August 16, 2017

Archives for January 2008

Is the Washer Eating Your Socks? -Missing Socks Form One of Life’s Little Mysteries

Two socks enter the washer. Two socks exit the dryer.

As household tasks go, what could be simpler? A pair of socks goes from drawer to feet to dirty clothes to washer and dryer and back into the drawer.

Of course, anyone associated with a social group that faintly resembles a family knows the truth. Socks do disappear. Virtually every residence in the free world has a drawer, pile or basket of mismatched socks. Millions – no, billions – of socks drift aimlessly without mates.

“Washing machines and dryers eat socks,” says my wife of 27 years, who oversees the laundry in our seven-person family. There are other theories, of course. Sock heaven is one. A Bermuda Triangle for socks is another.

For whatever reason, our family’s mismatched-sock pile grows and grows, like an expanding cotton-blended Blob. Two or three times a year we try to match socks. Far too often, they remain alone, sentenced to the rag pile, one wipe closer to the garbage.

Today, sock sales in the U.S. are about $4.9 billion annually. Perhaps because I seem responsible for about a $1 million of those sales, I just lose it over mismatched socks. As frustration builds, I erupt, like any normal, sock-wearing person.

Once, when my daughter Allyson was playing competitive soccer, her black game sock came back from the wash inexplicably partnered with one of my black dress socks. When I put them on, the sports sock reached my knee; the dress sock climbed past my ankle. “Who in their right mind would put these two socks together?” I shouted in a rage.

My wife, returning clean clothes to drawers at the time, answered: “If you don’t like how we do socks, you can do the laundry.” By emphasizing “you” and modifying “laundry” with a word unsuitable for print, my wife revealed to me for the first time that she is truly capable of murder.

Since no matches existed for these black socks, they, too, were exiled to our pile.

“I share your pain,” says Gail Hammond-Gibson, who manages the laundry in her Long Island Freeport household of four that includes husband, Bill, daughter, Nowell, 15, and son, Julian, 13.

The family has a bag of lonely, single socks. “The problem is the bag of mismatches is larger than our supply of good socks,” she says.

Although she has no proof, she wonders if socks are made specifically to disappear, or whether there’s a conspiracy between the weavers of socks and appliance manufacturers. “It’s all about buying new socks,” she says.

Hammond-Gibson’s son seems to be the only family member who has a plan for keeping his socks together; he folds the tops of one open end into the other. “At least they get to the washing machine paired up,” mom says.

The youngster is on to something, says Audrey Reed-Granger, a marketing and public relations executive at Whirlpool, a Michigan-based manufacturer of appliances. The journey from hamper to laundry room is fraught with danger for socks.

Contrary to popular opinion, washers and dryers do not eat socks, Reed-Granger says, and she insists there is no conspiracy between the hosiery industry and the appliance manufacturers.

There are logical explanations for single-sock phenomena. First, Reed-Granger says, most socks do not make it to the washer in pairs. “Boys shoot dirty socks into hampers like they’re shooting basketballs,” she says, “so socks end up behind furniture or under the bed.”

Then she asks me if I’ve ever followed my wife as she carries a load of clothes to the washer.

I reluctantly admit that my wife often leaves behind a trail of single socks, T-shirts and unmentionables.

“The logic is based on research by Whirlpool’s Institute of Fabric Science, which studies how consumers use things like washers and dryers. The institute also claims static cling causes socks to divorce. Even when a pair gets through the washer and into the dryer, static cling can split them up. A single sock can be swallowed by a pillow case or a pant leg, which hints of textile cannibalism.

“The laundry room has been unfairly identified as a Bermuda Triangle for socks,” Reed-Granger says. “But, really, it’s not the fault of the room or the machine. It’s you.”

Well, not me. And certainly not Mary Ellen Zimmermann of Kings Park. After 20-plus years of laundry, she knows exactly why socks go single: “They escape to sock heaven.” If you were a sock, she asks, wouldn’t you be looking for greener pastures?

Reed-Granger understands.

“Before joining Whirlpool, I had a lot of missing socks, too, and I thought I was going crazy.”

