September 1, 2014

Getting Emotionally Attached to an Appliance

Some people have pets – dogs, cats, horses even iguanas and sometimes rocks – but Colleen Anderson seems to view her stove as almost a part of the family. She wrote about it for West Virginia Public Broadcasting:

In my twenties, I bought my first kitchen stove, used, from an elderly woman who advertised it in the classifieds. I loved the petite size of it: Twenty inches wide, with four gas burners and two narrow oven racks. It was perfectly adequate for any cooking project I could contemplate at that age.

And I loved its name, Vesta, so called for the Roman goddess of fire and the hearth, who inspired a cult of followers to take vows of chastity and live together in a temple. I was single and unattached at the time, so Vesta and I went to housekeeping together.

We’re still together. Like me, the stove is a bit the worse for wear. One of the metal burner grates is broken in half, and there are some rust spots on the oven and broiler door handles. And, at some point, about 20 years into our association, Vesta developed the mechanical equivalent of hardening of the arteries. Her pilot lights began to gum up.

The repair guy said, “You know, I could just turn those things off. You’ll have to light the burners with a match, but you’ll save gas.” So I keep a pack of kitchen matches nearby.

Like me, she’s still cookin’. I can’t begin to count the saucepans of oatmeal and pots of soup that have bubbled on those burners. The Vesta has turned out cookies and casseroles and, last Thanksgiving, a twenty-seven-pound turkey, although I did have to bend the handles of the roasting pan to get the oven door shut.

Lots of people name their cars and get attached to them, but I don’t think I know anyone else whose kitchen stove has become so dear that they think of it as animate. And, yet, when an appliance serves well and faithfully, without complaint, for so many years, shouldn’t it be rewarded with something like affection?

My Vesta has outlasted a marriage and at least seven vehicles. I can’t imagine buying a new stove. That would be like betraying her.

So here’s my plan: When the time comes to leave home and move into assisted living, I’ll take out a classified ad, “Small used cookstove for sale.” But I won’t sell it to just anybody. Not my Vesta. I want her to have a good home.

Aging in Place – Appliance Placement

If you are a retiree building a new home, you can plan your kitchen and laundry areas to accommodate your aging body. For those of us who plan to stay right where we are, some simple adjustments and purchases can make daily tasks easier.

So, let’s start with the easy ones, like the Washer & Dryer. Front loading models are very popular today, but bending over and getting inside for the very last sock can be a problem for those with mobility issues. Most brands, including Bosch, Whirlpool and Frigidaire make pedestals for all their newer models, and can retrofit them to older models.They range from 11″ to 17″, depending on the brand. The other solution is to pull the machines out, and have your contractor frame in a raised platform at just the right height for you, cover it with linoleum, and your washer and dryer will be much more accessible.

Another place to ‘right height’ appliances is in the kitchen. Here are more tips from HB Building and Design: One popular solution is a lowered cooktop with the controls on the front. If you have room to make this modification, and lower this part of the countertop with the adjacent required landing space, it really makes things easier for shorter people, or someone sitting in a wheelchair or using a walker.

The second kitchen appliance that should be considered is the refrigerator. A side-by-side refrigerator freezer is a much better choice, giving access to both the freezer and the refrigerator from a sitting position. In a more extensive remodel, a wall oven can be installed at a lower height as can the microwave oven.

A final consideration are countertops which should be smooth to allow you to slide rather than lift heavy pots and pans. Cabinets can also be prepared for someone with a progressive illness by specifying removable base cabinets for future wheelchair access.

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.

Is Steam the Thing? – Ovens

Here we have part three in our “Steam” series – Ovens.

Steam ovens harness the power of super heated steam to quickly cook foods without drying them out. Use a steam oven to create healthy flavorful meals while using less fat. Most steam ovens will allow you to adjust the humidity level inside the cooking chamber to create the right environment for the individual foods you’re cooking.

New steam ovens on the market offer conventional dry baking. Users also have the ability to defrost, warm up leftovers and even simulate a high heat grill to finish meats.

“It’s a way to make nutritional food that tastes like it came from a restaurant,” says Portfolio Kitchen & Home in Kansas City owner Geri Higgins. “You don’t have to add butter or sauce to it to make it more moist or flavorful.” The design center demonstrates its Gaggenau steam-convection combination oven and in-counter steamer.

The steamer and the oven are self-cleaning; condensation needs to be wiped up after cooking. For an integrated countertop steamer, a plumber hooks up water and drainage lines. Because calcium can sometimes clog water lines, many models contain water cartridges. Ovens come with detachable water reservoirs and don’t typically require plumbing.

On a recent day, Portfolio made asparagus (3 minutes) and salmon with lemon and herbs (10 minutes) in an in-counter steamer. The texture was moist but not water-logged.

