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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!

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Small appliance repair – Try not to assume the worst!

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.