December 20, 2014

Refrigerator Storage Solutions – Where to Put Your Groceries

appliances refrigerators counter depth

Groceries . . . you need them.  You’ve made your shopping list,carefully conquered the grocery store, reading labels, finding sale items, using your coupons to get good prices.  You’ve paid for all your goodies, bagged them and driven them halfway across town.  After lugging them in, and perching them precariously on the counter top you think, “Where do I stash all of my loot?” Home-Tech is here to offer you some practical refrigerator storage solutions.

To get the most out of the money you’ve spent and to get the most flavor and nutritional value from your foods, as well as “keep it fresh” storage time, everything needs to go in just the right place in the refrigerator.  With today’s refrigerators having so many drawers and special storage options, sometimes it can get confusing as to how to best store everything.

Let’s Start at the Top

We are talking about the very top (that is, on top) of your refrigerator.  It seems like a natural place to stash items that don’t need to be inside the refrigerator, but the fact is, it’s quite warm up there.  It’s not a good place for loaves of bread or bottles of wine or any food types for that matter.  It would be a good place to let a home-made loaf of bread rise.

One “Hot Ride”refrigerator egg storage

The door compartments are the warmest places inside of the refrigerator.  Even though you may have little egg holders or a butter compartment or a spot for a gallon of milk, it is best not to store any of these items in the door.  These foods are very sensitive to heat and temperature changes.  Did you know that milk can go bad in just two hours if it is sitting out?  Every time someone opens the fridge door, everything riding in it, gets blasted by hot air.  So keep your eggs, butter and milk deep in the heart of the refrigerator.  The door is the perfect spot for condiments which contain lots of preservatives, as well as olive oil, pasteurized fruit juices, soda, bottled water,
and opened bottles of wine.

Where’s the Beef?

When you bring home fresh meats, fish or poultry from the grocery store, the packaging could have dangerous bacteria on it.  Therefore, it’s very important that the meats don’t touch the other groceries and that they stay very cold.  Keep them in the grocery store packaging on the lowest shelf of the refrigerator, so the juices can’t drip down on any other foods.  It’s best to keep them each wrapped in an extra layer of plastic, like a grocery bag.  Did you know that fresh fish can only keep for 1 day in your fridge?  Be sure to freeze it, if you can’t cook it that same day.  Also, if you are unthawing frozen meats, do it on the lowest shelf of the refrigerator.

Where the Groceries GoThe Crispy Catch All

Most refrigerators have at least one crisper drawer.  The purpose of the crisper drawer is to keep the humidity in, thus making it the perfect place for fruits and vegetables.  Have you ever noticed how they “mist” the vegetables at the grocery store?  Once the fresh veggies and fruits are picked they start to ripen and dry out.  Keep your fruit in one drawer and your veggies in another as they ripen differently from each other.  Ripening apples actually give off a gas that can cause your veggies to deteriorate.  Did you know that you don’t have to refrigerate your fruits until they start softening?  Most fruits freshly bought are not quite ripe yet.  They do best ripening on the counter top.  Then transfer them to the crisper when they soften.  Even a banana can be put in the crisper after it is just ripe enough.  Yes, the peel will turn brown, but the inside will stay just right.  Fresh lettuce should stay crisp for a week in the crisper drawer.  Citrus, pineapples, berries, grapes, cherries and watermelon just start going bad after they’ve been picked, so get them in the crisper right away.  Finally, don’t wash your fresh produce before you store it.  It could lead to the growth of mold.

A Quick Get-Away

Ideally you want to open the refrigerator door as little as possible.  When the door is open, the temperature is fluctuating, (and energy/money is pouring out) so it’s best to get in and get out as quickly as possible.  Put the small items that you use frequently together, on the same shelf, at eye level, like yogurts, dip containers, snacks and small items that easily get lost for quick grabs.

The Doggie Bagdogs of Home-Tech

Leftovers can be a good thing (I don’t have to cook tonight), an interesting thing (hmmm, look at that science project) or a bad thing (spoiled food making you sick).  Be sure to store all leftover foods within 2 hours of cooking them in small flat containers with lids.  Today’s refrigerators can cool foods quickly.  So, it’s ok to put piping hot leftovers in the fridge for safe storage.  Read more about food storage safety.

