Preparing Your Refrigerator for Power Loss

Florida residents typically experience numerous power outages throughout the year. It’s important to protect your refrigerator in the event of power loss by following the below steps:

1) Turn your ice maker off. Depending on your model, this is done by adjusting a metal arm in the ice maker, a switch in the ice maker, or via a control panel. Consult your owner’s manual for instructions specific to your model. If you do not have an owner’s manual, visit the manufacturer’s website to consult the online version.

TIP: Familiarize yourself with how to turn off your ice maker prior to power loss so that you are prepared

2) Remove any ice in the ice bin to prevent melting a refreezing, which can damage your ice maker auger.

3) If you have an in-door dispenser, place an absorbent towel in the dispenser tray to soak up any dripping water.

In order to minimize food loss, open your refrigerator and freezer doors as little and briefly as possible. A sealed refrigerator will keep food safe about 4 hours, while a sealed freezer will keep food safe about 48 hours full and about 24 hours half full. Consult this chart to determine which food to discard after power loss.

The Dish on Detergent

Using the correct detergent can mean the difference between clean dishes and dirty ones. Considerations such as water hardness, dish material, and type of stain effect the type of detergent that should be used. Which detergent is best for your dishwasher? This quick guide will help you find out. 

Detergent Selection. There are three types of dishwasher detergent: liquid/gel, powder, and tabs, each with their own pros and cons. 

Dish Soap

Cost: $$

Best for: Delicate dishware, hard water
The Good: Suitable for hard water, water-based composition means less abrasive on dishes
The Bad: Lacks cleaning power of powder and tabs, may leave soapy film with softer water

Less expensive than tablets and widely preferred over powder, liquid detergent continues to compete as one of the most popular types of dishwasher detergent. But liquid is not the best solution for most dishwashers.  While liquid outperforms powder and tabs when hard water is an issue, it’s water-based composition lacks the stain-fighting power of the competition. However, because liquid is gentler on stains (and dishes), it is a great option for delicate dishware, such as fine barware and china. Some consumers choose to keep liquid on hand for delicate loads, or, alternately, may choose to wash such items by hand with a mild dish soap. 

Do I have Hard Water?

You might have hard water if…

  • You suffer from “ring around the bathtub.”
  • Soaps and shampoos don’t lather easily.
  • There is white residue around your faucets and drains.
  • Washed fabrics feel stiff, not fluffy.
    Still unsure? Buy a home-testing kit at your local hardware store. They generally run $10-$25.

Cost: $
Best for: Powerful cleaning, heavy duty dishes/pots/pans
The Good: Least expensive option, excellent stain-removal power
The Bad: Abrasive cleaning not suitable for more delicate dishware

Like laundry powder detergent, dishwasher powder detergent has fallen out of favor with the American public. One reason may be due to its clumping effect when in contact with water (which is a problem when stored under the kitchen sink). But powder, tough on stains and gentle on wallets, is an excellent option for most dishwashers. While power is too abrasive for delicate dishwasher such as fine china, it works wonders on heavily soiled pots, pans and everyday dishware. 

Cost: $$$
Best for: Soft water, heavy 

The Good: Excellent stain-removal power, convenience 
The Bad: Most expensive option, not suitable for hard water

Dishwasher tablets (or “pacs”) have steadily gained popularity since their introduction in the 2000s.  Premeasured and spill-free, the convenience factor cannot be beat.  Tablets are typically a combination of liquid and powder, combining the advantages of each.  Manufacturers have also started adding all sorts of “power balls” that contain things like rinse aids, brighteners and boosters, eliminating the need to purchase and add these solutions separately.  Convenience and performance come at a cost, though. Tablets are by far the most expensive option versus liquid and powder.  Tablets are not suitable for hard-water homes, and may be too abrasive for delicate dishware.



Choosing the Right Mattress


photo credit:

We spend a third of our lives in bed, yet many people do not appreciate the importance of a quality mattress that meets their unique needs. There are many innovative new options when it comes to mattresses, making the decision of which mattress to purchase more complicated than ever before.  This post covers the most common types of mattresses, and explores some of the benefits and drawbacks of each. 


Most people are familiar with the traditional innerspring mattress, which offers support through metal coils or “springs”.  Higher-end innerspring mattresses have individually wrapped coils, which provide better contouring and more support and improve motion isolation (i.e. not disturbing your partner when you toss and turn). Innerspring mattresses offer a variety of comfort levels, depending on the type of topping, which may include pillowtop, latex, memory foam, or some combination thereof. 

Many consumers concern themselves with the coil count of an innerspring mattress. Keep in mind that the gauge of the coil, the number of turns in the coil, and other factors impact the support of the coil, beyond just the number of coils. For instance, a mattress with a 800-coil count may contain more metal (and provide more support) than a 900-coil count mattress.

Widely available
Affordable options
Many comfort levels available

Poor motion isolation
Poor conformation ability
Lifespan and durability issues

Memory Foam

Specialty foam mattresses, to include memory foam and latex, have steadily gained popularity year after year. Layers of memory foam with varying densities respond to weight, contour to the body, reduce pressure points and absorb movement, making these mattresses ideal for sleep partners who toss and turn. Different densities of foam enable the consumer to select an ideal comfort level, from soft to firm.

