Oven cleaning

Want Your Oven To Last? Don't Do This (very often)

Our Thermador oven is almost 20 years old. It’s been a great and loyal oven over the years. About a year ago, I noticed the convection fan getting loud when it started up. You could hear it hitting some other piece of metal, but eventually, it quietened down and worked normally. I knew the convection feature’s days were numbered.

After a few more months, the convection fan stopped working altogether. Because it’s an old oven and the elements were still working, I haven’t bothered to service it. It turns however, my oven is so old that they don’t make the parts for it anymore anyway so there isn’t much that can be done.

An Oven's Self-Cleaning Feature Can Pre-maturely End The Convection Cooking's Function

In the meantime, I discovered that I am likely responsible for the convection fan's death. According to a post on Reddit, if you use the self-cleaning function on your oven often, you run the risk of damaging the convection fan bearings. Apparently, a Redditor posted that the convection on their Samsung oven had stopped working and the response was:

Do you use the oven self-clean function? Often this can severely degrade the fan bearings life. Happened with my KitchenAid too and the repair guy said it was the main reason for failure in his experience.

So, of course, that led me to do some research and it turns out that using the self-cleaning feature on your oven is one of the surest ways of causing problems, from wearing down the bearings on the convection fan to blowing a fuse to burning out the control panel.

According to the blog, Lifesavvy, manufacturers make self-cleaning ovens because customers demand them. Unfortunately, because of the hidden elements in newer ovens, the temperature needs to rise beyond what the oven is really capable of handling – which can lead to overheating, fuse blowing or control panel burning out.

Regarding our 18-year old Thermador oven, my cleaning zeal had destroyed the convection fan.

Further, Bob Vila’s website notes that using your self-cleaning feature produces noxious gases including carbon monoxide. If you are going to use the feature ensure you have plenty of ventilation going throughout the process. On top of that, a high-heat self-cleaning cycle uses about 8 kWh of electricity. That’s about a third of all the electricity our house uses in a typical day – just to clean the oven!

Tips for Using Your Oven's Self-Cleaning Feature (If You Really Have To)

If you are going to use the self-cleaning feature here are some other tips we've gleened from sources around the web (although we can't guarantee it won't lead to a blown fuse or electronic panel):

  1. Wipe down any large burnt pieces found at the bottom of the oven
  2. Remove all metal racks ahead of time or the finish will dull
  3. Use the shortest time setting possible to prevent a fuse or control panel blow out
  4. Manually clean your oven monthly (when it’s warm is easiest)
  5. Aim to use the self-cleaning feature a maximum of 1 to 2 times per year (it will save on your electricity bill too)

If it's time to get a new oven, check out our article 5 Tips For Buying a New Cooking Appliance

Self-cleaning oven resources:





GE fully integrated dishwasher

Why Won't My Dishwasher Drain?

A dishwasher not draining seems to be the most commonly searched problem on the web. The reason that this has become such an issue is because dishwashers have changed and, frankly, we North Americans haven't fully adjusted to them.

Dishwasher filters versus food grinders

Up until ten or 15 years ago, the majority of dishwashers made and sold in North America, by GE, KitchenAid, Frigidaire and other North American manufacturers, manufactured their dishwashers with food grinders. That meant that you could scrape your plate, no rinsing required, and any food stuck on the dishes disappeared down the drain. The food grinder would take care of all the little food scraps and you'd never think about a clogged drain unless the drain pump broke.

Food filter dishwashers

The introduction of dishwashers with filters into the North American market has led to a few unexpected developments.

On the positive side, dishwashers are so much quieter than in the past. Not only can you have a conversation next to one, brands like Bosch have an indicator light that shines on the floor to let you know it's running so you don't open the door mid-cycle.

The reason they're so quiet is that food grinders have been replaced with filters. Filters need a little more maintenance than food grinders and dishes need to be prepared a little better. Plates need to be scraped thoroughly or extra food will get stuck in the filter or get into the drain pump or impeller. If it gets stuck there, your dishwasher will get clogged and water will build up in the bottom of the dishwasher. (See this post for how to maintain your dishwasher so it will last).