It’s Full of It

It is ok to have the refrigerator full of foods.  But don’t overload it.  Cool air needs to be able to circulate around the food items to keep them at the correct temperature.  Speaking of temperature, your refrigerator should keep your foods at 40°.  You can determine if your temperature is correct by placing a refrigerator thermostat in a glass of water in the refrigerator overnight.  Go ahead and test each shelf to be sure that each area is cool enough.

service agreementYou’ve Lost That Loving Feeling

If your current refrigerator isn’t working correctly, doesn’t look stylish enough or have the latest features that you would like, Home-Tech is here to help you with a repair or to purchase a new one.  Our Appliance Specialists know everything about refrigeration and will be happy to show you the latest models in our showroom.  Can’t stop by?  Enjoy our Online Appliance Store.

How to Clean Your Oven’s Glass Cooktop

oven cooktopWhen you are doing a lot of extra cooking, you are bound to get more spills on your oven’s glass cooktop. Have you ever had the mashed potato water boil over, leaving water and starch stains? Or have the pumpkin pie or sweet potatoes dripped out of their pans, leaving piles of sugar burned on? Has flour, for thickening the gravy, gotten sprinkled on a burner and baked on? And, heaven forbid if a piece of plastic accidentally touches a hot burner. All of these spills and burns can require a lot of elbow grease to remove. But, if you use the right products and techniques recommended by Home-Tech, your clean up chore can be a snap!

Chill Out

Our first bit of advice, is to wait until the the cooktop is cool before you begin cleaning.  Make sure the cooktop “hot surface” light is off.  Then, start with hot, soapy water and a sponge.  Next, wipe the cooktop with clean water to rinse it.  Then, dry it with a towel.  If you do this routinely, every time you cook, there won’t be any leftover spills to burn on the cooktop the next time you heat it up.  Our Home-Tech appliance specialists recommend a final spritz of  Windex to get that sparkle you love.

Cream Cleanser is Your Friend

Our next advice is to help you remove that burned, blackened food that ends up around the edge of the burners. Our appliance specialists recommend that you use the cream cleanser and razor scraper tool that came with your cooktop. These cleaners are non-abrasive and remove the stains without scratching the glass. Use the scraper to remove the stubborn hard bits. The main thing to remember is to never use an abrasive cleaner on your cooktop.

We Have What You Need to Care For Your Appliances

Home-Tech recommends and sells the cream cleansers and scrapers made by Whirlpool. If you need to purchase either product, you can stop by our showroom, which is open to the public Monday – Friday from 9am to 6pm. And, as always, if you are struggling with something too stubborn to come off your cooktop, you can always call Home-Tech and speak to one of our appliance specialists. They are happy to help.

1-800-800-8356

Appliance Care Tips for the Holidays

appliance care tipsOverloaded garbage disposals and overused dishwashers during the holiday season cause breakdowns at crucial times.  Home-Tech offers appliance care tips to reduce malfunctioning equipment that can take away from your magical holidays.

“Now is the time to take some simple steps to help ease this holiday season stress with a little preventative appliance maintenance, not when you have a house full of guests and are turning on the stove to prepare the family feast,” says Steve Marino, president of Home-Tech.  “A little preparation will ensure that you’ll save some money this winter as well as have the peace of mind that comes with knowing everything is in working order and your guests will have a nice, warm meal in a nice, warm home.”

As Southwest Florida’s leader in air-conditioning service and installation, major appliance sales and service, and home Service Agreements, Home-Tech receives more calls for help during the holidays than any other time during the year.  They offer the following tips to ensure homeowners a happier and less stressful holiday:

Garbage Disposals

  • Turn on a medium to strong cold-water flow before you start using the appliance.  Continue running the cold water for approximately 15 seconds after grinding has ceased to flush the drain line and the disposer free of food particles.
  • Do not put liquid fat down the disposal.  Put it in a jar, in the trash instead.
  • Small bones can be placed in the disposal and may actually help keep the blades in your grinding chamber sharp, but NEVER put large bones down your disposal.
  • Occasionally use a disposer cleaner/degreaser to help eliminate grease that may cause unpleasant odors.  Check to make sure that the product is authorized by the disposer manufacturer.
  • Several times a year, especially during the holidays, grind up peels from citrus fruits like lemons or oranges.  This helps keep the grinding area smelling fresh and the natural acidity helps suppress bacterial growth associated with odors.
  • “The most common plumbing breakdown during the holidays is blamed on the garbage disposer.  Consider having your kitchen drain line snaked approximately every two years as preventative maintenance,” Marino said.  “If your food waste disposer is over seven years old, it might be advantageous to consider having it replaced.  Contact your Home-Tech technician to discuss the possibility of installling a new one.   The money it saves in plugged drain bills may be well worth it.”

