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Clean Appliances Keep Running Longer

July 28, 1996|POPULAR MECHANICS | FOR AP SPECIAL FEATURES

Routine maintenance of household appliances will pay for itself in improved efficiency, longer life for the appliances and improved appearance. Just keeping them clean, inside and out, can make a world of difference.

Refrigerators, like air conditioners, move a lot of air across their condenser coils. With this air comes dust, pet hair and lint that clings to the coils, reducing their ability to dissipate heat. When this happens, the compressor runs longer and cools less. This makes for an inefficient appliance and higher electrical bills.

Cleaning these coils twice a year takes only minutes and makes a big difference. As for gaining access, the condenser coils are behind a grille below the door.

The location of the evaporator plate (or evaporator coil) will vary. On older models, the evaporator coil is next to the compressor motor at the appliance's back behind an access panel. Newer models usually have an exposed coil in the form of a large metal grid on the refrigerator's back.

Since the condenser coil does most of the work, it deserves the greater share of your attention. Begin by lifting the grille from its place below the front door. The coil will probably be loaded with clusters of greasy fuzz. Use a vacuum cleaner to pull the dust from the coils. If the coils feel very greasy, use a spray bottle and some degreasing cleaner to rinse the tubes.

Next, pull the refrigerator out so you can work on the compressor compartment. Remove the access panel and vacuum the compressor and evaporator coil. Finally, replace the grille and access panel and move the refrigerator back.

Kitchen ranges come in gas-fired and electric models. The gas models require more maintenance. In either case, tip the cooktop up and check for carbon buildup. If you find a buildup on the shield, remove the cooktop and scrape the carbon off with a knife. Then, for good measure, use a safety pin or thin wire to clean the pilot flame orifice.

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