January 16, 2018

Archives for April 2011

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.

Does Size Really Matter?

Is bigger always better? Maybe not, when you are talking about washing machines.

Just how many clothes can effectively be washed and rinsed in a single load is covered by new U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) guidelines—and the answer may surprise you.

“Due to new Department of Energy regulations regarding clothes washer capacity, consumers may hear a lot of conflicting information about whether size really matters when it comes to laundry,” said J.B. Hoyt, director of regulatory affairs for Whirlpool Corporation. “The common belief is that bigger is better, but that is only true if your clothes still get clean.”

The Imperial Valley News writes that as part of the guidelines, manufacturers including Whirlpool, Maytag and Amana will voluntarily report new capacity measurements based on DOE test procedures in order to provide accurate measurement of all clothes washers across all brands.

For those in the market for new laundry appliances, Hoyt shares the dirt on capacity, cleaning and, most importantly, what to look for when shopping for a new washer.

• When making a new purchase, ask about capacity as it relates to cleaning versus just how much the machine will hold. What is the largest maximum capacity that will get your clothes clean?

• No matter how big the machine is, do not overload. Clothes will get cleaner when given room to move freely.

• Thanks to high-efficiency washing machines, you don’t have to stuff everything into one load just to save energy and water. Today’s high-efficiency washing machines use only enough energy and water to properly clean your clothes, which means you can do small loads when you have time, rather than waiting for the basket to fill up.

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.

Chocolate Vacuums – It’s Not What You Think

Are you shopping for a new vacuum? Of course power, durablity, ease of use, and cost are issues to be addressed, but, hey, what about color? Isn’t the color of your vacuum of primary concern? Well, Electrolux seems to think we should at least have some fashionable choices when it come to our vacuums.

Designers at Electrolux, AEG’s parent company, identified Chocolate Brown as 2011’s “icon color” – the hottest color for cars, fashion, and everything in-between. The new AEG brand UltraOne vacuum cleaners that launch in May 2011 will be offered in Chocolate Brown as well as Deep Blue and Clear Blue.

“The fashion industry, car shows, and interior design expos are a great source of inspiration,” Elisabeth Piper-Mäkitalo, Senior Graphic Designer at Electrolux.

One design detail carried over from the previous UltraOne collection is the scale-like, carbon-fiber “squircle” pattern on its rear side panel. The squircle design – a circle and square hybrid – was added to enhance the vacuum’s appearance. It’s a pattern that is also seen as a design element in car interiors and lamps.

All the new colors are metallic intended to convey a technical feel but also a soft and fashionable quality. Electrolux expects that similar colors will be used in 2011 fashion, cosmetics, and automobiles.

When developing the 2011 look for the UltraOne floor care appliance line, designers took to heart the status the vacuums had earned since its launch – appliance reviewers have given it top rankings in at least 11 markets.

“We naturally wanted to give it a unique range of colors to set it apart from the crowd—a powerful yet fashionable statement,” said Piper-Mäkitalo. “The UltraOne has striking lines – you can really feel its raw energy. We wanted to accentuate this power by adding a bold new palette of colors. When you think about it, there isn‘t that much difference between the colors used in makeup, nail polish and mascara, and today‘s cars. Flake and metallic are found in both worlds. This gives us a range of colors that are both traditionally masculine and feminine: unisex, if you will.”

The design team developed several new colors: Watermelon Red, Deep Blue (available in UK), Ice White, Antique Grey, Clear Blue (available in UK), Cassis, “and, finally, what we call the Icon Color: Chocolate Brown,” Piper-Mäkitalo said. “Brown and metallic feel very right for 2011.”