Ovensappliance care tips

  • Do not wait until the big cooking day to check your oven temperatures and working condition.  Turn your oven on at least two weeks before your big cooking day to rule out any irregularities.
  • Do not use the self-cleaning cycle on or before a major holiday like Thanksgiving.  The oven may overheat and damage a key component such as the fuse or the main control board.  Instead of cleaning your oven before you do your holiday cooking, clean it immediately after.  Ovens can sometimes get stuck or have problems when they are in cleaning mode.  Cleaning your oven after cooking big meals will prevent pre-baking panic and keep your oven cleaner in the long run.
  • If your oven temperature is off, the most likely cause is a bad oven sensor.  Call your Home-Tech appliance specialist to help walk you through the repair.
  • After your oven tells you it is done preheating, let it preheat for another 5 to 7 minutes.  This will allow time for the inside walls to heat.  By preheating the oven for an extra 5 minutes you will help keep the heat inside the oven nice and even.

Refrigerator

  • Check to see that your refrigerator hasn’t shifted in the last few months.  Give your refrigerator some breathing room by keeping the appliance at least two or three inches away from the wall to ensure ultimate performance.
  • Don’t panic if your refrigerator doesn’t feel as cold as normal during the holiday season.  You probably have a fuller load with all the extra meal ingredients and leftovers.  It may take up to 24 hours for the temperature to stabilize from the door being open more frequently.
  • Check and care for the rubber seals surrounding the inside of your fridge by using mild soap twice a year to help prevent cracked and torn seals.  Use your money to test the seals by placing a dollar bill halfway inside the refrigerator door.  If the dollar pulls out easily, then you’re losing money in more than one way, and it may be time to replace the rubber seals.
  • Dusting off the coil under your refrigerator will help keep it running well. Use a soft broom or brush.
  • After the holidays, enjoy a night of leftovers and defrost your fridge regularly.  The frost build-up wastes energy by making the compressor run longer.

Thermostat

  • Install a programmable thermostat and set it to lower the temperature at night and whenever the house is unoccupied.  Lowering your thermostat by 10 degrees at night can reduce your heating bill by 10 to 20 percent.
  • “Make sure your programmable thermostat is installed properly,” says  Marino.  “The thermostat should not be located in an unheated space, a poorly-sealed or seldom-used room, or in direct sunlight near a heat source.  The thermostat should be able to sense the average temperature in your home.  If it is not in the right place, contact one of our heating and air-conditioning professionals about having it moved.”
  • Get a humidifier to add moisture to the air.  The air inside your home can be very dry, especially in Florida.  The air feels warmer, so a humidifier can help you feel comfortable even though your thermostat is set a lower temperature.
  • Many thermostats are battery operated.  If you have air-conditioner problems and turning the breaker switch on and off doesn’t work, try changing the batteries.

dishwasher repairDishwasher

  • Run the garbage disposal before starting the dishwasher.  The dishwasher drains into the same pipe as your sink, so that drain must be clear.
  • Run a bit of hot water in your sink before running the dishwasher.  You will get cleaner dishes if the water starts hot.  You can collect the water you run and use it for watering plants or other purposes.  Run the water until what comes out of the tap feels hot.
  • Set the thermostat on your water heater to 120F (50C).  Water that is cooler than this won’t do a good job cleaning.  Water that is hotter could scald.
  • Load your dishwasher properly, stacking items facing downward and inwards.  Check that all the arms can spin freely before running the dishwasher.
  • Run full loads to conserve water and energy, but don’t pack dishes too tightly.  Dishwashers wash dishes by spraying water over them, so the water needs to be able to get to the dishes to clean them.  Don’t wash containers with labels that could come loose.
  • Don’t pre-rinse too much.  Dishwashers and detergents have both improved.  If you haven’t tried putting dishes in dirty lately, try it again.  You may be pleasantly surprised.

“A holiday readiness plan can relieve this pre-holiday stress by having your appliances serviced and ready to use,” Marino said.  “But if you do run into any problems this holiday season, Home-Tech has extended holiday rescue hours and our award-winning technicians are simply a phone call away, ready to help you get your holidays back on track.”

About Home-Tech

Employee-owned, Home-Tech has been an industry leader and trendsetter in the fields of home-service agreements, air-conditioning and major appliance sales and service for three decades.  Founded in 1981 by Steve Marino, who continues as President and Chairman of the Board, the privately held Home-Tech employs 130 people and provides services in Lee, Charlotte, Collier, Sarasota and Manatee counties in Southwest Florida.  Home-Tech operates from two principal locations.  Its headquarters, tech training facility and appliance showroom are located at 6400 Techster Boulevard in Fort Myers.  A second office and training center is on Lena Road in Bradenton, which services Manatee and Sarasota counties.  For more information about Home-Tech, visit www.Home-Tech.com or call 239-433-3344.

