How To Help Appliances Live a Long Life

My motherís refrigerator lasted over 20 years. Sure, she used an ice pick to help defrost its freezer compartment a couple of times a year, and the thing was tiny by todayís standards. But it was a workhorse and probably would still be humming if she hadnít remodeled the kitchen and replaced everything. My side-by-side refrigerator, however, has needed repairs three times in the past 15 years. Insulation between the refrigerator and freezer is so bad that whatever I place on the adjacent wall Ė eggs, milk, OJ Ė freezes instead of chills.

Appliance lifespans differ. But, in general, hereís how long an appliance should last, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

  • Refrigerator: 14 to 17 years.
  • Dishwasher: 10 years.
  • Dryer: 14 years.
  • Washer: 13 years.
  • Electric range: 17 years.
  • Gas range: 19 years.
  • Microwave: 11 years.

However, these are general predictions that depend on how well and intelligently you take care of your home machines. Here are some cleaning and maintenance tips that will help prolong the life of your appliances.


Fix Door: Loose door lips sink refrigerator motors that work harder to keep food cold when doors donít close tightly. Magnetic strips in door gaskets are most often the culprits. You can replace the strips, which takes a little home maintenance know-how. Or you can easily re-magnetize them by running a powerful magnet along each side of the gasket in the same direction about 50 times.

Level It: Doors wonít close properly if your refrigerator isnít level side-to-side and back-to-front. Place a level on top and start rotating refrigerator feet until the machine is level.

Vacuum Condenser Coils: Dust and debris can coat refrigerator coils in the back of your refrigerator, making the motor work harder. Every one to three months, vacuum the coils with a brush attachment.

Washing Machine

Empty Your Pockets: This simple task can save your washer and dryer. Coins bouncing around can dent or chip machine drums promoting rust that can eventually cause leaks.

Change Filters: Clean and replace filters that collect water sediment before it enters the washer. The filter looks like a thimble and is located in the back of the machine where supply hoses attach to the washer.


Lose the Lint: Scoop lint from the filter after every load to keep dryers working efficiently.

Inspect the Hose and Vent: Make sure the exhaust hose is free from debris and the exhaust vent, which lets hot air escape from your house, works properly and opens when the dryer is on. Also, cover the vent with a screen so animals donít nest in that warm, dry place.


Give it a Break: The less you run your dishwasher, the more years it will last. Donít run half-filled machines, and vow to hand wash dishes once a month/week/day Ė whatever you can tolerate Ė to give your dishwasher time off.

Priming: To clean dishes with hot water from the beginning of the cycle, run the hot water in your sink before turning on the dishwasher.

Despite your best care, appliances Ė like everything else Ė eventually die. But instead of carting them to the dump (and California wonít let you do that), take these actions when you part company with your appliances.

  • Take appliances to scrap yards which will recycle the steel.
  • Donate working appliances to thrift shops or charities.
  • When you buy a new appliance, ask the retailer to remove the old one. Chances are he’ll be glad to use the old machine for parts.

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill3 years ago

Thanks for the reminder, it's time to clean the coils. Our appliances are almost 20 years old. We just replaced the washer & dryer this year. The old ones were still working so we sold them very reasonably.

Jim Ven
Jim Ven3 years ago

thanks for the article.

Nikki Davey
Nikki Davey3 years ago


Adena Z.
Adena Z3 years ago

When I bought my house 19yrs. ago it came with a 1970's washer/dryer gold color very nice condition. I only had to replace the belts on the dryer once and then at some point all together took a dump on me and never replaced it. The washer i only had to replace 2 things on it and even took it with me when I moved out to my Aunt's duplex and it's been working really fine for me. ;-D

Carol S.
Carol S3 years ago

Thanks. My appliances have ad much longer lives than predicted here!

Connie O.
Connie O3 years ago

SPAM also reported.

Connie O.
Connie O3 years ago

Luckily my appliances are all working at 18 years. My washer/dryer are 16 yrs old and I use them daily as I wash sheets at home from my massage business. They have been repaired a couple times and the repairman told me they should hold up for a long time yet, as those were made very well.

Elena Poensgen
Elena Poensgen3 years ago

Thank you

Gloria picchetti
Gloria picchetti3 years ago

Don't forget the shredder! One that's less than $40 is probably not going to last. Only use it for 20 minutes and get back to it 15 minutes later. It's not an industrial shredder!