One solution is using mesh laundry bags, which keep socks together before they reach the laundry room, Reed-Granger says.

Experts like author Linda Cobb, the self-professed “Queen of Clean,” says clips and rings – sold as SockCops and SockPro and designed to link single pairs as they wash and dry – also prevent socks from disappearing. Reed-Granger prefers the mesh bags, because she says such plastic items could loosen and potentially damage the appliances.

To heck with bags and organizing clips, scoff those who launder regularly. Especially those who have large families. Bags, clips and rings are too much work. Plus, deep down, they are true believers in the household legends of sock heaven and sock-munching appliances.

Again, Reed-Granger understands. So much so that she grudgingly reveals there is a rare – an extremely rare – opportunity for a washing machine to gobble up a sock.

Under the lid of the traditional machine is a gap between the tub and the drum, Reed-Granger says. “You have to really, really overload a top-end machine, so when the cycle starts, a small item could be flipped up into that gap and be lost.”

To those who toil under mountains of grimy clothes, all the while haunted by the ghosts of single socks, it finally makes sense. “What did I tell you?” my wife says.


Recall: Campbell Hausfeld Air Compressors Following Fires

Name of Product: Campbell Hausfeld and Husky Air Compressors

Units: About 233,000

Importer: Campbell Hausfeld, of Harrison, Ohio

Hazard: Protective covers on the compressor’s motor are not made from proper flame retardant material and can ignite, posing a fire hazard to consumers.

Incidents/Injuries: The firm has received 11 reports of fires. No injuries have been reported.

Description: The recall involves the following Campbell Hausfeld and Husky brand air compressors:

Capacity Model Numbers Serial Numbers
8-15 gallon HL410100, HL421000
HL421500, HL431500
The first four digits of the serial number indicate a date code
from July 2005 (0705) through March 2007 (0307)
4 gallon HL5402 Have a prefix of HY, KB, or HU followed by a date code
from November 2006 (1106) through November 2007 (1107)

The model and serial number are located on the back of the tank.

Sold at: Home improvement and hardware stores nationwide from September 2005 through November 2007 for between $170 and $200.

Manufactured in: China

Remedy: Consumers should stop using the air compressor immediately and contact Campbell Hausfeld for a free repair kit.

Consumer Contact: For further information, contact Campbell Hausfeld at (800) 241-0448 between 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, or visit the firm’s Web site at www.chpower.com

 

air compressors

Recall: Glue Guns by Dollar Tree Stores Due to Fire, Burn and Shock Hazards

Name of Product: Crafters Square Hot Melt Mini Glue Guns

Units: About 253,000

Retailer: Dollar Tree Stores Inc., of Chesapeake, Va.

Importer: Greenbrier International Inc., of Chesapeake, Va.

Hazard: The recalled glue guns can short circuit, causing the gun to smoke and catch fire. This poses fire, burn and shock hazards to consumers.

Incidents/Injuries: Dollar Tree is aware of seven incidents in which these glue guns short circuited resulting in two injuries, including electrical shock and burns.

Description: The glue guns dispense hot glue and are intended for craft projects. The recalled glue gun is black with a yellow trigger and is approximately 4 1/2 inches from the back of the gun to the tip. Attached is a 44-inch electrical cord. “Crafters Square” and product number 818261-72 or 818261-75 are located on the guns’ packaging.

Manufactured in: China

Sold at: Dollar Tree, Dollar Bill$, Dollar Express, Greenbacks, Only One $1, and Deal$ stores nationwide from February 2007 through August 2007 for about $1.

Remedy: Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled glue guns and return them to the store where purchased for a full refund.

