Overloaded garbage disposals and overused dishwashers during the holiday season cause breakdowns at crucial times. Home-Tech offers appliance care tips to reduce malfunctioning equipment that can take away from your magical holidays.
“Now is the time to take some simple steps to help ease this holiday season stress with a little preventative appliance maintenance, not when you have a house full of guests and are turning on the stove to prepare the family feast,” says Steve Marino, president of Home-Tech. “A little preparation will ensure that you’ll save some money this winter as well as have the peace of mind that comes with knowing everything is in working order and your guests will have a nice, warm meal in a nice, warm home.”
As Southwest Florida’s leader in air-conditioning service and installation, major appliance sales and service, and home Service Agreements, Home-Tech receives more calls for help during the holidays than any other time during the year. They offer the following tips to ensure homeowners a happier and less stressful holiday:
- Turn on a medium to strong cold-water flow before you start using the appliance. Continue running the cold water for approximately 15 seconds after grinding has ceased to flush the drain line and the disposer free of food particles.
- Do not put liquid fat down the disposal. Put it in a jar, in the trash instead.
- Small bones can be placed in the disposal and may actually help keep the blades in your grinding chamber sharp, but NEVER put large bones down your disposal.
- Occasionally use a disposer cleaner/degreaser to help eliminate grease that may cause unpleasant odors. Check to make sure that the product is authorized by the disposer manufacturer.
- Several times a year, especially during the holidays, grind up peels from citrus fruits like lemons or oranges. This helps keep the grinding area smelling fresh and the natural acidity helps suppress bacterial growth associated with odors.
- “The most common plumbing breakdown during the holidays is blamed on the garbage disposer. Consider having your kitchen drain line snaked approximately every two years as preventative maintenance,” Marino said. “If your food waste disposer is over seven years old, it might be advantageous to consider having it replaced. Contact your Home-Tech technician to discuss the possibility of installling a new one. The money it saves in plugged drain bills may be well worth it.”
- Do not wait until the big cooking day to check your oven temperatures and working condition. Turn your oven on at least two weeks before your big cooking day to rule out any irregularities.
- Do not use the self-cleaning cycle on or before a major holiday like Thanksgiving. The oven may overheat and damage a key component such as the fuse or the main control board. Instead of cleaning your oven before you do your holiday cooking, clean it immediately after. Ovens can sometimes get stuck or have problems when they are in cleaning mode. Cleaning your oven after cooking big meals will prevent pre-baking panic and keep your oven cleaner in the long run.
- If your oven temperature is off, the most likely cause is a bad oven sensor. Call your Home-Tech appliance specialist to help walk you through the repair.
- After your oven tells you it is done preheating, let it preheat for another 5 to 7 minutes. This will allow time for the inside walls to heat. By preheating the oven for an extra 5 minutes you will help keep the heat inside the oven nice and even.
- Check to see that your refrigerator hasn’t shifted in the last few months. Give your refrigerator some breathing room by keeping the appliance at least two or three inches away from the wall to ensure ultimate performance.
- Don’t panic if your refrigerator doesn’t feel as cold as normal during the holiday season. You probably have a fuller load with all the extra meal ingredients and leftovers. It may take up to 24 hours for the temperature to stabilize from the door being open more frequently.
- Check and care for the rubber seals surrounding the inside of your fridge by using mild soap twice a year to help prevent cracked and torn seals. Use your money to test the seals by placing a dollar bill halfway inside the refrigerator door. If the dollar pulls out easily, then you’re losing money in more than one way, and it may be time to replace the rubber seals.
- Dusting off the coil under your refrigerator will help keep it running well. Use a soft broom or brush.
- After the holidays, enjoy a night of leftovers and defrost your fridge regularly. The frost build-up wastes energy by making the compressor run longer.
- Install a programmable thermostat and set it to lower the temperature at night and whenever the house is unoccupied. Lowering your thermostat by 10 degrees at night can reduce your heating bill by 10 to 20 percent.
- “Make sure your programmable thermostat is installed properly,” says Marino. “The thermostat should not be located in an unheated space, a poorly-sealed or seldom-used room, or in direct sunlight near a heat source. The thermostat should be able to sense the average temperature in your home. If it is not in the right place, contact one of our heating and air-conditioning professionals about having it moved.”
- Get a humidifier to add moisture to the air. The air inside your home can be very dry, especially in Florida. The air feels warmer, so a humidifier can help you feel comfortable even though your thermostat is set a lower temperature.
- Many thermostats are battery operated. If you have air-conditioner problems and turning the breaker switch on and off doesn’t work, try changing the batteries.
- Run the garbage disposal before starting the dishwasher. The dishwasher drains into the same pipe as your sink, so that drain must be clear.
- Run a bit of hot water in your sink before running the dishwasher. You will get cleaner dishes if the water starts hot. You can collect the water you run and use it for watering plants or other purposes. Run the water until what comes out of the tap feels hot.
- Set the thermostat on your water heater to 120F (50C). Water that is cooler than this won’t do a good job cleaning. Water that is hotter could scald.
- Load your dishwasher properly, stacking items facing downward and inwards. Check that all the arms can spin freely before running the dishwasher.
- Run full loads to conserve water and energy, but don’t pack dishes too tightly. Dishwashers wash dishes by spraying water over them, so the water needs to be able to get to the dishes to clean them. Don’t wash containers with labels that could come loose.
- Don’t pre-rinse too much. Dishwashers and detergents have both improved. If you haven’t tried putting dishes in dirty lately, try it again. You may be pleasantly surprised.
“A holiday readiness plan can relieve this pre-holiday stress by having your appliances serviced and ready to use,” Marino said. “But if you do run into any problems this holiday season, Home-Tech has extended holiday rescue hours and our award-winning technicians are simply a phone call away, ready to help you get your holidays back on track.”
Employee-owned, Home-Tech has been an industry leader and trendsetter in the fields of home-service agreements, air-conditioning and major appliance sales and service for three decades. Founded in 1981 by Steve Marino, who continues as President and Chairman of the Board, the privately held Home-Tech employs 130 people and provides services in Lee, Charlotte, Collier, Sarasota and Manatee counties in Southwest Florida. Home-Tech operates from two principal locations. Its headquarters, tech training facility and Member Appliance Centerare located at 6400 Techster Boulevard in Fort Myers. A second office and training center is on Lena Road in Bradenton, which services Manatee and Sarasota counties. For more information about Home-Tech call 239-433-3344.