Tips

Washing Machine

Proper Leveling

Today most new machines spin well above 1000 rpms which is almost twice the rate of a typical top loader just a decade ago. With this increased movement along with larger overall tub size many new machines will vibrate or “walk” if they aren’t leveled properly, or if the floor beneath them is weak. Most issues seem to occur in first or second floor laundry applications, even with a newer built home. If after proper leveling you are still having issues with the machine vibrating and are unsure if the problem is the floor or the machine, there is a way to solve the problem. Move the machine to a basement, garage, or even driveway for a test run and level it there on a solid surface. While this may be a large undertaking in some installations, in the end it may be better than several service calls that do not solve your problem.

Most washing machines have adjustable leveling legs. It is important that you have as much of the leg inside the cabinet as possible, yet have the machine level. By using the least amount of the leg exposed you can you lower the center of gravity and help the overall performance of the machine. Adjust the leg to the proper height, and then tighten the lock nut up against the body of the machine to keep the leg from moving. The machine should be level or in the case of some front loading machines with a soap dispenser in the front, just slightly tilted to the rear. I have found this to help solve a few of the small water drips that can occur when opening the soap dispenser drawer.

Some top loading machines may have rear self-adjusting leveling legs. You can set these legs by tilting the entire machine forward onto its front legs (with the rear legs 3 to 4 inches off the floor) and then setting the machine back down. The legs should adjust automatically. If they do not, you may need to tilt the machine forward and tap on the rear legs with a hammer to loosen them. If you have the machines mounted on a pedestal it is important that the pedestal is level too. Make sure the legs are secure and that the screws that are used to assemble the pedestal are tight.

To reduce vibration even more consider using Shake Away Pads. These pads are engineered to absorb the vibration transferred from the machine to the floor.

Removing Odors and Mold

Today’s washing machines use much less water than machines of old. Unfortunately most people still use the same amount of soap that they did with their older washers. This over use of soap builds up on the outer drum and on the door boot of most front loading washing machines over time. When this occurs it is not abnormal to have foul odor or a mold build up in the machine, especially if it is allowed to sit unused for several days at a time. To help curb this potential problem cut way back on the soap usage, and use the proper soap recommended for your machine. The soap cups are designed to hold enough soap to wash a load of clothes in the worst of water conditions. In most areas you could use half or even a quarter of the soap cups capacity and still have good washing results, without the smell. Many machines today have a “clean” cycle that they recommend that you use every month or so to help clean out the washer. Follow the directions that came with your machine on how to use that feature. Most incorporate using a lot of hot water and some agitation time to help dilute the internal soap build up followed with a few hot rinses. If your machine doesn’t have this option you can still just run a long wash cycle and add a cup or two of chlorine bleach and get pretty good results. At the beginning of the wash cycle, add the bleach directly to the washtub and not through the bleach dispenser. This routine maintenance will help remove any soap deposits and will also help keep germs from accumulating. There are also many good commercial washer cleaners available today Affresh is one such option to consider.

Water hoses

It is good preventative maintenance to check the fill and drain hoses from time to time for wear and/or weakness. As the fill hoses age, they lose resiliency and may develop small blisters which could burst. A worn through drain hose due to age and vibration during spin can cause a lot of damage to your home. Most manufacturer recommend replacing the fill hoses every five years. Many new machines come with three or four foot hoses that may not reach your particular installation requirements. For a good set of five foot hoses click here. For more peace of mind, one alternative is to use high quality stainless steel hoses. If you find you have a leaking drain hose enter the model number off the unit itself on the home page to find the correct replacement.

Dryer

Venting

Your dryer having the correct venting is the most important part of the installation. If the venting is not the proper size or length you can cause long run times, premature wear of the internal parts, and even vent fires. There are thousands of vent fires every year in the United States and I would think most could have been avoided with proper installation and routine maintenance of the venting.

As a general rule of thumb most dryers require a vent of 4” straight walled round metal venting not to exceed 50 feet in length. For every elbow deduct 8 feet from your total length. You should also deduct 8 feet for the termination cap at the end of your run from the total length. If you chose to use flexible metal venting vs. straight wall venting, factor in that eight foot of flexible equals ten feet of straight wall tube. As you can see once you factor in any elbows or transition pieces it doesn’t take long to exceed the recommended length. I strongly suggest you consult your owner’s manual for your particular unit and follow the guidelines provided regarding vent size and length.