Consumer Contact: For additional information, contact Dollar Tree Stores Inc. at (800) 876-8077 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, or visit the firm’s Web site at www.dollartree.com

Picture of Recalled Glue Gun

 

Purchasing a Toaster Oven

If you are like me, you prefer a toaster oven to a pop-up toaster in your kitchen. A toaster oven is more versatile. To begin with, the oven can warm pastries and muffins and toast thick sliced bread that a pop-up toaster can’t handle. A larger toaster oven can hold a small casserole or cake, can roast a small chicken or even broil a steak. They can heat up frozen meals- french fries or a serving of pizza. They add less heat to a kitchen than a full size oven, which is nice in the summer. Although you might do some of these tasks in the microwave, the toaster oven browns foods, crisping them, which the microwave can’t do.

Now that you’re convinced of the necessity of owning a toaster oven, you need to choose one. Here are some things to look for when you’re shopping:

Capacity:

Smaller ovens (12″wide x 10″tall x 12″ deep)hold four slices of bread; larger ones (20″ x 10″ x 15″) can handle six.

Settings:Krups toaster oven

The most basic models have a “toast” setting, but most have more, including light, medium and dark settings. For other settings, most have the capacity to bake and broil and some can heat up to 450 degrees.

Also look for features such as preset functions for pizza or bagels which are kid friendly, electric touch pads for setting the temperature or timer, digital displays for setting precise heating and non-stick or porcelain interiors which are easier to clean.

Be sure to measure your counter space, some of the premium toaster ovens can be large and all require an extra four inches behind them (They can’t be flush against the wall) to allow for heat dissipation.

Another feature appearing on taoster ovens is convection cooking. Convection cooking uses air to circulate the heat, cooking food faster and more evenly. It is used for roasting and baking.

The really is a toaster oven for every budget. Some samples (We have not reviewed these particular models.) are:

Black & Decker Model TRO962 Toast-R-Oven with Convection Cooking, about $30black and decker toaster oven

Tefal OT806000 Avante Elite 1600 Watts Toaster Oven with Convection Cooking , about $80

Oster Model 6292 , about $100

Krups Model FBC5 Toaster Oven with Convection Cooking about $200

Home Appliance Efficiency to Improve Under New Energy Bill

Here’s some news from appliancemagazine.com  about saving energy and how the appliance industry is working to make some changes.

In late December, President Bush signed into law the “Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007,” a comprehensive energy bill that includes several historic provisions supported by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) to dramatically improve energy efficiency and maintain federal preemption for home appliances in the United States.

The enacted legislation codifies an agreement between industry and energy and water advocacy organizations to establish the strictest federal energy efficiency standards to date for residential clothes washers and dishwashers and for the first time ever, will also include national water limit requirements for these products. The law also sets energy standards for dehumidifiers and requires the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to consider revisions of current refrigerator energy efficiency standards.

The new energy and water standards will result in a savings of up to 3.3 Quads of energy and nearly 11 million acre feet of water over 30 years, equivalent of more than 2 1/2 years of domestic water use in the United States. The set of standards will save consumers up to $14.7 billion in utility payments.

AHAM was also instrumental in crafting language included in the law that establishes a product specific approach to defining and regulating standby power in major home appliances focusing on overall appliance energy consumption. “AHAM is pleased with the enactment of this comprehensive energy bill” said AHAM president Joseph M. McGuire. “The law demonstrates once again that home appliances are in the forefront of energy efficiency and provide real solutions for consumers wishing to do their part to save energy and protect the environment. Legislation still pending in Congress, when enacted, will supplement these appliance standards with tax credits to manufacturers to produce “super efficient” products making upgrading home appliances the most cost effective step a consumer can take to save energy.”

Refrigerator Drawers Handy and Expensive

Many of us could use the space an extra refrigerator in the kitchen would provide. I have a spare freezer in the garage, but when I’m cooking for holidays or other large gatherings, my large fridge bursts to overflowing. I have even stored food for neighbors who have the same dilemma.

If you don’t need a lot of storage space and can spare a cupboard or two, a refrigerator drawer might be right for you. A refrigerator drawer is just what it sounds like- a fridge that fits under the counter and pulls out like a drawer. They can be installed near a prep sink, making them just right for fresh produce.

At consumerreports.org , they offer a complete look at some brands, pointing out both pros and cons.

