Archive for the ‘HOW TO’ Category

Dishwasher troubleshooting: Dishwashing detergent left in dispenser

December 7, 2010

My new baby (and yes, those are blue laminate countertops)

I got a new Asko dishwasher a couple of weeks ago, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it: the way all my pots and pans fit, the stemware holders for my house’s wine habit, the knife holder for my vegetable habit.

Nothing comes out with a speck of food, and we no longer have to yell at each other over a tsunami of washing sounds. My life has improved two-fold. No more dishwasher problems.

Well, there was one. The Cascade Action Packs we had just bought on sale were getting stuck in the dispenser.

After reading the Use & Care manual (gold star for me), I noted that Asko recommends using powder detergent, and only about a tablespoon of it depending on the hardness of your water.

When I switched back to powder, everything was fine. But it’s not always as easy as switching dishwasher detergent.

If you still have caked detergent after running your dishwasher, try these dishwasher troubleshooting tips, adapted from Whirlpool Corp.

Was the dispenser cup wet when you added detergent?

If dispenser cup is wet, the detergent can clump. This also means that if there’s still detergent left in the cup, don’t think, “Oh, well now I don’t have to refill it!” Clean it out and start over.

Is the cycle incomplete?

If the previous cycle did not complete, the detergent can become caked in the dispenser cup if it is left sitting in the dishwasher. But this probably isn’t the cause for those with chronic detergent-caking issues. Again, clean the detergent from the cup and start over again.

Is the detergent old?

Older detergent exposed to air will clump and not dissolve well, which will cause the dispenser door to stick to the detergent. Buy new detergent, and this time, keep it in a tightly closed container (i.e. not the box with an open flap) in a cool dry place (i.e. not under your sink right next to the wall where your dishwasher runs hot!).

Is the water temperature too low?

For best washing and drying results, water should be 120oF (49o C) as it enters the dishwasher, so check your water heater setting. I also try to remember to run the kitchen sink tip until hot water comes out to help this.

Were items blocking the dispenser that kept it from opening?

Items blocking the detergent dispenser will keep it from opening. Make sure water action can reach the dispenser.

Other good (if not obvious) detergent guidelines

  • Use automatic dishwashing detergent only.
  • Add detergents just before starting the cycle.
    • I’m guilty of this. I’ll fill the detergent cup when I’m done with the night’s dishes so I only have to press the button before bed a few hours later. Don’t be like me.
  • The amount of detergent to use depends on the hardness of your water and the type of detergent.
    • If you use too little, dishes won’t be clean.
    • If you use too much in soft water, glassware will etch.
  • Your manufacturer’s suggested amount is based on standard powdered detergent, so follow instructions on the package when using liquid or concentrated powdered detergent.
  • Water hardness can change over a period of time. You can find out your water’s hardness for about $15 by calling Water Doctors.

Cleaning tips: How to clean a stove

December 1, 2010

Not sure how to regain a clean stove after all that Thanksgiving cooking? Cleaning stove tops can be a pain, but consider that dirty cooking surfaces don’t reflect heat as well, meaning that you waste energy and compromise performance when using a messy stove.

Instead, try these useful stove cleaning tips that have worked for me.

When cleaning a smooth top stove, first use a razor blade (yes, I’m serious) to gently scrape off any burnt on food residue. Sometimes smooth top stoves burners discolor with time, but I’ve found that Mr. Clean Magic Eraser works well to fade dark stains. Apply cooktop cleaner (which we sell for about $5 at all Warners’ Stellian stores) with a soft rag or paper towel for general cleaning. Cooktop cleaner also gives a nice, smooth finish to glass- and ceran-top stoves you can’t get from soap and water, sorry!

To clean a gas stove top — like I have at home — remove all grates and burner caps to the sink and simply use soap and water to clean. I scrub off all the food residue that ends up around the burners by sprinkling on some Barkeeper’s Friend and rubbing it off with a moistened towel. Again, the discolorations (I have a white stove) are removed by Magic Eraser and some elbow grease.

The most important tip I have for cleaning gas stoves, though, is properly replacing the now-clean burner caps, as misplacement could cause stove lighting issues.

Any other good tips on how to clean a stove top?

HOW TO: Shop the Warners’ Stellian Warehouse Sale like a pro

November 9, 2010

OK, so it’s now the third time I’ve used this blog, but why reinvent the wheel? These tips remain relevant for the Warners’ Stellian Extreme Warehouse Sale 2010. Measure twice and cut once, people.

