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How to Help Your Appliances Last Longer

What’s your oldest appliance? Tell us about your longest-lasting appliance and get tips to help your other appliances last longer.

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Does it seem to you that appliances don’t last as long as they used to? Appliances and home systems that once hummed along for generations now seem to flame out in a decade.

Every winter we pray our 13-year-old HVAC system will make it through to spring. Our dryer died after 11 years, and we repaired our refrigerator three times before it reached its 12th birthday.

Rob Carpenter, owner of a Mr. Handyman franchise in Maryland shared some insider tips with us that will help you extend the life of your home appliances and systems way beyond their warranties.

Refrigerators that last

Refrigerators blow out when doors don’t close tightly, straining motors that work overtime to keep food cold. To test your door seal, close the door on a dollar bill: If the bill slips, you’ve got a problem that will require appliance maintenance

Magnetic strips embedded in gaskets around refrigerator doors make doors close snugly, but they routinely wear out and should be replaced or re-magnetized every couple of years. If you’re handy, it’s a DIY job ($50). If messing around with the refrigerator door is beyond your pay grade, call a professional ($125 and up).

Washing machine endurance

Loose change banging around your washer drum can cause dents, chipped paint, and rust, so make sure you empty pockets before washing clothes.

Also, maintain your washing machine by regularly cleaning or replacing filters that trap water sediment before it enters your machine. Filters, which look like thimbles, are located in the back where supply hoses attach to the machine. Remove the hoses and either poke out debris with a tip of a flathead screwdriver, remove and wash the filter, or replace it.

Dryers that keep on drying

In addition to regularly cleaning out your dryer’s lint trap and exhaust hose, inspect the exterior vent — hot air must escape your house unimpeded.

Make sure the hinged exterior vent pops open when the dryer runs. If it doesn’t, open the cover and scrape out lint with the end of a hanger or dryer vent brush ($13). If your vent is louvered, clean slats with an old toothbrush.

Reliable garage doors

Who knew garage doors aren’t supposed to creak and groan when they open? That sound indicates that moving parts are rubbing and the motor is working harder than it should. To keep your door opening smoothly and quietly for years, every month coat the springs, hinges, and rollers with light machine oil.

Toaster thoughts

Darkly toasted bread will burn out your toaster two years earlier than lightly toasted bread. So if you can live with lightly crisp rather than almost burnt, you’ll get a few more years out of your toaster. Just saying.

What’s your oldest appliance? What did you do to keep it humming?

lisa-kaplan-gordon Lisa Kaplan Gordon

is an avid gardener, a member of the Fairfax County Master Gardeners Association, and a builder of luxury homes in McLean, Va. She’s been a Homes editor for Gannett News Service and has reviewed home improvement products for AOL. Follow Lisa on Google+.

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