How you clean your plates is a determining factor in your dishwasher choice

If you're about to buy a new dishwasher, you might want to consider which is the most important to you:

  1. Quietness and water efficiency - in which case, look for a dishwasher without a food grinder
  2. Lower maintenance - look for a dishwasher with a built-in food grinder

If you think you're more prone to the convenience of scraping your plates and not worrying about food particles in your dishwasher, you're probably going to want to stick with a dishwasher with a food grinder.

Drainpipe size is important

If you're doing everything right and your dishwasher still isn't draining, it might be the size of the drainpipe. If the drain pipe is too small, the water won't drain as quickly as it's supposed to and may get backed up in the bottom of the tub.

If your dishwasher isn't draining, RepairClinic offers several suggestions as to what the problem might be.


This is the best video I've seen on the two most likely problems in a Bosch dishwasher - a clogged drain and a stuck impeller or valve:


dishwasher information

Maintain Your Dishwasher So It Will Last Its Full Lifespan

Maintaining your dishwasher so it will last its full life never used to be an issue; up until around ten years ago, a dishwasher lasted 18-20 years or more. Sure it was noisy and consumed enormous amounts of water and electricity, but it lasted -- sometimes so long that you were begging it to kick the bucket.

These days, most dishwashers last a measly 6 to 10 years unless you can afford to spend $2,000+ on a Cove, Miele or high-end Bosch

Here is some wisdom we've gathered from around the web on maintaining your dishwasher so it will last its full lifespan - whether that's six to ten years or longer.


The Heated Drying Setting

Problem: There is a great article on myrecipes.com about a common cause of dishwasher burnout (literally). Between the heating element and the air pumps, the process can lead to the early breakdown of your dishwasher.

The heated drying setting uses forced hot air to turn moisture on dishes into steam and blow them out of your dishwasher. This speeds up drying, and it saves you time and the extra effort of wiping off excess water. In the long run, however, it may cost you....The routine usage of these electric heating elements and the overuse of air pumps can cut short the machine’s lifespan.

Solution: Use the air-dry setting on your dishwasher or, if you're around when the cycle ends, open the door and let the dishes air-dry naturally.  If you have a European brand, there is no heated dry setting so you won't have to worry about it (it's also why your dishes always come out a little bit wet).

Food Grinders replaced with Food Filters

Problem: There has been the gradual conversion of dishwashers with food grinders to filters over the past 10 years.

While filters have always been used in European dishwashers, they have only recently become more common in North American brands. Open concept kitchen-living spaces and an emphasis on energy conservation have led to the replacement of food grinders with filters. Dishwashers are now quieter and more energy and water efficient. But we North Americans are used to doing little prep work before loading their dirty dishes. Without proper scraping and rinsing before loading, dishwashers can leave crusty bits on your glasses and plates due to food build-up in the filter. On top of that, the drain and impeller can get clogged leading to the common problem of your dishwasher not draining properly.

Solution: Read your owner's manual to find out the best way to prepare and load your dishwasher. I know, that sounds crazy, but every dishwasher is different and it's important to make sure you're using yours properly. Two of the best tips to maximize performance are:

  1. preparing your dirty dishes according to your manual will save you from rewashing your freshly washed dishes. Some models require rinsing and scraping, while others just require scraping.
  2. check out your dishwasher's maintenance schedule and the suggestions for keeping it running in top condition. Cleaning filters and sprayer arms and door seals are important to ensuring that your dishwasher cleans properly.

Water Hardness

According to reviewed.com, if your home's water is particularly hard, it can lead to a premature ending for your dishwasher. Hard water creates the build-up of mineral deposits in plumbing lines and can affect the operation of the motor, vents and sensors. Plus, your dishes won't get as clean as with soft water because more detergent is needed.

Solution: There are three ways to tackle this problem.

  1. Buy a dishwasher with a built-in water softener. These types of dishwashers use a special dishwasher salt, added to a compartment similar to a rinse aid. It helps the detergent work more effectively, prevents white spots on your glasses, and keeps the inside of your dishwasher clean.
  2. Use a rinse-aid. Similar to dishwasher salt, it will help the detergent work more effectively and keep spots off your glasses. You'll still need to clean your dishwasher to prevent mineral build-up using a diluted vinegar treatment or a commercial product such as GE's dishwasher cleaner.
  3. Add a whole home water softener. Not only will you notice an improvement in your washing machine's and dishwasher's effectiveness you'll also notice improved general water use overall (better showers, softer skin and hair).

