Sometimes, there's a simple answer when an appliance stops working. According to the experts at The Family Handyman magazine, at least a quarter of all appliance repair calls are resolved with no-brainer solutions such as pushing a reset button or flipping a circuit breaker.
So the next time something suddenly stops or won't turn on, try these quick fixes first, courtesy The Family Handyman:
Garbage disposer: When it fails to turn on, the motor may be too hot. Push the reset button it's located on the bottom of the disposer unit. If you hear a humming sound and the blades fail to spin, this may be caused by an overload or something stuck (such as a peach pit) in the blades. Turn the disposer off, then try turning the blades carefully by hand. Once the block is cleared, it should work fine.
Lights: Check to see if the GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) outlet has tripped. The GFCI protects against shocks; GFCIs are required in kitchens, bathrooms, unfinished basements, garages, outdoors and anywhere near a sink. The GFCI may be part of the electrical outlet that powers that light. Find the GFCI and press the reset button.
Refrigerator: If your fridge is losing its cool, check the coils (usually located in the back) for a buildup of pet hair or dust. This often causes overheating. Simply brush off coils and vacuum up the remaining dust. Manufacturers recommend regular cleaning on the coils for maximum efficiency.
Gas stove: If a burner won't light, check the igniter. Take a small cleaning brush or toothbrush to scrub food spills from the igniter area. Also, make sure the ceramic plate is properly placed on the burner.
Electric range: Burner prongs may become loose. If you have a problem burner, turn it off and pull it from its socket. Plug the burner back in and try wiggling it around a little to make a better electrical connection.
Electronic ovens: If you set the "time cook" function, the oven won't turn on until the appointed time. If the digital display reads "hold," "delay" or "time cook," the timer is engaged. Make sure to clear your cook time first by pushing the "off" button. On ovens with dials, make sure the knob is on "manual."
Washer: A noisy washer can be due to uneven legs. Screw the front legs up or down until the cabinet is level, then tighten each leg's locking nut. To adjust the rear legs, tilt the machine forward and gently lower it down. This will self- adjust the rear legs.
Dryer: If your dryer won't dry, check that the setting isn't on "fluff." A clogged lint filter will keep clothes from drying properly. Clean the filter regularly (preferably after every load). Also, check for an almost invisible film on the filter from drying sheets. This can reduce the airflow and forces the thermostat to shut off the heat before your clothes are fully dry. Remove that film with a stiff brush.
Dishwasher: Less-than- sparkling dishes can be the result of a clogged filter, which prevents water from flowing into the dishwasher's spray arms. Pull out the lower rack and remove the filter cover inside the dishwater. Use a vacuum (with attachment) to clean off the screen.
Air conditioner: If your AC stops working, don't turn your unit on and off again because this could cause a fuse to blow. Give your AC a few minutes to come back on. If it doesn't, check the circuit breaker.
For more tips, click on www.familyhandyman.com.
Harvest tomatoes, beans, squash, pepper and eggplants to prompt plants to keep producing.
Give your plants a deep watering twice a week, more if they look droopy or grow in containers. Also, give them a boost with phosphate-rich fertilizer to help fruiting. (Always water before feeding.)
Get started on the fall vegetable garden. Plant seeds for beets, carrots, Chinese cabbage, head lettuce, mustard, onions, parsley, parsnips, potatoes, rutabagas and turnips.
Watch out for caterpillars and hornworms in the vegetable garden; they can strip a plant bare in one day. Hand- pick them off plants in early morning or late afternoon.
When fighting caterpillars, make a game of bug hunting. Let youngsters collect them in a jar. Identify the beneficial butterflies-to-be (and relocate them to somewhere else in the garden where they won't munch on vegetables), then dispose of the others. To identify the good bugs from the freeloaders, visit www.bugguide.net and www.butterflywebsite.com.