Lather, Rinse, Redeem… Keeping Your Carpet Cleaner Cleaning

Carpets get dirty. Downright filthy, in fact.  Every day foot traffic beats even the best carpets into submission.  Add children, food and pets, and our floors are no match for what’s coming their way.  For this reason every household employs certain tools (weapons) to combat the rigors of wear and tear.  We all have vacuum cleaners (of varying usefullness), and most of us have a carpet cleaner stored in the closet / garage / basement / back porch – or wherever it endures exile while it’s not actually in use.  Because most of these machines aren’t very cheap, it behooves us to take some care in their upkeep.  At Nelson Appliance, many of our customers complain that their carpet cleaner only lasted a year or two, and became ineffective after just a few uses.  Little do people realize that these machines would provide longer service in the home if just a few simple practices were followed.

First, dilute your soap solution according to your machine’s instructions.  Using undiluted / concentrated soaps can be detremental to your machine – and your carpet.  Most times you can even further dilute your soap solution and still achieve a thorough cleaning (and save $ on soap).  You must also be diligent about using the proper soap.  Be careful to use only soaps that are formulated for use in carpet cleaning machines.  Using soaps not designed for this purpose will almost certainly shorten the life of your carpet cleaner, if not end it outright.   Customers often think that carpet cleaner manufacturers want them to buy their brand of soaps purely for reasons of profit.  Yes, they like profit as much as any of us, but despite what you may think, not all soaps are created equal.  Some soaps make too much of a lather which can strain critical machine components like pumps and valves.  Some soaps leave behind solids in the narrow tubing and spray nozzles – effectivley blocking them and shutting down the machine.  Using the wrong soap can lead to expensive repairs.

Since avoiding repairs is better than paying for them, it makes sense to practice preventive maintenance.  One of the most helpful ways to maintain your machine is really a matter of common sense.  When you shampoo your hair, it is likely that you follow with a rinse.  The same should happen when you shampoo your carpet.  Most carpet cleaners feature a rinse only setting – use it.  Not only does rinsing remove more soap and soil from your carpet, leaving it cleaner – the rinse process also flushes any remaining soap residue from your machine’s lines and nozzles.  Clean nozzles and lines increase the liklihood of your machine working properly the next time you want to chase down a stain.  Removing more soap from your carpet during rinsing also helps floors stay cleaner longer – soap residue left behind in your carpet’s fibers actually attracts dirt and causes your carpet to appear dirty more quickly.

Once you’ve finished shampooing and rinsing, it helps to put your machine away clean.  Take a few minutes to rinse out the carpet cleaner’s collection tank, remove pet hair and such from the cleaning brushes and empty the solution tank before putting your machine away.  Storing your machine with water / soap still in the solution tank(s) can lead to early failure of tank seals and the formation of soap blockages.

Remember – first shampoo, then rinse thoroughly, and make sure to put the carpet cleaner away clean.  Cleaning your machine redeems it and makes it ready for the next mess.  And don’t forget, If your machine needs a little help – new belts, tanks, seals, etc. – come to Nelson Appliance for original equipment carpet cleaner parts.

For Success, A Blend of Experiment and Common Sense…

Mix it up!  Make it Smooth!  Use your blender like a pro.  And keep all of your fingers!  Pretty much everyone has a blender (or two) and we all know what we’re doing when we pull it out of the cupboard and start throwing ingredients around like mad scientists, right?  Maybe yes, maybe no.  What we should all remember is that we are about to deal with a sharp and powerful tool.  And versatile!  If ever there was a time for throwing caution to the wind – this is not it.  Know your blender.  Is it capable of crushing ice? Not all are designed to.  Does the jar fit firmly onto the base?  If not, check your user manual – there will be notes about the proper fit.  Does the gasket go above or below the blade assembly?  Usually above, but check your manual to be sure.

Caution and common sense are our allies when dealing with blenders and recipes alike.  Know what your blender can and cannot do for you.  For instance, you can chop nuts, make salsas, make salad dressings, cream pie fillings, custards and soups and you can crush ice and make a variety of frozen beverages among other things.  You generally can NOT use your blender to make mashed potatoes, bread dough, cookie dough, shredded cheese or meringue – and it is NOT a juice extractor.  If you want carrot juice, use a juicer.  Lots of people have “epiphanies” regarding the use of their blenders. “I think I want a peanut butter and strawberry waffle shake!”, for example or “I’ve been craving raisins, bacon and banana popsicles – where is the blender?!”  Because of these inspirations, many are driven to experiment.  Expect mixed results – excuse the pun.  In any case, when you are preparing to use the blender, it pays to keep a few simple pointers and rules in mind:

