Gadgets make our lives easier...except when they don’t. It seems like the more we try to make the most of our time, the more devices we pile into our homes, cars, offices, etc.
But the more appliances you have, the more pressure you put on your electrical system, especially if you’re not cognizant of whether or not they’re working properly. And if they’re not working properly, they probably need to be repaired or replaced.
Wear and tear is the most common cause for why appliances fail to work. And diagnosing a problem depends on the type of appliance and what issues its displaying. The most common problems that consumers find with their appliances can be determined easily, using the 5 senses!
What Are the Signs My Appliances Need to be Repaired or Replaced?
- Wobbling or shaking gadgets. We expect our devices to run smoothly, and when they don’t it’s pretty obvious. Does your washing machine shake like an airplane about to take off? Most likely, this is a sign that the unit is unbalanced. The machine’s feet or the ground it sits on might be uneven. Or the shock absorbers might be damaged in some way. One is an easy fix – the other might require a professional fix or a replacement.
- Inefficiency. It’s not doing what it’s supposed to do. If a microwave isn’t heating the food you put in it, it could mean a blown fuse, a misaligned door, a wonky fan, power shorts…the list could go on.
If your devices aren’t working 100%, that will make your life more difficult in the long run, and could cost you more in time and money in the future.
- Weird smells. Whether there is a burnt smell coming from your toaster or your washing machine is omitting a musty or bad odor, either can signal a malfunction with the device. No one wants burnt toast. And no one wants smelly laundry.
- Odd noises. Buzzing or clicking can be a sign of a serious bug – not a real one but an electrical one. Noises could be caused by bad or loose connections or even an outlet that’s dying.
- Temperature fluctuation. If your freezer is over-freezing or your refrigerator just isn’t getting cool enough, there may be something wrong with the freezer control or air damper. If these parts are defective, more air might be flowing into the freezer section, while less air is making it into the fresh food compartment of the refrigerator.
- Whether your appliances are cooking your food too long or too little – it’s not that hard to tell. Have you ever taken a bite out a burger that’s hot on the outside and cold on the inside? This is not only unappealing, but puts you at risk for bacterial infections, like salmonella or E coli, which can be eradicated by certain degrees of heat.
What all these issues have in common is that the problem, once there, probably will not go away on its own.
When is it Time to Repair or Replace an Appliance?
Here are some of the questions you can ask yourself.
- Determine the lifespan of your appliances. How long is it supposed to last? Do you have a warranty?
Read here for a list of common appliances and their lifespans.
- Have you been using your appliances correctly? Using a gadget incorrectly could lead to personal injury or break it down right away or over time.
Read this article to make sure you’re taking these safety precautions when using kitchen appliances.
- Have you DIYed one too many times? There are only so many times that you can fix the belt in your dryer, which is the part that makes it spin. Or maybe you need to reattach the door – again. While DIY can be the cheaper option, the eventual spend on parts and time doesn’t work in your favor. It doesn’t fix the problem; it only prolongs it. There’s no shame in having to throw in the towel and buy another device.
Is Your Electrical System Malfunctioning Because of Your Appliances?
When one of your appliances starts showing signs of disrepair, you might think the trouble lies solely with the appliance. But this might not be the case. There are some ways in which a faulty appliance can send surges of electricity into your home’s electrical system, and the resulting damage can range from a tiny bit of distress on other appliances to a destructive electrical fire.
Read more about how you can prevent electrical fire.
It’s important to discontinue use of an appliance if you suspect there’s a real problem. Seek out a repair professional who can fix the underlying issue and give you the all-clear to plug it in again.
What’s the Worst That Can Happen?
When a fizzling appliance sends a significant burst of electricity into your electrical system, your circuit breaker should trip. If you weren’t expecting this, a tripped circuit breaker may be your earliest sign that something is wrong.
The circuit breaker an important safety mechanism designed to prevent further electrical damage, so you shouldn’t just flip it back on while continuing to ignore the root cause. Doing so will only create more opportunities for electrical damage.
Even with the protection of your circuit breakers, malfunctioning appliances can potentially cause you problems in three ways: surge damage, physical damage, and fire damage.
Learn how a GFCI/AFCI combination circuit breaker can keep your home safer.
Chances are that you use a surge protector with your home computer, with your television, and/or other home theater electronics. Perhaps you even have whole-home surge protection installed. This technology protects sensitive microprocessors that can be easily damaged by power surges, which can originate with lightning strikes or power outages.
But those surges can also take place internally, and this happens every day. Appliances like air conditioners and refrigerators typically use an excess of energy when they initially switch on, sending small surges of power to other appliances on shared circuits. Faulty appliances can sometimes send much larger surges.
When this happens, microprocessor-based electronics can receive permanent damage in an instant. They may also experience cumulative damage over time from smaller surges, which can reduce device lifespan.
Read this article on what you need to know about surge protection.
Large surges can literally burn some electrical components, such as the delicate connectors in light switches and electrical outlets. When these components are replaced after this type of damage, you can often see the telltale scorch marks and melted plastic.
It takes only a fraction of a second for a flash like this to render a switch or outlet inoperable, and damage can occur even if your circuit breaker trips. You should always consult a licensed electrician to help you replace damaged components and track down the source of the surge.
In the worst-case scenario, a malfunctioning appliance will cause an electrical short that sparks a fire. These may be tiny fires that flare out on their own inside metal appliances, but depending on where they occur, they can ignite insulation, wallpaper, curtains or other materials allowing them to spread quickly. This is why it’s so important to address appliance failures at the earliest signs of malfunction.
Besides proactive repairs, your best defense against this disaster is a combination of working smoke detectors, accessible fire extinguishers and fire safety education.
More on fire safety preparation.
Are you worried about damage caused to your home electrical system by faulty appliances? Call your local Mister Sparky to schedule a thorough inspection or for any questions on how to optimize your electrical system.