Thursday, December 29, 2011

Consumer Question - Refrigerator

Q: Hi, Joe,

I have an Amana BX22QW bottom mount refrigerator that is 20 years old. It has recently developed some new symptoms as follows:
Cycles more frequently and upon restart sometimes the cooling fan starts but not the compressor. It sounds as though a thermal overload switch clicks accompanied by a blink of kitchen lights. Sometimes several cycles of clicks occur. Does this sound like a repairable problem? Is there a bad starting component going bad, or a bad electrical condenser, etc.? When it runs it sounds normal, no unusual noise, and it maintains freezer and refrigerator temperature very well. Your comments are appreciated.

Thank you,

A: Hi James,

Thanks for your note. From your information given me I am going to suggest you purchase a new relay and overload that connects on to the compressor. Not hard for a consumer to do. If you need a service technician to do it please contact me again and I will give you a number to the best refrigeration man around.

Joe Gagnon

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Consumer Question - Kitchenaid Range

Q: Hello, Joe,

We’re working on a Kitchenaid range (kgrt507gwh0). We have moved and are converting from Natural Gas to Propane. This range has sealed burners. When attempting to access the orifice spud, the screw holding the ventri tube would not turn and the head broke off, leaving the threaded portion of the screw in place with no way to get hold of it. We haven't attempted to use the burner because we are concerned about holding the tube in place. Is there anything that we can do to fix this before having to replace the entire burner unit?
David and Jill

A: Hi David & Jill,

Thanks for the note.
This is tough without looking at it. Can you drill a tiny hole in what's left and try to reverse the drill motor to get it out?

Joe Gagnon

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Consumer Question

By Joe Gagnon - Originally Printed in The Observer Eccentric Papers

Donna writes---Would you by any chance know anything about this appliance? It’s basically a pop dispenser. Ours worked satisfactorily (I wouldn’t say great, quite a bit of jamming) for about 16 months. Of course, it had a one-year warranty. Then one day I came home from work to a nasty smell coming from the basement. It turned out to be the SkyBox. When I opened its door, it smelled like something was burning/melting inside. So I unplugged it.

After waiting a year for my husband to have someone look at it, I called Maytag today. They informed me they no longer manufacture them, service them, have replacement parts for them, nor can they give me any further information about them. When I insisted, they gave me Whirlpools address. This doesn’t seem quite right for a 2-½ year old, $600 appliance. Any ideas why they quit manufacturing them, or know of any company who might be able to still service it? Thank you in advance for your help.

Reply---I was still in the business when this product was introduced and I thought it was a great addition to the refrigeration line and would really enhance a person’s decorated bar area. Unfortunately there must not have been enough orders for them or Maytag would have continued selling them. There is no law that says a manufacturer must supply parts or service for any set time after a product is made which goes to show you how they can manage to take advantage of any customer who unknowingly purchases their products. This goes on all the time and seems to be getting worse, even though products can cost so much more then ever. I would suggest you email me and I will give you the name of a company that can have someone take a look at it with no promises. I know they will at least try. Thank you for writing me.

I know that all readers will agree with me when I tell you that I no longer trust what is going on in the appliance world. The above e-mail just goes to show how low customer satisfaction stands in the business plan of major appliance companies. It’s an outright shame and most sales and service companies share this view across America. They design a new product such as a front load washer and I feel that thousands of shoppers now own these washers and are really angry about the mold and odor problems. None of my past columns have created as many phone calls and e-mails as the story about mold and odor in washers. There appears to be no cure except maybe the product sold on line by I announced this cleaning product a few weeks ago but I have only heard from a few homeowners that it does the job. I need to hear from more of you so if you have a smelly front load washer, please go to the web site, order their product and try it.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Repainting Patio Furniture

Spring is right around the corner and that means you'll be spending more time outside enjoying the longer days and warm evenings. Now is the perfect time to spruce up your outdoor living space by giving your patio furniture a fresh coat of paint.

Patio or garden furniture usually consists of a table with four to six chairs, an umbrella and a chaise lounge. These pieces can represent a significant investment in the outdoor look of your home. As patio furniture sits outside exposed to the elements, the painted finish may begin to peel, crack, fade or chip away. When you repaint your patio furniture, you will ensure these furniture items enhance your garden for years to come.

