Steps To Ease Appliance Headaches

Have you ever hunted around your home for the owner's manual that will tell you what to do with your malfunctioning TV set?

Kris Connell of Real Simple magazine tells you all you need to know about saving manuals and warranties and finding the model numbers you need on the different appliances you own.

Here are her suggestions for keeping track of appliances as easily and efficiently as possible:

  • Immediately fill out and return warranty cards when you get a new appliance. Most warranties last one year from date of purchase. That will usually cover labor and parts but every one is different. Sometimes you need to send them in; in other cases, they are automatically activated.
  • Keep the sales receipt as your proof of purchase and the owner's manual that comes with your new appliance. You can organize your material in a binder, divided by room. Another option is to put information about each appliance in an envelope and put them all in a drawer. Or you can throw them in Ziploc bags and put a label on them and keep them near the appliance.
  • For smaller appliances, keep original packaging for a week or until you are sure the item works correctly. It's easier to return it if you have the original package. It's not always realistic, but for a small appliance it's a safe approach

What if you have a problem?

If it's a repair, you can just talk to the maker of the appliance. If it's defective, you need to take it back to the store where you bought it.

If you are having a problem and you already threw everything out, go online and look for the manufacturer and either download an owner's manual from the site or call an 800 number to ask for a new manual. They keep them for about seven years.

Manufacturers always ask for the serial and model numbers. Here's how to find them:

  • Refrigerator — They are often around eye level. In a demonstration on The Early Show, Connell found them on the freezer side to the right. She said manufacturers are making it easier for you to find them.
  • Oven — Most of the time, the model and serial number are on the inside or on top. That's the usual spot, but look around.
  • Television — They're in the back, near where the cables go in and the power cord connects in the back.
  • Computer — They're usually in the back, near where the cables go in and the power cord connects. The same is true for a printer.

In the case of other appliances, they can be placed on the side or the bottom. Be creative and look around, Connell suggests.