Many of the appliances around our homes depend on air flow in order to work properly. If this air flow gets blocked by lint, dirt, or hair, the appliance doesn’t function like it should and can use too much electricity trying to work, or even become overheated and burn out. I didn’t realize this until I had a microwave literally blow up because of clogged vents. It didn’t cause a huge explosion and throw me across the room like an action film, but it did make a loud “pop” and scared me half to death and I ended up having to replace it.
The following appliances each have a venting system and we should be checking them out regularly.
1. As mentioned, our microwaves. The placement on the vents will vary depending on the make and where the microwave is used—a wall-mounted unit will vent out the front and bottom, where a counter unit will generally vent from the sides.
2. Refrigerators vent out the front, down by the floor. If you remove the grate, you can easily clean out the lint. This vent is very much like the screen on your clothes dryer—if left for a long period of time, the dirt can form a thick mat and reduce your fridge’s efficiency.
3. Furnaces have vented doors across the front, and as you remove the door, you’ll see the furnace filter. Both of these should be cleaned out regularly.
4. Don’t forget your computers! Veritable dust-catchers of doom, computers are notorious for gathering too much dust and then ceasing to function. They must be able to vent off heat and the dust must not build up inside the machine.
5. Hair dryers. Check out the back of your hair dryer—is a fine layer of lint starting to accumulate on the screen? Take a bobby pin or a toothpick and get that cleaned off.
6. Heating and air condition vents also catch a lot of dirt and lint. Over time, the ducts can become blocked as well. Take off the screen and reach back in there with a small brush or hanger, and you might even want to have a duct-cleaning company come out if you've purchased an older home or have lived where you are for several years.
It’s absolutely natural for lint and dirt to build up over time. It’s just part of being mortal and there’s no shame attached to it—we just need to stay on top of it. Yes, it is one more thing to add to a long, long list of household chores we’re already performing, but can extend the life and function of our appliances, and I think we’d all go for that. You may also find that the air you breathe is cleaner as you remember to clear out the vents around you. It's a win-win situation.
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