When It's Time For a New Appliance

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When is it time to bite the bullet and buy a new stove? As complicated as repairing an oven may seem on the surface, the parts which make up this appliance are actually made for disassembly. Photo: Flickr/Adam Norwood

Though Cash for Appliances is still in effect in the vast majority of states, the policies, funding restrictions and range of accepted products varies so much from state to state that it is difficult to gauge which home products are worth fixing and which, if any, qualify for an exchange.

Considering, however, that state funding is hardly dispersed equally across the country and U.S. territories (compare the $23,341,000 Texas received to the $8,331,000 allotted to New Jersey), it may seem more practical to fix a broken or damaged appliance than to trade the appliance for a new one, no matter how large or tempting the promised rebate.

In fact, as funding runs out, several eligible products, such as refrigerators, dishwashers and clothes washers, may no longer be accepted by the state after a specific deadline.

Today, the Cash for Appliances program is closed in a number of states, including but not limited to Arizona, Hawaii, Texas, Oklahoma, South Dakota, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida and Massachusetts.

In these states and more, funding has been depleted, and it is unlikely by the Department of Energy’s own admission that waitlisted applications will be considered as a result of budgetary limits.

Given the state of the Cash for Appliances program, more people may be forced to repair their home products without the luxury of trading up their broken refrigerators for a sleek Energy Star appliance. Here are a few handy ways you can fix your own refrigerator and oven before considering the purchase of a brand new product.

Repairing your refrigerator

A refrigerator works 24 hours a day nonstop to keep your vegetables, meats, drinks and snacks fresh. Given how much a refrigerator has to work each day, it is surprising, if not amazing, that this appliance so infrequently breaks down or causes any trouble.

1. If your refrigerator’s compressor is always running, you may have a problem with your door. The temperature within the refrigerator should not be fluctuating on a regular basis. Rather, it should remain constant. To test the condition of your door gasket, place a single dollar bill between the gasket and the door, while closing the door. If there is friction between the bill and the door, the gasket is most likely functioning properly. If, on the other hand, the bill slips easily out with little to no resistance, the gasket should be replaced.

2. If the refrigerator door is loose and causing the appliance to leak, it may not always be due to a faulty gasket. Oftentimes, an ineffective door may be the result of misaligned door hinges. In this case, tightening the hinge screws should fix the problem.

3. If the light inside the refrigerator is not operating correctly or if the heat from the light bulb is altering the temperature of the box, first see if the light bulb has burned out and replace accordingly. Replacing the switch may also do the trick in restoring the light bulb to its original function.

Overhauling your oven

As complicated as repairing an oven may seem on the surface, the parts which make up this appliance are actually made for disassembly, making any repairs fairly easy to tackle.

1. One of the most common problems relative to ovens is a damaged or defective door gasket. When the oven is turned on, pass your hand carefully around the frame of the door feeling for heat. Do not touch the door, but simply allow your hand to remain outside the corners of the door. If you feel heat escaping from the door, the gasket needs to be replaced.

The gasket is most often located on the frame of the oven, but if the gasket is situated in the front and back end sections of the door, do not attempt to replace the gasket yourself. Immediately call a professional repairman.

2. Because the oven is used on a regular basis to cook food, bits and chunks of food may fall out of the burners and clog the gas ports, which prevents further ignition. On some gas ovens, you can simply extract the outermost ring of the burner to check the ports.

Cleaning a burner requires little to no skill. Simply use a mild household detergent solution, mix with water and wipe the burner with a cloth. Afterwards, clear the ports with a small tool, like a pin or a needle. Do not use a toothpick or match, which may cause further blockage if the tip of the wood gets jammed in the burner ports.

Only replace the burner when it is dry and then turn on the power.

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