Have something to add? Let us know in our comments section.

Have a problem with your dishwasher? We've written a post on where to go help diagnose your dishwasher problems.



Water leaking from under a fridge.

It's all Water Under The Fridge

Last year water started appearing under our fridge. Because I live in the world of denial, I'd mop it up and think, "I wonder how that happened?" and ignore it, hoping it would somehow solve itself (I'm still doing this with the oven door lock for self-cleaning mode, which no longer locks - but I keep hoping!). After about the fifth time of finding water under the fridge, I realized I actually had to do something about it. So I started doing some research and discovered there are a few reasons why water might be appearing.  Below are the common causes and solutions for water under your fridge.

Fridge/Freezer door isn't completely closed

When the door isn't properly closed, condensation will build up where room temperature air meets colder air escaping from the fridge or freezer. Many newer fridge models have a door alarm that can help ensure your fridge door is shut. If the fridge door isn't closed properly, your fridge's cooling system will work extra hard to keep the temperature at the desired level. If it's the freezer it's more of a challenge because ice can build up where the door closes creating a layer of ice.  Any ice build-up on the outside of the freezer will melt and pool below the fridge.

Solution: Clean the door seal and fridge/freezer body with warm water, and wipe dry, ensuring it's completely dry before closing it. To make sure the seal is tight, put a flashlight in the fridge or freezer facing towards the door. Close the door and look for any light escaping. If there's light, you'll either need to your gasket may need replacing. Check to make sure the fridge is level. One serviceman told me to keep our fridge at a very slight angle with the front legs higher than the back so the fridge door closed with the help of gravity.

Water flowing out of the fridge or ice building up on bottom of fridge or freezer

This could be due to a blocked drain hole. Water condenses in the fridge as it is cooled and is guided to a drain hole at the bottom and back of the fridge. If this hole has become blocked with food or debris, water will pool under the crisper and can leak out onto the floor.

Soloution: Unblock the drain hole or the drain line (if not visible) and thoroughly clean (without bleach) to prevent bacteria and mould buildup.

A leak in the water line to the fridge

I have a friend whose basement was ruined due to a leak in the water line that fed her main floor kitchen refrigerator. They'd gone to work for the day and come home to the sound of water spraying. The water line that fed the refrigerator's ice-maker had burst. Water had seeped through the floor into the basement below and soaked the basement carpet, furniture and drywall. Not all waterline bursts are this obvious or immediate. Sometimes, an attachment will wear, the hose is older and will crack, or the bolt has come loose. If it's a small drip, you may not even notice it until a puddle forms under the fridge.

Solution: The water lines are located at the back of the fridge, so you may need help pulling the fridge out. Check the water lines and valve attachments to ensure they're dry. Sometimes all they need is tightening. If there is a crack in the water line, it will need to be replaced. Check out Sears PartsDirect to find out what part number you need, or call in a technician.

Cracked Drip pan

The drip pan catches condensate from the fridge and the heat from the condenser evaporates the water before it builds up. If there's a crack in the drip pan (also called a drain pan or drip tray), water will pool on the floor. To check for this you'll have to find out where your drip pain is located, sometimes it's accessible from the front lower grill beneath the fridge and sometimes it's accessible from the back.

Solution: If you don't have your original appliance manual check here to find yours. It should be able to help you locate the drip tray on your fridge. Carefully (sometimes it will still have some water in it) pull the drip pan out and check for leaks on the pan.

Note: There's a specific problem with a Kenmore/Whirlpool/Maytag side by side fridge from a few years ago. The design of the drain hose to the drip tray was such that it froze and prevented the water from draining. The drain hose needs to be replaced with one with a p-trap. See the video below for fixing the problem (and enjoy the repairman who has the hiccups :) ).

Safety tips before you start

Always unplug your refrigerator before taking it apart for inspection.

Turn off the water line that leads to the fridge.

Refrigerators are heavy, use caution when moving or tilting.

Remove food and place in another refrigerator, or cooler with ice to preserve food while working on fridge

If in doubt, call in an experienced technician.

Have an appliance question or story? Share it on our forum!

