The last thing you want right now is to buy a new kitchen appliance. However, appliance failures are all but inevitable — and it’s a good idea to know how to detect the signs of an imminent breakdown,
so you can emotionally, mentally and financially prepare. Here are a few of the most common signs that your kitchen appliances need some kind of repair or replacement:
There are a few indications that any piece of equipment around your home is about to fail. Perhaps one of the best signs is a careless statement like “My fridge runs perfectly” or “I’ve never had to replace an oven.” Jinxes might not have any basis in scientific understanding, but most homeowners will argue fervently that jinxes exist.
Aside from a jinx — or a gut feeling that something is about to go wrong — you should look for these universal signs that something big and expensive in your kitchen is about to break:
- It just won’t turn on. How can you diagnose the issue, let alone use the appliance, if you can’t get the bare minimum of functionality?
- Your utility bills are higher. It’s a good idea to know what a well-functioning house costs to run, so you can notice when something has gone wrong. An extra-high energy bill isn’t a sure-fire sign that it’s your kitchen appliances, but it is an indication that something is drawing too much power around your home.
- Something strange is happening. Bad smells, loud sounds and other weird goings-on indicate that an appliance’s components are worn-down, dirty or else not functioning as they should.
Individual appliances will have more unique signals that they require repair or replacement, so while you should keep a general eye on the above sorts of signs, you should also pay close attention to the appliances themselves.
Is your refrigerator running? Your refrigerator’s entire job is to keep cool, which means aside from odd noises and high bills, your best shot at catching a broken fridge is noting its cooling performance. Most often, this means that the inside of the fridge isn’t cold enough, and food spoils faster than it should. However, fridges on the fritz can also cool too much, resulting in frozen, inedible products.
The average lifespan of a refrigerator is about 13 years, so if your unit is younger than that, you’ll likely only need a repair. Some fixes are as simple as cleaning the condenser coils at the base of the fridge (front or back, depending on the model) which can get clogged with dust, dirt and debris. You can and should do this maintenance yourself with the right tools, which you can pick up at near any home improvement store.
Most dishwashers in modern homes will display error codes on their control panel when something is wrong, which means that you don’t usually have to guess when or why your dishwasher is on the fritz. Unfortunately, older models can have a whole host of issues, from improper seals around the door — which result in leaks of water or steam — to warped components to clogged plumbing. Generally, you should look for any moisture around your unit, but it’s a good idea to check the seals for cracks every now and then, too.
Often it’s safer and smarter to hire a professional for any plumbing job. When a dishwasher is not draining, you might be able to solve the problem yourself — but it’s also possible that the issue is more complicated than you, a non-professional, can handle. You can expect a dishwasher to last about 10 years, after which you’ll probably need to replace it.
Oven and Stove
Sometimes, it’s not that you’re a bad cook; it’s that your oven and stove aren’t functioning properly. As with the fridge, the oven and stove have one primary goal: to heat up. Thus, you should be paying attention to how efficiently and effectively they heat.
Aside from slow or cold heating elements, you can look for dark spots or bubbles on the elements, which indicate burn. If there are too many burnt parts of your oven or stove, you will need to replace the afflicted elements. Fortunately, you can prevent burn from accumulating by keeping your stove and oven clean; after every use or at least once per week, you should scrub the heating elements with specialized cleaner or a solution of baking soda and vinegar.
You can usually bring your appliances back from the brink — if you catch the problem in time. If you live in a home with older appliances, it is likely worth your money to rely on a home warranty, which will cover the costs of repairing or replacing appliances that break down due to regular wear and tear.