If you start experiencing long dry times check the venting and the lint trap area for lint build up. Check the entire length of the vent pipe for lint build-up at least once a year and empty the lint trap after every load. Remove any lint from the duct using a ten foot vent brush. Depending on your particular installation a twenty foot vent brush may be needed to reach hard to access areas. There is also a vent cleaning system which includes vacuum cleaner attachments and adjustable rods to accommodate most cleaning jobs.

It is a good idea while inspecting the venting to make a visible inspection of your electrical cord and gas line for your dryer. Never vent a gas dryer indoors. Never use plastic ducting for exhausting your dryer as it is much less likely to contain a vent fire vs. metal ducting. By cleaning your dryer vent, drying time will improve and energy consumption decreases since the dryer is not running as long to dry the clothes.

Lint filter maintenance

Check and clean the lint filter after every load. Inspect the link trap and replace it if the frame is broken or there are any tears in the fabric. If the filter gets clogged with fabric softener residue, you can usually clean it with a soft-bristle brush and a little detergent. To see if the filter is restricted with softener build up remove it and drop a few drops of water on the screen surface, if the water pools then you know the filter needs to be cleaned or replaced. It is a good idea to occasionally clean the area that the lint filter fits into. If necessary, use a vacuum cleaner to reach into the duct and clean out any lint. A refrigerator condenser cleaning brush works well in many applications for this job.

Cleaning the interior of the cabinet

Most of the lint produced by clothes tumbling in a dryer is normally trapped by the lint filter. However, lint will escape the filter and accumulate on the inside of the dryer cabinet. Over time this accumulation can plug up the dryer motor, cover sensors or thermostats and cause erratic temperatures. The lint accumulation can also get into the wearing parts, idler pulleys, drum wheels and cause premature wear. If you find you have a restricted vent, or your machine is several years old it may be a good idea to vacuum out the inside of the cabinet and lint housing. Every dryer has different access points, some are quite easy to reach and others require more dismantling of the dryer to access the internal components. If unsure you want to tackle this job just make sure if you have the unit serviced in the future that you grab your vacuum while the technician is in the home and have them perform this task for you.

Range

Drip pans/bowls

Over time, the burner drip pans or reflector bowls may become stained, rusted or otherwise discolored. Once stained, it is usually not possible to clean them completely. Many chrome pans have a black porcelain replacement available which may look satisfactory with your stove and they do seem to clean up better. Some pans can be cleaned in the oven during the self-clean cycle, consult your owner’s manual to see if yours are. In the end it may be necessary to replace the drip pans every two to three years. Make sure if you plan on covering your pans with aluminum foil that you do not block any vent holes or otherwise interfere with the surface burners installation. Usually it is not recommended that you cover the drip bowls as they are meant to help reflect the heat back up into the pan. You should also consult your owner’s manual before putting anything on your ovens floor. Many stoves today have heating elements in the floor of the oven and covering them can burn out the element and cause oven liner damage, possibly even void your warranty.

Cook top care

You can clean any porcelain cook top with a non-abrasive cleaner. Do not pour the cleaner directly onto the cook top. Instead, put some cleaner on a soft, damp rag, and then wipe the surface. Stainless surfaces should be cleaned with stainless cleaner only and be careful not to damage or scratch the surface. For glass and ceramic cook tops, never use an abrasive cleaner it is recommended to always use products made for this purpose. I recommend the cooktop cleaning kit with a scraper to remove the cooked on spills.

Door

A worn oven door seal can cause uneven baking, discoloration of the exterior frame and handle as well as not being too energy efficient. You can verify that the oven door has a tight seal by opening the oven door and inspecting where the seal meets the door or the door frame. Usually if there is a leak some discoloration will be occurring outside of the door gasket. Check for any broken, torn, or deformed areas on the seal and replace the seal if necessary. If the area between the inner and outer oven door glass has become stained it may be necessary to remove the oven door and separate the glass in order to clean it. This can be a very labor intensive job and if you break the glass an expensive one too. If you have a light colored plastic door handle that has become discolored you will probably have to replace the handle in order to put the unit in good cosmetic condition again.

