No doubt, you received some great gifts during the holiday season – you may have also received some gift items that you already have? Another toaster? A new hair dryer? Before you say, I’m just going to take it back, ask yourself, is it time to toss out the old and bring in the new?

Without expiration dates, it’s difficult to know when to replace your household electrical appliances. As appliances age, they may not work as well. Refrigerator temperatures might be off. Burnt toast might be the new norm. Sometimes we can put up with these little inconveniences, but when the age and functionality of a product has the potential to become dangerous, it’s usually an indicator that it’s time for replacement.

Here are the most common electronic items that might need replacing:

  1. Microwaves: Typically, they can last up to 12 years. If you find that it’s taking longer to heat your food, this may point to an internal problem. Worn out gaskets, the keypad sticking or loud noises during rotation can also be signs that you need to upgrade.
  2. Toasters: Among the most hazardous of appliances, toasters can pose a problem as they age. Crumbs and food living in a toaster that hasn’t been cleaned increase the potential for fire. A normal life span is usually 6-8 years.
  3. Dryers: Dryers can last 10-15 years if the hoses are checked and the lint trap, heating element and exhaust duct are cleaned regularly. These actions can also prevent dryer fires.
  4. Washing Machines: A washing machine can have a lifespan of 10-15 years. Start shopping when you find that your clothes aren’t getting cleaned or the drum isn’t filling up with water all the way.
  5. Dishwashers: Keeping your dishwasher clean (and rinsing your dishes BEFORE you load them) can help it last 10-11 years. If your dishes have spots or if it stops before a cycle has ended, it may be time to get a new one.
  6. Smoke Detectors: FEMA suggests you replace your detector every 10 years. This is different than changing the battery, which elicits an audible warning. The whole device needs to be replaced.
  7. Surge Protectors: A surge protector can only absorb so many surges before it stops working. Some have built-in lights, which can warn you of malfunction. Even so, it’s best to replace every 2 years or before as needed.
  8. Hair Dryer: Hair dryers can last 10-15 years; however, it is important to clean them regularly of hair and debris. If the appliance smells like burning hair, if it shocks or burns you, these are sure signs that it needs to be cleaned or replaced. An overheated power cord can also lead to melting, fire or explosion.
  9. Stove Top and Oven: These can last 10-15 years and maybe up to 20, but be aware if the burners stop working or if there are problems with the control board, bake element or igniter.
  10. Vacuum Cleaner: The biggest sign that you need to replace it is if it no longer cleans your floor. The bearings can slow down the brush roll, creating extra wear on the motor and belt. Vacuum cleaners should be serviced every 12-18 months and replaced every 3-5 years.

And, always remember: Check your cords and plugs for erosion or exposed wires – these have the potential to cause electrical fires.

For more information, check out Mister Sparky’s Expert Tips.