Expert Tips
From Chris Jensen, Owner/Operator

Washers | Top Load

Top-load washers can get a build up of excess detergent and dirt forming thick, smelly gunk in areas that cannot be seen, such as under the basket in the tub. Periodically run an empty washer on the Clean Cycle or a hot/sanitize cycle. A cup of bleach or white vinegar can be added to the cycle, I actually recommend alternating because they do different things for your washer. White vinegar is great at breaking down the built up gunk that causes odors and flushing it out of your washer, while bleach is great for disinfecting and deodorizing. There are also many products that can be purchased at the store that are made specifically for cleaning your washer. Fill hoses on the back of the washer should be changed every 5 years as a preventative measure against a hose bursting and flooding your home. If you have a modern top-load washer without an agitator in the center, pre-balancing the load is essential. The clothes cannot just be dumped in like the old washers. It is recommended to load the washer in a circle, distributing the weight evenly inside the drum. Lastly, empty all pockets before doing laundry. Foreign objects in a washer create a lot of repairs.

Washers | Front Load

Most people either love or hate their front-load washer. These appliances are high maintenance and when they are maintained well they do a better job and are more efficient. The number one complaint I get about front-load washers is an odor inside them. This odor can certainly affect how your laundry comes out smelling, and sometimes even how the laundry room smells.

The number one factor in preventing odors is leaving the door open. After a cycle is completed and the washer is emptied, leave the door wide open until the moisture inside evaporates. Closing the door between cycles causes the moisture to stagnate and can cause mold in your washer. Some newer models have a ventilation fan that turns on after the cycle to assist with this.

The door seal should not have a standing puddle of water in its groove. If it does the drain holes for the door seal are probably clogged. These can be cleaned carefully using a pipe cleaner or small screwdriver (being careful not to puncture anything). A puddle of water will certainly cause the door seal to mold and stain.

The detergent you use in a front-load washer is especially important and the wrong detergent can actually cause your washer to fail. Some detergents are even labeled HE (high efficiency) but are not good for your washer. I recommend using All or Tide HE detergents. Both offer a free and clear option. Cheap or even all natural detergents tend to cause too much sudsing in the washer. Suds then build up in areas the water can’t reach causing odor issues. Suds can also get into your pressure hose and foul your pressure switch, which detects and determines your water levels. Once that happens the pressure switch would likely need replaced. Basically, during the wash cycle, you should only see soapy water in the drum, you should see very little suds at all. Keep in mind that you don’t need the same amount of detergent in a HE washer as you did in the old fashioned washers. The old washers filled with gallons of water so you needed a full cup of detergent. HE washers use very little water in comparison, so therefore you don’t need as much detergent to get the same ratio. Detergents have also greatly improved over the years. It is recommended to only use about two tablespoons of detergent for a full wash load. Using an excessive amount of detergent also leaves detergent residue in your clothes that doesn’t get fully rinsed out, causing your clothes to look dingier and attract dirt while you wear them.

Clean the inside door glass regularly. Its easiest to clean right after a cycle when any build up is soft and wet. Build up and even hair can cause the door to leak a little. When cleaning pay special attention to the outside edge of the glass where the door seal presses against it.

Run the clean cycle regularly. It is much easier to maintain the washer than it is to get it cleaned out once an odor starts. Manufacturers recommend running the clean cycle monthly. I generally recommend at least every 2-3 months depending on usage and care to keep it maintained. Use a cup of bleach or bleach, or you can buy a washer cleaner product at the store. I like to alternate between bleach and vinegar for cleaning my washer.

Make sure to empty all pockets before doing laundry. Foreign objects create a lot of service calls. Many front-load washers have a filter you can remove and clean at the bottom/front of the appliance. But be prepared, there is always water inside. You can use a pan to catch the water or a wet-vac to suck it up as it comes out. Once the filter is out clean it in the sink and use a flashlight to see if there is any more debris inside before reinstalling the filter. If you do not see a filter or a small access door for the filter, then your washer either doesn’t have a filter, or it is inside and would need the front panel removed for access to the filter.

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Dryers

The number one factor for keeping your dryer safe, efficient, and long lasting is the air flow through your homes vent. Poor air flow causes dryers to take longer to dry your clothes since the steam cannot escape. The dryer will get much hotter inside and overheat components and can also cause a lint build up in the dryer cabinet leading a dryer shutdown or a fire hazard. I recommend cleaning the vents once per year and clean your lint filter before each use. Even a small film of lint on the filter can greatly reduce the airflow.

Oven | Range | Cooktop

I don’t recommend using the self-clean feature. It gets very hot and can overheat a heat sensitive fuse that would need reset or replaced. This is a very common repair due to the self-clean. Make sure your door seals are in good condition and don’t cook with the door ajar. Heat escaping can also overheat the fuse and cause the oven to shutdown. Do not use tinfoil to line your drip pans or your oven floor. Foil can trap heat or melt and potentially cause a shock or fire hazard.
 

For gas appliances be very careful when cleaning the cooktop area. Excessive water or cleaner can clog gas ports and cause igniters not to function.

Dishwasher

Periodically run white vinegar or a dishwasher cleaner from the store. Dishwashers typically don’t have a “clean cycle” so run the dishwasher empty on a hot or sanitize cycle. Lemon juice is also good to run through your dishwasher if an odor has developed. If your dishwasher has a removable screen or filter,  make sure to clean it regularly. Avoid putting any solid foods into the dishwasher such as bones, rice and pasta.
 

Most dishwashers have a door gasket that runs from the bottom of one side, up over the top near the latch and back down the other side. It is mounted on the dishwasher cavity and the door presses against it when closed. Keep this gasket clean as well as the edge of the door that meets the gasket. If the gasket gets a tear in it, the gasket would need replaced to prevent leaks.

Refrigerator | Freezers

Condenser coils are very important to keep clean. They can be located underneath the fridge, behind the fridge, or in the mechanical compartment inside the back. Condenser coils remove heat from the fridge and dirty coils can cause it to work harder (less efficient) and even not cool as well. You can use a long bristle brush or vacuum to clean them. Homes with pets may need to clean condensers more often as pet hair builds up quickly.

Keep your door gaskets clean and replace any torn gaskets. Spills onto gaskets can cause the door to not seal properly and warm air can infiltrate your appliance.

If you have an odor in the fridge that you cannot get rid of, empty the fridge and clean the liner and shelves with lemon juice. Use an odor eliminator such as baking soda to keep the fridge maintained. Batter operated odor eliminators can also be used and supposedly do a better job than baking soda.

Replace your water filter regularly. On most refrigerators this filters water for your water dispenser as well as your ice maker. If your fridge has a “change filter” indicator, this will alert you every six months. They are on a timer and do not measure water usage. A clogged filter can restrict water flow and cause your ice maker to malfunction. Water filters are not cheap, and I don’t recommend purchasing a cheap filter. Make sure it is either made by your refrigerator manufacturer or another reputable brand such as Kenmore or Pur. I have seen many generic filters leak, clog, or not install properly.

The recommended temperature setting is 36-38 degrees in the fridge and around 0 degrees in the freezer.

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