We rely on our household appliances each and every day to help make our lives simpler, but all too often we don't always treat them right.
Repair companies tell Angie's List they see homeowners do things such as stuff the freezer and fridge too full of food -- blocking the air supply, overfilling dishwashers -- or simply not giving the machines the routine maintenance they need.
According to the nationwide Angie's List poll:
- More than 40 percent of respondents say they'll host holiday dinners this year, putting their ovens, refrigerators and garbage disposals to the test.
- 11 percent of respondents said they've had an appliance die in the midst of preparing a special meal.
"When it comes to appliances, homeowners oftentimes take them for granted. We don't take proper care of them and then we end up disappointed when they don't work right. We overstuff our freezers so proper airflow can't get through or we overload our dishwasher so it doesn't even have a prayer of being able to get the dishes clean," said Angie Hicks, founder of Angie's List.
Angie's List dos & don'ts to get the most out of your appliances:
- Stoves/Ovens – Self-cleaning cycles cause the oven to run at extremely high temperatures. Do not run the self-cleaning cycle right before your big meal. Check your oven's performance at least two weeks before the big day by getting a basic cake mix and following the directions exactly. If the cake isn't perfect in the time frame set out on the box, your oven's temperature might be off. Clean the oven after each use with soap and water – that will help prevent having to run the self-clean function.
- Refrigerators – In addition to overfilling, the No. 1 issue with refrigerators is a failure to clean the condenser coil, which dissipates heat from the unit. Clean the coil every six months by unplugging the refrigerator, vacuuming the coil and using an air blower to get out any remaining dust or debris. Failure to keep this clean leads to performance issues. Refrigerators with misaligned doors from hinges damaged by people hanging on the door, or a bad seal, can also lead to trouble keeping food cold. You can test if the seal is tight by sliding a piece of paper between the seal and the door. If the paper slides down with the door closed, you should probably have the seal replaced.
- Dishwashers – Clean your dishwasher's filter at least twice a year to remove particles and debris. The filters location can vary depending on the model so be sure to check your owner's manual. Rinse large food particles off dishes. Check the spinning arms to make sure the spray holes are free of debris. Avoid leaving a dishwasher running with no one home. If the automatic shutoff fails, you could come home to an overflowing unit and a water-damaged house.
- Garbage disposals – Keep the blades sharp by running cold water and sending a cup of ice down the disposal. Run cold water for 10 seconds before inserting food into the disposal and for 30 seconds after each use. Cold water helps solidify grease and fat so they can be chopped up by the disposal.
- Maintain your appliances: Maintenance required for your appliance will depend on the manufacturer. Always check with your model's manual. Whenever you perform extensive maintenance work on your appliances, take the necessary safety precautions. Shut off electrical and gas lines when working on them. Consult an appliance repair professional for major maintenance/repairs.
- When to repair versus replace: If an appliance repair will cost more than half the cost of the new appliance and the unit is more than six or seven years old, you're probably better off replacing it with a newer model.
There are many factors consumers need to consider before hiring an appliance repair service. Home appliances are expensive, and you want to ensure the company you hire is reputable and has the skills required to complete the fix in a timely and efficient manner.
Angie's List Tips: Hiring an appliance repair service
- Research potential hires. Get at least three estimates and compare the bids based on price, parts, labor and warranty. You also want to research how long the company has been in business, check reviews on Angie's List and speak with past clients.
- Inquire about costs. Expect to pay up to $100 for a typical service call. Additional parts and labor charges will apply if you hire the company for a repair, but many companies will deduct the service charge.
- Check skill level. It's important to hire a company whose employees have the training to complete the job. Ask if the employees are factory trained or certified in appliance repair. Ask if they have experience working with your make and model.
- Is the work under warranty? Check to see if the repair service guarantees its work, and determine how long. Most warranties vary from 90 days to one year.
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