For more information on refrigerators, check out all our refrigerator articles






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Miele Induction Range HR 1622I

Have You Considered An Induction Range?

Miele Induction Range  HR1622I

Induction ranges have their lovers and haters amongst laypeople and professional chefs alike. Many professional chefs love the responsiveness of gas and the ability to work with a live flame to create that slightly burnt effect to dishes. There is also an entertainment factor for open kitchens or cooking classes. Induction definitely can't compete in that area.

On the other hand, other professional chefs love the responsiveness of induction surfaces, how quickly they heat and how easy it is to control (some) induction burners.

Throughout the years I've owned electric coil ranges, gas ranges and a smooth top cooktop (no, I'm neither an appliance hoarder nor a real estate magnate - we've just moved a lot).  I've never owned an induction cooktop - but it's on my appliance bucket list.


Here are the advantages of an induction range:

Cleanable surface

Unlike a traditional electric smooth-top surface, induction cooking involves transferring an electric current directly to the pan, the surface only gets hot as the transfer heat right under the pan. With a smooth-top cooktop, once the pasta or potato water boils over, it will cook right onto the surface. Cleaning it involves a lot of muscle power, possibly some gentle scraping and maybe even some soaking to soften the cooked mess. Sometimes it could take me 20 minutes to half an hour to clean the cooktop's surface. Gas and electric coil surfaces are much easier to clean. Induction cooktops beat them all.

Faster cooking time

Induction heats the pan directly so there is no wasted heat. Most of the energy goes to heating the pan, which heats up much faster than either gas or electric.

Energy efficient

About 84% of the energy produced goes directly to the pan. With gas, only 40% of gas cooking heats the pan, the rest heats the kitchen. That is a lot of wasted heat! Less energy is needed for a shorter amount of time leading to increased energy efficiency.

Burner flexibility

On many of the newest induction models, a large part of the surface is induction enabled so many different types of pans will fit, from extra-large to griddles. Further, a small pot can be put on a large burner, and only the area where the pot is placed will heat up.


Induction heat is powered by electricity and is instant and therefore as responsive as gas. But it's also much better for overall indoor air quality.

Of course, there are some disadvantages to induction ranges:


The bottom-end induction cooking ranges start at a higher price than the lowest price electric coil range or gas range. And even then, the basic induction range won't have a lot of the features the more expensive induction ranges have. However, as they go up in price they are competitive with high-end gas ranges. Tip: that induction ranges tend to be not that much more expensive than induction cooktops (without the oven)

Function and operation

Depending on the model and brand you choose, there could be some clicking, beeping and fan noises every time you turn it on. Relying solely on product reviews isn't a great idea in this case - your level of tolerance may be higher or lower than a reviewer's. If you have the opportunity to test the models you've narrowed it down to, you'll be able to decide for yourself whether one model is better than another. Some models will also shut the entire surface off if a foreign object hits the surface causing you to reset the burners to resume cooking. Cooking "dials" also differ from completely digital to knobs - although most are digital - which might take some getting used to.


It's important to use good cookware to get the full benefits of induction cooking. The Induction Site notes that cast iron is just as good as top quality cookware, the most important test is how well a magnet sticks to the bottom of the pan. You may have to invest in new cookware when switching to induction. Some brands run promotions, throwing in new cookware when purchasing an induction cooktop or range. Without the right pans you will have the humming or buzzing noise that is often discussed in induction reviews. Flat-bottom pans, secure rivets for handles, and heavy lids also contribute to a quieter cooking experience.

Proper operation to ensure longevity

Brian at Electros Fabuleux in Montreal says one of the most common problems he sees is blown control panels on induction units. People use the "boost" feature too often and also might be using it in conjunction with other burners being on. It's not meant to be used all the time and will cause the control panel to burn out faster.

Proper electrical wiring

The Induction Site notes that getting the amps and volts aligned to the chosen range model is critical for smooth operation. Please do read it before you buy an induction as it will help you understand whether your current electrical panel needs upgrading.

Tell us about your induction cooking experience on our forum!

Looking for a new range? Check out our buying guide to help you with your decision.

Check out all our articles on cooking appliances

Shop Induction Ranges

frontloader washing machine drum

Maintain Your Front Load Washing Machine So It Lasts Longer

We here at Gleen want to help you maintain your front-load washer so it performs the way it's intended to, helping you put off buying another one for as long as possible. We looked at our favourite homecare websites to seek out the best advice.

