Creative Appliance Recycling Part 2

Creative Appliance Recycling Part 2

At the risk of generalizing to the point of ridiculousness, I think it is safe to say that we humans tend to fall into 1 of 2 categories, or at least possess a bent in that direction – the “messy” and the “neat”.  I am willing to bet that no one with even the slightest neat tendency is reading this, as the thought of keeping “junk” around to make something out of is not remotely appealing.   However, if you can handle the idea of keeping “junk” around long enough to make something out of it, you might be interested in learning more about creative appliance recycling.

Creative Recycling of Washers & Dryers

Before I started to do some research for this series, my understanding of creative Recycling Appliancesappliance recycling was very limited to a few farm uses and some red neck concoctions.   I was impressed to learn that there is actually a segment of the design world that focuses on using recycled materials.  One design company I found in Sweden, Recreate Design Company, (thank you “Uncle Google”), runs public workshops in their studio so that people can work on DIY home décor projects out of reclaimed items. They have scores of blogs which display a diverse range of recycled designed.  Their blog entitled “15 Ways to Recycle a Washing Machine Drum” features some wonderfully creative ideas for shelves, tables, and lamps made from washing machine drums.

Fire Pits & Incinerators

If the tumbling drum inside your dryer is metallic and not plastic it can make a good burning bin or fire pit.  The holes in stainless steel washing machine drums allow for excellent air circulation and fast burning with minimal smoke for incineration purposes.  Some people put these up on stands, but I like the idea of setting them on a group of flag stones or bricks, because I think they might be less apt to tip over or ignite dry grass.


As always, anything that holds dirt can be turned into a planter.  Holes are already in place for drainage and you can creatively recycle Styrofoam peanuts or chunks by filling the bottom half of the planter so it weighs less and can be moved around more easily.

Garden Composter

If you haven’t yet checked out Part 1 of this series, there is a fabulous article by Jenny Humphrey from the Cranbrook Guardian about Rick and Brenda Metheral and their raised garden beds made from old fridges and freezers. (Meet the Metherals, Masters of Recycled Container Gardening, July 9, 2013) They have also made a composter out of their old washing machine.  The photo I have used to accompany this blog is of Brenda Metheral posing with that very top loading composter. (The photo is courtesy of Jenny Humphrey.)   If you look closely, you will notice that the front panel of the washing machine has been cut away and a plywood door is in its place for easy access.


Earlier I referred to Recreate Design Company.  There are some great photos of lamps in their blog entitled “15 Ways to Recycle a Washing Machine Drum”.  Apart from the drum, the agitator can also be used to make a very funky looking lamp.


I read about someone that used the glass doors of front load washers as salad bowls and large fruit bowls.  (Please note that some glass does contain lead which can leach into food.  The more acidic the food and the longer the food’s exposure to the glass, the more leaching will occur.  Unless you are able to confirm that the glass is lead free, using fruit that must be peeled, or using the bowls to serve dry food such as chips or peanuts may be a better idea.  If in doubt, stick to using the bowls for decorative purposes.)

Playhouses & Tree Houses

Those very same glass doors on front loading washers can make very cool looking portholes or skylights in a playhouse or tree house.

Kid’s Repair Shop

There are some kids that have an innate curiosity about how things work.  They want to works with tools and their hands.  If you have a child like that you can keep him or her busy for hours disassembling a washing machine or a dryer.  Have them sort the bolts and screws into different bins and see if there is anything there that is reusable or salvageable.  Let their imaginations run wild and free and then scrap the rest.  Who knows?  You could be planting seeds that will one day lead to a career at NASA or even the appliance repair industry!

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Gord Haines is a journeyman appliance technician with over 25 years of experience.
Contact Gord’s Appliance for repair and servicing of all your residential appliances.

Creative Appliance Recycling

Creative Appliance Recycling – Part 1

We all know them. Maybe you are even one of them. And hey, no judgments if you are. After all, you help keep our economy ticking along. Who am I referring to? I’m talking aboutcreative appliance recycling those people that get rid of good stuff that is a bit out dated or that has simply lost its appeal. The attraction of something new and exciting is overwhelming so others get the benefit of gently used wares often found online, at Good Will, or even on the curbside with a “free” sign attached.

If you aren’t part of this segment of the population and you hang onto your stuff until it dies, then you need to dispose of it. The municipal landfill is one option for your old dishwasher, washer or dryer, refrigerator or freezer. However, there may be other options besides taking your old appliance to the dump. This series is dedicated to creative ways to recycle common household appliances. To kick things off, let’s talk about that old chest freezer, upright freezer/refrigerator.

Get Practical

Before we begin to get creative, let’s start with practical. Refrigerators and freezers contain refrigerants. One needs legal certification and the proper collection equipment for the disposal of these gases. The landfill contracts with a company that extracts the hazardous materials from fridges and freezers and then recycles the rest. The DIY old fashioned way with an axe and a breeze is environmentally irresponsible and defeats the purpose of creative recycling. More importantly, it is illegal and Environment Canada takes a dim view of the practice. That said, some companies that install and service commercial refrigeration units will extract and recycle refrigerants for a small fee if you bring your appliance to their shop. They will send you on your way with paperwork verifying that your appliance has been decommissioned.

