When an appliance starts dying, you might have to replace more than the appliance itself — if you ignore the problem. This is because broken appliances can send power surges through your home’s electrical system that will damage other appliances and, at worst, start a fire.
Signs of a Broken Appliance
It’s fairly easy to determine when an appliance is broken. Signs that you either need to repair or replace an appliance include:
Tripped Circuit Breakers
One of the first signs that you have an appliance that’s nearing the end of its life is that it trips the circuit breaker when running. If an appliance that has worked in the past suddenly trips the circuit breaker (and you’re not overtaxing the circuit with other appliances), don’t simply flip back on the circuit breaker and continue to run the appliance. The appliance might have sent a surge through the wiring, and it might do so again. Inspect the appliance for evidence of a malfunction.
When outlets and switches suddenly stop working, it is a sign that a surge might have passed through your electrical system. Telltale signs of a large surge include scorch marks and melted plastic. If you find these signs, hire a licensed electrician to repair the damage.
If you smell or see smoke (or burning smells) from your appliance, you need to call a repairman. Smoke and indicates that some internal components are burning and might have even caught fire. If the smoke doesn’t go away after turning off the appliance, use a fire extinguisher to quell the fire or call 911.
Unless your appliance is a toaster oven or other device that is supposed to quickly heat up, it should not produce excessive, external heat. Heat is an indication that something is wrong, and it can lead to a fire. Stop using the appliance if it is getting hot.
Loud or awkward noises are another indication that something might be broken in your appliance. If your appliance once ran quietly, take noise as an indication that something needs fixed.
An obvious sign that your appliance is on its last leg is that it stops performing well. When your refrigerator sweats, produces too much frost, or no longer keeps food cold enough, you know it needs replaced. Similarly, when other appliances stop doing their job, replace them as soon as possible.
When electrical components such as buttons, pads, and screens stop working, it’s a sign that there might be something wrong with the appliance’s circuitry. If the appliance is new, you might be able to return it to the manufacturer or store from which you bought it for a replacement. If not, consider hiring a repairman.
Types of Damage
It’s important not to ignore broken appliances because they can damage not only your electrical system but other appliances in the same circuit. Small power surges within a circuit happen often, such as when a refrigerator or AC unit switches between its on-off cycle. But when something malfunctions, it can send larger surges that cause damage. There are three types of damage broken appliances can cause: surge, physical, and fire.
Surges occur when an appliance sends a large push of electricity through a circuit. These surges hurt other appliances in circuit by damaging microprocessors and other sensitive computer components. Large surges will, of course, fry electrical equipment. But small surges will damage equipment, too. Small surges produce cumulative damage that ultimately decreases appliance lifespan and performance.
Larger surges can also hurt things like light switches and outlets. As said, if a surge damages these components, you will have to contact an electrician to repair them.
Appliances that have degraded can start fires two ways. The first is when an electrical short within the appliances sparks a fire. Tiny fires that flare up can ignite wallpaper, insulation, trash, curtains, and anything nearby that can burn. The second way they start fires is through surges. Surges increase the heat wires produce. Wires might catch insulation or other material on fire. And surges can cause fires in outlets and light switches.
If you think there might be a problem with an appliance you own, don’t ignore the issue. You will eventually have to replace it, so it is better to deal with the problem now and prevent further damage than to put off the chore and expense. If you put it off, you risk having to replace more appliances. Replace the appliance or call a repair professional to fix the underlying problem. If an appliance has damaged your home’s electrical system, call a licensed professional to help repair the damage and make sure your home is safe.