  • Consider using the pulse button to do your blending – this limits the blender’s run time, and provides you with more precise control over the process.
  • Running the blender longer than necessary can shorten the blender’s life – most household blenders are not intended for extended periods of use.
  • When adding your ingredients, liquids first, then add solids.
  • Make sure your solid ingredients are cut into small enough pieces to allow proper blade rotation for the creation of an effective vortex – this will save time and provide smoother results.
  • When adding ingredients, leave room in the jar for expansion of your product – at least 1/3, and in the case of hot ingredients, up to 1/2 of the jar’s volume should be left unfilled.
  • ALWAYS USE THE LID – NEVER run the blender without the lid in place – you will be very sorry if you forget this rule.
  • Even if your blender’s lid fits snugly, always place your hand on top of the lid and hold it in place – while the blender is running is no time for surprises.
  • If you are blending hot ingredients, remove the blender lid’s center fill cap so that steam can escape – DO NOT REMOVE THE LID – only the center cap!
  • When you are finished using the blender always clean it before putting it away (not everybody takes this step, so beware your neighbor’s smoothies).  Proper cleaning means removing the blade, gasket, lid and base ring from the jar and hand-washing all of these parts carefully (remember- you want to keep your fingers).
  • If you put a bit of warm, soapy water into the blender and pulse it on a few times (LID ON), you can speed the cleaning process.
  • NEVER immerse the blender’s motorized base unit when cleaning – just wipe its exterior with a damp washcloth.

Keeping these simple guidelines in mind can save you a lot of unnecessary clean-up, can save you time, can extend the life of your blender and can even help you avoid injury.  At Nelson Appliance Repair, we have fixed thousands of blenders, and provided our customers with parts and advice since 1957.  If you have need for blender parts, check our website at www.NelsonAppliance.com .

Remember, don’t be afraid to experiment – but use your noggin and follow the rules – be safe!

Save Face with A CLEAN Shave!

Trying to get a good shave in the morning shouldn’t be a hassle, But sometimes your tools aren’t up to the job. Time to check your equipment! Electric razors come in a variety of shapes, sizes and brand names – and they all use cutters or “heads”. Over time the cutters or blades can dull and may start to pull whiskers instead of cutting them (you WILL know it when it’s happening). What many customers don’t realize is that a shaver that has stopped performing well may just need a simple cleaning.

A clean shaver almost always shaves like a new shaver. Taking the time to clean the shaver’s heads under running water with a brush at least once a week can dramatically improve performance, reduce skin irritation and can even lengthen the useful life of the blades and rotary combs or foils. Simply opening the shaver’s head and “knocking out” the whiskers doesn’t quite get you there – grab the razor’s cleaning brush or an old toothbrush, remove the heads from the shaver and give them a real cleaning. When you’ve finished, nothing further prepares your shaver for doing its best like using a good shaver spray. Shaver spray is to be applied to the heads while the shaver is running and helps to clean and lubricate so that the razor’s heads run at top speed (the faster your shaver runs, the more efficiently it will shave).  You can use Remington, Norelco, Sterling’s or Eltron shaver spray brands on any electric shaver – they are all formulated to work on all electric shavers!  Click here to find shaver spray at Nelson’s.

Many customers come to us for new shaver blades, and we’re happy to provide them – but many times we’ve been able to save our customers money by providing a cleaning instead. Of course, if you find a hole, tear or dent in your electric shaver’s heads, only new heads will restore proper performance (and save your skin from a nasty bite).  Most shaver instruction manuals recommend new shaver heads every one to two years (depending on brand), but every beard is different, and not everyone shaves every day.  Regardless of the age of your shaver blades, pay attention to their performance – once you notice that cleaning no longer restores the cutting performance you are used to, it is likely time to find new heads.  But always remember – keeping them clean will keep you shaving clean for a long time!

Replacing a Vacuum Cleaner belt? Always check for other damage…

So you’re vacuuming the living room.  You aren’t really thrilled about it, but it seems to be going alright.  You push under the coffee table and Clunk!  The smell of burning rubber lets you know that things have suddenly gone very wrong.  Probably should have checked to see if that pizza slice that hit the floor last night was still under there… What a mess.  Now the vacuum isn’t working right AND a slice of pizza has been senselessly mutilated.  What’s next?  All joking aside, getting the vacuum back into running shape shouldn’t be too tough.  Read on and learn what to watch for when working with your vacuum’s belt….

Vacuum cleaner belts are one of the most frequently changed components on most vacuum cleaners.  Belts stretch, slip, melt, fray, break and occasionally just dismount.  If you find yourself in need of a new belt, it’s important to check things out while you’re working with your machine.

