How to Prevent Appliance Fires
Poorly designed dishwashers, refrigerators, and the like have caught flak for sparking fires. But consumers can often head off trouble with a little preventive maintenance, says Doug Rogers, president of Mr. Appliance. His tips:
MICROWAVES > Problem: “People don’t realize how much grease accumulates around the wave guides”—those little holes in the microwave’s ceiling. Solution: Keep it clean! Regularly wipe down the interior with hot soapy water (ammonia can damage fan covers). You can also heat a bowl of water mixed with lemon juice, which gets rid of icky odors, too.
CLOTHES DRYER > Problem: Lint buildup, which can happen for a number of reasons. “If the seal around the drum fails, the blower blows inside the drum instead of into the duct. DIYers may use flexible ducts, which sag, or they may not realize that elbows in metal ducts can affect blower performance.” Lint can also build up on screens meant to keep critters out of the exhaust outlet. Solution: Regularly check for and remove lint inside, behind, under, and around the dryer. Hire a pro to install metal ducting, and make sure the outlet has a flap that’s light enough to fly open under pressure but heavy enough to fall closed when the dryer isn’t operating.
REFRIGERATORS > Problem: “If you pull out the fridge to clean behind it, then shove it back without looking, you can run over—and fray—the power cord,” creating an obvious hazard. Solution: Tie a piece of string to the cord and attach the string to an elevated ring magnet on the back of the fridge to keep it out of the way.
GAS RANGES > Problem: “Soot that builds up and settles next to the igniter can cause blockages—and be flammable.” Solution: Any time you smell the slightest whiff of gas, you should call a pro immediately.
Thanks to: Doug Rogers, ; Peter Duncanson, .