Anti-tip device

Your range should be equipped with an anti-tip device; most manufacturers ship this with the new product. This bracket is usually mounted to the floor or back wall behind the range and it allows one of the rear legs to slide under the bracket which keeps the stove from tipping. Some versions incorporate a chain that secures to the back of the stove which provides the same protection. If you are unsure if your stove has an anti-tip device you should inspect behind the stove, or have a service person make an assessment of the installation. If you find you do not have an anti-tip device it is a good idea to have one installed, most are inexpensive and installation normally isn’t that labor intensive.

Refrigerator

Clean condenser coils

Dirty condenser coils cause a refrigerator to work harder; which results in increased energy bills and a shorter life expectancy for the refrigerator. It is recommended that at least once a year you use a vacuum with a vacuum hose attachment or condenser brush to remove dust build up from the coils. You should do this more frequently if shedding pets are present in the home. The condenser looks like a small radiator and will be located behind, underneath, or on top of the refrigerator. To access coils located underneath, remove the grill at the bottom front of the refrigerator. To access coils located behind, you will have to pull the unit out from the wall and remove the rear access cover. To access coils on top, the large decorative panel may have to be removed. Be careful as these can be heavy or have sharp edges. You should also be careful not to damage, bend or flatten out any of the fins on the coil as this will reduce air flow.

Another approach to cleaning the condenser on most units is to use some damp towels and put them around the perimeter of the base or top of the unit and then use compressed air to blow out the coils. This process cleans the coils and underside of the refrigerator better than just a brush, but can make for a mess to clean up afterwards.

Door gaskets

The gaskets on the refrigerator and freezer doors are designed to seal the cabinet against any warm air migrating inside. A torn or folder over gasket that isn’t sealing properly can cause long run times, erratic temperatures and waste energy. Regularly clean the gasket with hot soapy water and wipe it dry. You can use most any mild cleaner and an old tooth brush to reach the crevices. If you have mold present you may have to use a cleaner with a bleach solution in order to remove the mold. It is important to wipe up any spills inside the refrigerator immediately. Some liquids, once dried on the outer frame, will act like glue and will cause the gasket to tear as the door is opened. If you find the gasket has a tear in it you may have to replace the gasket in order to keep the unit running at peak efficiency.

Water filter

If your refrigerator has an ice maker and/or a water dispenser, it will likely have a water filter that needs to be replaced on a regular basis. Replace your filter every six to twelve months or as recommended by the owner's manual. If you don’t wish to continue to use the filter provided by the manufacturer of the refrigerator because you have a whole house system or otherwise have a filtering device in most refrigerators you can purchase a bypass plus which omits the usage of the proprietary water filter. Enter your model number into the search field to find one for your machine.

Some refrigerators will have a reminder light that illuminates when it is time to change the filter. To reset this light, use the general instructions below related to some of the more common units in the field.

Amana: Press and hold the auto and dispenser lock buttons until the water filter status indicator light flashes.

Frigidaire: Press and hold the reset button until the indicator light flashes.

GE and Hotpoint: Press and hold the reset button for eight seconds.

Jenn Air: Press and hold the light and lock buttons until the water filter light flashes.

Kitchen Aid: Press and release the light button five times quickly.

Maytag: Press and hold the light and lock buttons until the water filter light flashes.

Samsung: Press and hold the ice type and child lock buttons at the same time for three seconds.

Sub-Zero: Press and hold the reset button behind the grill near the filter for five seconds. To reset the air filter hold down the air filter button on the control panel touch pad for five seconds.

Whirlpool: Press and release the light button five times quickly.

Dishwasher

Dishracks and silverware basket

Over time the plastic coating on your dish rack may wear off resulting in corrosion and rust. If the rack isn’t too compromised you can repair the existing rack rather than replace it. Simply use a liquid rubber type solution and slip-on rubber tips to cover the exposed metal areas. For best results, remove any rust present on the racks with sandpaper or a sanding block before applying the repair material. Repair kits are available in white, light blue, and grey. I have found that if you put a small amount of the liquid on the tines before installing the tips the tips will hold better onto the tine surface. Let the rack dry overnight before putting back into use. If you don’t address the rusting on the racks, over time the rust particles end up in the pump assembly and can ruin the pump seals causing a much greater repair and expense in the future.

