October 25, 2014

Basic Appliance Care and Safety

If you are lucky, you rarely need to pay much attention to the appliances that run, some of them 24 hours a day, in your home. But to keep everything trouble free, it’s good to follow some basic guidelines for care and safety when using or installing appliances in your home. Handymanclub.com offers some simples steps for use with your washer, dryer, refrigerator, ranges, cooktops, even your water heater.

Ventilation and combustion (dryers, water heaters, ranges and cooktops)
• Clean the clothes dryer’s lint filter before or after each load. Check behind the dryer for trapped lint. Clear lint from the exterior vent often. Lint buildup results in inefficiency and excessive wear and can even pose a fire hazard. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), an estimated 15,500 fires each year are associated with clothes dryers.
• Use only metal ducting for gas dryers because they run hotter than electric machines. Rigid rather than accordion-pleated ducting is best for airflow.
• Never vent clothes dryers or water heaters into the house to supplement heating.

Plumbing (washers, refrigerators and water heaters)
• To prevent leaky or bursting waterlines, check washing machine hoses for signs of wear. Consider replacing rubber hoses with newer braided stainless steel hoses.
• Check the screens at either end of the water hoses and remove sediment that may have collected there. This is especially important after road construction or water-main work has been done in your area.
• Periodically check that the washing machine is soundly footed and level so the hoses and the drain hose do not come loose.
• If a dishwasher’s tub doesn’t empty after operation, detach the drain line from the household drain and clean any debris from the line.

Gas (dryers, ranges and water heaters)
• Never use an oven as a room heater — combustion pollutants resulting from fuel-burning appliances can cause illness or death. Have gas appliances serviced periodically to ensure they burn with the proper mix of air and fuel.
• Be sure all vented appliances are checked for backdrafting. (This is one reason that it’s important for a city building official to inspect newly installed vented appliances.)

Electric
• Diehard DIYers may bristle at this warning from the CPSC — nonetheless, it’s a lifesaver. Never attempt to repair a microwave oven — because they use high-voltage power, they can pose a risk of electrical shock even after they are disconnected from the power source.
• Use dedicated circuits for large appliances such as washers and dryers.
• Keep appliance cords away from hot surfaces.

Fisher & Paykel is Moving to Mexico

Fisher & Paykel, the New Zealand appliance manufacturer well known for it’s dishwasher drawers and washing machines is consolidating it’s manufacturing and moving to Reynosa, Mexico, just south of the U.S. border.

The range and DishDrawer factory in Dunedin, New Zealand, the refrigeration plant in Brisbane, Australia and the DCS manufacturing plant in Huntington Beach will be relocated to the new facility in the next 12-18 months. The DCS move is expected to be completed by the end of the year, and individual manufacturing lines will be shifted separately to reduce the impact on warehouse inventory. The U.S. operation will continue to employ sales and marketing, customer services, head office and an engineering staff of around 340 employees. The financial benefit of the DCS move is expected to be $6.6 million per year with a one off cost of $7 million, both at pre-tax level.

“This expansion is designed to streamline our manufacturing costs, and bring increased consistency and efficiency to the company’s production process in the U.S. market, “ said Mike Goadby, North American President for Fisher & Paykel Appliances. “It’s an emotional time for all of us, but this move will make us more competitive in the U.S. and strengthen our distribution efforts through making them more efficient.”

With the Reynosa acquisition and the new North American DishDrawer line announced last year, the financial benefits of the new strategy are expected to be around $50 million per year, at a one off cost of approximately $100 million. The cost of the move will be offset by the sale of surplus property in Australia and New Zealand, which could total approximately $100 million.

You can read more here.

Staber’s New Electric Clothes Drying Cabinet

Staber, an American manufacturer and online retailer of washers and dryers offers a new clothes drying cabinet as an addition to your laundry room equipment. Although drying cabinets have been used in Europe for years, many Americans are not familiar with them. They are in a simple form a box in which clothes can be hung up or laid out on racks while air is circulated around them to reduce drying time. They are not a replacement for a traditional tumble dryer, but an alternative to tumbling delicate or very bulky items.

Here are some benefits of the drying cabinet from Staber’s literature:
• To be used in addition to a conventional dryer; it is simply a different way to dry laundry

• Less wear and tear on clothing because of no tumbling

• Reduces shrinkage

• Lower operating temperature; increases life expectancy of clothing

• All kinds of clothing can be dried simultaneously, e.g. shirts on hangers together with sport equipment and boots

• Life expectancy of 15 years; minimal maintenance due to simple design

• Quiet operation, which makes it suitable in both houses and apartments

• Provides an energy-efficient drying process, and minimizes the amount of air to be evacuated

• Thermostat controlled, adjustable from room temperature up to around 150 degrees F

• Allows quick folding when removing clothes

The cabinet measures 67 1/2″ tall x 23 1/2″ wide x 24 1/4″ deep and retails for $949.00 online.

