Thursday, October 15, 2015

Repair or Replace? What Should You Do?

Household appliances get so much daily use, sooner or later they’re bound to give out. But when do you know when it’s time to replace those appliances, and when should you opt for a good repair service to come and fix it instead? In this informative article from Douglas Trattner at, you can learn when it is more beneficial to try to get your non-working appliance repaired, and when it’s time to call it a day and go shopping for a replacement. Here is a brief overview of the good advice in the article- hopefully it can help you decide whether to repair or replace.

It’s turned on, right? Determining whether an appliance is really broken, as opposed to not turning on due to a faulty circuit breaker, clogged filter or, perhaps most obviously, not being plugged in. Make sure you check to see that your appliance is properly hooked up and switched on before you run out and buy a new one.

Is it still under warranty? If your appliance is still covered even in part by a manufacturer’s warranty, you’ll want to call and see if they can offer assistance with repair (or maybe even see if they will send you a replacement) before running to the store.

Is it at the end of its life? Nothing lasts forever, and that even includes the best-made appliances. If your washer suddenly stops working after 12 years of use, take comfort in knowing that it actually surpassed its typical 10-year lifespan, and make plans to purchase a new model.

Follow the 50% rule- This rule basically states that if an appliance is more than 50% through its lifespan (see handy chart in the body of the Homelogic article to determine the lifespans of various appliances), and if the cost of repair is more than 50% of the cost of buying new, then you should replace the appliance rather than try to get it repaired. For example, if your refrigerator suddenly goes out at the age of 5 (less than half of its 13-year average lifespan), and the repairman wants to charge you $400 for the part it needs, you should go ahead and get that repair done because it is less than 50% of the typical cost for a new refrigerator.

DIY- Don’t be afraid to have a go at repairing appliances yourself…but do know your limits. My father-in-law was a great tinkerer, and could fix just about anything he encountered with the aid of his handy toolbox, decades of experience as a mechanical engineer and tons of patience. Me-not so much, but even though I (probably wisely) shy away from any repairs that involve opening up an appliance and messing around with its insides, I can still pull out the manual and troubleshoot minor issues, such as oven calibration, frost accumulation in a freezer or a lopsided dryer due to a missing foot. As long as you are careful and don’t bite off more than you can chew, repairing appliances on your own could not only potentially save money in repairs or replacements, but you will feel like a super-genius!
Beware hidden replacement costs- Uh-oh! Your shiny new stainless steel refrigerator won’t fit in the tiny space previously occupied by your old fridge. Oh no! Your fancy new range has so many cool new features that you need to add extra electrical wiring to make it work! Be sure to research the total cost of upgrading your appliances, and try to choose replacements that are similar to the old ones in size and ability unless you wish to make all the necessary modifications for something new.

Which appliance do you think you’ll have to replace next? Tell your story in the comments section.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Get your Granite Gleaming!

Congratulations! You’ve just upgraded your kitchen, and now you have gorgeous granite countertops. But what do you use to clean them? You may be tempted to use household disinfectant wipes and spray cleaners as you would with other materials of countertop, but the harsh chemicals can dull the granite over time. Here are three recommended cleaners for granite surfaces that will keep your kitchen counter looking as beautiful as the first day it was installed.

Method Daily Granite Cleaner- $5.99, Target
This non-toxic, naturally derived, biodegradable cleaning formula is 100% safe for use around children and pets, yet is surprisingly effective in cutting grease and grime to get your countertops clean. The Apple Orchard fragrance is mild and pleasant, not overpowering like bleach cleansers. Best of all, it has a 4.5 star rating on Amazon, with many favorable consumer reviews swearing by its efficiency.

Formula 409 Natural Stone & Steel Cleaner- $6.99, retail stores
Clorox brand Formula 409 is a household brand name when it comes to cleaning products, and the company’s new cleaner for granite and other natural stone finishes lives up to its reputation. The best part about Formula 409 Natural Stone & Steel Cleaner is right there in its name- in addition to cleaning your granite countertops, you can use the cleaner for your stainless steel appliances, as well as glass, wood, Formica, Fiberglass, and plastic. This means virtually everything in your kitchen can be cleaned with one product, which saves both time and money!

Granite Gold Clean & Shine- $7.99, Bed Bath and Beyond
In addition to cleaning countertops effectively, Granite Gold also works as a polish to keep your countertops shiny and new looking. The manufacturers also claim that Granite Gold reinforces the protective seal on stone surfaces, making it easier to clean up future spills. It is a little more pricey than the previous two options, but it maintains a dedicated following of happy customers and has received rave reviews on Amazon.

Of course, if you would rather save your money and go the do-it-yourself route, many owners of granite countertops insist that all you really need to do is wipe them down with warm, soapy water (use a mild dish soap), dry with a microfiber cloth to avoid streaking and shine with a spray-bottle mixture of equal parts water and isopropyl alcohol. The choice is yours, but whatever you do, take care of your granite!