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Making Refrigerators and Washing Machines Last Longer
Tips for keeping major appliances in top working order. By Sherri Dalphonse
Comments () | Published April 8, 2011
Dabney Wharton's store was started by his father in 1946. Photograph by Chris Leaman.

Dabney Wharton, owner of Glebe Radio & Appliances in Arlington, has been selling refrigerators, dishwashers, ranges, and washers and dryers since 1972. Here are a few of his tips for keeping an appliance running longer—and avoiding repairs:


• “The secret with a clothes washer is not to overload it,” Wharton says. “Then they’ll last a long time.”

• “If you keep a refrigerator gasket clean—the rubber piece along the door—then it keeps a seal better and doesn’t have to work as hard. A thin film of Vaseline on the gasket will help it seal better.”

• If your refrigerator has an icemaker you hardly use, empty out the ice weekly to avoid problems with the lines.

• New energy-efficient dishwashers don’t use as much water or let it get as hot as older dishwashers. Give water temperature a boost, Wharton says, by first running the water in the sink until it gets hot, then turning on the dishwasher.

• When is it time to replace versus repair an appliance? “If it’s more than 10 years old, you might flip a coin about getting an estimate on a repair,” Wharton says. “Appliances used to last 15 or more years; now they last 10 to 12. These days, they all have electronics that don’t last as long. They have to be more energy-efficient, and to do that they don’t last as long. Ranges last the longest, dishwashers probably the least.” 

This feature first appeared in the March 2011 issue of The Washingtonian.

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  • I will try according to your blog and re comments if feel any difference.

  • Dalmherring

    If electronics can last forever in old television sets, I don't buy the rationale that refrigerators, etc., don't last because of the electronics. Greed is at the root. When the landfills overflow, mankind will rue the day for not demanding better.

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