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Whirlpool Earns Third Energy Star Award

Whirlpool Corp. has been recognized with its third consecutive ENERGY STAR Sustained Excellence award. Provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the award honors Whirlpool Corp.’s contribution to providing innovative efficient products that help consumers reduce utility bills and greenhouse gas emissions.

Whirlpool will accept the award at ceremonies in Washington, D.C., on April 1, 2008. This is the company’s ninth ENERGY STAR award win.

“Whirlpool Corporation is proud to again receive the ENERGY STAR Sustained Excellence award,” said Mike Todman, president, Whirlpool North America. “At Whirlpool, we believe that focusing on energy, water and the environment isn’t about narrowing the field of choices, it’s about broadening horizons. We continually strive for efficiency improvements while always keeping in mind that exceeding the expectations of the consumer is our goal.”

The company has been a long-term ENERGY STAR partner, helping create the guidelines for the Green Lights Program, the EPA’s precursor to the appliance ENERGY STAR program. “We are proud to recognize Whirlpool Corporation’s continued efforts with the 2008 ENERGY STAR Sustained Excellence award,” said Robert J. Meyers, principal deputy assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air & Radiation. “Year after year partners like Whirlpool are examples of the benefits of a long-term commitment to energy efficiency. Their actions are leading the way in saving energy and helping to protect the environment.”

While other appliance manufacturers have been talking about sustainability, Whirlpool Corporation has been taking action for more than 30 years. The company is the global industry leader in developing high-performance appliances that help conserve the earth’s resources and allow homeowners to use energy and water more efficiently. It is the only appliance manufacturer that brings an “across the board” focus to energy and water conservation, from design to manufacture and distribution, to the end of the product life-cycle.

Whirlpool Corporation offers consumers the largest breadth of ENERGY STAR qualified appliances. Its more than 700 innovative models include:
The Whirlpool(R) Duet(R) Steam Washer. The washer naturally steams away tough stains, from grass to grease, without pre-treating. This model also saves consumers 73 percent water and 77 percent energy, compared to top-load washers manufactured before 2004, and using the normal cycle.
The Whirlpool(R) Cabrio(R) Steam Dryer combines mist and heat in the dryer to naturally steam away wrinkles and odors, reducing trips to the dry cleaner and providing front-load laundry efficiency in a top-load configuration.
Energy efficient refrigeration combined with flexible technology options through the Whirlpool(R) centralpark(TM) connection. The refrigerator offers a plug-and-play platform right on the door, providing support to consumer electronics including a digital picture frame and digital music player without compromising on energy efficiency.
The Maytag(R) Bravos(TM) high-efficiency, large-capacity top-load washer. The Bravos system features an impeller wash system with Sensi-Care technology and a commercial-grade stainless-steel wash basket – providing the thorough, dependable clean of a front-load system in a top-load configuration.
The Maytag(R) EPICz(TM) high-efficiency front-load washer’s space-saving design, providing dependable performance features and commercial-grade components, is one of the most energy efficient in the industry. The washer received NSF International (formerly National Sanitation Foundation) certification for its sanitary cycle, which heats wash water up to 153-DegF.
The Maytag brand Dishwasher with a SteamClean option. SteamClean delivers enhanced cleaning performance on glassware for soil and spot removal.. Whirlpool Corporation was the first in the appliance industry to launch a steam option in dishwashers.
A new SteamClean option for Jenn-Air brand dishwashers. The SteamClean option enhances an existing wash cycle, such as the China/Crystal cycle, with improved soil and spot cleaning to produce an even more lustrous shine. In addition to steam, these models also have a new silent sound package, making an already quiet, energy efficient dishwasher even quieter.

Whirlpool works to exceed expectations with appliances that help building professionals create homes of distinction. For this purpose, the company developed – The Inside Advantage(TM). This targeted program offers Powerful Brands, Innovative Products, Targeted Services and Consumer Insight to support building professionals. By staying closely involved with the building industry, Whirlpool Corporation is able to help support sustainable construction that ultimately saves energy and natural resources while providing homebuyers with comfortable, efficient and healthy homes.

Is Your Clothes Dryer Working Effectively?

