Appliances

Clean those refrigerator coils

It’s important to clean the refrigerator coils once or twice per year. The refrigerator will run less, use less electricity, operate more efficiently, and last longer.

The refrigerator has a compressor that forces refrigerant through coils in the freezer and on the refrigerator’s exterior. Evaporator coils in the freezer remove heat from inside. This heat is emitted into the room through the exterior condenser coils.

The coils look like thin tubes, sometimes with connecting fins like a radiator on your car. Some coils are mounted at the rear of the refrigerator. Other are located below the refrigerator, where a fan moves air across the coil. When you stand next to the refrigerator in the winter and feel a warm breeze at your feet, it means the condenser coil and fan are working.

If the exterior condenser coils become dirty, they are less efficient at transferring heat into the air around the refrigerator.

To clean the coils, carefully vacuum them. Remove stubborn dust with a soft brush. You can even buy a coil cleaning brush at a hardware store.

If your refrigerator has coils and a fan below the refrigerator, you will need to remove some access panels to reach the coils. I suggest you follow the specific instructions for your refrigerator and unplug the unit before you attempt to clean the coils.

Cleaning is simple. You will be amazed at how much lint and dust has collected on the coils. If you have pets, you need to clean the coil more often.

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When moving a refrigerator, wait a while before restarting.

According to service information provided by Whirlpool, it makes a difference how a freezer, refrigerator or icemaker is transported. If the appliance is moved on its side or back, it must stand upright for 24 hours before being restarted. If the unit is transported upright, it may be restarted immediately.

Why? Lubricating oil for the refrigeration compressor can flow out of the crankcase if the unit is not upright. Running the unit without oil can ruin the compressor, which is a major problem.

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Repairing balky gas stovetop burners

Over time, the burners of a gas stove may refuse to light automatically, even though the pilot light is on. This usually means that the burners and/or the small tubes that transfer gas to the burners are dirty or plugged.

Remove the burner covers. Clean the burners with detergent on a damp rag. For hardened deposits, you may need to scrub with an abrasive pad. If the holes are blocked, clear them with a toothpick or a wire brush.

If this does not solve the problem, check the tubes. Raise the metal cover of the stove. (The cover is usually hinged at the rear so you can lift the front.) You will see little tubes leading from the burners to one or two pilot lights. Often the tubes can be removed for cleaning.

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Touch-ups make appliances look like new

You can touch up small nicks and scratches on appliances with special touch-up paint available in most hardware stores. It comes in a small container that looks like a bottle of fingernail polish.

Before applying the paint, you may need to lightly sand the damaged area to roughen the surface and remove any rust. Don’t sand the surrounding surface. Clean the area with a rough rag and some paint thinner, then allow it to dry.

The touch-ups will make your appliances look like new.

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Painting metal finishes of interior furnishings

For metal cabinets, appliances or office furniture, you can obtain a factory-like finish with electrostatic painting. This method uses an electrostatic charge between the metal and the paint to achieve an excellent finish without overspray. Less masking is required, and there is little waste. Odor is also reduced because less paint is used.

Look under "Appliance Painting and Refinishing" in the Yellow Pages. Make sure that you get the electrostatic (magnetic) spray and that high quality paint is used. Some contractors use an epoxy spray that is very durable. A quality job involves careful surface cleaning and preparation.

It will cost about $250 to restore one item, or less per item if several are painted. The work is usually done in your home in one day and is worth the price to restore a quality piece in good condition.

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Rust on dishwasher racks? Act now!

If you’ve noticed rusty spots on the racks inside your dishwasher, I suggest you touch these up before the problem grows into a bigger job.

A friend of mine found that Guardcote Touch Up Paint does the job quite well. This paint is designed to be safe in the dishwasher and to hold up under harsh dishwasher conditions. The container has its own br ush, and you apply paint to a clean surface. Allow it to dry for 24 hours. If additional coats are required, allow 30 minutes between coats. Various colors are available: blue, white, green, almond, or clear.

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