Creative Re-uses for Chest Freezers & Fridges

Raised Garden Beds

Remove the doors and shelving from the chest freezer, (refrigerators or upright freezersfridge and freezer garden must be laid on their backs of course). Make drainage holes in the bottom of your unit, put a layer of gravel in the bottom and fill the rest with soil and compost/aged manure. The appliance’s insulation helps maintain the soil temperature overnight and can even extend your growing season. The height is easier on your back than the traditional ground bed and ideal for those who are wheelchair bound or need to sit to garden. (Check out this interesting story in the Cranbrook Guardian to learn more about these raised garden beds.)

Worm Composting

Worm castings make excellent fertilizer, so if you are into organic gardening, a worm farm might be ideal for you. Used chest freezers can make excellent worm farms. (Check out for some great information) A worm farm can also be a great idea if you are a fan of fresh worms for fishing. Instead of buying bait, you can keep a ready supply in your own yard. (Be sure to research the bylaws in your area first.)

Dry Erase/White Boards

If you know someone who owns a deli or food kiosk, a large chest freezer lid can make a creative white board for menu postings. The idea of a communication board also applies for residential applications. You can make a large calendar, customize a daily- weekly-monthly chore list for the kids… you get the idea.

Meat Smoker & Home Brew Fermenter

Plans to make smokers for fish and game, as well as fermenters for home brewing can be found on the internet or researched at your local library. Again, unless you reside in the country with no neighbours to disturb, municipal ordinances need to be checked. It would be a shame to go to all that work only to have to tear it all down and get a fine to boot.

Rodent-proof Container or Watering Trough

If you have spent any time in farm country, no doubt you are already familiar with the sight of a chest freezer or two, along an out-building, in a barn or the mudroom of a farm house. Chest freezers make great rodent-proof storage containers for grain and other pet foods. The contents remains fresh and dry and you can lock the lid.

The chest freezer can also make an excellent drinking trough for horses and cattle. It is easy to clean on the inside and the insulation factor makes the trough heater’s job easier in the winter too.

I know that we have covered this point, but it bears repeating: please don’t attempt to creatively recycle your used fridge or freezer without first having your appliance decommissioned so that it is rendered free of hazardous materials. This little blog covers just a few possibilities for creatively reusing an old refrigerator or freezer. No doubt many of you know someone or have come up with some really creative uses yourself for recycling old fridges or freezers and we would like to learn about them. Please contact us with your ideas and send us your photos.

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Gords Appliance
Gord Haines is a journeyman appliance technician with over 25 years of experience.

Contact Gord’s Appliance for repair and servicing of all your residential appliances.

The life and times of the Oven

A brief History of the Oven

Last year the easy bake oven celebrated its 50th year of being every young girls dream present. The original Easy Bake oven used an incandescent light bulb as a heat source where as nowadays Easy Bakes contain an actual heating element. The way a simple child’s toy can change in just 50 years make me wonder, how much has our ovensoven - range changed over the years?

Some of the very first ovens can be traced back to 29,000 BC in Central Europe and around 20,000 BC the Ukraine’s used pits with hot coals covered in ashes to cook their food. The food would be wrapped in leaves and set on top the coal/ash mixture and covered in soil. It is believed that by 3200 BC each mud brick house in Egypt contained an oven in it where they would cook food and make bricks. The Greeks are who we can credit for the first front loading ovens which they invented for easier access when bread making. They would develop a large variety of dough and shapes of the loaves to coincide with the different foods they would serve. This Greek front loading bread oven is considered one of the oldest forms of food processing.

As time went on earth and ceramic ovens became a thing of the past and the fireplace along with large cauldrons were used instead. Wood burning stoves became a great oven improvement as it allowed for better containment of the fire and a source for the smoke to escape.

In the late 19th century coal and gas stoves were developed. The coal ovens were cylindrical  and made of cast iron. Gas stoves became popular around this time as gas lines were now becoming available to most communities. The first electric ovens were seen around the late 1800’s but were originally used for commercial use only. As with most of our appliances the demand became so great that they were made to fit in homes and eventually could be purchased at an affordable price.

The latest great oven is the microwave oven which was developed in 1946. The microwave uses microwave radiation that causes friction in the molecules of food thus producing heat.

Nowadays our ovens are fueled by either natural gas or electricity and vary rarely by bottle gas. There are also a multitude of ways in which ovens use to cook food. Most common is the heat from the bottom of the oven which is ideal for baking, next is the heat from the top often called a broiler. The convection setting is one of the newest additions to the oven. Convection provides more even cooking as well as faster cook times. These ovens either have a fan with a heating element or are heat assisted using a small fan to circulate the air.

Though we celebrated easy bakes 50th anniversary I daresay it is doubtful any of us were around for the ovens 50th anniversary. With many changes along the way the oven today is very little like its original. As one of our oldest appliances and one of the most used, the oven has stood the test of time and still proves to us everyday as a reliable way to heat our food.

Learn more about ovens, and cleaning your ovens here.

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Gords ApplianceGord Haines is a journeyman appliance technician with over 25 years of experience.

Contact Gord’s Appliance for repair and servicing of all your residential appliances.