If you're on the fence about buying a front-load washing machine consider the following:

Advantages of a front-load washing machine

  • Efficiency: They use significantly less water and electricity than a top-loader
  • Bulky items: You can wash sleeping bags and other bulky items in them due to a lack of an agitator
  • Proven technology: Even though they are "relatively" new here in North America, they are the only kind of washer used in Europe because of their efficiency so they do have a proven track record
  • Better cleaning ability: They clean clothes better, are gentler on them than a top loader
  • Shorter drying time: Less drying time is needed because more water is extracted during the spin cycle

For all a front-loader's advantages, it still has its fair share of naysayers:

Disadvantages of a front-load washing machine

  • Cost: front-load washer tend to cost more than top-load washers and there seems to be a lot of complaints online that they break more frequently and repair costs are higher.
  • Odour: It might be the class action lawsuit launched against Whirlpool in 2013 due to mould build-up, or the many consumer reviews for almost any front-loader that mentions foul smells emanating from their washer - but it's enough to steer people away from a new front-loader
  • Ergonomics: they can be a bit challenging to get your clothes out of. The addition of pedestals has made this less back-breaking.
  • Noise: The horizontal drums spin at a fast rate which can lead to noise and vibration if it isn't properly installed.

There are some things you can do to help your front-load washer run smoothly. Here are the tips we've gathered:

Proper Installation:

Proper installation of a front-loading washing machine is critical if it's going to last its full lifespan (which varies by manufacturer but 10 years seems to be the minimum). If a washer isn't properly level, for instance, there will be significant vibration and noise during the spin cycle. This, in turn, can lead to a damaged drum or water leakage or even a shortened electronic panel lifespan. If you don't have a manual for your machine, you can look up yours here.


A water leak from a burst hose can end up costing thousands of dollars in water damage. Prevention is the best policy. Rubber hoses that come with the machine should be replaced with steel braided hoses. These should be checked for any weakness every 6 months and replaced every 5 years.

Operate according to manufacturer's instructions:

Manufacturers also stress the importance of reading the manual and following instructions. For instance, not only using HE detergent but also the right amount in order to prevent the build-up of soap residue.  Brian from Electros Fabuleux in Montreal, QC, says that adding a second rinse after every wash will help prevent the build-up. Another issue is not overloading the machine - this can lead to breakdown - motor burnout or a broken drum.

Clean Your Front-load washer regularly:

You should clean your washer as often as recommended by the manufacturer. It will depend on things such as how frequently the washer is used and how hard the water is and whether you use mostly hot or cold water for your laundry.

New detergents are developed for cold water washing, while homeowners save money on their hot water bill. But one of the consequences is that mildew has a better chance of forming. Hot water kills bacteria that leads to mildew. Using the "clean" cycle with a cup of vinegar or bleach will help kill bacteria that causes mould. Some washing machines will let you know when it's time to use the "Clean" cycle.

After your last load of laundry for the day, use a solution of 1/2 vinegar and 1/2 water to wipe the gasket and its folds and the washer door with an old rag and leave the door ajar to prevent mould and mildew from forming.

Clean the detergent dispenser 1-3 times per year depending on how often you do laundry, to stop detergent build-up.

Some front-loaders have a drain pump and filter. If you notice your laundry is taking longer or there is increased vibration, it may be time to clean it.


These are the best tips we've found for maintaining your front-load washer. Are there any suggestions we've left out? Let us know in the comments section.

Tell us your front-load washing machine story in the forum!










Whirlpool Duet Washer and Dryer set

Rusty Clothes After Finishing Your Laundry? Here's How To Find The Problem

A reader wrote in and asked why she was getting rust stains on her clothes after doing the laundry. "Our washer and dryer are 20-25 years old, so I'm thinking they are the problem. Should I buy a new washer or try to have this one fixed?"

Given the age of the washer and dryer, it's possible that the problem is with the machines. However, there are some things to investigate before running out to plunk down money on new appliances.

Determine where the rust is coming from

The rust could either be due to your washer or dryer. Of course, it's easiest to determine whether it's your washer or dryer that's the culprit with your whites. If they come out of the washer with little brown spots, you know the problem is in your wash cycle. However, if they leave the washer clean, but have little brown rust spots after the dryer, that's where the problem is.