Periodically inspect the silverware basket for any breakage or holes on the bottom of the basket. If silverware or other utensils are protruding below the basket the wash arm may obstructed. Usually if this is occurring poor wash results and un-dissolved soap will be present at the end of the cycle. If the silverware basket has holes in it replace the basket. Most are model number specific so obtain the model as it reads off the dishwasher itself and order the correct one for your machine. Another reason to replace the basket is If the wash arm is being held in one position during the wash cycle it is possible the water may be sprayed directly into the corners of the door area and causing a periodic leak onto the floor.

Over time, the small holes in the spray arm(s) of your dishwasher may become restricted with toothpicks, glass, paper, hard water scale, etc. If the holes are plugged the wash arm may not turn as usually the holes on the end of the arm are designed to spray the water in a way that turns the wash arm. Your dishwasher will perform better if you clean out the small holes from time to time.

It is a good idea to clean out any hard water and/or soap deposits in the wash system, tank, and pump system. This is really important if you have hard water. The first step to cleaning the dishwasher is to run hot water at the tap until it comes out hot. Second program the empty dishwasher into the regular wash cycle. Wait until the machine has filled and drained twice and begins to circulate the water in the main wash. At this time, add your cleaning product (white vinegar or Glisten) directly into the bottom of the dishwasher. Allow the machine to run the entire wash cycle. For best results, reset or advance the dishwasher to run again in the wash cycle without draining the treated water.

In most dishwashers, there is a filter near the bottom or under the lower spray arm that needs to be cleaned on a regular basis. Since every machine is a little different I suggest you consult your owner's manual to find out how to remove and clean it. Over time the small holes can become clogged with hard water scale. If this occurs you may want to pour in a bottle of vinegar and pour a few pitchers of water into the unit and let it sit covering the bottom of the machine and filters for several hours. Make sure you select the cancel cycle feature before using the dishwasher to wash dishes again. If the filter doesn’t come clean you may have to replace it to insure good wash action.

Garbage Disposal

Care and cleaning

Maintaining a clean garbage disposal will help to keep it smelling fresh and odor free. To improve performance and prolong the life of the disposer, we recommend cleaning it every few months with Disposer Care. Grinding ice cubes and lemon periodically can help keep the cutting blades clean.

Inspect the splash guard and make sure it is in good shape. If parts are torn or missing you should consider replacing it to keep small items and silverware from falling into the grinding chamber and jamming the disposal.

To prevent backups, remember to run water during use and after you are done grinding for a short while in order to move the waste all the way through the drain lines.

Icemaker

Odors

Even though your water supply may provide healthy, potable water to your ice maker, some impurities may remain. These can affect the smell or taste of the ice cubes, and therefore the beverages in which you serve them. If your refrigerator doesn’t already have a water filter try installing a taste and odor water filter on the incoming water-supply line.

Ice bin

To help keep your ice tasting its best, empty out the ice and wash the ice bin every 2 to 3 months. If you find your ice cubes tasting funny make sure to keep the foods in your refrigerator covered, the ice cubes can absorb many odors and tastes.

Water filter

Replace your water filter every four to six months or when the change filter light is illuminated. Change it sooner if you start noticing a bad taste or odors.

Microwave

Cleaning

It is important to clean the inside of your microwave frequently. Food particles and splatters absorb some of the microwave energy while the unit is operating and may cause burns and other damage to the microwave. You can clean the interior with a microwave oven cleaner or an all-purpose cleaner. If grease or food particles remain on the wave guide cover it can burn the cover, cooking it rather than the food. If you find the small cover in the ceiling or side wall has burn marks on it you can order a new one or you can order a sheet of the waveguide cover material for most units and cut your own. Use the old one as a template and use a razor blade knife or scissors to make a replacement.

Running empty

Never operate a microwave oven without food or liquid inside it. With no load in the microwave cooking cavity to absorb the microwave energy, the energy can feed back into the microwave wave guide itself, which can permanently damage the magnetron and other internal components. Make sure to remove all metal from any packaging that may be on any food product before putting it into the microwave. The metal will cause burning while the unit cooks and it may look like a lighting storm inside the cavity when in use.