Refrigerator drawers provide not only additional storage space but also some conveniences. If you have young children, for example, you can stow snacks in an easy-to-access spot. Or, when you’re prepping for that big dinner party, you can keep your fresh ingredients at hand. And on the KitchenAid Superba ($2,500), you can place one drawer at a standard refrigerator temperature and the other at a “pantry” setting of up to 60° F. This would allow you, for example, to chill beer, white wine, and other beverages for your gathering in the bottom drawer and store root vegetables in the top. (All five tested models have two drawers.)

Other upsides are on the design front. Refrigerator drawers don’t eat up much floor space: On average, the units we tested are 35 inches high (they’ll fit below a standard-height counter) and 24 inches deep (matching the standard depth of base cabinets). Three models are 24 inches wide (same as a typical dishwasher), the other two, 27. And, as with many other fridges, they can fit in with the kitchen décor. All five models are available with a stainless-steel look, and the Sub-Zero 700BR ($3,200) can be fitted with a panel to match the finish of cabinets.

But you’ll pay dearly for those limited benefits. The tested models cost an average of $2,500 (prices range from $1,800 to $3,200) for what we measured as only about 4 cubic feet of usable fridge capacity (none of the models has a freezer). What’s more, while fridge drawers cost little to run (about $32 to $42 a year), they’re far less energy-efficient than any type of full-sized refrigerator in our Ratings, scoring poor in our calculations. Some other drawbacks: The Marvel 60RD ($2,500) has no bins, dividers, or shelves, and its controls are inside the top of the front frame, requiring you to open the top drawer much of the way to access them. And the U-Line Echelon ($2,500) is not equipped with an on/off switch. To unplug the unit, you need to pull the fridge out from the wall. So far, we lack repair data for refrigerator drawers.

A different solution to the problem, though possibly not as attractive, is to purchase a small freestanding refrigerator, or even a portable one that can be plugged in on an as-needed basis.
Or, there’s always the neighbors…

Appliance Odometer

Here’s more from the great thinkers at halfbakery.com.  I really enjoy these ideas.

Keep track of instances/hours of kitchen appliance use:

I’m using my CostCo rice cooker bought a few months ago for the 3d time right now; it cost $30, so at the moment, I’m right at a $10 surcharge for each 4-cup rice serving, which is pretty expensive. However, in the medium term, I think it will end up saving me money on food, by helping me meet my resolution to spend less money on restaurant meals, and I’d therefore like to keep track of how often I use the cooker. However, I only know how often I’ve used it because that number is so low; I don’t have regular “rice days” either, so I can’t just multiply Mondays to arrive at a usage figure. So: I propose an electronic odometer which clicks forward a notch for every complete cycle (for a rice cooker or other 1-task appliances) or which simply keeps track of “active cycle” times for other items which are used more as-needed (blenders, washing machines, microwaves). Knowing how often particular things are used would be good in increasing household efficiency, and would be more aesthetically pleasing (though less visceral) than carving notches each time …

I have an air popcorn popper that would be a good candidate for this gadget.  I also think it would be fun to see how often the power tools that are so important really get used.

What do you think?

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Jenn-Air’s Convenience Oven

Sometimes all you need is a little extra help. Jenn-air’s convenience oven is just 22 inches high with a 1.2 cubic foot interior. It would be just the thing for a mini kitchen in a guest house or family room. It can bake, broil, toast or warm and the small interior heats up more quickly than a larger oven. Because it is built in, it saves counter space too. Once again though, convenience comes at a price- about $1200 – $1500.

Features:

Controls

* Cook & Hold, Favorite Setting And Keep Warm™ Oven Options.
* Customization Options Include Control Lockout And 72-Hour Sabbath Mode.
* Delay-Start Cooking And Cleaning.
* Electronic Controls With Keypad Entry Include Clock With Timer.
*
Oven
* Bake/Broil/Toast Capabilities With Hi/Lo Temperature Broiling.
* CustomClean™ Self-Cleaning Oven With Auto Lock.
* Extra-Large Panaview™ Oven Window.
* Four-Pass Broil Element.
* Halogen Lighting Of The Oven Interior.