When it comes to appliances and safety, homeowners often make common mistakes that can lead to safety and health issues. Some errors in judgment can even lead to serious injuries and death. Many people aren’t even aware of the hazards they’re creating when improperly installing or using appliances.
Don’t take appliance safety lightly. Stay safe by avoiding these common mistakes that can lead to disaster in your home.
Incorrect Appliance Installation
It’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions or hire a professional to install appliances correctly. Here are some safety issues you can avoid by making sure every appliance is installed safely.
Water Leaks Leading to Electrocution Hazards
Failure to properly tighten water supply lines on appliances such as dishwashers, washing machines, refrigerators or water heaters can result in water leaks. Water and electricity don’t mix safely. Water leaks can short out wires and components in appliances. You can get shocked by touching an appliance with electrical shorts. Standing water can also create an electrocution hazard. Touching an appliance while standing in a puddle of water can also shock you if the appliance isn’t grounded properly. Electricity follows the path of least resistance to ground and standing in water can create a condition where you become that path of electricity to ground.
Gas Leaks Creating Explosion Hazards
When installing gas appliances, plumbers and professional installers always seal gas connection threads with sealant then check gas line connections for leaks. If you install a gas appliance yourself and don’t properly seal and check the gas line connections, a gas leak can occur that may result in a fire or explosion.
Don’t attempt to install gas appliances yourself unless you’re completely confident in your ability to properly seal and check all gas line connections.
Also, you may be tempted to convert a natural gas appliance to use Propane gas or vice versa. Improperly converting a gas appliance can result in a gas leak or improper flames that can emit high levels of carbon monoxide. Have a professional installer or licensed plumber convert a gas appliance to use a different type of fuel.
Wiring the Power Cord Incorrectly Causing Electrocution Hazards
Connecting the wires of a 240-volt power cord to the terminal block of a dryer or range can energize the metal cabinet and create a shock hazard. Carefully follow the directions in the installation guide to connect the power cord wires to the terminal block of an electric dryer or range to prevent hazards.
Failure to properly connect the green ground wire when connecting the power cord to the appliance can also create an electrocution hazard. The green ground wire routes electric current to a safe ground if a short circuit occurs in the appliance. Carefully connect the green ground wire as shown in the installation guide to prevent a shock hazard if a short circuit occurs in the appliance.
Not Using the Range Anti-Tip Device to Prevent Burn Hazards
Many ranges use an anti-tip safety device that prevents the range from tilting forward when you open the oven door and pull out a loaded oven rack. If the range tips forward, hot items from the oven or cooktop could spill and injure the user. Make sure to use the anti-tip device when installing a new range. If you pull the range out, make sure that you engage the anti-tip device when pushing the range back into place.
Improper Use of Appliances
Appliances are designed by manufacturers to be safe when used according to the guidelines in the owner’s manual. It’s important for you to read and follow the use & care instructions in the manual for each appliance. Deviating from the proper use of an appliance can lead to injury and property damage.
Don’t Let Children Play Inside Appliances
Hide-and-seek can turn deadly when children climb into unused freezers or refrigerators. Doors and lids should be removed from unused refrigerators and freezers to prevent suffocation hazards.
Hiding inside the washer or dryer can be just as dangerous. Serious injury or even death can occur if a washer or dryer is accidentally started with a child inside.
We recommend that you remind your entire household that appliances are off-limits when playing hide-and-seek.
Never Bypass Appliance Safety Devices
We often get questions from our customers about overriding or bypassing safety switches and devices on appliances. Our answers are always the same – never override safety devices on any appliance. Fuses, thermostats, top-load washer lid locks and front-load washer door locks protect you from injury. When a safety device fails, don’t bypass it and keep using the appliance. Replace the part so the appliance operates safely.
