October 31, 2014

Mom Can Win New Appliances

Indianapolis-based appliance and electronics retailer hhgregg (NYSE:HGG) announced that it will be celebrating Mother’s Day by inviting customers to enter its Frigidaire kitchen appliance package giveaway. From April 26th-May 5th, one contestant will be selected daily to receive $100 hhgregg gift card and all contestants will be registered for the chance to win the grand prize; a kitchen appliance package that includes a refrigerator, range, dishwasher and microwave.

hhgregg’s Mother’s Day giveaway will also support the heart health of moms everywhere. For each Facebook “like” hhgregg receives during this time frame, the company will donate $1 to The American Heart Association’s “My Heart. My Life” fund, up to $20,000. A minimum of $10,000 will be donated.

“We wanted to honor mothers everywhere this year by not only hosting an exciting giveaway, but by giving back to the American Heart Association, a wonderful organization that promotes healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke,” said Jeff Pearson, Vice President of Marketing, hhgregg.

To register for the Mother’s Day Giveaway, please visit www.hhgregg.com/hhgives.

To “like” hhgregg on Facebook, and have $1 donated to The American Heart Association, please visit www.facebook.com/hhgreg

Appliance Myths – Dishwashers

Although we use our dishwashers often, sometimes daily, their inner workings remain a mystery to many of us. Here are some common myths busted for you.

Myth – My dishwasher is broken because there is some water in the bottom after the cycle is finished.
Truth – There should usually be some water left in the bottom sump of the dishwasher at the end of a wash. This water keeps the seals moist to avoid them drying out and leaking. When the dishwasher starts, it will first drain for several seconds to remove standing water, then it will fill with fresh water and begin the wash cycle.

Myth – A dishwasher pumps in water to fill it up.
Truth – When needed, a water fill valve simply opens to allow the household water pressure fill the machine. The pump is only involved in draining the appliance and washing.

Myth – A dishwasher stops filling when the float inside the tub rises high enough to represent a proper fill level.
Truth – Most modern dishwashers fill using a timing method, filling for a set amount of time. The float is usually for over-fill protection only, stopping a fill before it gets to the point of flooding. Under normal operation the float and float switch should never come into play.

Myth – If your dishwasher fails to function, you should call a plumber.
Truth – In most cases, no. Major appliances are considerably different from most other plumbing fixtures. Most plumbers are not familiar with the intricacies of the appliance itself and should only be called if the problem lies in the connection to the household plumbing.

A Dishwasher for Your Outdoor Kitchen

Remember when you had your last cookout and afterwards you and all of your guests carried the plates, pots and pans indoors to be put in the dishwasher? Those days are now a thing of the past. Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet has produced the first outdoor dishwasher specifically designed to work outside and withstand the harshness of the elements.

“The introduction of the outdoor dishwasher has created the only truly complete outdoor kitchen equipment line, giving homeowners independence from their indoor kitchens.” said Pantelis A. “Pete” Georgiadis, president of Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet.

The new dishwasher features a unique wash system designed to clean dishes that have been sitting outdoors or pots and pans that have been over the heat of a grill fire. The outdoor dishwasher was designed with an extra large tub to accommodate the special demands that come from cooking and serving meals outdoors. Its adjustable-height dual rack system offers maximum flexibility. Able to be moved up and down to handle some of the biggest pots and serving platters, it features a maximum clearance space of 15 ¼” inches between each rack.

The outdoor dishwasher features technology that doesn’t waste water. It uses as little as 3.8 gallons in a wash program, ensuring the optimum water level is used for each load. Sensors detect when the quantity of water matches the selected wash program, automatically adjusting water levels even if a flipped-over bowl fills with and reduces some of the available wash water.

At $4,990, the outdoor dishwasher will be available for purchase in summer 2011 through the network of dealers that carry Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet equipment, certified design professionals or directly at www.kalamazoogourmet.com.

Is Steam the Thing? – Dishwashers

Here is the second in our steam cleaning series – Steam dishwashers.

