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How to keep your appliances running

Large appliances cost a lot of money, so you want to make sure they last as long as possible. 

But if you're not doing regular maintenance, your fridge, washer, dryer, dishwasher and stove can break down.

These tips will help your appliances last longer and work better.

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You stuff your fridge full of food

Refrigerators need plenty of room for the air inside to circulate. An overly full fridge can't circulate air to properly cool foods inside of the fridge. 

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You're not giving your fridge enough space around it

Scooting your fridge too close to the wall can inhibit air circulation. 

If your fridge has a black grid of coils (called condenser coils) on the back, then move your fridge a few inches away from the wall.

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You keep stuff on top of your fridge

Everyone has cereal boxes on top of the fridge, but you shouldn't. Refrigerators need air flow all the way around the unit. 

This also means that putting fridges in custom cabinets is a no-no, too, unless they are specifically built for in-cabinet installation.

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You're not cleaning behind or under your refrigerator

Always dust the condenser coils on a refrigerator every six months to 18 months. If they aren't on the back of your fridge, they can be found underneath by taking off the panel below the door. 

Unplug the appliance and give the coils a good dusting using a crevice attachment and a vacuum.

Here's more information on how to clean coils and other hidden areas.

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You're not cleaning up kitchen spills right away

As soon as you spill something on your appliances, clean it up. Leaving sugary substances on flat ranges can eat through the surface. 

Food debris can also clog burner ports and destroy burner coils. 

Spills in the fridge can stain or weaken the plastics used in the shelving and drawers.

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You're overloading your washer and dryer

Stuffing your washer and dryer can overwork them, making parts wear out more quickly. Plus, your clothing will be cleaner if you give them a little space to oscillate in the washer and dryer's drums. 

As a rule of thumb, don't fill the drum more than two-thirds full or above the agitator, if your washer has one.

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You're not cleaning out the lint filter

Washers, dryers and dishwashers have filters that prevent hoses from getting clogged. If they aren't cleaned out, dishwashers can overflow, washers can stop draining properly and dryers may catch fire. 

Plus, clean filters put less stress on the parts of an appliance, making them last longer. Be sure to locate the filters on your units and clean them out on every load.

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You're leaving change in your pockets

A little clothing prep can go a long way toward the longevity of your washer and dryer. 

Before you use your washer and dryer, clean out pockets and turn clothing inside out so that buttons and rivets don't clang around. 

Hard items can damage the inside of washers and dryers, scratching off paint and leaving dings. Plus, loose items can clog up hoses and filters.

Here's a guide to washing your clothes -- without damaging your wardrobe or the washing machine.

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You're not cleaning your washer

A deep cleaning is necessary to keep your washer and dryer in peak condition. 

This article gives tips on cleaning dryers and preventing fires and this article will give you detailed tips on cleaning a front-loading washer.

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You keep opening the over door

When you're using your large appliances, keep the doors closed as much as possible. 

Opening an oven door can release around 25 degrees F of heat, according to the California Energy Commission. So your oven has to work harder to heat back up again. The fluctuation of heat can also prevent baked goods from rising.

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Your fridge door isn't closing or staying shut

Leaving a fridge door open can overheat the compressor, making cooling less efficient and it may burn out the compressor completely.

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You're not wiping down your fridge's gasket

The rubber gaskets that seal the doors are important to keeping your fridge doors closed. Over time, they get dirty and don't work as well.

A little warm, sudsy water and a sponge is all you need to get them squeaky clean and back to normal.

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You're not doing regular fridge maintenance

Every 12 months or so, check to see if your refrigerator gaskets need replaced. 

Make sure they are clean and dry, then put a piece of paper between the door and the fridge. If the paper slips out easily, it's time to replace the gaskets because they are not sealing well enough.

If the gaskets are old, here's how to replace them.  

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You're overloading the outlets

Too many plugs in one outlet can also lead to blown fuses and fires. 

To be sure that you are giving each unit enough room, use the one-to-one rule: plug only one large appliance into each outlet.  

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