WarnersStellian1

Here are some Extreme Warehouse Sale pros, lined up before the doors open.

What is it with us Midwesterners and our deal-bragging? You know: upon receiving a compliment we gloat about the gasp-worthy low price we got it for, unsolicited. Perhaps it’s because we fancy ourselves pro deal hunters.

But our Extreme Warehouse Sale 2010 this Saturday and Sunday is no Macy’s clearance rack. I’m talkin’ big-ticket items at huge discounts: you need to prepare a bit. The savings are so hot, all sales are final.

Luckily for you, I’ve compiled the secrets of the pros — tips that will prepare any appliance rookie for the big league.

Before the sale

Don't be a fool; Use this tool.

Measure your space
Don’t learn the hard way: there is no “standard” in appliance sizes. Use a measuring tape on the available space — not the existing appliance — and write down dimensions to bring to the sale.

Also — and this is HUGE — measure the width of the doorways and staircases the appliance will need to travel through. Some door frames can be removed, but it’s often that someone buys a washer only to find it doesn’t fit down her narrow basement staircase.

Know your fuel type
This might seem obvious if you’re buying a cooking appliance like a range or cooktop (is it flat, coiled or does it have grates? Duh.). But you should double-check whether you have a gas or electric hookup when buying a dryer or oven.

Consider your hinges
For example, some refrigerators on sale will be left hinge only. Wouldn’t it be terrible to find a great deal on a fridge only to get it home and not be able to open it? Also know what side you want the hinges on a front-load washer and any type of dryer, in case there’s an option.

Do some research
We’ll have more than 2,000 appliances available at the start of the sale, so have something in mind to avoid frustration. The best tip? Know what you like and don’t like about your existing model. Check out our website for more ideas on what features are important to you.

Get preapproved
You MUST pay for your purchase at the time of sale, though we certainly have financing options to help you pay. Save time by getting approved online at home. Just make sure to bring in your approval slip with your new account number for our files.

Also, even if you’re financing the purchase, you must pay the sales tax at the time of sale.

The day of the sale

744336_pick-upBring a hauling vehicle
Usually, we offer free delivery on purchases $499 and above, but this sale is anything but usual. Our warehouse is full of products, so we encourage customers to take their purchases with them the day of the sale. We’ll help you load it up and everything.

If you do choose to have it delivered, it’s $75 and you must take delivery within 14 days.

Know your schedule
We’ll arrange for delivery and any installation for built-in appliances (available for additional charges) at the time of sale. We’ll call you the day before the delivery with an AM/PM estimate and our crew can call you before they arrive if you need to meet them at your house.

We do everything we can to keep the warehouse safe and the process efficient for our customers. Help us out!

Pack a stroller
Our warehouse is a warehouse. It’s clean and safe, but it’s also big and crowded and without a play area. Strollers work well to keep small children nearby when you’re shopping the selection.

Print any coupons
Like  Warners’ Stellian on Facebook and RSVP to our Coupon Giveaway event to get a coupon good for $25 off an Extreme sale order $500 and over. We’ll also be giving away coupons on Twitter, so follow us and watch for details. .

After the sale

Receive delivery/install time estimate
You’ll receive a call with an AM/PM estimate the day before your scheduled delivery and/or install.

Apply for rebates
You could qualify for even more savings by rebate. Once you receive your product, you can fill in the serial number (the delivery crew can help you locate this) on your rebate forms and submit them promptly, as they expire.

1139528_communicate_4Don’t waste your investment because you lack product knowledge.

Read your manual
Knowing your new product can help you save time and improve the quality of your cooking and cleaning. Stow it somewhere memorable to refer to for troubleshooting and general operation questions.

Don’t ignore accessories

If you get a dishwasher, buy rinse aid to help dry your dishes. If you buy a smooth-top electric range, you’ll want cooktop cleaner to keep it looking new. The water filter in your fridge will need to be replaced every six to 12 months. And please, for the sake of your breathing, don’t overstuff your vacuum bags!

Visit my blog
I attack the FAQs plaguing our industry. Hard-hitting issues like, Troubleshoot (almost) any dishwasher problems and HOW TO: change a refrigerator water filter. It’s also an easy way to reach me if you need help. Plus, you’ll be the first to know about the next Extreme Sale!

Refrigerator moving advice

October 20, 2010

Here’s a true Frequently Asked Question, pulled from the “I used to answer phones at the store” file.

I’ve fielded many calls inquiring if it’s OK to put a refrigerator on its side when moving it. Certainly, the manufacturers don’t recommend it. But sometimes it’s necessary, right?