Don’t Overload Appliances
Overloading the washer can cause suspension components such as shock absorbers, suspension springs and dampers to fail. When suspension parts fail, the tub will become unstable and bang violently against the sides of the washer cabinet. Internal wiring can short to metal inside the washer – causing an electrocution hazard. Follow the guidelines in the owner’s manual for loading the washer correctly.
Overloading a dryer means there is less space for air circulation inside the drum. Proper airflow is crucial for drying clothes safely. When clothes are tightly packed together, they can prevent adequate air circulation, leading to increased heat buildup. This can cause the dryer to overheat and potentially ignite lint in the cabinet, leading to a fire. Load the dryer according to guidelines in the owner’s manual.
Overfilling the refrigerator restricts the flow of air inside the appliance. This can hinder proper cooling – causing unsafe food storage temperatures and leading to the creation of harmful bacteria. Follow the food storage guidelines in the owner’s manual to prevent food spoilage in the fridge.
Ignoring Warning Signs of Appliance Failures
Ignoring warning signs of appliance malfunction can lead to safety issues. Unusual noises, strange smells, sparks, or smoke should never be ignored. These can indicate underlying problems with the appliance and should be addressed promptly to prevent accidents or damage. Schedule appliance service to have a service technician examine the appliance when it isn’t operating properly.
Although it’s normal to smell a hint of gas when starting cooktop gas burners or your gas oven, a noticeable and lingering smell of gas should be addressed immediately. If the smell is strong, leave your home and take everyone with you. Call your local gas provider or emergency services and report the leak.
Fixing Appliance Problems Yourself without Proper Guidance
Some basic DIY appliance repairs are safe as long as you have the proper guidance, tools and expertise to complete the repair. Failing to reassemble an appliance correctly following a DIY repair can lead to disastrous results. Reconnecting wires the wrong way can cause short circuits and pose electrocution hazards.
Keep in mind that all appliance DIY repairs involve some risk. Get credible guidance when conducting DIY repairs and don’t attempt a repair unless you’re completely confident that you can safely complete the procedure. Our Sears PartsDirect Repair Help provides safe and easy-to-follow DIY procedures to fix basic appliance problems.
Repairs on gas appliances that involve disconnecting and reconnecting gas lines can be extremely dangerous if you don’t seal the gas lines properly when reassembling the appliance. Have a service technician complete repairs on gas appliances to avoid gas leaks. The service technician will properly seal all gas line connections and check for leaks.
Never attempt to repair your microwave on your own because microwaves contain high-voltage capacitors that can retain a lethal electrical charge even when the microwave is unplugged from the electrical outlet. Following any microwave repair, the appliance must be checked for microwave radiation leakage using proper equipment.
Failing to Register Appliances for the Manufacturer Warranty
Many homeowners often forget to register their appliances for manufacturer warranty coverage. Registering appliances is important as it provides documentation for warranty claims and ensures that manufacturers can notify homeowners of any safety recalls or updates.
Neglecting Appliance Maintenance
Failing to regularly maintain appliances is a common mistake. Appliances require periodic servicing to ensure optimal performance and safety. Ignoring maintenance can lead to potential safety hazards. Follow the guidelines in your owner’s manual to complete maintenance that you can do yourself.
Additionally, having your appliances professionally maintained every year will ensure that they’re working properly and safely. Schedule Clean & Maintain service for all of your appliances at the same time. You’ll save money and the technician can conveniently service all your appliances in one trip.
During Sears Clean & Maintain service, the technician will clean essential parts of the appliances as needed. This is particularly important for your clothes dryer because lint can build up inside the cabinet and cause a fire hazard if that area isn’t cleaned regularly. The tech will also check controls, wiring and performance of each appliance. Having your appliances professionally maintained yearly will help prevent unsafe conditions from occurring.
In summary, homeowners should prioritize regular maintenance, ensure proper installation, pay attention to warning signs, educate yourself about proper appliance usage, and follow safety guidelines provided by manufacturers to avoid appliance safety issues and help keep your home safe.