Rust could be from your water source or the pipes

While the rust might be coming from your washer, it could also be coming from your pipes...or your water. I was at a friend's cottage a few years ago and did a load of laundry. Their well water had so much iron in it that my whites came out rusty brown. It took three days of soaking them in Oxy Clean to restore them. In an apartment we lived in - very temporarily - the pipes were so old that brown water came out of the faucet every morning. We had to flush the system every morning before we dared use the water. The point is, the rust may be from your pipes or originate from the water itself. In those cases, you can either get a filter for your washing machine or a water softener for your house. If you have hard water, an investment in a whole house water softener will extend the lives of your dishwasher and washing machine, decrease odour from the water, and help lessen or eliminate the waterline mark in your toilets.

Rust could be from your washer

Sometimes it's fairly obvious that the problem stems from your washer. If the enamel has chipped away on your drum, or if the drum is stainless steel and it has small rust spots appearing, that is likely the cause of your rust stains. If you can easily access the spot and you're a confident DIYer, you could try sanding down the rust and touching it up with an enamel heat resistant appliance paint. If the drum is thoroughly rusty you could consider replacing it with a new drum - usually an appliance repairperson is a good idea for this kind of job. If it's another part and you need to take the washer apart to find it - well, I leave that in your capable hands - (or, you could call in some help, or buy another).

What if the rust is coming from your dryer?

It turns out that your dryer might be the guilty party - if your clothes are coming out clean from the washer and getting rust spots on them after they've been through the dryer. If that's the case, Hunker.com suggests getting to the back of the dryer and cleaning out the air duct with an old towel.  It also suggests checking the interior of the dryer door seal to make sure it doesn't have any rust spots. As with the washer, it could also be the dryer drum.

Have a washer or dryer that's causing you problems? Tell us about it on the forum.






How To Responsibly Dispose of Your Old Refrigerator

IPCC just unveiled its latest evaluation of climate change and warned that if we continue down our current path, we're in for trouble, big time. One of the culprits in this battle is refrigerants. Right now just over 2% are captured and recycled at the end of an appliance's life. According to Drawdown, by capturing most of them we can help avoid 89 gigatons of gases, saving the planet almost 1 degree Fahrenheit of warming.

Refrigerants and Global Warming Potential

Refrigerants have significantly more Global Warming Potential than carbon dioxide (CO2 - which is the baseline with a GWP of "1"). The refrigerant chemicals most commonly used are hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). They have a GWP of between 1000 and 9000. The average GWP for refrigerants is somewhere just above 2300 GWP. What that means is that the refrigerants used in your refrigerator, chest freezer and air conditioner are 2300 times more potent than carbon dioxide at warming the atmosphere when they are released into the air.

Refrigerator Disposal - the reality

When you talk to a local scrap collector and ask them how they handle refrigerants, they will smile at you and nod. They know why you're asking. The last guy said to me, "Scrapyards won't accept refrigerators with refrigerants still left in them, so we drain them before we take them in." When he sees the look of horror on your face he shrugs and says, "Everybody does it." You can tell them that it's wrong until you are blue in the face, it still won't change their practices. There isn't enough government oversight and the penalties aren't severe enough to make them stop. (Bounties on refrigerants could change that in a heartbeat.)

The problem is, with shorter refrigerator lifespans, the more refrigerators are replaced, the more refrigerants are created and likely, let off into the atmosphere at end of life.

If you have to replace your refrigerator, try to find out what your appliance replacement company is going to do with your old fridge.

In municipalities where there is municipal collection of "white goods" (appliances) in place, there is a better chance that refrigerants are dealt with responsibly. Elsewhere, well, it's finding getting the right scrap dealer. You can call around and see if there is a scrap dealer who is a certified refrigerant manager, but they are hard to find. The equipment to capture refrigerants is expensive and so not a lot of scrap dealers have it, even if they're supposed to.

Some junk collectors, such at 1-800 Got Junk mention that they responsibly dispose of refrigerators.