Conventional dishwashers produce steam in the drying cycle when leftover water is converted into vapor. But steam dishwashers use steam in the washing phases.

“One of the main reasons you’re seeing more steam dishwashers is because detergent manufacturers have eliminated phosphates,” says Stephen Wright, appliance manager at Nebraska Furniture Mart . “So (conventional) dishwashers aren’t as good at breaking up debris, especially the caked-on stuff.”

According to How Stuff Works, steam dishwashers don’t exclusively use steam as a cleaning method, the user has the option to add a steam cycle to clean a load of dishes. But steam dishwashers can use steam differently and at various times. For instance, some steam dishwashers, such as LG’s models, have a special setting that uses steam to clean fragile dishes. Because steam doesn’t need to use force to get dishes clean, it’s a great tool for cleaning fine china and other easily breakable items. Adding a steam option to other, more rigorous cycles also will help it clean more effectively. It’s like adding an extra boost of cleaning power to the traditional cycle.

Consumer Reports is lukewarm on steam dishwashers. They found the addition of steam does make dishes cleaner, but only a little bit. In fact, they found that the spray jet features of some dishwashers worked more effectively than steam, as long as the dishes were loaded to face the spray. A downside: they take a lot longer to get through a wash cycle, adding as much as 45 minutes. The upsides: they’re quiet and energy-efficient.

How to Load a Dishwasher

The proper way to load the dishwasher. Husbands and wives have been debating technique for years, roommates have had thoughts of moving out because of it. Some procedures, like careful placement, do guarantee that dishes are cleaned properly and emerge unscathed, dishwasher intact. We’ll let Consumer Reports step in with their official stance -

Here is the proper way to load your dishwasher:
* Skip pre-rinsing, a real water waster, but do scrape off food.
* Load large items at the side and back. Otherwise they’ll block water and detergent.
* Place the dirtier side of dish toward the center of machine, allowing for more exposure to the spray. Dishes shouldn’t rest against each other, or water won’t reach all surfaces.
* Put dishwasher-safe plastic and delicate items on the top rack.
* Rest glasses on prongs to prevent breakage and water from accumulating in them.
* Load forks and spoons with handles down, but place knives handles up. If your dishwasher has an open basket, mix flatware to prevent pieces from sticking together.
* Place items with baked-on food facedown and toward the sprayer in bottom rack.
* Avoid putting brass, bronze, cast-iron, wood, or gold leaf china in the machine.

 
To keep china from chipping, don’t allow dishes to touch other items, especially pots and pans. If you decide to hand wash your fine china and porcelain, line your sink with an old towel to prevent chipping and use a mild dish detergent.

Dishwasher Buying Guide – Special Features You May – Or May Not Need

Dishwashers come with many options to help you get sparkling clean dishes. Some come standard on a basic machine and some will add considerably to the price of your new dishwasher. Read on to see what Consumer Reports had to say about these features.

Adjustable racks and loading aids
Racks that adjust up or down, adjustable tines, and silverware and stemware holders let you reconfigure the interior and organize the contents. Those devices increase flexibility, especially when you cook for a crowd, and they can help accommodate large and oddly shaped items.

Dirt sensor
It adjusts water use and cycle length to soil level. A dirt sensor can improve efficiency, but not all work well.

Rinse/hold cycle
It lets you rinse dirty dishes before you’re ready to start a full cycle. This cycle can reduce odors and prevents soil from setting while you accumulate enough dirty dishes for a full load.

Filters
These keep wash water free of food that could be redeposited on clean dishes. There are two types: self-cleaning and manual.
Most filters are self-cleaning; a grinder pulverizes the debris and flushes it down the drain. That’s convenient but noisy. Some models have a filter without a grinder. It’s quieter, but it needs periodic cleaning, a job that takes a few minutes. It’s your choice.

Special wash cycles
Most dishwashers come with at least three cycles: light, normal, and heavy (pots and pans). Some offer pot-scrubber, soak/scrub, steam clean, china/crystal, or sanitizing cycles as well. The three basic cycles should be enough for most chores–even for baked-on food. A sanitizing option that raises water temperature above the typical 140° F doesn’t necessarily clean better.

