Posts Tagged ‘HOW TO’

HOW TO: get an appliance stimulus rebate

February 22, 2010

Get ready…

We think the rebates will go quickly...

The rebate reservation system for Minnesota’s Trade In & Save Program (aka Cash for Appliances/Appliance Stimulus) opens in less than a week!

I’ve compiled this “how to” guide with official info and my own words to help you through the process. Please read it in its entirety to minimize confusion.

1. Beginning 8 a.m. Monday, March 1, reserve a rebate by completing the online application form at www.MNApplianceRebate.com or by calling the program’s toll-free number at 1-877-230-9119.

Reservations can be made for one appliance only. Reservations will only be taken for categories (refrigerator, clothes washer, dishwasher or freezer only) with funds still available or if the wait list is open for reservations.

There are only about 11,000 refrigerator rebates; 6,000 rebates each for washers and dishwashers; and 2,000 rebates available for freezers.

2. Print the online application confirmation page. You will need to mail this page after you have completed your purchase with all supporting documents. Phone applicants will receive the application confirmation page by mail.

3. Purchase an eligible ENERGY STAR qualified appliance (browse our selection online, though we carry more than we display online) to replace an existing appliance from a Minnesota retail location. You don’t need to wait to receive your application by mail if you reserved a rebate by phone. You don’t need to bring in your forms at all, actually. Online purchases and purchases made before March 1, 2010 will be disqualified.*

*Our suggestion: shop now. Head to one of our 7 stores (see store locations & contact info) and our sales staff will help you choose the best eligible ENERGY STAR product for your needs and will put what we call a “quote” in our computer system with your product selection and personal information. This is not a purchase, as we’ve taken no payment. If you get your rebate reservation, all you have to do is call your salesperson with your credit card number and schedule delivery.

We anticipate a flood of calls and store visits beginning March 1, so this will hopefully speed up the process for you. We appreciate your patience throughout this process.

4. We will help you arrange to either pick up your appliances or get them delivered (delivery is free to customers in the Twin Cities metro area with a minimum purchase of $499; delivery is free after mail-in rebate to customers in the Rochester area with a minimum purchase of $499) and properly recycle the replaced appliance.

You will receive with your application from the state a “Proof of Demanufacturing” form if you are replacing a refrigerator or freezer. Our delivery crew will sign that when they take away your old appliance. You must submit that form for the increased rebate amounts ($200 for a refrigerator and $100 for a freezer; rebate amounts are half that without “Proof of Demanufacturing” because the state doesn’t want people keeping these units in use).

5. Fill out the submission form completely and make a copy for your records.

6. Mail the required materials within 30 days of the online or phone reservation.

Approved applicants will be receive by mail a rebate check to their residential address, with no exceptions. PO Boxes are not accepted. Rebates are not allowed for commercial endeavors, including owner-occupied rental properties.

Additional incentives

The state rebate can be combined with offers from Warners’ Stellian, manufacturers, utilities, and municipalities.

Warners’ Stellian will be offering an instant $25 rebate on all products eligible for this program, as well as exclusive manufacturers’ rebates.

Combined with possible incentives from your utility (visit this link for specific offers from MN utility companies) and bounty programs (visit this link), the savings can be quite dramatic.

I will take additional questions as much as I am able. Again, we appreciate your patience during this process. We hope that you give us the chance to earn your business.

Good luck!

HOW TO: clean and season a griddle

February 5, 2010

If this were my griddle, the pancakes would be bacon.

I blogged yesterday about my trip to the Roth Distributing Minneapolis Showroom’s Culinary Center.

There, I got my first taste — pardon the pun — of Wolf cooking and loved it. I especially liked the built-in griddle feature.

I don’t eat a lot of pancakes, probably because they always turn out like Oreos in a pan (dark and crispy on the outside, white and creamy on the inside). The pancakes we made on this griddle were dummy-proof.

I wish I would’ve taken my own picture of Roth’s griddle because it was so expertly seasoned. Apparently, some Wolf owners start to freak out a little when their griddle starts turning more brown than silver.

Well don’t freak out. That’s what it’s supposed to look like.

Here’s how to season the griddle:

You want to season the griddle before ever using it. Pour 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil or peanut oil (not olive oil!) per 11 inches in the center. Spread the oil with a dry paper towel.

Turn the griddle on to 350 degrees and heat the oil until it begins to smoke. Then turn off the heat, wait until the griddle is cool enough to touch and wipe the excess oil off with a paper towel.

Repeat.

Now, to clean the griddle, pour sparkling water (we used Perrier — when in Rome, right?) on it while it’s hot. Excess oil and food scraps will bubble up and off.  Use a metal spatula to scrape everything into the grease collector.

Once the griddle’s clean, pour a teaspoon of vegetable oil or peanut oil on the surface and spread it with another dry paper towel to reseason it.

Photo credit:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/crystalflickr/ / CC BY 2.0

Garbage disposal HOW TO – Sharpen the blades

January 20, 2010

Knives aren't the only kitchen tool worth sharpening.