Door

Your microwave oven door is designed to keep the microwave energy inside where it belongs. If the door is in any way damaged or if the door seal does not seem to fit correctly or be in good repair, have the microwave leak checked by a qualified appliance repair technician.

Range Vent Hood

Filters

Clean or inspect the metal mesh filters often. The thin, silvery screen exposed is the grease filter; you may have a charcoal or odor filter mounted behind the grease filter. The grease filter traps airborne oils and grease to keep them out of the blower and exhaust vent. To clean the grease filter, remove it and soak it in a degreasing solution until the grease is dissolved. Next, wash it with warm, soapy water to remove any traces of the degreaser. Then put it in the upper rack of the dishwasher and run it through a normal cycle. Most charcoal filters cannot be cleaned and replacement may be necessary.

Light Bulb and lens cover

Always use the manufacturer’s suggested replacement light bulb. Use of the incorrect bulb may generate too much heat in that area and melt the light shield or overheat the light bulb socket.

Blower wheel or fan blade

Over time, the blower wheel or fan blade can get greasy and dirty, which can slow down the fan or cause vibration. If the blade is real dirty you may have to remove it and clean it with a degreaser. If you notice a vibration it is possible the plastic fan blade is broken or cracked and a new one should be installed. If the blade isn’t the problem you could have a worn motor bearing, most often you will eventually need to replace the fan motor if this is the case.

Interior

Clean the interior of the vent hood with a standard household cleaner. Be sure the power is turned off before you clean it. Avoid spraying cleaner directly onto the light bulb or light bulb socket.

Dehumidifier

Filters

Many dehumidifiers utilize a simple, electrostatic filter located in the front grill. Most often you can remove and wash the filter and reuse it. If the filter is torn or doesn’t allow good air flow to pass through I recommend replacing the filter. It is also a good idea to inspect and clean the dehumidifier every year before putting it into operation.

Water container

If you empty the bucket daily you should inspect the bucket for any dirt or residue build up, clean as necessary. For those using a drain hose you should inspect the bucket every year and clean it out. Make sure you don’t damage the bucket as you empty it as new buckets can be quite costly to replace.

Coils frosting up

If you run the dehumidifier below 65 degrees the evaporator coil can freeze up. Most owners’ manuals will state that running the dehumidifier in ambient temperatures below 65 degrees is not recommended. At times, putting the unit on a table and off of the basement floor may help. If temperatures below 65 degrees cannot be avoided some machines today come with a de-icing feature which shuts down the unit to thaw out, in older machines a de-icing kit may be available as an aftermarket installation. If your dehumidifier frosts up even in temperatures above 65-70 degrees most often the problem is a leak in the system or other refrigeration system related problem. In most cases if this is the problem it is more cost effective to replace the whole unit rather than repair it.

Air Conditioner

Condensing coils

Because the fan motor is constantly moving outside ambient air, the condensing coils on an air conditioner will get very dirty over time. Most air conditioners pull the air from the side vents and push the air through the back side of the coil so the dirt tends to accumulate on the inside of the coils, out of sight. It is usually necessary to remove the entire cover of the air conditioner to gain access to the coils to clean them properly. They can be cleaned by blowing compressed air through them or by using a soft bristle brush to wipe the dirt off. It is important to also clean any dirt or lint build-up in the bottom of the air conditioner so the condensate water will be picked up by the condensing fan slinger properly. Make sure you are careful if you have to move any of the components or tubing while cleaning the unit. If you damage the fins on the coil, flatten them out you can use a fin comb to straighten them back to the original position.

Filter

Air conditioners are outfitted with a filter in the front grill area to filter the air that passes through them. If your unit has a filter you should replace/clean it once a month during the cooling season.

Frost on coils

If you notice the coil on the inside of the room icing or frosting over make sure you aren’t running the unit where the outside temperature goes below approximately 60 degrees Fahrenheit. This usually is caused from running the air conditioner overnight when the temperatures fall below recommended operating conditions. If you notice ice, frost or a partial frost pattern, and the outside temperature is above 70 degrees, this is usually sign of a leak or other refrigeration system problem. Depending on the size and age of the unit it may be better to replace the whole unit rather than repair it.

