Use these tips to keep the appliance repairman away

  • Blog Post by: $author
  • February 8, 2012 - 8:08 AM

The"Fix It or Forget It" article about repairing or replacing electronics and appliances in the Strib Wednesday discusses how difficult it is to find a repair shop for something as common as a toaster.  Here is some additional info about making appliances last longer. Tang? Who knew?

Reading the owner’s manual before operating a gadget or appliance is like being told by a parent to finish your broccoli before dessert. As adults, most of us go right to dessert by stuffing the owner’s manual in a drawer until there’s a problem. But taking a few minutes to read the  “care and maintenance” section for tips can keep an appliance operating longer. Appliance repairmen shared a few tricks of the trade to keep a few more bills in your pocket instead of theirs.
: Joe Gagnon, author of the “Appliance Doctor,” recommends adding Tang powder to the dishwasher to reduce soap buildup and hard water deposits that can clog sprayer arms. To start, run the sink faucet until the water is hot. Turn on the empty dishwasher and let it run six or seven minutes . Open the door and pour 12 ounces of Tang in the water on the bottom of the dishwasher. Shut the door and let it continue its cycle. It’s an inexpensive fix to try if your dishes aren’t getting clean, but Chris Hall of thinks it’s not likely to make a big difference.


He recommends checking the owner’s manual for instructions on cleaning out the filter usually located in the center of the dishwasher bottom. Use a gentle scouring pad, toothpicks to clean the spray arm holes, and some cleanser to clean caked-on residue.
Washing machine: Take heavy, bulky items such as rugs, blankets or comforters to the big machines at a laundromat. Heavy items are a killer on washing machines said Mark Allen, owner of Big John’s appliance repair in Minneapolis.
Clothes dryer: Most of us know to clean the lint screen after each load, but go one step further. Several times a year, remove the lint filter and sprinkle a small amount of water on it. If the water beads up, gently scrub the filter to remove buildup from dryer sheets and fabric softeners. “You can cut 10 to 15 minutes off your dryer time with a clean filter,” Gagnon said.


Rather than use a dollar bill to check for air leaks around the door gasket, wait until dark, put a lit flashlight in the fridge, turn off all the lights in the room, and hope that you can’t see the light. In areas where you can, take a hair dryer, heat the seal, and gently stretch it outwards. Be careful not to burn the plastic.


Dehumidifiers:  A clogged filter can cause a unit to overheat, but cleaning the filter in newer models seems to be a well-kept secret. Part of the problem is manufacturers who “hide” the filter so that you have to take out the water reservoir and reach underneath to “feel’ for the filter lip to pull it out. If you don’t have the appliance manual, call the manufacturer to ask if your model has a filter.
Snow blowers and lawn mowers: Use ethanol-free gasoline, also called non-oxygenated and stabilizers such as Seafoam. Eighty percent of repairs are due to gasoline with ethanol left in a mower or blower for a month or longer, said Mark Toomey of Robbinsdale Marine. For a list of stations selling non-oxygenated fuel, go here.  Start a mower or blower every couple of weeks for best performance unless the gasoline is drained.  

Your tips for making appliances last longer?



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