published Saturday, June 2nd, 2012

Consumer Watch: You can extend life of fridge, dishwasher

by Ellen Phillips

"We’re getting ready to renovate our kitchen and a couple of other parts of our home and want to save as much money as possible. We’ll need all new appliances and want to know what we can do to ensure they’ll last longer than an average lifetime." — Sally Savings

Dear Ms. Savings: It’s easier than you might think to add years to these pricey appliances, and the “Appliance Handbook for Women: Simple Enough Even Men Can Understand” by Vernon Schmidt tells us how.

• A dishwasher’s average lifespan is 10 years, but you can tack on an extra four to eight years by following Schmidt’s advice. Just run hot water through the running garbage disposal for thirty seconds before you turn on the dishwasher. (The dispersed water sucks out any remains that could be drawn into the machine’s drain line, leading to clogs.)

So what if you don’t have a disposal or don’t want to use it? Still run the tap water to heat it up before turning on

the dishwasher to help dissolve the soap faster. (P.S. Choose powder rather than gel soaps.)

• You can add up to four years to a refrigerator’s lifespan of 14 years. We all hear about condenser coils and the ease of cleaning them.

Well, Schmidt insists that dirt, pet dander and the like are responsible for the earliest a ‘fridge will die on us. Several times a year we should turn off the appliance, remove the grate that protects the coils (at the back or at the bottom front) and use a vacuum brush attachment to get them clean. It’s also a wise idea to relubricate the rubber door seal. Wash it with warm soapy water, let dry, and then put on a smidge of Vaseline. The latter softens the rubber and ensures that food doesn’t splatter — and remain — on the seal.

To be continued next week.

Ellen Phillips is a retired English teacher who has written two consumer-oriented books. Her Consumer Watch column appears every Saturday. Email her at consumerwatch@timesfree

about Ellen Phillips...

Ellen Phillips is a retired English teacher who has written two consumer-oriented books. Her Consumer Watch column appears on Saturdays in the Business section of the paper. An expanded version is at under Local Business.

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