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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Panasonic NN-SD297 Over the Range Microwave Review

Panasonic Over the Range Microwave NN-SD297The choice of an OTR microwave should not be taken lightly. These appliances are in the most hostile places in the kitchen and subject to extremes of heat and humidity, often while being in use. A poorly engineered oven that doesn't last very long in a permanent installation is not a great move, especially if its primary function as a range hood exhaust fan can't perform.

Followers of this blog are aware that we recently renovated our kitchen. They also know that we own mainly Samsung appliances, including our range, refrigerator, dishwasher, washing machine and dryer. So it may seem a bit odd, given our preference for Samsung, that we went with Panasonic.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Samsung RF265ABRS French Door Refrigerator

Faithful readers of this blog are aware that Samsung appliances, even though they look great on paper, can be sometimes a hit or miss proposition. I can safely say that Samsung refrigerators are definitely a home run (especially with their French Door models). However like all high-performance appliances, you have to be prepared for some compromises, and they must be factored carefully before making a buying decision. Following the jump is my review of our RF265 (RF265ABRS) French Door stainless steel refrigerator.Samsung RF265ABRS Refrigerator in placeAlong with our recent kitchen renovation, we had planned on increasing the space for the refrigerator. This was to accommodate a larger 25-27 cu. ft. unit that are typically 36 inches wide and up to 74 inches tall.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Cleaning the DMR77 dishwasher

We just reinstalled our DMR77 after our kitchen renovation, so it was a good time to figure out if a thorough cleaning would improve wash performance. My main complaint is that the filtering system performance seemed to have degraded after a year, and we often get little bits of dried food on plates and glasses (and yes, we do use a rinse aid). The Sears tech who came to replace the upper rack adjusters recommended Dishwasher Magic or Glisten powder to bring performance back, since the spray arm jets or the filtering system might be clogging up.

An interesting post on Lifehacker (referencing another post on Real Simple) said that using a packet of unsweetened lemon Kool-Aid was a great way to clean the insides of a dishwasher. This is due to the fact that the main ingredient of lemon Kool-Aid is citric acid.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Samsung Service

There have been a lot of comments on this blog regarding the unresponsiveness of Samsung Customer Service. This has ranged from long delays in getting a service call, service call appointments not respected or in some cases useless telephone support.

As a general observation, all of the "mainstream" appliance manufacturers (GE, Whirlpool, Frigidaire, LG) generally provide poor or minimal service and support direct to the consumer. This is because support and service traditionally takes place at the local level, through the dealer where the appliance was purchased. It is simply less expensive to support dealers than to deal directly with consumers, and they rarely, if ever, have retail-level service organizations.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Samsung Induction Range now available

We have always coveted gas ranges but our neighborhood doesn't have gas distribution. This means that if we really want a gas range or cooktop, it means propane conversion and a 200 lb tank as well as overhauling our ventilation.

While doing some consulting work for the Institut de Hotellerie du Quebec (our national chef's school here in Montreal) a couple of years ago, I was introduced to induction, and I was suitably impressed. Since we had begun to design our new kitchen, I began to look into the costs of an induction cooktop. I was not only surprised at how expensive they were (over $2000 for just the cooktop), but also the requirement to upgrade the house electrical. In our case we would have to upgrade our 200A entrance and the wiring to the cooktop (ouch).

But now (finally) Samsung has introduced a standard range with an induction cooktop! And it is quite impressive. Looking very much like my FTQ386, the FTQ307 offers true induction with very slick rangetop touch controls (SelectTouch), and the very obvious elimination of knobs on the range panel. The only other difference I can make out is an increase (!) in the oven capacity from 5.7 to 5.9 cu ft., (with the space saving coming from the induction surface). This range looks like it plugs into a standard 220V range outlet.

I am totally gushing over this and I can't wait to see one (or even get to try one out). However I am concerned that the surface "elements" have been compromised in order to make this compatible with standard range wiring and current limits. There is one large element, but the other three seem to be on the smallish size.

Pricing in Canada at Future Shop is $2900, which seems a bit pricey (suggested retail in the US is $1999).

Thursday, October 1, 2009

160,000 litres of water saved due to HE appliances

In our municipality, our water meters are read every May, and we receive our water tax bill in September. I was quite pleased to see our consumption drop from 463 cubic metres to 303. This saving converts to 160,000 litres or 43,000 U.S. gallons of water.