Portfolio baked bread in a Gaggenau combination oven using dough from the grocery store. Steam is misted on the dough toward the beginning of the cycle to create a flaky brown crust on the exterior with the goal of retaining moisture inside.

Steam-combination ovens cook fast, too. A 14-pound turkey takes 90 minutes.

Some opt to reheat food with steam instead of using a microwave. Leftover pizza, for example, tastes like it’s fresh out of the oven.

“You’re starting to see steam ovens as a second oven above a conventional one,” Higgins says. “Instead of a microwave.”

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.

Recall: Sunbeam Products Wine Openers Due to Laceration Hazard

Name of Product: Wine Bottle Openers

Units: About 159,000

Distributor: Sunbeam Products Inc., of Boca Raton, Fla.

Retailer: QVC, of West Chester, Pa.

Hazard: The wine bottles can break when opened with the recalled opener, posing a laceration hazard to consumers.

Incidents/Injuries: Sunbeam has received 52 reports of wine bottles breaking while the opener was being used on them, including 22 reports of injuries. Injuries include lacerations to the hands.

Description: This recall involves the “skybar™ Air Pump Wine Opener” model number NBSKWA2600. The wine bottle opener was sold as a four piece set in the following colors: gray, blue, red or silver and black-colored with a black storage box. “skybar” is printed on the side of the wine bottle opener. Model number NBSKWA2600 is printed on the bottom of the wine bottle opener.

Sold at: QVC retail and employees stores nationwide, QVC’s televised shopping programs, and online at www.qvc.com and www.skybarhome.com from November 2010 through December 2010 for between $30 and $60.

Manufactured in: China

Remedy: Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled wine bottle openers. Consumers who purchased the wine bottle openers at a QVC store should return them to any QVC store for a full refund. Consumers who purchased the wine bottle openers through QVC’s televised shopping programs or at www.qvc.com were mailed instructions for obtaining a refund. Purchasers who have not received the mailed instructions should contact QVC. If the wine openers were not purchased through QVC, contact Sunbeam for instructions to obtain a full refund.

Consumer Contact: Contact QVC at (800) 367-9444 between 7 a.m. and 1 a.m. ET daily or visit the firm’s website at www.qvc.com. Consumers can also contact Sunbeam toll-free at (888) 759-2279 between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, or visit the firm’s website at www.skybarhome.com

 

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.

Recall: Liebherr Built-In Refrigerators Due to Injury Hazard; Door Can Detach

Name of Product: Liebherr Built-In 30-Inch Wide Bottom Freezer Refrigerators

Units: About 5,702 units

Importer: Liebherr-Canada Ltd of Ontario, of Canada

Manufacturer: Liebherr-Hausgeraete Lienz GmbH, of Austria

Hazard: The refrigerator’s door can detach, posing an injury hazard to consumers.

Incidents/Injuries: Liebherr has received ten reports of doors detaching. No injuries reported.

Description: This recall involves Liebherr built-in 30-inch wide bottom freezer refrigerators with model and index numbers listed below. The refrigerators were sold individually or as side-by-side companion units. The refrigerators come in stainless steel and various custom finishes and are built into the kitchen cabinetry. “Liebherr” is written on the top interior control panel. The model number can be found on a label located behind the bottom drawer on the left interior side of the single door refrigerator.

Model Number Index Number
C 1600
16 / 137
16A / 137
C 1601
15 / 237
15A / 237
15B / 237
15F / 237
15G / 237
16 / 237
16A / 237
CI 1600
15G / 137
16 / 137
16A / 137
CI 1601
15 / 237
15A / 237
15B / 237
15F / 237
15G / 237
16 / 237
16A / 237
C 1650
15 / 137
15A / 137
15B / 137
15C / 137
15D / 137
15H / 137
15I / 137
16 / 137
16A / 137
16B / 137
C 1651
15A / 237
15B / 237
15C / 237
15D / 237
15H / 237
15I / 237
16 / 237
16A / 237
16B / 237
CI 1650
15 / 137
15A / 137
15B / 137
15C / 137
15D / 137
15H / 137
15I / 137
16 / 137
16A / 137
16B / 137
CI 1651
15A / 237
15B / 237
15C / 237
15D / 237
15H / 237
15I / 237
16 / 237
16A / 237
16B / 237
CI 1700
14A / 137

Sold by: Appliance and specialty retailers nationwide from February 2004 through January 2011 for between $4,400 and $5,000.

Manufactured in: Austria

Remedy: Consumers with recalled refrigerators should contact Liebherr immediately to schedule a free in-home repair. Consumers should check their refrigerator immediately to see whether the door hinge pin has become loose as indicated by a popped up hinge pin at the top or bottom. If the hinge has not become loose and the door is functioning properly, consumers may continue to use the refrigerator until it is repaired.

Consumer Contact: For additional information, contact Liebherr toll-free at (877) 337-2653 Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. MT or visit Liebherr’s website at www.liebherr.us