Stainless-steel tub
Steel is more durable than plastic, but models with a plastic tub tend to cost far less. While light-colored plastic might become discolored, gray-speckled plastic should resist staining. Even a plastic tub should last longer than most people keep a dishwasher.

Hidden touchpad controls
Controls mounted along the top edge of the door are strictly a styling touch. They’re hidden when the door is closed. You can’t see cycle progress at a glance. (Partially hidden controls are a good compromise. They show that the machine is running and often display remaining cycle time.)

Phosphate Free Dishwasher Detergent – The Saga Continues…

Back in July ’10 we published a story about sixteen states banning phosphates from dishwasher detergent. Detergent manufacturers have reacted to that ban by removing all but trace amounts of the chemical from their dishwasher detergents.

The response to that article has been loud and clear – the new formulas are a failure.

Phosphates are chemicals responsible for serious cleaning. Phosphorus debates in the cleaning industry began 40 years ago. By 1993, major manufacturers had stopped using it in laundry detergents, says Dennis Griesing of the American Cleaning Institute, a trade association in Washington, D.C. Automatic dishwasher detergents weren’t part of the change because phosphorous was more critical to the cleaning process.

“Phosphorus likes to bind to things,” Griesing explains. “It’s a very sociable element. It would hold soil from plates and glasses in suspension in the water and prevent redeposition.”

But in 2006, when the state of Washington first voted to limit phosphates in automatic dishwasher detergents, manufacturers saw the writing on the wall. Washington’s law, which reduced the allowable amount from nearly 9 percent to a mere one-half of 1 percent, became the standard for other states.

To get rid of residue on glasses and nonmetal dishes, the institute recommends placing two cups of white vinegar in a bowl on the bottom rack of the dishwasher and running the items through a cycle with no detergent. Rewash with detergent to remove residual vinegar.

Of course, this means using more water, another environmental no-no.

Consumer Reports has suggestions for frustrated consumers, besides doing testing to find the best low-phosphate detergents. Its tips to maximize the effectiveness of dishwashers include loading large items at the side and back so they don’t block water and detergent, placing the dirty side of a dish toward the center of the machine and placing items with baked-on food facedown and toward the sprayer in the bottom rack.

As for CR’s recommended detergents, they are:

Cascade Complete All-in-1 ActionPacs ($7.50, 26-count package)

Finish Powerball Tabs ($6, 20-count package)

Finish Quantum ($13, 45-count package)

Appliance Prices Are Going Up

Top appliance makers Whirlpool and Electrolux are raising prices to pass soaring raw material costs on to customers, but their attempts may not pass muster with bargain-hungry shoppers.

According to Reuters, both companies reported quarterly profits that fell short of estimates as they grapple with tepid demand in major markets like the United States and Europe.
Many analysts questioned the timing of the move, especially since consumers in the developed world continue to look for incentives to buy expensive goods like appliances.

Korean manufacturer Samsung has not announced increases and appears to be planning to hold existing prices. Still, Whirlpool’s chief executive, Jeff Fettig, insisted it was not “economically feasible” for Whirlpool to remain indefinitely in the promotional mindset it adopted for the holiday season and last year in general. “For 2011, we expect positive but uneven demand levels around the world,” Fettig said, adding the company still hoped to expand operating margins in the year through price increases and boosts in productivity.

LG Electronics does plan an increase as well. The planned price increase matches moves announced earlier by Whirlpool and Electrolux.

Whirlpool has shut plants, cut jobs and moved some manufacturing to lower cost centers like Mexico. It has also started using common parts across its lineup of dishwashers, refrigerators and washing machines.

Electrolux, which sells under its own name as well as the Zanussi and Frigidaire brands, is planning to raise prices by 8 percent to 10 percent in North America starting in April and gradually in Europe and other markets. The move comes as manufacturers around the globe plot price increases to offset higher materials costs and regain ground lost in the recession. Electrolux Chief Executive Keith McLoughlin said the rise in raw materials’ costs had been across the board.