Humidifier

Cleaning

During normal use the water reservoir on reservoir-type humidifiers becomes encrusted with calcium and other mineral build-up. It may also begin to harbor bacteria. Use a humidifier cleaner and anti-bacterial solution to clean the reservoir completely at the start of the heating season and again at the end of the season. You may have to soak the components in vinegar for a while in order to completely remove the hard water scale.

You need to clean your humidifier at the end of every season because it builds up scale, rust, and hard water marks as it operates. You can disassemble it for cleaning. Consult your owner's manual to learn the proper technique for disassembling your unit.

Filter

Replace the humidifier pad or filter at least once a year. In some areas where there is extremely hard water you may have to replace it twice a season.

Trash Compactor

Cleaning

In order to keep down the odors you should thoroughly clean the interior of your trash compactor on a regular basis. We recommend that you use a bacteria-fighting cleaner and/or degreaser to clean the ram (the platform that presses down on the garbage) and any other part of the compactor that comes into contact with the garbage. Clean around the track area and door frame to insure you have smooth drawer operation.

Bacteria can grow on the inside of your trash compactor. For temporary odor control between cleanings, use a deodorizer on the interior of the compactor. If your unit has a replaceable charcoal filter you should replace this at least once a year depending on useage.

Freezer

Door gasket

The gaskets on the refrigerator and freezer doors are designed to seal the cabinet against any warm air migrating inside. A torn or folder over gasket that isn’t sealing properly can cause long run times, erratic temperatures and waste energy. Regularly clean the gasket with hot soapy water and wipe it dry. You can use most any mild cleaner and an old tooth brush to reach the crevices. If you have mold present you may have to use a cleaner with a bleach solution in order to remove the mold. It is important to wipe up any spills inside the refrigerator immediately. Some liquids, once dried on the outer frame, will act like glue and will cause the gasket to tear as the door is opened. If you find the gasket has a tear in it you may have to replace the gasket in order to keep the unit running at peak efficiency.

Cleaning coils

Self-defrosting freezers have a set of coils much like a refrigerator and a cooling fan under the freezer that need to be cleaned at least once a year. The coils may look like a grate or like a wide radiator. Unplug the freezer, and use a condenser brush to remove any lint and debris from the coils. The coils on a chest freezer are inside of the cabinet and require no maintenance. The coil dissipates the heat through the exterior walls which is why the walls of the cabinet become warm to the touch when the unit is running.

Drain pan

With a manual defrost freezer you will have to shut it off every six months to a year and let remove the frost from the interior. Do not use anything sharp to remove the frost or ice as you may puncture the cooling coil and render the freezer useless. It is not necessary to manually defrost your self-defrosting freezer. In a self-defrosting freezer every 8 to 12 hours, the unit will turn off and incorporate a small set of heaters to heat up its cooling coils slightly and melt any frost accumulation on the coils. The resulting water will drain into a shallow pan located at the bottom of the freezer.

You do not need to empty the pan because the water in it will evaporate in to the room. Over time it may begin to develop a foul odor and on many freezers you can remove and clean the pan. You can remove the pan for periodic cleaning by detaching the lower grill and sliding the pan out the front of the freezer. Note... When mold grows in the drain pain, it is sometimes considered to be a health concern. If your drain pan is removable, and if you are sensitive to mold consider cleaning the drain pan periodically.

Hot Water Dispenser

Hot water dispensers don’t require a lot of maintenance. You should periodically inspect the tubing under the counter to make sure no leaks have developed. It is also a good idea to have the dispenser on a filter system to prolong the life of the tank and give good clean drinking water.

Water Filter

Cartridge-type filters

Replacing your whole house cartridge-type water filter two or three times a year will ensure that your water filter is filtering the highest level of impurities from the water. I recommend thoroughly cleaning the canister that houses the cartridge when you replace the cartridge. Also, clean and lubricate the o-ring with food-grade silicone grease or a comparable lubricant.

Self-contained filters

Self-contained or disposable water filters (a filter without a removable cartridge) have a useful life of six months to one year. After this period, replace the filter.

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