November 18, 2017

Archives for March 2011

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.

Recall: Lasko Box Fans Due To Fire Hazard

Name of Product: Box fans

Units: About 4.8 million units

Manufacturer: Lasko Products Inc., of West Chester, Pa.

Hazard: An electrical failure in the fan’s motor poses a fire hazard to consumers.

Incidents/Injuries: Lasko has received seven reports of fires associated with motor failures, including two house fires and one barn fire, resulting in extensive property damage. No injuries have been reported.

Description: This recall involves Lasko box fans with model numbers 3720, 3723, and 3733 and Galaxy box fans with model number 4733 that have date “2002-03” or “2003-04” stamped on the bottom of the metal frame. “Lasko” or “Galaxy” is printed on the front of the fan. The model number is either stamped or printed on the bottom of the fans.

Sold at: Mass merchandisers nationwide from July 2002 through December 2005 for between $12 and $25.

Manufactured in: United States

Remedy: Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled fans and contact Lasko to receive a free fused plug safety adapter.

Consumer Contact: For additional information, contact Lasko toll free at (877) 445-1314 anytime or visit the firm’s website at www.laskoproducts.com

Is Steam the Thing? – Washers and Dryers

In this, the fourth and final segment on steam appliances, we discuss steam washers and dryers.

In a washing machine, steam and water form a dynamic duo. Steam complements water in the cleaning process by keeping the fabrics soft and wrinkle-free. One patent filed by LG Electronics, the company that put out the first home steam washer, explains the different advantages that steam can offer when applied in three different stages of a washing machine cycle:

* Pre-wash phase: While the water loads into the wash tub, the steam works with the water to help soak the fabrics more thoroughly.
* During the washing phase: If added while the detergent is mixed with the water, the steam increases the temperature of the wash tub to improve the cleaning power, which also helps to activate the detergent. It does this by dissolving the detergent more effectively, to get the most out of it as possible.
* Post-wash phase: Steam added after washing lends more high temperatures to the tub to sterilize the clothes. It also softens the clothes to remove hard wrinkles that formed while the clothes tossed in the tub.

Steam washing machines use less power and consume less water than conventional models. A little bit of water can produce a lot of steam, which expands to take up more volume.

Nebraska Furniture Mart salesman Scott Price wanted to replace his own top-load washer and dryer, so he chose Whirlpool models that were each $150 more than machines that don’t use steam. He likes how the steam cycle on his washer gets out tough stains . He uses the steam dryer to de-wrinkle his clothes.

“I’m the type of person who throws a load of clothes in the dryer overnight,” Price says. “So the de-wrinkling cycle touches them up in 10 to 20 minutes in the morning.” The dry clothes look better, he says, when he de-wrinkles one item at a time. Price’s observations are in line with Consumer Reports’ test results.

“We found that with washers, the steam does improve the performance somewhat,” says Emilio Gonzalez, senior program leader in the appliance division at Consumer Reports. “With dryers, it’s mixed. They’re great at alleviating odor buildup, so you can freshen up clothes. But they’re not always great with wrinkles.”

Not all steam dryers are the same. They apply different steam in different ways. Maytag models don’t release a stream of pure steam, but rather a fine mist to the clothes. The heat in the dryer then raises the temperature of the mist to turn it to steam. Other dryers use a steam generator to release pure steam to the clothes.

Steam can potentially dry fabrics too. An advanced drying technique involves using superheated dry steam, which is steam that doesn’t contain any liquid water. This kind of steam is purely gas and invisible to the human eye, as opposed to wet steam, which suspends visible water droplets. By super-heating dry steam to a high enough temperature, machines can use steam to dry items. The very hot steam effectively heats moisture to the evaporation point . Then, the dryer circulates the resulting evaporated moisture out of the system and repeats the process. Though intended for industrial dryers, perhaps the technology of super-heated steam dryers will eventually make its way into mass-produced home dryers.

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.

Is Steam the Thing? – Steam Mops

Keeping the house clean – or at least clean enough – is a challenge we all face daily. Sometimes adding a new tool to the arsenal against dirt can give us new energy to face the task. This is the first in a series reviewing steam use in appliances.

Looking at tests conducted by Consumer Reports which added the Steam Mop category in 2010, the results are not stunning. A dozen items that often fall to the floor—including ketchup, mustard, olive oil, syrup and baby cereal—were allowed to harden on vinyl floor tiles before testers tackled them with steam mops.

Consumer Reports called the H2O Mop ($100) and Eureka Enviro Steamer 313A ($70) “good” and the others “mediocre.” The nonprofit, independent testing agency identified a recurring flaw: When there’s a large amount of soil, more gets pushed out of the way than picked up by the pad. It also cautions that steam and water could damage wood floors and might void the warranty.

“A $15 squeeze mop proved comparable, if not better, at floor cleaning,” the magazine says.

Steam-mop manufacturers have recently addressed concerns through vacuum/steam mop combos that eliminate the need for a mop, bucket, broom and dustpan. As far as potential floor damage, the mops’ moisture levels can be adjusted for different types of floors.

“With floors that are a little more delicate, for example … you can put it on the steam-dusting setting,” says Dann Provolo, vice president of marketing for Euro-Pro, maker of Shark steam-cleaning products, which introduced its next generation of Steam-Pocket Mop. “Regardless, a traditional mop with water can leave standing water on a floor, which could damage it. Steam quickly dries.”

Portable steam systems with wedge- and cylinder-shaped pads can be used to clean countertops, tile grout, mirrors, windows and upholstery. Steam kills staph, E. coli, mold, mildew and dust mites. A steam unit also can kill bedbugs, with a caveat.

“A steam cleaner should be a tool within a variety of methodologies,” Provolo says. “It shouldn’t be the entire solution.”

We Have a Winner- Kid’s Poster Contest on Carbon Monoxide Safety

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) sponsored a nationwide carbon monoxide (CO) safety poster contest to help raise awareness about the dangers of CO in the home. Possible topics for posters included: recognizing CO exposure and CO exposure symptoms; the inability to see or smell CO; steps to protect against CO poisoning; and installation and testing of a CO alarm.

This contest was open to all middle school age children in grades 6, 7 and 8.

Carbon monoxide is called the “Invisible Killer” because it can’t be seen or smelled. It can kill its victims quickly. Do you have a carbon monoxide alarm in your home?

How Deadly CO Gets Into a Home:

* Running a portable generator in an enclosed space, basement or living area
* Running a car in an attached garage
* Poorly operating fuel-burning appliances or faulty ventilation
* Burning charcoal inside your home

“Congratulations to all the winners of CPSC’s carbon monoxide poster contest,” said CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum. “We heard from middle school teachers that their students not only had fun creating the posters but also learned about the dangers of carbon monoxide. Our staff had a real challenge choosing the winners because there were so many terrific entries.”

CPSC received nearly 450 entries from 6th, 7th and 8th grade students across the nation. The contest is intended to raise awareness about the dangers of carbon monoxide in the home. CPSC estimates there were 184 unintentional non-fire CO poisoning deaths associated with consumer products each year from 2005 to 2007.

Trachell from Hawaii, whose poster is pictured above, was the grand prize winner.

Here are some other winning entries:

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