The Future of Refrigerants

The type of refrigerants being used is changing. In 2016, the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol was signed. Effective as of 2019, developed countries will have to phase out their use of HFCs as refrigerants and replace them with the lower GWP refrigerants with developed countries starting in 2024. This is already happening, so you may hear about your new refrigerator using new refrigerants that are more climate-friendly, such as isobutane or propane. While this is a good thing for the future, we still have a massive issue with refrigerants already in use in refrigerators, freezers, air conditioners or car air conditioners.

The next time you need to replace your refrigerator, ask how refrigerants are handled in your neighbourhood. Responsible global management can help avoid up to  1 degree Fahrenheit of warming and avoid 89 gigatons of CO2 equivalent greenhouse gas emissions.


Have a refrigerator disposal question? Ask away in our forum!


Whirlpool Duet Washer and Dryer set

Should I Buy A Refurbished Washing Machine?

Have you ever considered buying a refurbished washer instead of a new one? A few years ago our washing machine conked out and the repairman quoted $1500 to fix it because the drum had torn away from the washing machine's body. As the repairman was leaving he said, "And whatever you do, don't buy the most expensive or the cheapest. They all last 10 years these days no matter what."

Truthfully, I became a little depressed thinking about appliances lasting only ten years, but everybody in the industry seems to be okay with that. A manufacturer we spoke with said, "People expect appliances to last as long as cars!" Only he meant that it was an unrealistic expectation. Since when? Appliances always used to last longer than cars. Appliances were changed because they were old, ugly, noisy, out of fashion, but rarely because they actually stopped working and couldn't be repaired.

Those days are gone. Read any third party review site (stay away from the manufacturer's site) and you'll note that appliances aren't made the way they used to be.

So I considered my options: I could buy new, refurbished or used. After searching Craigslist and Kijiji, I discovered there weren't any realistic used options available to me at that time. I also knew I wanted an EnergyStar rated frontload washer. So that left me with new or refurbished.

Should I buy a new washer?

There are, of course, several advantages to buying a new washer.

The latest available features

The manufacturers are always coming out with new features that are geared towards making your life easier. Newer washers have steam cleaning options that deodorize and sterilize your clothes, auto soap dispensers, and wifi-connected options so you can be notified on your phone when the wash cycle is complete. There are washers with two basins - one for regular-sized loads and one for smaller loads. And the number of wash cycles always seems to be increasing. The list of new features is seemingly endless.


Washers are getting increasingly larger. Depending on your laundry room and whether you have a growing family, a larger washer might be a good option for you. On the other hand, if you have limited space, there might be better compact options available. There will be more size options available to you if you are buying a new washer.


A new machine usually offers a 1-year warranty on all parts, and many stores offer extended warranty options (although whether it is worthwhile to get one is debatable).

Energy Efficiency

There are lots of options for EnergyStar certified and water efficient washing machines available today. There are also rebates available in many municipalities for purchasing one.

Bright, shiny and new

It's fun to have brand new, shiny things, so if you're spending a lot of money on an appliance, isn't important to have one that you love using, that looks good and makes you happy? I know it sounds superficial, but new things tend to make us happy - the same feeling we used to get when we were given new toys.

Larger selection

Generally, there is a better selection of new appliances than refurbished. So if you have your heart set on a certain brand or certain features or size, you are more likely to find what you need in a new appliance.

On the negative side I considered:


New washers with all the new shiny features can be really expensive. Delivery and removal fees for your old appliances are extra.


Reliability seems to be a huge problem these days. It seems to be difficult to find appliances that last and are easily repairable.

Unnecessary Features

Do I really need all the new features available on the new washers?

So then I thought about buying a refurbished washer and all the advantages and disadvantages.

Should I buy a refurbished washer?


  1. A refurbished washer will cost less than half of a new one.
  2. Washers are thoroughly tested before they are put up for sale.
  3. They come with a warranty that usually varies from 3 months to one year.
  4. Delivery and removal fees are significantly less than for new appliances.


  1. It won't be shiny new.
  2. It won't have the latest features.
  3. It could still break after the warranty is over.
  4. Limited choice as to what's available.

