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My freezer purrs like a kitten! When I go away at Xmas for two weeks to visit family, I make sure to completely defrost my freezer. The food is given away to someone in my local Freecycle and the freezer is completely turned off for two of those weeks.
Choosing your purchases with longevity in mind is important. A high price does not determine the quality of an item nor does a low price guarantee a bargain. Instead of looking at the price tag, look at the quality. Is it made of solid materials or pieced together? Less seams mean less chance of breakage. Does it have heft? This is a phrase my grandmother uses to describe kitchen tools, meaning that they have the weight of strong materials like hard woods or solid metals. If you have children, pets, or an avid football fan, furniture requires heft as well.
Warranties don't mean a lot except that the manufacturer expects the product to last that long. Try cashing in a warranty on a toaster or a installed carpet, and you'll see how much the warranty means. It's difficult to prove that the product earns the warranty, and at times the postage and handling to return the product counteracts the benefit of the warranty.
Knowing that your products are going to last for years feels good. Preventative maintenance is key if you want that feeling to last.
For automobiles, tune-ups, oil changes, and regular maintenance is key to a long relationship between car and owner. Interiors benefit from a detailing every few years, and the exterior will look like healthy new paint as well. Rotate tires for longer wear and fix windshield chips immediately before they get worse.
For home appliances like dishwashers, washing machines, dryer vents, furnace filters, and air conditioners a thorough cleaning will keep everything running smoothly. A clogged dryer vent will prevent the hot air from flowing and the lint may back up into the dryer causing motor problems. Be sure to wash the filter with water making sure that it flows easily; dryer sheets can cause build up on the filter. Likewise, inspect your dishwasher manual for instructions to take off and clean the filter below the dish racks. Despite the manual's advice that it is a "self-cleaning" filter, you'll be surprised to see the gunk underneath. A dishwasher that we once thought had seen its last rinse cycle is now washing dishes like new after a thorough cleansing.
A simple web search can find the answers to most mechanical problems. When the aforementioned dishwasher wasn't getting dishes clean, it took only a few minutes with the keywords "dishwasher isn't getting dishes clean" to find the solution. From there, a search for "cleaning dishwasher filters" found schematics of the appliance.
Websites such as www.acmehowto.com give troubleshooting checklists as well as diagrams for fixing various parts of appliances.
Another option is to visit home improvement stores like Lowe's and Home Depot who offer Saturday classes about home repair. Community colleges and education centers also offer night classes in the art of maintenance. Learn how to fix an appliance instead of spending hundreds of dollars to purchase a new one.
Words of advice from my service tech husband; preventive maintenance is always the cheapest maintenance!
Refrigerator: Have the condenser cleaned and checked by a professional at least once a year. Dust and dirt in the condenser causes it to run more often wasting energy. It will also cause the compressor to run hot too. If you have pets, twice a year would be good.
Clothes Dryer: Always clean the vents screen after use. Lint buildup can cause a fire in your dryer and cause long run times wasting energy and money.
Room Air Conditioners: Once a year before summer use. Have the filter cleaned or replaced and the motors oiled to keep it from running hot.
Range: A word of advice from an expert; NEVER clean your oven before you have a houseful of people coming over. When you use the clean setting on your oven, you are subjecting it to temps of 800 degrees. Nothing will short a computer board faster. And I know sometimes it can take weeks to get a replacement. Clean it afterward and be on the safe side.
Be nice to your service technician. Schedule your multiple service work ahead of time. Who knows, maybe he will give you a break on his service call for multiples. Do it before it gets hot! I know June, July, Aug and Sept here in the Midwest is a very, very busy time for appliance techs.
DEBRADJ from IL