Before you begin your repainting project, cover the area where you will be working with a drop cloth or newspapers to prevent damage from spills. Wear a painter’s mask and safety goggles to prevent exposure to your lungs or eyes during the following steps.
  • Mix 1 tbsp. of dish detergent in a bucket of warm water. Use a rag to wipe the surfaces of your patio furniture, allowing the surface to dry before moving on to the next step.
  • Use a small magnet to test the metal for rust. If the magnet will not stick to the metal, there is likely quite a bit of rust damage. You may still repaint this area, but you must be careful not to dent or crush it while cleaning and repainting the rest of the furniture.If you find areas that can easily be repaired and still carry a magnetic charge, scrub the area lightly with a rust remover chemical or sandpaper before moving on to the next step.
  • Use steel wool to scrub the remaining paint off the metal of the furniture. Give special attention to creases and joints in the metal.
  • Apply the primer. Pick a primer with rust inhibitor to help prevent additional rust damage. Follow the directions on the spray can to apply the primer correctly. Allow the primer coat to dry for several hours before moving on to the next step.
  • Apply the final exterior paint coat to your furniture. Check your furniture for runs by using the sponge brush to brush away drips before they dry into permanent blemishes. Allow the paint to dry for 24 hours.
  • If you choose, you may paint the furniture with a clear gloss coat. This step is optional.

Additional Tips
  • Make sure you check your spray paint cans for a recycling symbol, and recycle where possible.
  • Follow proper city or rural ordinances for disposing of other used painting supplies.
  • Wear a painter's mask while applying chemicals or paint to avoid breathing in toxic fumes. Use safety goggles while applying chemicals, sanding or applying paint. Always follow directions on the can of spray paint. Read and understand them before attempting to paint your furniture.
Article originally posted on

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Things to consider when purchasing a new clothes dryer

If you’re in the market for a new clothes dryer, consider these tips:
  • Check for the highest energy factor number when comparing different models. Remember that there are two costs to an appliance - the initial purchase price, and the cost of operating that appliance over the many years you own it.
  • Know whether your laundry room has gas or electricity hookups. If you need to add a gas line and a vent to operate a gas dryer, you may spend more on adding the hookup than you'll save with the cheaper operating cost of gas.
  • Look for a clothes dryer with a moisture sensor that automatically shuts off the machine when your clothes are dry. Not only does this save energy; it reduces wear and tear on clothes caused by over-drying.
The best dryers have moisture sensors in the drum for sensing dryness, while most only estimate dryness by sensing the temperature of the exhaust air. Compared with timed drying, you can save about 10 percent with a temperature sensing control, and 15 percent with a moisture sensing control.
  • Look for a dryer with a cycle that includes a cool-down period, sometimes known as a "perma-press" cycle. In the last few minutes of the cycle, cool air, rather than heated air, is blown through the tumbling clothes to complete the drying process.
Here are ways to cut the amount of energy and money you spend drying clothes:
  • Locate your dryer in a heated space. Putting it in a cold or damp basement or an unheated garage will make the dryer work harder and less efficiently.
  • Make sure your dryer is vented properly. If you vent the exhaust outside, use the straightest and shortest metal duct available. Flexible vinyl duct isn't recommended because it restricts the airflow, can be crushed, and may not withstand high temperatures from the dryer.
  • Check the outside dryer exhaust vent periodically. If it doesn't close tightly, replace it with one that does to keep the outside air from leaking in. This will reduce heating and cooling bills.
  • Clean the lint filter in the dryer after every load to improve air circulation. Regularly clean the lint from vent hoods.
  • Dry only full loads, as small loads are less economical; but do not overload the dryer.
  • When drying, separate your clothes and dry similar types of clothes together. Lightweight synthetics, for example, dry much more quickly than bath towels and natural fiber clothes.
  • Dry two or more loads in a row, taking advantage of the dryer's retained heat.
  • Use the cool-down cycle (perma-press cycle) to allow the clothes to finish drying with the residual heat in the dryer.
Article originally posted on

Friday, September 23, 2011

Dryer Fires Still a Hot Topic!

I did an interview on The Joe Madison Show last week which reaches a worldwide audience on Sirius Satellite radio. The subject matter was the recent death of a 10 year old boy caused by a clothes dryer catching fire in his home. This needless tragedy is repeated more than 20 times a year in this country directly attributed to the product called, “the clothes dryer.” Let me ask a few questions of all readers of this column.

Should the person responsible for a home take the necessary precautions with clothes dryer? Should that person take it apart or have a technician take it apart to clean the inside? Shouldn’t someone make sure the vent line is properly installed and cleaned at least once on a yearly basis? That little boy died because his guardians didn’t know of these questions or simply was not cognizant of how dangerous a clothes dryer really is.