Most belts are easily accessed by removing the brush guard on the bottom of your vacuum, or by removing the hood over the brush roll.  Your vacuum’s instruction manual will guide you in accessing the belt.  Once you’ve reached the belt, stop and look it over.  How is your belt damaged?  The nature of the belt’s failure can tell you something of what’s going on with your vacuum.

A stretched belt that is slipping will have a shiny inner surface, and may also show some cracking.  Slipping can cause melting damage to some brush rolls, so carefully inspect the surface where the belt makes contact, and make sure it is not damaged.  A stretched out belt is not out of the ordinary – and doesn’t necessarily mean that there are any other problems with your vacuum.  Because rubber belts get pretty warm during normal operation, and are stretched to ensure the necessary tension to drive the brush roll, stretching / relaxing of the belt material occurs naturally over time.  Some vacuum models use a fiber reinforced belt, which cannot stretch, and tends to last a lot longer.  These belts usually have small “teeth” around their inner circumference, and mount to a pulley and brush that have corresponding “teeth” to ensure a no-slip grip.  This type of belt requires much less frequent replacement than the more common “flat” rubber belt.

A break in the belt can occur with extreme wear or cracking in dry environments, or can commonly occur when the brush is stopped abruptly by a carpet’s edge, a stray sock, or other objects.  In many cases, if the brush roll is not maintained regularly, animal hair or human hair or other long fibers can collect on the brush and interfere with the belt’s grip on the brush, or create extra fiction at the brush’s bearing ends.  Always check your brush for hair or other fibers and make an effort to maintain a cleared brush.  If you find that your brush does not turn freely or seems stiff to turn, or if there is any melting damage at the bearing ends, it is important to replace the brush with a new one.  A poorly performing brush will eat belts quickly, and may cause other damage to the vacuum cleaner.

When replacing your belt, be sure to use the recommended belt for your vacuum.  Using the right belt ensures proper tension and performance – a belt that is too tight can cause premature wear to your brush (and the belt) – a belt that is too loose will slip / melt / not turn the brush.  Your vacuum cleaner’s instruction manual will tell you what belt to use.  Many vacuum cleaners display belt information right on the model label, or on a label near the brush roll.  Always use the right belt!  If you’re not sure where to get a new one (or a new brush roll), you can always look to us at www.NelsonAppliance.com . We are happy to help you figure which belt is right for your machine, and supply you any parts you need.

Tip – always check the floor (especially under the bed or the coffee table) for any loose objects that might get pulled into the vacuum BEFORE you start vacuuming!

Small appliance repair – Try not to assume the worst!

diagram

Because this is the first post to my blog about repairing small household appliances, I think it makes sense to talk about the types of small machines I’ll be posting about here, and what to watch for when you’re getting started on a project.  I have been performing repairs at Nelson Appliance Repair in Colorado Springs for more than 20 years, and in that time I have fixed many thousands of small appliances.  I have collected a lot of specific information about small appliances and vacuum cleaners that might be helpful to machine owners who want to fix their own appliances.  I will do my best to pass on what will hopefully be useful information and advice to those of you who (like me) prefer to fix things yourself.

From bread makers to espresso machines, electric can openers to pressure cookers, shavers to vacuum cleaners, mixers to lamps, and too many others to mention individually, I have learned that each machine is a collection of mechanical and electrical systems designed to work in balance with each other to complete a task or a series of tasks.  Some of you are probably thinking “that’s obvious”.  You’re right – that is obvious, but keeping that basic idea in mind is also the basis of any successfull approach to analyzing a machine that’s not working up to par or not working at all.

Repairing any small appliance is all about problem-solving.  Understanding how an appliance works, and paying close attention to any symptoms it displays when it isn’t working as it’s supposed to is important to starting the diagnosis of the problem (or problems) .

Always start with the simplest possibilities – don’t over-complicate things before you get started.  Many times I’ve worked with an appliance that the owner had attempted to repair at home, and not meeting with success, or simply getting frustrated, had given up and brought it to my shop for help.  Often I’ve found that simple possibilities had been overlooked, and worst-case assumptions had been made.  Recently, an espresso machine was brought to the shop with the complaint that no water would flow through the brew head.  The customer had already purchased and installed a new pump at home, but there was still no flow through the brew head (nor was there any output at the steam wand when we tested it).  What we found was an obstruction below the removeable water reservoir that was preventing it from seating fully into the machine.  Essentially, the machine had no water supply. A stuck coffee bean was simply keeping the reservoir from descending fully into its mount and delivering water to the machine.  This was not the first time I have seen this specific issue, and probably won’t be the last.  The point, of course, is don’t make assumptions – check the simple things first!  Look for the simplest explanations before you start preparing for major surgery and you may just save yourself a lot of time and expense.

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