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APPLIANCES : Routine Care Can Add Years to Life of Machines

July 17, 1993|From Associated Press

Your household appliances will work more efficiently and have an increased useful service life if you perform simple routine maintenance.

In the case of your dishwasher, for example, usually all that's needed to keep it in good working order is to keep its door gasket and spray arms clean and fish out the kitchen jetsam from under the heating element.

While the door gasket may appear clean where it is plainly visible, there's a good chance its bottom section is covered with a slimy dirt that can cause the door to leak. Hold a hand mirror to the bottom of the door to reveal any accumulation of dirt.

Use a strong, non-abrasive household cleaner to remove the dirt from the gasket and door panel. You might also lift the water level float from the base of the cabinet to check for dirt. If the float gets too dirty, it can stick in place, throwing the water level out of whack.

While you're at it, check the openings in the spray arms for small shreds of plastic. Remove these shreds with a pair of tweezers.

Also check the drain area regularly for bread sack fasteners, small measuring spoons or other kitchen items. Not only can these items melt onto the heating element, they may break up and chip the food grinding impellers in the drain.

Finally, make sure some water remains in the base of the dishwasher. If you seldom use your dishwasher, add water periodically. If left to dry out, the pump seals may leak when the dishwasher is used.

When it comes to maintaining your washer and dryer, the best you can do for these appliances is to keep them level and clean. If they are out of level their moving parts will wear unevenly and excessively.

Any service technician can tell you that most of the laundry appliances he encounters are completely out of level. In some cases, "self-leveling" legs compound the problem, as they don't always level the appliance, but extend to close the gap between themselves and the floor.

Place a small level on the top frame of the appliance to determine where the problem lies. Then, thread the legs up or down accordingly, or in the case of the self-leveling legs, lift the low side of the appliance until that leg extends to the proper height.

To keep the finish on these appliances looking good, wash them regularly with a mild detergent. Clothing dyes can stain the insides of washers and dryers, so clean their drums frequently, especially after washing new clothes.

Some components, such as the fabric softener reservoir on a washing machine, can be removed for better cleaning. The reservoir is often held in place by a friction ring. Just lift this ring and the reservoir will detach from the agitator.

And, finally, you should fasten the washer discharge hose to the plumbing stand pipe. A washer discharge pump is capable of moving 50 to 60 gallons of water per minute. That much pressure has a tendency to lift the discharge hose right out of its plumbing pipe. There are several devices made for this problem, including a friction-fit gasket.

Lacking a factory-made solution, use wire or duct tape to secure the hose. A loose discharge hose can do hundreds of dollars in water damage.

Because dryers produce so much lint, you'll need to pay particular attention to the lint trap and the dryer vent tube. Remove and clean the lint trap with each load. Failing to clean the lint trap regularly can cause the dryer to overheat and can start a fire. It also affects efficiency.

Also, check the vent tube twice a year, especially if your dryer vents up, as most dryers located in basements do. Pull the dryer out to get behind it. Then pull the vent from the dryer connection. This will allow you to shake any lint and debris accumulation from the tube.

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