How to Refurbish Your Old Appliances for a Greener Home

How to Refurbish Your Old Appliances for a Greener Home

Upgrading your home appliances can be expensive, but refurbishing old appliances is an affordable way to make your home more energy efficient and eco-friendly. With some elbow grease and DIY skills, I breathed new life into my outdated appliances and reduced their environmental impact.

Why Refurbish Old Appliances?

There are several benefits to refurbishing appliances rather than replacing them:

  • Save money – Buying a brand new energy efficient appliance can cost thousands. Refurbishing an old one only requires a couple hundred dollars in parts and supplies.

  • Reduce waste – Repairing an appliance prevents it from ending up in a landfill. The EPA estimates that refrigerators manufactured before 1990 use up to 3x more electricity than new Energy Star models. Upgrading just one old fridge prevents thousands of pounds of greenhouse gas emissions over its lifetime.

  • Lower energy bills – New appliances boast better insulation, compressors, seals, and technology that require less energy to run. Refurbishing can upgrade all those features for a fraction of replacement cost.

  • Prolong appliance lifespan – With some TLC, appliances can run for decades longer than designed. Repairs and upgrades extend usefulness and keep them out of the waste stream.

How to Evaluate Old Appliances for Refurbishment

Before investing time into a refurbishment project, inspect the appliance thoroughly to ensure it’s worth restoring:

  • Test functionality – Verify that it turns on, runs properly, and performs needed functions. Look for warning signs like loud noises, leaks, rust, or faulty temperature regulation.

  • Assess condition – Check for excessive wear, broken knobs, frayed cords, rusted parts, and damaged components like compressors or heating elements.

  • Review energy usage – Use a kilowatt meter to measure how much electricity it draws. Compare to Energy Star ratings to estimate potential energy savings from upgrades.

  • Research parts availability – Determine whether repair parts can still be purchased from the manufacturer or third party suppliers. Availability of components is key.

  • Evaluate repair feasibility – Gauge your DIY skills and tools needed for repairs. Complex projects like re-gassing a fridge may require hiring a professional.

Energy Saving Refurbishment Projects

Here are impactful DIY upgrades I performed to improve efficiency and reduce energy consumption:

Refrigerator Upgrades

  • Replace door gaskets – I installed new door seals to prevent cold air leakage. This improved insulation.

  • Install efficiency compressor – Swapping out the compressor significantly reduced electricity demands. Made sure to properly dispose of old compressor’s refrigerant.

  • Add insulation to walls – I used appliance epoxy to adhere new polyurethane insulation foam panels inside the fridge walls. This helped maintain consistent temperatures.

  • Clean coils – Vacuuming dust buildup on the condenser coils in the back improved heat dissipation and efficiency.

Oven and Range Upgrades

  • Replace oven knobs – Upgrading to metal knobs improved insulation. I also repaired any cracks or damage to oven door seals.

  • Install timer – I added a simple mechanical timer to avoid accidentally leaving the oven on. This prevents unnecessary energy waste.

  • Replace burners – Swapping old coil electric stove burners for new halogen burners reduced cooking time and energy demands.

  • Improve door hinges – I lubricated old stiff hinges so the oven door closed tightly, trapping heat inside.

Dishwasher Upgrades

  • Upgrade door latch – Replacing deteriorated door latches fixed leaks and improved water pressure.

  • Install eco wash cycles – I replaced the control board with a programmable one offering energy saving wash cycles.

  • Replace spray arms – Clogged or worn out spray arms cut down on cleaning effectiveness per wash. Upgrading them optimized energy and water usage.

  • Insulate walls – Adding insulation around the tub maintained temperatures and improved efficiency.

Finding Replacement Parts

Some key resources for locating replacement appliance parts:

  • Manufacturer – Check their official website or call customer service to order direct. Provides reliability.

  • Appliance Parts Stores – Stores like have huge inventories of parts across brands.

  • eBay and Amazon – Sort by exact model number to find components shipped fast. Provides affordability.

  • Salvage Yards – Local junk and salvage yards dismantle old appliances. Lets you inspect parts firsthand.

  • DIY Repair Shops – Stores like RepairClinic have used parts pulled from repairs of same appliances.

Taking time to carefully source high quality replacement parts ensures a successful refurbishment.

Making Appliances Look Like New Again

Cosmetic fixes like these helped restore appearance and hide signs of wear:

  • Degrease surfaces – I used baking soda, vinegar, and water mixes to break down grime, oils, and residue.

  • Remove scratches – For light surface scratches, I had success gently buffing with toothpaste. Helps smooth the finish.

  • Spot cover chips – Matching appliance paint from the hardware store covered up paint chips and discoloration. I feathered edges for a natural look after drying.

  • Replace exterior parts – For appliances with rust or extreme damage, I replaced doors, handles, control panels, and front kick plates to get a factory fresh look.

  • Polish chrome and steel – I carefully applied stainless steel polish to buff out dull spots, smudges, streaks, and surface rust on chrome and stainless steel surfaces.

With some time and care, I was able to make my refurbished appliances look brand new. Proper prep work helps the new paints and coatings adhere correctly.

Safety Tips for DIY Refurbishment

Appliance repairs present some risks. Follow these precautions:

  • Disconnect power supply before any work. Use electrical tape to secure cords.

  • Wear eye protection and closed toe shoes in case of falling parts or compressors turning on.

  • Handle refrigerant lines with care. Improper release contributes greatly to greenhouse gases.

  • Seal any punctured coolant lines with epoxy and dispose of old compressors properly.

  • Use caution when degreasing interiors over heating elements – flammable residue could linger.

  • Place warning signs to prevent accidental appliance use before work is complete.

With training and safe practices, refurbishing appliances yourself is completely possible. Consult professionals when uncertainty arises.

Final Takeaways

Refurbishing inefficient old appliances provides tremendous environmental and financial benefits compared to purchasing brand new models. With some savvy sourcing of parts and DIY skills, I successfully extended lifespan of appliances and saved substantially on utility bills. Eco-friendly upgrades also reduced associated greenhouse gas emissions. While requiring an initial investment of time and effort, appliances renewed through refurbishment provide reliable service for years to come.