Secrets to keeping appliances from breaking down

(WFLX) - When an appliance breaks, calling the repairman or buying a new one might be your first instinct. But what if you could prevent the problem to begin with? You can with some simple steps the pros are showing us.

They often take a beating, but are always there to heat a meal, wash a favorite t-shirt, or clear grease from a plate. But appliances can use a little TLC, too.

"My washer was making a small puddle on the floor during the spin cycle, and it was very noisy," said Yolanda Conder after her washing machine broke leaving her wondering if the break could have been prevented.

We found the experts willing to share their secrets -- starting with the dishwasher.

Appliance store owner Darren Hyatt says you can use a dishwasher cleaning product and run it on the hottest setting to clear blockages. "That dissolves all the food grease and soil that builds up in the machine like what was under the door," he said.

He suggested wiping residue on the seal of the door to prevent sticking, rinse the filter, and get rid of mineral build up on parts and spray holes. The mineral cleaners can be purchased at most stores.

Next, the range vents. They get clogged and make the system work harder. Hyatt says they are easy to pop out and clean. "What can I wash that with, just regular dish soap, like Dawn?" asked Conder.

If scrubbing with soap and water doesn't work, try ammonia, Hyatt suggested.

On the range, keep gas pumping efficiently by unclogging the source. "The best way to clean these out is with a needle or a straight pen," said Hyatt.

Dirty ovens can break down, too. "Most ovens have removable oven bottoms. You can take out two thumb screws in the back, lift the bottom out, and take it to the sink for easy cleaning, so you don't have to lean back into the oven to wash it."

How about those air conditioner coils? Experts say kill the power to your unit, then clean the coils, and use water only on low pressure. "Compressed air can damage the coils and hurt the efficiency of the unit," said air conditioner repairman Brad Overholt.

Keep the main line insulated and keep the grass short around the unit. "The taller the grass gets around this unit, the more dust it traps behind it and the more dust gets sucked in," he said.

Inside, keep the filters fresh. The cleaner they are, the less work the units have to do.

Also, keep the temperature consistent in the summertime. "If you let the temperature of your house go up five degrees while you are at work and then come home at 5 when it is 95 degrees out and turn it back down five degrees, your unit will run until midnight trying to cool all of the solids back off."

Cleaning out the lint tray on your dryer is just the first step in preventing a fire. "If your dryer is taking too long to dry, always check the vent," said Hyatt

It's maintenance this appliance owner says she now can do. "I learned that it is a lot easier to take care of little issues ahead of time instead of waiting until your washer is making a loud noise like mine did. Take care of things before you have a big issue," said Conder.

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