the ice dispenser of your fridge at least every two to three months, and clean both the base grill and the coils either at the bottom or behind your fridge to keep it sufficiently cool. Also check that the seal is functioning well, as a leaky seal can rack up your energy usage and running costs.

When to replace: A 10 – 20 year lifespan is typical. If your fridge is having issues and it’s more than 15 years old you may consider replacement.

Common risks:

  • Potential food poisoning caused by ineffective cooling and food storage

 

Dishwasher

Maintenance tips: Check your dishwasher’s filter regularly to make sure there’s no buildup of food particles and other residue. Using a dishwasher cleaner will also help combat mineral deposits left behind by hard water.

When to replace: Dishwashers can last up to 15 years, but issues like rusted shelves, leaks and cracks may indicate it needs replacement.

Common risks:

  • Risk of fire or electric shock due to faulty wiring if not professionally installed
  • Dishwashing powder can be toxic for children and animals

 

Microwave

Maintenance tips: Make sure you clean your microwave tray and walls on a weekly basis, and always cover food before heating in order to prevent splatter – this will reduce your chances of any spilt food catching fire. Never store any items inside the microwave.

When to replace: Most microwaves last up to 10 years. Replace sooner if there are warning signs like burning smells, sparks, smoke or malfunctions.

Common risks:

  • Fire hazard if not cleaned properly
  • Frayed or damaged cords

 

Toaster

Maintenance tips: Clean your toaster monthly or weekly if you use it regularly. It’s best to unplug the toaster when it’s not in use in case of faulty wiring starting the power.

When to replace: Most toasters will last 6 to 8 years if cleaned regularly.

Common risks:

  • Fire hazard if it jams while toasting
  • Electric shock if a metal utensil is placed inside toaster
  • Frayed or damaged cords

 

Heater

Maintenance tips: Check your heater cord regularly for any fraying or exposed wires, and keep the exhaust hose straight. Dust the unit regularly (when switched off) and clean its filters and condenser coils according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If you like to leave it on overnight it’s best to get an electric timer to switch it off after a specific period to lower the risk of fire or excessive gas emissions.

When to replace: Heaters should last roughly five years depending on the model and type (whether it’s gas or electric, for instance).

Common risks:

  • Fire hazard if it’s accidentally left on
  • Frayed or damaged cords
  • Faulty wiring
  • Excessive gas emissions for gas heaters

 

Air conditioner and fan

Maintenance tips: Clean the filters, condenser coils and grills of your A/C every six months to get rid of any dust or dirt that can interfere with the unit’s ability to cool effectively. This will also extend its working life and reduce the risk of asthma attacks and other respiratory illnesses in the household. It’s best to have your AC serviced regularly. Fans should be dusted weekly, and the blades and cage should be washed thoroughly as needed.

When to replace: Most air conditioning units last at least 10-15 years, and ceiling fans up to 20.

Common risks:

  • Frayed or damaged cords
  • Children injuring their fingers on fan blades
  • Fire hazards for incorrectly-installed air conditioners

 

Smoke alarms

Maintenance tips: It’s essential to test your smoke alarm every month, and test the batteries every 3-6 months. You should also wipe it down every six months to prevent any dust particles from interfering.

When to replace: Smoke alarms should last 10 years, but should be replaced immediately if no longer working properly.

Common risks:

  • Failure to test the alarm and its batteries regularly

 

Hot water heater

Maintenance tips: Make sure to have this often-overlooked device serviced regularly. Drain your hot water heater every few years to remove any sediment.

When to replace: Most hot water heaters have a life expectancy of 8-12 years depending on the particular type. If your electric hot water system is out, it’s best to have a professional take a look at it immediately.

Common risks:

  • Corrosion or damage can present fire hazards
  • Toxic fumes like carbon monoxide if there is improper venting

 

If you’d like help with your electrical maintenance, or advice on how to make sure they’re all in tip top condition, give us a call today.

Was that helpful? If you want professional, timely electrical help then give Steve a call on 0411 188 492, or (for the introverts) shoot us an email.

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