So, when you can’t transport your fridge upright, GE suggests laying your top-freezer refrigerator or bottom-freezer refrigerator on the side opposite the hinges, so the door will remain closed. If you have a side-by-side fridge, place it freezer-side down (that door is less likely to come open).

When you bring the fridge inside its new home, keep it unplugged and upright for the same amount of time it spent on its side. If the refrigerator spend more than a day on its side, let it stand for 24 hours before plugging it in.

Also, GE suggests wheeling the refrigerator on its side when using a dolly to avoid damage to the front or rear of the unit.

And please, remove all the racks and cover your beautiful Warners’ Stellian refrigerator with a moving blanket. We love appliances too much so see you damage them on accident.

Dishwasher troubleshooting: Dishwasher won’t drain

October 6, 2010

Dishwasher not draining right meow? Perhaps you have a cat in there.

A number of things could be causing standing water in your dishwasher.

First of all, make sure that the door is completely closed.

Press the “cancel” button (sometimes twice, depending on model) to manually drain water left behind because the dishwasher cycle was interrupted (i.e. kids/roommates). The dishwasher will turn off after a couple minutes.

Other tricks:

1. If you have a disposer, run it, because your drain system could be blocked.

2. If you have an air gap, it could be clogged. Consult your particular brand for instructions on how to clear that, but mostly it’s just taking off the chrome cap, unscrewing the plastic cap and cleaning out whatever’s ailing it. (Here’s a video by GE that’s kind of fun.)

3. Make sure you’ve got drain hose in right dishwasher area codes. The drain hose should be looped to touch the underside of the counter and connect to the sink drain or disposer. The hose should not exceed a foot in length. Also, check for any kinks.

4. If you’re still under water, call a plumber (or go cheap like me). Your sink drain could be clogged, which prevents your dishwasher from pumping out water.

HOW TO: Troubleshoot (almost) any dishwasher problems

September 20, 2010

So easy, a baby could fix it! (I know, cheap excuse to indulge my "photos of babies playing in appliances" habit.)

I won’t necessarily admit that I hate my dishwasher lately, but I will project some anxieties onto blog readers via a dishwasher troubleshooting roundup (!!!).

Whether your dishwasher leaves you with cloudy dishes, wet dishes or still-dirty dishes, my top 4 blogs about dishwasher problems should contain your remedy.

Top 4 dishwasher troubleshooting blog posts

1. Dishes not drying

2. Dishes not clean

3. Dishwasher leaving white film on glasses

4. Food residue left on dishes

Unfortunately, you can’t troubleshoot small and noisy, so watch for an upcoming Things I Want, dishwasher edition.

What’s microwave safe? HOW TO: test microwave cookware

September 17, 2010

I CAN BE MICROWAVD?

Today’s HOW TO tip is a quick, but useful one.

If you’re unsure whether you cookware or dishes are microwave-safe, put them in the microwave with a cup of water next to it and nuke it for 1 minute.

If the cookware or dishes become hot and the water stays cool, don’t use them. Simple as that.

(Just so you know, baby bottles and baby food jars should never be microwaved.)

Happy Friday!

Gas stove troubleshooting: Stove won’t light

September 10, 2010

Need a light?

Despite a general dislike for most of the appliances I inherited with my first house, I feel lucky to have a gas stove (or range, as in appliance jargon).

I love cooking, so I appreciate the power and responsiveness of gas.

However, unlike their electric counterpart, gas ranges can’t just be dialed on; their burners must be ignited.

I occasionally struggle with lighting my burners — and I know I’m not alone — so here’s what to check if you’re struggling.

Burner cap
A lot of ignition problems and uneven flames result from food spills and related dirtiness. Routine cleaning and general unslobbiness will avoid this.

After a spill, use a nonabrasive plastic scrubbing pad and mildly abrasive cleanser or soap  to thoroughly clean the cap.

Make sure the cap is completely dry before replacing it over the burner. Take care that alignment pins are lined up with with the cap.

(I know I usually would never say this, but) Don’t put them in the dishwasher.

Burner ports

Burner flames should be about 1″-1.5″, with a proper shape like the flame labeled “A” in the adjacent spiffy illustration. The flame should be blue, not yellow.

