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Appliance Safety Guide for First-Time Home Buyers
Between the years 2010 and 2014 clothes washer and dryer fires caused $238 million in property damage, according to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA). When it comes to the causes of these fires, dust, fiber, and lint led to 26 percent of these incidents. With more than one-quarter of dryer fires rooted in debris-related problems, keeping your appliance clean and being aware of proper appliance safety should be a top priority for any homeowner.
As a first-time homeowner, you may have only had experiences with your parents’ machines or the ones your apartment complex maintains. Now that you have a dryer of your own, it’s up to you to keep it clean. Regularly clean lint traps, especially after drying new towels or anything else that ‘sheds’ fibers. Along with the lint trap, check the vents for dust or lint build-up.
Sometimes stray dust or fibers can get through the machine’s trap and make their way to the vent. When your dryer heats up this debris, it puts your appliance and home at a fire risk.
If you’re not sure how to clean the vent or what to look for, a professional appliance repair technician can help during a regular service call. They can also check for functional issues (such as broken or cracked housing or electrical problems) that could put your home at risk.
Stove and Oven
Kitchen fires related to cooking equipment (such as stoves and ovens) account for almost half of all home fires, according to the NFPA. One-third of these fires are caused by unattended cooking equipment.
Always clean grease or messy food spills as soon as you can (after turning the heat off). This can reduce the risk of fires and stop the safety hazard before it starts. If your new home came with an old stove, then give the appliance a deep clean before using it for the first time.
Along with supervising your stove (and oven) during cooking times, you also need to pay attention to gas leaks. If your appliance uses natural gas, leaks can happen at connection points or if parts are worn. Keep in mind, natural gas is scented with a rotten egg odor. If you smell this, whether you’re cooking at the time or not, leave the house and call for help immediately. Natural gas is combustible and poses a serious fire risk.
If you’re buying a new stove for your new home, then have a qualified professional install it.
Refrigerators and Freezers
Unlike clothes dryers or stoves, that use heat or fire, a refrigerator doesn’t seem like an appliance that can pose a major safety risk. However, that isn’t necessarily true.
What types of safety hazards come with the fridge in your new home? One of the most common refrigerator-related health issues is a food-borne bacterial illness. Setting your fridge or freezer to a temperature that’s too high or leaving foods in storage for too long can result in serious illnesses.
The refrigerator temperature should stay at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit and the freezer should remain at 0 degrees. Even though it’s tempting to bump up the temperature to save money on energy bills, this isn’t a safe practice.
Other potential refrigerator safety issues include electrical or fire issues and tipping hazards (if the appliance is incorrectly installed). If your appliance is older, you see exposed wires or you smell an odd, smoky odor, then contact a service professional immediately.