In the end, I decided that instead of spending a fortune on appliances that might or might not last, I would buy a refurbished washer and dryer set.  I hate doing laundry and all the latest features in the world aren't going to convince me otherwise, so they aren't relevant to me. When I looked through Kijiji, I found a refurbished shop that sold plenty of refurbished frontloaders. I visited the shop and chose a refurbished Whirlpool Duet washer and dryer (I figured I should buy the set since our dryer was also 15 years old and could go at any time). They came with a 6-month warranty and the final cost of $700 (plus tax) included delivery and removal of my old pair.

The buttons were slightly worn, but other than that, there was nothing wrong with these machines.  In 2014 when I bought them, the cost of a new Whirlpool Duet pair was approximately $1600 + taxes, shipping and removal of the old equipment. I saved about $1,200 versus buying new.

Before you buy, do your homework:

The only caveat I have is this: It turns out the pair was actually 7 years old and not 5 years old the shopkeeper told me. I know this because the washer's electronic panel failed 15 months after I bought them and I had to replace it. The next time I buy a refurbished set, I will find the model and serial number and input them into this model finder to confirm their age. I will read reviews and ensure there aren't any recalls on the machines.

Refurbished appliances offer buyers the opportunity to have a machine that should last another 6-8 years or more. Of course, expected lifespan depends on a host of factors including use frequency, water hardness, care and maintenance and sometimes, just luck of the draw.

On an even tighter budget? You might have thought about buying a used washer. We have tips to help you buy smarter.

Share your appliance story on the forum!

Have you ever bought a used or refurbished appliance? What was your experience like? Tell us about it on our forum!

Electrofabuleux, refurbished appliances

The Problem With Short-Lived Appliances

It's a fact that appliances are living shorter lives. Megan McArdle wrote a great opinion piece in the Washington Post about her refrigerator dying too young. It was also not repairable for a reasonable cost. Decreasing appliance quality is a common story. It's also one of the primary reasons we started Gleen. Why can't we buy appliances that last 20 years anymore? Why are they so expensive to repair, if they are repairable at all.

This is just plain wrong. It makes a lot of people mad. Just check out the 790+ comments on Ms. McArdle's article and you'll see the tip of the iceberg of discontent on appliance reliability.

What the manufacturers say

One of the justifications manufacturers use for the rapid replacement of appliances is the increase in energy efficiency we've seen from the newer appliances.  Another is that over 90% of an appliance is recycled so there is little physical waste that ends up in landfill.

The overlooked, ignored problems with short-lived appliances

We won't argue with these points, although there is a problem with refrigerant management and other insulation materials that we won't discuss here. However, where the manufacturers' argument starts to fall apart is in three areas:

Consumer cash outlay:

If an appliance must be replaced instead of repaired every 5 years (or less!), the consumer ends up replacing an appliance 4 times in a 20-year timeframe. If they'd been able to afford a $2000 appliance in year 1, they could likely have saved themselves the headaches of replacement and satisfaction of a better performing machine. Not everyone can justify or afford a $2000+ appliance and unfortunately, financing options are steep. So the consumer buys the lower quality appliance replacement hoping that this time it will be different.

Energy efficiency:

There was significant progress in energy efficiency in major appliances starting in the late 70's right up until the 2000's.  That meant that replacing old appliances with newer, more efficient ones was a good thing to do for your pocketbook and the planet. And because of energy efficiency standards, we have saved PetaJoules of energy output. Since around 2010, however, energy efficiency gains per appliance have been progressively getting smaller. Replacing a 5-year -old Energy Star Certified appliance for a newer model may or may not save a few kilowatts because some appliances are starting to use more energy per unit due to size increases (dryers, for example).

Consumption of natural resources:

While many appliances are recycled, there is still an untold amount of energy, water and virgin material that goes into creating new machines. It seems reasonable to believe that a five-year-old dishwasher should still have another 15 years of life in it. Why are we trashing appliances instead of refurbishing and reusing them? A robust secondhand market could extend the life of appliances while creating a second line of revenue for manufacturers and resellers alike. That's what happens in the car industry, after all. The bottom line is that appliances should be used for at least 20 years before they're recycled. It would save countless PetaJoules of energy and litres of water, and employ local people who work in refurbishing and service companies.

People are fed up with spending their money on appliances that don't live up to their promise.  We here at Gleen are creating ways for people to find better appliances and try to keep what they have running longer.

We want to hear from you! Have an appliance story? Share it on our forum!

Thanks for dropping by.

The Gleen Team.