According to the nationwide Angie's List poll:
More than 40 percent of respondents say they'll host holiday dinners this year, putting their ovens, refrigerators and garbage disposals to the test.
11 percent of respondents said they've had an appliance die in the midst of preparing a special meal.
Angie's List says here's how to get the most out of your appliances:
Stoves/Ovens - Self-cleaning cycles cause the oven to run at extremely high temperatures. Do not run the self-cleaning cycle right before your big meal. Check your oven's performance at least two weeks before the big day by getting a basic cake mix and following the directions exactly. If the cake isn't perfect in the time frame set out on the box, your oven's temperature might be off. Clean the oven after each use with soap and water - that will help prevent having to run the self-clean function.
Refrigerators - In addition to overfilling, the No. 1 issue with refrigerators is a failure to clean the condenser coil, which dissipates heat from the unit. Clean the coil every six months by unplugging the refrigerator, vacuuming the coil and using an air blower to get out any remaining dust or debris. Failure to keep this clean leads to performance issues. Refrigerators with misaligned doors from hinges damaged by people hanging on the door, or a bad seal, can also lead to trouble keeping food cold. You can test if the seal is tight by sliding a piece of paper between the seal and the door. If the paper slides down with the door closed, you should probably have the seal replaced.
Dishwashers - Clean your dishwasher's filter at least twice a year to remove particles and debris. The filters location can vary depending on the model so be sure to check your owner's manual. Rinse large food particles off dishes. Check the spinning arms to make sure the spray holes are free of debris. Avoid leaving a dishwasher running with no one home. If the automatic shutoff fails, you could come home to an overflowing unit and a water-damaged house.
Garbage disposals - Keep the blades sharp by running cold water and sending a cup of ice down the disposal. Run cold water for 10 seconds before inserting food into the disposal and for 30 seconds after each use. Cold water helps solidify grease and fat so they can be chopped up by the disposal.
Maintain your appliances: Maintenance required for your appliance will depend on the manufacturer. Always check with your model's manual. Whenever you perform extensive maintenance work on your appliances, take the necessary safety precautions. Shut off electrical and gas lines when working on them. Consult an appliance repair professional for major maintenance/repairs.
When to repair versus replace: If an appliance repair will cost more than half the cost of the new appliance and the unit is more than six or seven years old, you're probably better off replacing it with a newer model.