5 Tips to Prepare Florida Homes for Winter

prepare Florida Homes for WinterHome-Tech, Southwest Florida’s leading air-conditioning and major appliance sales and service provider, is urging southwest Florida residents to prepare Florida homes for winter now. Seasonal residents, in particular, should check all of their homes’ systems and appliances before the busy holiday season to be sure everything is in working condition before it’s actually needed.

“Ensuring that the air-conditioning and heating system is up and running properly is the most important factor to consider for the winter-ready home,” said Thom Rohde, service manager at Home-Tech.  “There’s no better time to check the status of your heater than before you need it.”

Maintenance Suggestions

  1. Change your filter to ensure that utilities run efficiently this winter.  A dirty filter makes your heating and cooling system work harder, which uses more energy. Replacing your filter every few months saves energy and also reduces dust around the home.
  2. Reprogram your thermostat by turning it back 10 to 15 degrees for eight hours a day.  This can result in savings of approximately 10 percent on annual heating and cooling bills.  If your thermostat is difficult to program, ask a Home-Tech expert to install a programmable thermostat that makes it easy to set specific temperatures automatically for different times of day.
  3. Keep the warm air flowing freely in the house by reversing the switch on your ceiling fans.  By setting the fans to operate in a clockwise direction, you push warm air, which collects near the ceiling, back down into the room.
  4. Dirty coils and fans reduce the airflow through your heating and cooling system. Schedule a “Clean and Check” from a licensed Home-Tech technician to ensure proper maintenance.  The call is complimentary for Service Agreement customers.
  5. Be sure to turn on all appliances that you will need when family and friends visit for the holidays.  Don’t wait until Thanksgiving morning to make sure your oven is functioning properly.

While preparing for a winter in Florida differs a bit from other parts of the country, the state faces at least a few days below 40 degrees every year.  When residents are well-prepared, unnecessary costs and frustrations are avoided.

 

3 Benefits of New Dishwasher

new dishwasherThere is quite a bit of advice out there as to how you can easily remove baked on food from your pans and/or casserole dishes.  There is also advice about how to prevent this before it happens.  But let’s delve into what we really want to know.  If you put a dirty casserole dish in a dishwasher, will it come out clean?  Well, it depends on the dishwasher.  Home-Tech, being one of the leading appliance sales and service companies in southwest Florida knows all about dishwashers and how different brands perform.  If your dishwasher is not up to the challenge of removing baked on food, it may be time for you to think of getting a new dishwasher.  Let’s take a look at a couple of benefits of upgrading your dishwasher.

New Dishwashers are a Lot Quieter

Gone are the days when you have to wait to run the dishwasher until you go to bed, so you can hear your television show or have a conversation with dinner guests.  Today’s dishwashers are whisper quiet.  Check out the Samsung DMT800RHS in our Online Appliance Store.  It’s one of the quietest models in its class.

You Will Save Water and Energynew dishwasher

Did you know that washing dishes by hand uses an average of 27 gallons of water?  Most energy efficient dishwashers use about 5 gallons of water to wash an entire load of dishes.  The Bosch SHX8ER55UC model saves up to 436 gallons a year vs. hand washing.  The Bosch SHE6AP05UC costs only $32 a year to operate.

Stop Soaking and Scrubbing

Don’t bother pre-rinsing your dishes before loading the dishwasher.  You can end up using more electricity to pre-rinse the dishes than it takes to run the entire load.  Today’s tough dishwasher detergents are designed to go after the food particles that are on the dishes.  Just scrape off the big chunks and bones before loading the dishwasher.  No rinsing is required.

So, are you thinking you might be ready for a new dishwasher?  Stop by our showroom or shop in our Online Store.  And, as always, our Appliance Specialists are ready to answer any questions that you may have.  1-800-800-8356

Don’t Put Candy in Your Icemaker

icemakerOne of our customers recently called for service on his icemaker.  It just wasn’t working right.  It was making strange noises and when it would finally spit out some ice, it was strange looking with brown bits in it.  You guessed it.  When our technician took the icemaker apart to repair it, he discovered what was left of a candy bar, wrapper and all, shredded up in the mechanism of the ice-maker.

So . . . it’s ok to freeze your left-over Halloween and other holiday candy.  Just don’t store it  in the icemaker with the ice cubes.  They’ll get dragged down to a certain death.  Better yet, maybe you should just go ahead and eat them!