Just like your kitchen knives, your garbage disposal blades can dull over time from use.

(Especially if you’re like me and play a home version of “Will It Blend?” on your Insinkerator.)

To sharpen the blades, combine table salt and coarse cleanser (we like Bar Keeper’s Friend), shove the mixture down past the baffle (yes, that rubber ruffle-y thing has a name!) and run the disposal without any water. When that’s finished, run water with the disposal like normal and rinse away the residue.

The coarse mixture should sharpen your blades. Another tip: Always run cold, not warm, water when running your disposal. Cold water hardens greasy substances, which makes them easier to grind, and keeps grease from sticking to the drain lines.

Check out my other appliance maintenance-related blog posts.

Dishwasher troubleshooting: Dishes not clean

November 23, 2009

Thanksgiving means two things: lots of food and lots of dirty dishes. And more dirt requires more soap, right?

WRONG.

Despite what you might think, too much soap can actually prevent your dishes from getting clean — especially on the top rack.

You should only use about half the amount of detergent recommended on the package. And if you have a water softener, you need only 1-2 teaspoons of powder — even less if you use liquid.

I think these people may have used too much detergent.

Too much soap can cause over-sudsing. Our customer service representative Maghan explained to me that the dishwasher tries to drain as much of the soap suds and food residue as it can. But when too much soap is used and it produces  so many suds, the dishwasher can’t drain it all in the time allowed.

So instead of draining, the soap bubbles pop inside, redepositing tiny food particles back onto the dishes, which show up most on glassware and silverware.

How do you know if you’re over-sudsing? Run a cycle without any soap. If suds are left at the bottom of the tub, you’re over-sudsing.

To remedy, we suggest a “vinegar cycle”:

  • Empty any dishes and shut soap door, without adding any detergent
  • Run dishwasher until it gets to the wash cycle
  • Open the door and check if the dispenser flap has opened
    • If it hasn’t, run for another minute or so until the flap opens
    • If the flap has opened, add the 1 cup vinegar and run through the full cycle.

You might have to repeat the process two or three times to ensure you’ve eliminated the build up of soap. Maghan also suggests trying a dishwasher cleaner like Glisten or Dishwasher Magic.

And I’ve said it again but I will continue to harp on about using rinse aid. It’s not just for looks, people! Maghan reminds us dishwashers today come designed to use rinse aid to help dry, as they lack a built-in fan.

So remember: gorge on turkey, just go easy on the soap, OK?

Photo credit:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/flexsleuthor/ / CC BY 2.0

HOW TO: Shop the Extreme Warehouse Sale like a pro

November 11, 2009

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 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.

WarnersStellian1

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

Before the sale

measuring tape
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, measure the width of the doorways and staircases the appliance will need to travel through.

Know your fuel type
You’ll need to know whether you have a gas or electric hookup when buying a dryer, a range or a cooktop.

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 Web site 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.

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
Fans of Warners’ Stellian on Facebook, followers on Twitter and members of our E-Club can receive a $15 coupon towards a $100 purchase at the Extreme Sale.

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_4

Don'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
Every Wednesday, I attack the FAQs plaguing our industry. Hard-hitting questions like, “Why is my washer smelly?” and “How do I clean stainless steel?” 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!

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

October 28, 2009

frigaffinityFront-load washers earned the reputation for being high-efficiency, eco-friendly machines with outstanding cleaning power … that smell bad. (My sister/salesperson Angela Warner actually talked to WCCO-4 about the problem with smelly washers about a year ago.)

So why do front-load washing machines sometimes smell? For many of the reasons that they’re generally better machines, ironically enough.

High-efficiency washers use MUCH less water, so more residue and detergent can be left behind after the cycle. Both front- and top-load washers that are high-efficiency can suffer from this, but high-efficiency top-load washing machines are less common.

Constant cold water cycles can also contribute to the stink, as they don’t always fully dissolve dirt and grease from the interior of the wash tub. Also, the tightly sealed door, left closed after a wash cycle, might not dry completely, which leads to the growth of odor-causing bacteria (Think: when you leave wet clothes in the washer for too long).

Luckily, the solution is as easy as 1-2-3. I know it’s cheesy, but if you remember these three easy steps, yo nose will be in the clear.

1. Keep the gasket dry

The crevasses of your washing machine gasket, which is the rubber seal that runs the perimeter of the door and opening, is a favorite place for moisture and residue to hang out. Keep a rag handy to quickly wipe this area dry after you’re done with laundry for the day.

2. Keep the washer door open

After you wipe down the gasket, fight the urge to shut the door. Don’t you hang a wet beach towel out to dry? Same thinking. Let the washer air out so there’s no opportunity for the mildewy smell to develop.

3. Use a washer cleaner

Use a cleaner formulated specifically for the interior of the machine, such as Affresh, once a month to prevent odor. And if your washer already smells, you should use Affresh three times to get back on track. Read more about how Affresh works.

These steps have become second nature for us in using our front-load laundry pair. And it’s worth it for the money savings in utility costs, the huge capacity and the superior cleaning. Are any of you still struggling with this? If not, what worked for you?

