Improvements seem to have things worse

December 11, 2013 

Question: In March 2011, I had my kitchen gutted and redone with new floor, cabinets, “green” furnace and water system, counters — the works. I installed a new Samsung French-door refrigerator, an over-the-stove microwave, and, for the first time, a dishwasher. The washer and dryer are in a mudroom near the kitchen.

In June, the motherboard of the two-year-old dishwasher expired. It would have cost $500 to fix, so I bought a new one. In July, the microwave stopped working (loud intermittent buzz, no power). Then the electrical panel of the fridge stopped working, now blinks. The fridge still keeps things cold, but the ice maker has completely fallen apart and doesn’t work.

Do I have gremlins? To whom do I turn for help? I have a circuit-breaker box in the mudroom. Do I need a surge protector? We do have the occasional brownout/blackout when there’s lightning.

Answer: I assume that when you redid the kitchen, the electrical wiring was upgraded for the new appliances. Whether you did or not, I recommend hiring an electrician to see what needs to be done now.

I recently read that 80 percent of all power surges come from within a building, and surge protectors are recommended at point of use. I’m not an electrician, but I do know that if you have an older house and you don’t upgrade the electrical service and wiring to accommodate modern appliances, trouble and repairs will likely follow.


Just about everyone does it, in the house, shop, or car. I’m talking about vacuuming, which is a way of introducing results of an Electrolux survey on the subject of busting dust.

Dust pick-up is the most important vacuum factor in the United States and worldwide. More than 31 percent of Americans surveyed named it as their primary consideration when buying a vacuum.

Noise is the most irritating thing about vacuuming, but Americans are less bothered than most (26 percent compared with 36 percent globally). Globally, more men (41 percent) than women (32 percent) say they think noise is the most irritating factor when vacuuming.

Questions? Email Alan J. Heavens at aheavens or write him at The Inquirer, P.O. Box 8263, Philadelphia, Pa. 19101. Volume prohibits individual replies.

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