If these aren’t the case, your burner ports could be clogged, so you should clean it, following these steps:

  1. Make sure all the controls are off and the stove is cool. Don’t use oven cleaners, bleach or rust remover.
  2. Clean the burner cap as instructed above..
  3. Clean the gas tube opening with a damp cloth.
  4. Clean clogged burner ports with a straight pin as shown. Do not enlarge or distort the port. Do not use a wooden toothpick. If the burner needs to be adjusted, call appliance service.
  5. Replace the burner cap, as shown in the first illustration.
  6. Turn on the burner. If the burner does not light, check cap alignment. If the burner still does not light, call appliance service.

Knobs

(This one falls under the “duh” category, but you never know…) Push in the burner knob before turning to light to ensure that it’s set correctly.

HOW TO: change a refrigerator water filter

August 2, 2010

Think of the children, won't you? Replace your refrigerator's water filter.

If your refrigerator dispenses water, chances are it uses a filter.

Most manufacturers recommend replacing the filter every six months to nine months, but certainly your fridge won’t blow up if you don’t. You might just drink some stanky water or notice a “decreased flow.” Or your ice maker won’t function as well.

Or you could just replace your filter when your status indicator light (or “change filter” light, as many customers call it) tells you to. Usually, this light lives on the temperature control panel. If you don’t have a change filter light, replace the filter based on the time frame recommendations outlined in the Use & Care manual you tucked away for safekeeping because you’re a responsible appliance owner.

Mostly, just use good sense, as the life of the filter depends on your usage and the quality of the water. If you notice a change in your water, replace your filter more frequently.

Many of you don’t know this, but I used to be somewhat of a water filter whisperer back in my Warners’ Stellian receptionist heyday. Customers never remember what the heck brand their fridge is when they come in for a replacement filter — not that I judged them. Picking up a replacement water filter falls under the “lost bet to spouse” level of fun errands. (On a related note, we offer free shipping on accessories totaling more than $50.)

I could generally qualify someone based on sketchy info, but not all receptionists possess such amazing skills, so do your homework. And even if you know your brand of refrigerator, it’s important to look at the filter itself as some brands make several types. Here’s how you replace your refrigerator water filter:

For the filters like the one picture above left, rotate the cap counterclockwise until its vertical pull the cap and filter cartridge out through the base grille. Push the new filter cartridge into the base grille until it stops with the cap in the vertical position. Rotate the cartridge cap clockwise to a horizontal position.

For the filters like those on the above right, press the eject button and pull the cap straight out. Don’t twist the cap or it will detach from the filter, and you’ll have to put the cap back on and try again the way I told you to in the first place. Got it? OK. Push the new filter into the opening in the base grille. The button will pop out when the filter is in place, but give the cap a tug to make sure.

This kind of filter, found in the upper right corner inside the refrigerator, is pretty easy to replace. Just turn the filter counterclockwise until it come out, drain it into the sink and trash it. Next, remove the seal from the new filter, insert the filter into the filter head and turn it clockwise until it stops. Easy.

This filter to the right often sits in the back right of the fridge.

To remove, turn the water filter 90 degrees counterclockwise (aka your left) until the filter releases. Take all the packaging crap off the new one, push it up into the housing and turn 90 degrees to the right. (Here’s where the directions include “close the door,” but I figure you can make that decision on your own.)

Once you replace the filter, make sure you flush air from the water system, otherwise you’re going to have a drippy dispenser in your kitchen driving you absolutely nuts. Watch this fun video or follow these directions:

Hold a container to the water dispenser lever for 5 seconds, and then release it for 5 seconds. Repeat until water comes out. Continue holding and releasing the dispenser lever (5 seconds on, 5 seconds off) until a total of 4 gallons has been dispensed. You might get a little spurting as the air clears out, so beware.

Can’t get to the store for a new filter? You can still remove and use the water dispenser in bypass mode. You just won’t have filtered water.

Top 10 FAQ appliance blog posts

July 26, 2010

I realized that I’ve now been blogging for almost seven months, so some of the best posts could now be considered “old.”

But you can’t argue with success.

Based on reads, here are the most popular blog posts categorized as frequently asked questions or HOW TOs or that sort of thing.

1. Refrigerator seal & fridge maintenance

2. Ice maker troubleshooting

3. Dishwasher troubleshooting: Dishes not drying

4. 10 sneaky ways you’re wasting money in your kitchen

5. Should you put aluminum foil in the oven?

6. Why do front-load washers take so long?

7. Dishwasher troubleshooting: Dishes not cleaning

8. Cleaning your washer – 3 tips on how to clean a smelly washer

9. HOW TO:  clean and season a griddle

10. HOW TO: clean stainless steel appliances


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