There are 42 dryer fires every day in this country and those are only the ones reported to a fire department. I believe the number may be as high as 3 times this amount which is fortunate for those folks who were there to extinguish the fire. Some of these fires could have been caused by a malfunction of the dryer itself but I think that number is very small. I know for a fact that the majority of dryer fires occur because a vent line is packed with lint, the inner cabinet of the dryer is filled with lint in every crevice possible or the vent line is made of the wrong material or possibly travels too long a distance.

I received several emails from my recent radio interview and most of those were from people who didn’t have a clue how serious problem dryer fires have become.

Some 20 years ago when I first began investigating dryer fires and Frank Felts the Fire Chief of Garden City reported there were 12 dryer fires in the city that year, I could well imagine how big this problem was across the country. When I helped draft and write the law for the State of Michigan pertaining to the outlaw of plastic (vinyl) or tinfoil vent line, it became a national story. I am sure the efforts have saved lives but yet that effort was not enough. Several times a year I hear or am involved in litigation caused by tragedy of some sort dealing with dryer fires. I sometimes feel so useless in my endeavors to prevent any of the current 42 dryer fires that occur each day. I need help from every person possible. I wish the manufacturers would do more and they can. I need people to make this subject important in their daily conversation at the water cooler or a lesson at the dinner table. If you had a killer in yours or your children’s laundry room, wouldn’t you take the necessary steps? The following are facts for discussion.

Plastic, vinyl vent line is against the law. Solid metal or flexible metal is the proper vent line to use. Tin foil is not considered metal according to State codes. Vent line should be no longer than 16 feet with the use of only 2 elbows. More than 2 elbows equate to a vent line that is too long and only 4 inch vent line is permissible. Clean the vent lines completely a least once a year and scrub the lint filter with water and brush every few weeks. Once every two years take the dryer apart and vacuum all excess lint built up throughout the interior of the cabinet. Remember, it’s the lint that first ignites to give you a fire. When the dryer begins to make noises it should not, consider that a warning sign and a fire alert. Take the necessary steps to have it repaired. There should be smoke detector installed above clothes dryer. Never leave the house of go to bed with a clothes dryer in operation. Please understand my passion on this subject and help me save lives.

Stay tuned.  

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Homelite recalls about 41,200 pressure washer attachments due to laceration hazard

Homelite today announced the recall of about 41,200 pressure washer surface cleaner attachments due to a laceration hazard. The recalled products were sold exclusively at Home Depot between February 2010 and June 2011.

The recall includes 40,000 attachments sold in the U.S. and 1,200 sold in Canada, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission and Health Canada.

Homelite said the surface cleaner attachment’s nozzle and spray bar can break and detach, striking and/or breaking the unit’s plastic housing. The broken parts can strike consumers, causing a laceration hazard.

The company said it has received one laceration injury report and three reports of minor property damage.
The recall includes the following products:
  • Orange and red drum-shaped surface cleaner attachments sold with Homelite pressure washer models HL80833 and HL80835.
  • Orange and red drum-shaped surface cleaner attachments sold separately as Powercare model AP31022A and EZ Clean model AEZ231022.

Consumers should contact Homelite for a free replacement by calling toll-free at (800)-967-9624 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET or visiting the firm’s site.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Cleaning Your Microwave

Splatters of food in your microwaving look bad, smell bad, and decrease the efficiency of your microwave. Fortunately, cleaning your microwave is easy if you follow these few steps periodically:
Using Vinegar:
Fill a microwave-safe glass or bowl half-full of water and add 1 T. white vinegar.
Place inside the microwave.
Turn on for 5 minutes – the idea here is to steam up the walls of the microwave and loosen the dried-on gunk.
When done, remove the glass container and wipe down the inside of the microwave with a clean paper towel or dishcloth.
The loosened gunk should come off easily now, and without chemical cleaners inside the microwave.
Take out the glass tray or turntable and wash it like a dish.
Using a Lemon:
Cut a lemon in half and place both halves cut-side down on a microwaveable plate with 1 T. of water.
Microwave for about 1 minute or until the lemon is hot and the inside of the microwave is steamy.
Wipe the inside of the microwave with paper towel and wash the plate as above.
(Now that the lemon is hot and squishy, it makes a great natural cleanser for a smelly garbage disposal...cut the halves into smaller pieces and flush through disposal with plenty of water.)
Additional tips:
Leave the microwave open for a few minutes after cleaning, to let it dry and air out a bit inside.
To keep your microwave clean, cover food loosely when heating it.
Use a soft scrub-brush that can be used for washing dishes to get off greasy food build-up you may find.
Clean up messes inside your microwave right away.
To keep your microwave clean, follow these instructions once/twice per month.

This article was originally posted on