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Friday, January 21, 2011

Life expectancy of appliances

Here is a great article from unplgged.com about the life expectancy of new appliances. I remember that Consumer Reports used to produce a similar list.

While appliances such as refrigerators have become much more energy efficient, they often do so at the expense of wear items like compressors (much much smaller).

In our last house we had a Maytag dishwasher that was 12 years old and still going strong, it stayed with the house. We also gave a way a Hotpoint range and refrigerator that was 20 years old (still going strong) and a Maytag washer that was 14 years old and still good.

http://www.unplggd.com/unplggd/the-life-expectancy-of-your-home-tech-129421

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Cleaning Stainless Steel Appliances

A lot of people seem to be searching for the best way to clean their stainless steel appliances. One thing I learned about having three different Samsung stainless steel appliances (the DMR77LHS dishwasher, the FTQ386LHS range and the RF265ABRS French Door Refrigerator) is that not all stainless steel cladding is created equally. For example, the refrigerator is by far the easiest to clean, followed by the range, and then the dishwasher which is a royal pain to keep polished.

I always recommend starting with a basic mineral oil based polish like the 3M Stainless Steel Cleaner and Polish.
This is a very gentle cleaner that you spray on, wipe off, then polish. I only use this product on the refrigerator and as long as there are no spots or "stains" it works well enough on the range. However the range can accumulate grime that oxidizes the finish, which cannot be cleaned by the 3M product and requires another strategy. For the tougher jobs I will use Cameo cleaner, which is also terrific for stainless steel pots and pans, and for stainless steel finish toasters that tend to discolor over time. For the really tough jobs I will use  Scotchbrite Stainless pads . However I recommend the Scotchbrite product with caution: This product is only good for thick stainless for cooking appliances like stoves and barbeques as it tends to scratch thinner cladding (like what you find on toasters).

My Samsung dishwasher represents the biggest cleaning/polishing dilemma. No matter what product I used (I tried 'em all) I could not get a streak or water stain free finish. There is something weird about the finishing panel, it is like a highly polished film that is bonded to a flexible polymer panel, and it is extremely difficult to maintain. However I did find the solution that worked: Peracetic acid!

Now you are thinking I'm using some sort of weird or potentially dangerous chemical and I must be off my chump. But for those who don't know, peracetic acid is just acetic acid (vinegar) treated with hydrogen peroxyde (whatever you do, DON'T TRY MIX THESE TWO LIQUIDS AT HOME!!!). Like Hydrogen Peroxide, this is a highly unstable compound that has an extra oxygen molecule, which very quickly detaches and binds to organic compounds, which makes it a very effective sanitizer. (Hydrogen Peroxide is just a water molecule with an extra oxygen attached, e.g. H2O2). It smells like vinegar, and a weak solution will absolutely clean and deoxidize any highly polished metal surface.

Once my diswasher was cleaned, I found out that simply wiping with a damp rag and then polishing with paper towel was all that was needed to keep things spot free. I can usually go several months between "deep" cleaning.

A few caveats: since it is an acid, you don't want to use it too frequently as it will be gently eating away at any metal surface.  You also want a solution of 5% (for sanitizing) or 3% (for cleaning), which means that you will be diluting from concentrate. (There are some great instructions on Ehow for diluting the concentrate.) Also keep in mind that the solution loses its activity and reverts back to plain old vinegar very quickly when exposed to air. Just mix enough to do your cleaning/sanitizing chores (I use it to sanitize my countertops and cutting boards, then throw away the rest when I'm done).

Where do you get peracetic acid you ask? If you have access to a craft beer and wine store, you can usually buy it there. Also most pharmacies should be able to order it for you.