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The Handiest Household Appliance Tips: Washer/Dryers & Ovens

Updated on December 30, 2009

Washing Machines

When buying a washer, choose a model that can adjust the water level for smaller loads and offers a pre-soaking option to conserve energy. Check that it has a high spin rate, which will extract more water from your clothes and decrease the needed drying time.

You can cut the cost of your hot water usage, by keeping your hot water tank to 122 F (50 C). Most normal loads can be done in warm or cold water, and will keep your clothes in better condition longer. Avoid doing half-loads. Don’t overload your machine with detergent; 1/2 cup is usually enough to do a good job.

Installing a Washer

You will need to have hot and cold water lines with shut-off valves to your washing machine and a hose and/or standing pipe leading to a nearby drain or sink. A standing drainpipe needs to be higher than the highest water level in the machine. Use rubber washers when connecting the water supply lines to get a good seal. Be sure to fasten the hose to the drainpipe or sink, so that it can’t slip off. Monitor it’s first operation to make sure the machine is level and that the plumbing is connected well.

Clothes Dryers

When buying a dryer, choose one that has a moisture sensor. It will be able to automatically turn off when your clothes are dry. Gas dryers are twice as cost effective to operate as electric dryers. To keep the surface of your dryer in good condition, wipe up any bleach, stain remover or solvent spills with a soft cloth as they occur. Clean out your lint filter after every load. Check that your dryer vent system is free of any clogs each year. Clean the inside of the dryer, if necessary, with a non-flammable household cleaner or a mild bleach/soapy water solution. Rinse the drum well.

Buying an Oven

The most energy-efficient ovens on the market today are gas-fuelled, with electronic ignitions. They are twice as efficient as electric ovens. If you plan to buy an electric oven, you can save on your electricity bill by opting for a self-cleaning model. New ovens offer better insulation and door seals.

Electric elements have improved considerably in recent years. You can choose from solid disk or radiant elements under a full surface of glass (very easy to clean), or the very efficient halogen and induction elements. Note: Induction elements require that you cook with only iron or steel pots.

Range Hoods & Fans

It is important to have the right sized exhaust fan in your range hood; otherwise it can create negative air pressure in your home, causing a back draft. In some homes, the range hood venting goes into the attic and stops there. This is not a healthy situation. Note: You do not want warm, moist air spilling out into your attic space; because it causes moisture damage and encourages molds and mildew to grow.

Hoods and fans need regular cleaning. Use a mild detergent, hot water and ammonia solution. Do not use abrasive cleansers. Periodically, check the condition of the metal air filter inside the hood. To clean the filter, soak it in hot, soapy water.

Continued in The Handiest Household Appliance Tips: Refrigerators

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