Virtually all of this water savings was due to our higher efficiency Samsung washer and dishwasher that we put in July 2008, so this is only 10 months of actual reduction in consumption.

This year in August we replaced 2 of our original 16-20 litre per flush toilets with American Standard Flo-wise dual-flush (3/6 litre), which should result in another significant drop in water consumption.

What does this work out to in $ terms? We saw an immediate reduction of $52 on our bill, but since rates have risen significantly, we actually saved $125 over what we would have paid had we consumed as much water as the previous period.

Having done all this, there will be now a declining return on our investment, as our water consumption is charged on a progressive basis (the more you use, the more you pay). We will likely drop consumption to below 200 cubic metres next year, which is charged the lowest rate.

At this point, the swimming pool and our reverse osmosis water system add significantly to water consumption, but we are not about to give up either.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Samsung DMR77 Dishwasher rack adjusters (update)

After 2 months of waiting for parts (and the scheduled service call) we finally have our Samsung DMR77 dishwasher repaired!

Unfortunately the rack adjust clips seem to be of the same design, which means we can expect the plastic tabs to continue failing. Not impressed!

Here are a couple of pics of the old adjuster clip with broken tabs, and the new adjuster clip in place (where you can clearly see the tabs over the rack tines).

Samsung DMR77 rack adjuster with broken tabs Samsung DMR77 rack adjuster in place

I also mentioned to the tech (a replacement, who was not too familiar with Samsung diswhashers) that wash performance seemed to be deteriorating. He did a quick check and felt that there was not enough water in the bottom of the tub to wash effectively. He suggested trying first a cleaning product, and if there was no improvement, to make a new service call to have the pump checked.

So we will do this, and see what happens! In the meantime I intend to call Samsung customer service about the design of the rack adjuster clips (just for kicks).

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Appliance Aid Site

While surfing the net for general kitchen appliance help sites and blogs, I came across this amazing resource. It is rare enough to find good sites discussing appliance repair, especially those originating in Canada. The site's owner, Jeff, is really dedicated to building a useful site for consumers on both sides of the border, and I'm only too happy to add him to my blogroll. Check it out!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

They don't make 'em like they used to...

Thanks to calebu2 and her blog on Frigidaire dishwashers for this one!

1 year with the Samsung DMR77LHS (the Basket Adjuster saga continues)

It has been a year now since we installed the Samsung DMR77 in our kitchen. It has been a mixed bag...the machine has performed reliably but we have had some issues. The first, like the many others commenting on this blog, is the poor design of the basket adjusters that break prematurely. After that, we find that cleaning performance seems to be intermittently not very good, and we are not really sure what the factors are in getting a load consistently clean.

First, about the rack adjusters. We called in Sears service at the same time we ordered our annual inspection for the washing machine on July 9 in order to get the upper rack adjusters replaced. Not surprisingly (reports from blog comments had us prepared) the parts were back ordered. The tech confirmed a delivery date and we rescheduled for August 5th. The tech calls to confirm, but mentions that he "thinks" he has the wrong parts! Sure enough, the basket runner wheel assemblies were in the parts boxes marked "rack adj ass'ly". The tech calls his supervisor, and after a frustrating 5 minutes trying to ascertain that he was looking at the right diagram, managed to find out that yes, the parts were back ordered. The parts were called "Basket Adj ass'ly" (note the subtle difference) which is apparently why we received the wrong parts. (This make me realize the importance of a good taxonomy, especially when a bad naming scheme results in dispatching a tech 3 times to make a simple repair, but I digress.)

We now have a scheduled appointment for August 29. On the positive side it would appear that the "basket adjusters" have been redesigned. We will see at the end of the month. Fortunately this is a minor problem, and does not affect the operation of the machine. It make me wonder, though, if it would take 2 months for a major repair.

Wash Performance. When the machine was new, we were quite impressed with wash performance, but this seems to have gradually changed to where it has become intermittently bad. Often, I can troubleshoot the problem, such as a blocked spray arm, or an item like a cutting board blocking the opening of the soap dispenser, or not paying attention to the Add Rinse Aid indicator (which makes a huge difference on this machine). But often we are now finding residual guck stuck to items in a way that says filtering is not working properly. We have tried different detergents and quantities, and checked our hot water temperature, but this does not seem to make much of a difference. Out of a rack of dinner plates, bits of baked-on food are appearing with greater frequency.

We will mention this to the tech on the 29th during the inspection, and see if there is nothing wrong with the filter or the grinder.

Stay tuned for an update on the 29th.