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13 Ways You’re Shortening the Life of Your Stove Top

Want to keep your stove top running for as long as possible? Avoid making these very common, very damaging mistakes.

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Pot and kettle on stove topSEARICK1/SHUTTERSTOCK

These common mistakes will cost you

If you think repairing an appliance is costly, try buying a new one. There are very few things that feel as frustrating as getting rid of an expensive appliance that’s just a few years old. The worst part? It could be due to your mistakes! Even the most reliable home appliances on the market need to be properly maintained or their shelf life can be significantly shortened. That is very true for something like a stove top, which will need to be replaced much sooner than it should if you’re inadvertently making any (or all) of these 13 mistakes on a regular basis.

These kitchen appliances are guaranteed to last 10 years or more.

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Sautéing veggies in a skilletVALERIA AKSAKOVA/SHUTTERSTOCK

You don’t read the manual

It’s not fun, but you should read the manual of your appliance as soon as you have it installed. Thumbtack pro Oleg Karpynets of Quality Appliance Repair San Francisco says failing to do this can create problems in the future. “Yes, manuals can be extremely boring,” he admits, “but they’re very helpful in keeping your appliance happy and healthy. Manuals can contain special tips for correct cleaning and care.” This goes for all appliances, not just stove tops. Here’s how you may be using your kitchen appliances wrong.

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You step away while you’re cooking

Contrary to the saying, a watched pot will indeed boil, but if you’re not watching, it may very well boil over. It may be tempting to leave the kitchen when you’re boiling water or heating up liquids, but even small spillovers can lead to big trouble. Why? Spills, splashes and other accidents can create stuck-on debris or clogs, according to Paul Berry, owner of Mr. Appliance of San Antonio, a Neighborly company. And if you ignore them, they can cause damage to the appliance, shortening its life. Don’t miss these 8 quick tips for cleaning your kitchen’s trickiest appliances.

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You don’t clean burner clogs

Do you go to use your stove top, light a burner and notice it doesn’t work? Don’t ignore this problem. A burner that doesn’t light is likely clogged, so it needs to be cleaned. According to Berry, if a burner clogs, it can corrode the part and, thus, shorten the life of your appliance. If clogs are never cleaned out, the openings where the gas comes out will decrease in size. “This can potentially lead to inefficient gas burning and possible hot spots in the pan, meaning not a uniform delivery of heat,” he explains. “This could also lead to limited options for repairing the appliance. And if left clogged, burners could eventually just stop functioning properly.”

Here’s how to fix everyday appliances for free.

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You ignore debris on a glass stove top

Glass stove tops are a popular choice for those looking to achieve a sleek, modern look in their kitchen. However, if you let dirt build-up, you’ll likely be shopping for a new appliance sooner than you might have planned. “A glass stove top full of streaks, burn marks and baked-on stains completely voids the whole aesthetic,” says Sarah Brunette, Brand Director of Molly Maid, a Neighborly company. “This is why maintaining your glass stove top and cleaning it on a regular basis is of the utmost importance if you want to enjoy it for many years to come.” While cleaning grime can seem daunting, it’s not if you know a few tricks. Here’s what you can clean in basically 5 minutes.

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Kitchen cleaning suppliesMARGOSTOCK/SHUTTERSTOCK

You flood the stove top with water

Sometimes, less is more—and that is definitely true when it comes to water and your stove top. “We’ve seen stove tops (both gas and electric) shorted out when our customers use too much water to clean them,” explains Karpynets. “It’s important to remember that a gas cooktop is an electric appliance too, and there are control boards, electric switches and high-voltage wires right underneath your burners. Flooding the stove top with water in an attempt to clean it is never a good idea.” Your stove top isn’t the only thing that needs regular care. This is the best way to clean a greasy, dusty oven hood.

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You use a razor blade to remove buildup

Sometimes, a serious stove-top situation calls for a serious solution. But that solution should never entail removing stuck-on debris with something sharp like a razor blade, especially if you’re dealing with a glass stove top. Brunette says this is a hard no and instead suggests using a silicone or plastic spatula. “This is a great tool because it’s flexible and safe, rather than using the single-edge razor blade or anything sharp that may scratch the glass surface,” she says. And yes, it works. Here are some more cleaning myths you need to stop believing—and what to do instead.