We invest a lot of money in our clothes and want them to last and look good. Over-drying and over heating clothes wears them out faster. If your dryer is working effectively, you can dry more quickly, sometimes at lower temperatures. If preserving your clothes, possibly preventing wrinkles and saving energy sounds good to you, try these tips from mrappliance.com:

  • Avoid kinking exhaust vent behind dryer. The shorter the better.
  • Exhaust ducting should be of a metalized semi rigid/flexible material. Do not use vinyl as it can be easily crushed. Vinyl will not withstand heat as well as metalized ducting.
  • Check your outside vent hood. Clean if necessary. It is not advisable to use mesh wire or grates to cover the vent hood. This will definitely help keep rodents or birds out of your exhaust but can easily clog as some lint always makes it through the dryer’s lint screen. The best vent hood has a flapper that opens when the dryer is in use and closes when off. Verify proper operation of the flapper periodically.
  • Clean lint screen between loads and more frequently if drying material with higher cotton content.
  • Do not overload dryer. Too many clothes will inhibit proper circulation of heated air between and through the garments. On the other hand, too few clothes can create a similar problem by bunching and disallowing proper air flow through the clothes. Proper air flow dissipates the moisture from the clothes faster making for a faster dry time.
  • In winter months, dryers located in a heated area of the home will dry more quickly than a non-heated utility room.
  • Drying multiple loads one after the other will reduce overall dry time by utilizing heat retained by the dryer from previous loads.
  • Recheck pockets before putting clothes into dryer. Chewing gum may make it through the wash with little to no consequence but your luck will run out if it is put into the dryer. Gum, pencils, change, nails, needles, jewelry, etc. can damage clothing as well as damage your appliance (as a rule of thumb, do not lay loose change or other small articles on top of your appliances).

Sears Unveils Kenmore Elite Oasis Washer and Dryer

Laundry Pair Combines High Efficiency with Deep Clean Functionality and SteamCare Technology
Kenmore Elite’s SteamCare technology, harnesses the power of steam by saturating dry clothing with a fine mist of water while simultaneously heating the interior of the appliance. The water and heat work together to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and odors, so consumers can avoid washing an article of clothing that may only need refreshing, saving both water and energy.

The new Oasis washer cleans better than any other model among leading brand top loaders, offering features like gentlewash technology to clean delicate items and Catalyst Cleaning Action to help ensure bright whites. The TimedOxi option, available in a top load model for the first time through Oasis, releases oxygen-based stain fighters at the precise time for powerful stain-fighting performance. Additionally, the washer is certified by the National Sanitization Foundation to eliminate 99.9 percent of certain bacteria found in clothes, sheets and towels.

Kenmore continues to deliver on high efficiency with this newest addition to the Oasis line up, as both models are more efficient than first generation Oasis HE models, surpassing ENERGY STAR standards. Adding to the efficiency, the Save Energy Plus feature conserves up to 20 percent more energy by extending wash times using cold water in cycles that may typically use hot water.

The Oasis washer’s Invizible Agitator sits low in its drum, allowing more space for clothing or bulky items like comforters and winter coats. Transparent, tinted glass doors on both the washer and dryer deliver a unique aesthetic, and consumers interested in second floor installation will be comforted to know that the Kenmore Elite Oasis creates the fewest vibrations in the industry.

The Oasis washer offers Kenmore Canyon Capacity — 4.6 cubic feet of cleaning space that efficiently cleans up to 24 bath towels in a single load. Also available in the Oasis dryer, the exclusive 7.4 cubic feet Canyon Capacity ensures that a full load from the washer will be effectively dried.

TurboDry technology in the Oasis dryer uses a 35 percent larger blower to increase airflow, drying a load of laundry more quickly than it takes to wash one. The Dual Action Drying system also contributes to faster dry times by simultaneously promoting airflow and tumbling.  Gentleheat technology uses an advanced computer to measure air
temperature and moisture more accurately and calculate exactly how long a cycle should run, resetting the temperature as needed to improve fabric care.

The Oasis and Oasis pair will be available in white in March 2008 at for the regular retail price of $1,099. SteamCare and energy efficiency are also available in the HE Steam Laundry pair in white and the designer color, barolo. Prices range from $1,499 to $1,599 for washers and $1,199 to $1,299 for dryers depending on color. Base pedestals retail
for $259.99 each in color and $229.99 each in white.

Drying with Liquid? A New Twist on the Clothes Dryer

For the most part, clothes drying technology hasn’t changed in over 70 years, but the people at Hydromatic Technologies have a new plan. They don’t make dryers, but at the 2008 International Builders’ Show, they debuted a new technology – Hydronics- that could make future dryers better.

Hydronics is the utilization of water or other fluids to transfer heat from one location to another. Steam and hot water radiators are one of the oldest forms of hydronic technology. Similar to water heater technology, Hydronic Technologies has produced the next generation of liquid-based technology as a heat transfer delivery system. The result is an energy saving, faster drying technology

How it works:

Made of durable copper and aluminum, the Hydronic Dryer’s heat technology works by heating up a specially formulated, non-toxic and non-corrosive heat transfer fluid with an immersion element (similar to a water heater). The fluid is transferred to a heat exchanger where it is mixed with air. The heated air is then blown into the dryer’s drum. The result is a safer, highly energy efficient dryer, that dries faster than any other brand available on the market – up to 41% faster!

The company says this hydronic dryer can be added to an existing dryer by a trained technician in under 30 minutes. They also claim to be a safer, greener, economical way to dry clothes. Innovation is good, it’ll be interesting to see where this goes.

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.