How to Care for Your AppliancesMarch 28, 2014
More often than not, we take the appliances in our home for granted, rarely giving them much thought until something goes wrong. However, taking the proper care of your appliances, and ensuring that they are maintained regularly can increase their efficiency quite substantially. Here we take a look at how this can be achieved with some of our most popular household appliances.
Keeping the Cold In:
It is important to check regularly that the seals on the door of your fridge freezer are tight; if not, cold air will escape, resulting in a loss of energy. Seals that fit and are working properly will show some resistance when the door is pulled open. If you discover any broken or badly fitting seals, they should be replaced immediately. Clean the inside of your fridge freezer often, and do not overload with contents, as this can affect efficiency. It is important to clean the condenser coils at the back of the appliance by gently using a brush or a vacuum cleaner to remove any dust or debris; doing this regularly can save up to 30% of your fridge freezer’s energy consumption. Ensure freezer compartments are defrosted regularly, cleaning the area thoroughly after; those that have an auto-defrost option should still be cleaned out every six months. Most fridge freezers have several lights, so if one goes out make sure you have a replacement, rather than waiting until all the lights are not working.
Take the Strain Out of Washing:
Washing machines, tumble driers and dishwashers take a battering in most households, as they are often used daily. Failure to maintain these items could result in more energy being used, inefficient cycles and appliances that breakdown and need replacing earlier than necessary. For tumble driers, check that the lint is cleared from inside (and underneath) the appliance before every use, as an accumulation can slow down the drying time (it is also a fire risk). With washing machines, check the hoses regularly, and replace them if they are showing signs of wear and tear. It is also a good idea to clean inside after every use, even if it just a wipe with a damp cloth. Maintenance checks on your dishwasher should include unclogging spray nozzles, clearing the drain for any food or debris, and inspecting the racks for chips.
In hard water areas, water-using appliances face even more of a tough time. Firstly, hard water prevents the soap (washing powder or dishwasher detergent) from working effectively, as more is needed to get items clean. However, the most worrying and destructive effect of hard water is the limescale build up left behind. This coats heating elements, pipes and anything else it comes into contact with, resulting in poor performance, risk of flooding and a shortened life of the appliance. The best maintenance and care you can provide for your water-using appliances, if you live in a hard water area, is a block salt water softener. Water softeners offer an unobtrusive, easy to use system that will transform the efficiency of your appliances, saving you time and money. However, as with other appliances, it also needs regular maintenance and care. One way to do this is to ensure that you use high-quality block salt like this, as this will maximise its efficiency and longevity.
Be Kind to Your Hoover:
Very few of us give much thought to maintaining our vacuum cleaners; they do the job, and then invariably get stuffed back in the cupboard. However, as with larger appliances, regular maintenance is imperative if you want your vacuum cleaner to work efficiently. Most of us will admit to putting off emptying the hoover bag as long as we can, but it is actually a good idea to change or empty them before they are full, as this will increase air-flow and performance. A clogged filter can also impede air-flow and performance, so if it is removable, wash it with warm water (alternatively, use another hoover to blow out the debris and dust). As tempting as it is just to throw the hoover back in its cupboard, make sure that the cord is untangled; kinks make the cord more prone to breaking. Inspect the hoover brushes and nozzle attachments for threads or particles that could hinder the air-flow, and remove them. The wheels should be checked for debris, as this could restrict movement and scratch your floor surface. A cracked hose allows air to escape, and should be replaced immediately (although patching up with tape is a suggestion in the meantime); it is also a good idea to inspect inside the hose for any obstructions, as these will reduce the suction performance. Lastly, as annoying as a dangling hose is, you should never hang it up on a nail: this can cause kinks or even breaks.
Even small kitchen appliances need our care to keep them in good working order. Blenders, food processors and choppers all have different functions, yet their uses often seem to overlap; this causes confusion regarding their capabilities. For example, blenders should only be used for soft foods, and not for ice, meat or hard vegetables. Using it for these purposes will reduce its efficiency and life. Use only as intended (if you aren’t sure, refer to the manual) and remember not to use them for extended periods, as they could burn out. Removing stains and stubborn food from blenders and food processors is often tricky; to help with this, try putting some warm water with a little washing up liquid after it’s been used, and set the appliance going. This will make cleaning much easier.
Don’t Ignore Your Toasters and Kettles:
Kettles and toasters are often neglected, with very little thought given to them. However, they could also benefit from a little attention. When using a kettle, ensure you are boiling enough for your needs: you don’t need to fill it to capacity for one cup of tea, and at the same time, using too little water can have disastrous consequences. Emptying any surplus water, wiping the inside with a cloth, and leaving the lid off after use helps combat the minerals that find their way into the kettle, which cause furring and unsightly flecks in your drinks. However, for hard water areas, the only way to successfully stop the minerals from reaching the kettle (and damaging it), is by installing a water softening system, as described above. With toasters, it is important to clean out any leftover crumbs; if there is a tray, empty it regularly, if not, hold the toaster upside down over a piece of newspaper and shake. Too many crumbs limit efficiency, but they are also a potential fire hazard. Clean the exterior of the toaster with a damp cloth and a little vinegar from somewhere like Tesco to bring up the shine.