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You clean the surface with a wire brush

Baked-on dirt can be tough to remove, but Karpynets emphasizes that using a wire brush can create an even bigger problem in the long run. “We’ve seen spark electrodes ruined by excessive cleaning using abrasive products like wire brushes,” he explains. “Those are delicate parts, and they need gentle cleaning.”

Did you know you don’t need a wire brush to clean your grill?

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You don’t clean with a product specifically designed for glass stove tops

Using a product designed with your appliance in mind is ideal. Cleaning expert Melissa Maker recommends the Scotch-Brite Glass Cooktop Wand. It not only removes dirt—it also keeps your hands from getting dirty. “Just add water to the surface and scrub the affected area,” she says. “Within a few swipes, the grimy buildup that’s been a major source of stress starts to melt away and reveals a shiny, clean cooktop surface.” And speaking of glass kitchen appliances, here’s the right way to clean a glass oven door.

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You use chemical cleansers

Believe it or not, natural products you probably already have on hand can be more effective (and safer) than pricier, chemical-based cleaners. “Sprinkle baking soda directly onto the stove top, and use a clean, damp microfiber cloth to scrub the spot clean,” Brunette says. If you encounter a stubborn spot, she suggests this easy fix: “Add a few drops of distilled vinegar to the baking soda, which should completely clean it.” Are you cleaning your home with paper towels? Here are six things you should be cleaning with microfiber cloths instead.

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You don’t adjust a misaligned burner cap

An unaligned burner cap can prevent ignition. “If the igniter on your gas stove clicks and clicks without the burner ever lighting, check to make sure your burner cap is in place and properly aligned. If you aren’t sure, listen to see if the igniter is louder than usual,” says Berry. Much like a clog, this can cause corrosion and shorten the life of the appliance.

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Gas burner on black modern kitchen stove.Ivanna Pavliuk/Shutterstock

You ignore the signs of a gas leak

Gas leaks don’t simply shorten the life of your stove top. If the appliance explodes, it will need to be replaced—and, of course, an explosion can also be deadly. The smell of gas is usually a good indication that there’s an issue. “While it’s normal to smell a small amount of gas when you turn on the range, if the smell appears before you turn the appliance on and lingers across your home, this might indicate a leak and a hazardous condition that needs immediate attention,” Berry explains. “Promptly open the windows and call your local gas supplier from outside of your home.” Your oven isn’t the only appliance that can explode.

These 15 common kitchen items are secretly toxic.

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You try to fix the problem yourself

In most cases, appliance repair is best left up to professionals. “There are instances where an individual may try to repair their appliance, and they’ve got it all taken apart, but unfortunately then realize they can’t figure out what’s wrong with it,” says Berry. “And furthermore, they realize they can’t figure out how to put it back together.” This can also cause additional damage and end up making repairs more expensive.

These DIY jobs cost less than $100!

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Woman on the phone in her kitchenWAYHOME STUDIO/SHUTTERSTOCK

You wait too long to call a professional

The bottom line is, the longer you wait to address an issue, the bigger—and costlier—your problem will be. “The greater the risk that the damage or issue will increase [when you wait too long], or cause subsequent issues that may require repair, can increase overall repair costs to the appliance owner,” says Berry. Next, find out if you’re making any of these 7 mistakes that shorten the life of your refrigerator.

Originally Published on Reader's Digest

Amanda Lauren
A self-proclaimed "Jackie of All Trades. Marilyn of None," Amanda Lauren does everything including writing about anything lifestyle related for a number of websites as well as her blog, It's Amanda Lauren. Anything but lazy, she also has a podcast called Things We're Too Lazy To Blog About. When she isn't in front of her MacBook, she can be found on stage doing standup and sketch comedy or hosting red carpet events. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their two dogs, Lulu and Milo.

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