Learn how to make your appliances last

LOS ANGELES Polly Bijur wants to keep her five year old refrigerator as long as possible.

"I'm hoping it lasts like 15 years. My old refrigerator, I had to buy a new one after about seven. So I'm really hoping this one lasts longer," said Bijur.

So she turned to Consumer Reports' appliance expert, Jim Nanni, for some advice.

"Most newer refrigerators have a fan and coil underneath that can collect dirt during operation. So one of the important steps is to remove this dirt and debris to maintain peak performance," said Nanni.

And check the gaskets around the door to make sure you've got a good seal. To do that, close a dollar bill in the door. If it falls out, your gaskets need replacing.

As for your vacuum, simple maintenance can keep it going longer, too. The belt often breaks, but it's cheap and easy to replace yourself. And don't let the bag get jam-packed. Changing it before it's overstuffed will reduce the stress on the motor.

A washing machine that shakes a lot on the spin cycle can get damaged. You want to be sure it's level.

"The washing machine itself typically has adjustable legs that will allow you to make sure it doesn't rock," said Nanni.

Also check the water hoses for wear and tear.

"Anything that you can do to maintain your appliances would help to extend their life and cost you less in the long run," said Nanni.

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