Dishwasher troubleshooting: Dishes not drying

October 21, 2009

So you go to take your dishes out of the dishwasher and they’re completely wet. Sound familiar?

howtodrydishes

If your dishwasher has a stainless steel tub, you probably need rinse aid. Sure, your dishwasher could be the best, highest-efficiency model. It still needs rinse aid. Rinse aid helps dry dishes by reducing water droplet formation. (Note: If you have a plastic tub and your dishes aren’t drying, you might need a service call on the heating element.)

If you’ve added rinse aid to your dishwasher and your dishes still come out wet, check if you’re washing a lot of plastic dishes. Sometimes these can exacerbate the problem. Have you ever noticed that plastic dishes often come out with droplets of water while all your glass and porcelain dishes are completely dry? That’s because plastic does not hold heat the same way regular dishes do.

Why does that matter? It throws the dishwasher off its drying mojo. Here’s how the dishwasher drying process works:  The final rinse water reaches a very high temperature (at least 157 degrees on European models) — and the final rinse temperature is really important to the drying process. By now, the dishes ideally hold a lot of heat. But the stainless steel tub (hopefully you purchased a model with a SS tub) is a cooler surface, so the moisture collects on the tub and condensation naturally occurs.

Other things that throw the dishwasher off its drying mojo:

  1. Washing all the dishes before you load them. Scrape off large food pieces, but just say no to washing your dishes before you wash them! If the dishes are clean, your smart dishwasher cuts the wash time down. If this happens, the dishwasher may not have time to get hot enough. The water is heated to more than 40 degrees higher than the hot water being piped in. There are other reasons to not wash your dishes before you wash them, but I’ll save those for another post…
  2. You’re using the light or quick wash cycles for everyday stuff. It won’t usually wash or dry as well.
  3. You’re not using rinse aid (shame on you). Rinse aid is a key element in drying and it will keep everything sparkling as well.

So retire that dishtowel, OK?

Photo credit:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/weelakeo/ / CC BY 2.0

HOW TO: Clean stainless steel appliances

September 30, 2009

If you’ve ever owned them, you know: Stainless steel appliances can carry more fingerprints than an episode of “CSI” — especially if you have kids.

Or customers. Back in my receptionist days, I used to be responsible for cleaning the rows of lovely stainless steel products we displayed in our St. Paul store on Snelling Avenue. So I’m somewhat of a stainless steel cleaning expert. Our volume of fridge smudges dwarfed what you would have in your kitchen, of course, because you don’t have customers touching your stuff all day.

Don’t get me wrong. Stainless steel does have a stunning effect on a kitchen…

Dacor Stainless Steel Kitchen -- Dacor.com

Dacor Stainless Steel Kitchen -- Dacor.com

…but you just have to have the right stuff to clean them and a good process in mind.

Citrushine Stainless Steel PolishI used Citrushine, which we sell because it’s really the best polish we’ve found. It’s nontoxic, smells like oranges instead of chemicals and doesn’t leave your fingers feeling too greasy. Plus, I kept rows of fridges, dishwashers, ranges, microwaves and kitchen displays clean without losing my mind or the integrity of the factory finish. (If that’s not a ringing endorsement, you don’t own stainless steel.)

My process? Spray some Citrushine on a dust rag (you can also use a paper towel, but I don’t like getting cleaner on my hands) and wipe down the appliances going with the grain of the stainless steel. Citrushine doesn’t streak like other cleaners and certainly not like soap and water, but I found that going with the grain makes clean up way faster.

Some brands now carry stainless steel appliances that wipe clean with only a warm rag, like Miele‘s Clean Touch Steel™. All Fisher & Paykel DishDrawers and some refrigerator models come in EZ-Kleen, which is an anti-fingerprint stainless steel finish.

I’m interested to hear in the comments if anyone else has tried this or other cleaners/methods with success.

Dryer not drying? Check the vent

September 24, 2009

If your clothes still are damp after a dryer cycle or you’re increasing the drying time, you probably need to check your dryer for clogs or damage that slow moist air from leaving the dryer.

Run your dryer and go outside to check the air coming out of your exhaust hood.  If you feel less air movement than a blow dryer on its highest setting, the dryer’s exhaust hood or interior vent could be clogged.

First, clean dried lint from your exhaust hood and make sure to clear any blockages such as leaves or overgrown plants. (Or squirrels…)

If your air movement still seems subpar, clean the lint from the entire length of the system. You should do this about every two years to keep your dryer running its best and to prevent risk of fires.

(See “How to Clean A Dryer Vent” video on YouTube.) If this seems involved, consider replacing your venting — it’s relatively inexpensive.

Also, replace any venting that’s been kinked or crushed (see example below) with rigid or flexible heavy metal venting at least 4 inches in diameter. NEVER use plastic or metal foil venting.

dryervent

whirlpool.com

To prevent clogs in the first place, clean your dryer’s lint filter after each use and keep your exhaust vent unobstructed.
Info source: ServiceMatters.com

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 87 other followers