However, some sleepers complain about the heat retention associated with memory foam, which makes for a “hot” sleeping experience. An unpleasant chemical-type odor has also been reported in some models. 

Variety of comfort levels
Excellent support
Excellent motion isolation

Heat retention possible
Unpleasant chemical smell in some models
Movement difficult


Latex mattresses are made with rubber, either natural, synthetic or a combination of both. These mattresses provide a firmer, “bouncy” type of support. While these mattresses tend to provide more support and durability than memory foam, they do not relieve pressure or isolate motion as well. Latex also responds/adjusts more quickly to pressure changes and provides a cooler, more “temperature-neutral” sleep experience than memory foam. 

Excellent support
Some models “green-friendly” 

Lack of comfort options available
Limited availability
Does not contour as well as other types of mattresses


Hybrid mattresses combine various materials to offer a customized sleep solution. For instance, an innerspring mattress may have a latex and/or memory foam top, or a latex mattress may have a memory foam top, combining the firm support of the latex mattress with the contouring comfort of a memory foam mattress. 

Selecting the Right Mattress

Selecting the perfect mattress ultimately comes down to a matter of personal preference, to include any medical issues and sleep habits. A restless sleeper may require a memory foam mattress that isolates motion so as to not disturb his or her partner, whereas a sleeper with an injured back may prefer the firm support of a latex mattress.  A trained mattress expert will provide invaluable guidance in the selection of the right mattress.

Additionally, consumers should spend 10-15 minutes lying on any mattress they are considering.  Bringing along one’s own pillow is also helpful to determine how comfortable the sleeper will be on their new mattress. 



“Is Your Refrigerator Running?”


The refrigerator is the heart of the kitchen, and the kitchen is the heart of the home. Read on for tips on maintenance, storage and advice for a safe, efficient, and long-lasting refrigerator.

Follow these maintenance tips to prolong the longevity and efficiency of your refrigerator.

  • Clean the condenser coils. Dust-covered condenser coils prevent the unit from running efficiently. The coils, depending on your model, are located beneath or behind your unit. Every six months, use a broom or duster to remove any accumulated dust.
  • Check your gasket. Each month, do a visual check of your gasket (door seal) to make sure the door is tightly sealing. A loose or damaged gasket can prevent the refrigerator from cooling properly. Every few months, remove grim with a soft sponge and warm, soapy water.
  • Change your water filter. If your unit has an ice maker and/or water dispenser, you will need to replace your water filter every six months to ensure proper water flow and clean water.
  • Clean the drain and drip pan. Every six months, you should remove and clean the drip pan beneath your refrigerator, as well as the drain hole that removes condensation. Consult your owner’s manual for more information.

*Pro Tips*

  • For maximum efficiency, check that your freezer and refrigerator are set to the proper temperature. Your refrigerator should be set between 37 and 40 degrees, and your freezer should be set to 0 degrees.
  • The temperature in the door area of your refrigerator fluctuates more than any other area of your refrigerator. For this reason, avoid storing dairy products, such as milk, in the door.

Going on Vacation?

Refrigerators require “thermal mass” to cool properly. If you are going on vacation or leaving for an extended period of time, store a few jugs of water in your refrigerator to keep your unit running properly.

Power Outage?

If you lose power, keep the doors closed. Your refrigerator will keep food safe for 4 hours, and your freezer will keep food safe 24-48 hours, depending how full it is.




Maintaining a Safe & Efficient Dryer

Dryer on fire

A 2012 report by the U.S. Fire Administration found there are nearly 3,000 dryer-caused house fires each year.  The leading cause? Failure to maintain a clean dryer!

There are some important steps to take to maintain a safe and functional dryer.  Not only will the below tips keep your dryer safe, but they will also reduce drying time (and your electric bill!)

“Is my dryer running properly?”

  • Keep an eye on drying time.  If you notice your laundry is taking longer than usual to dry, or if you need to run multiple cycles to dry a load of laundry, it is likely you have an airflow restriction.
  • Check your exterior vent.  Step outside to where your dryer vents to the exterior of your home.  You should feel air flowing freely during a drying cycle.  If you do not feel air flow, there is an airflow restriction in your dryer.

So, how do you keep your dryer safe and running efficiently?  Read on for tips to maintain a safe, healthy dryer.

  • Clean the lint screen.  The lint screen should be cleaned after each use.
  • Clean the dryer’s interior.  Every six months to a year, vacuum any accumulated lint inside the dryer, especially around and inside the lint filter area.  Be sure to unplug your dryer prior to vacuuming.
  • Clean the dryer ducts.  At least once a year, disconnect the venting behind your dryer and remove any accumulated dust and lint.  Be sure to clean the ductwork all the way through the wall/roof.  There are local professionals who specialize in duct cleaning. If you are unable to clean your ducts, call a professional.
  • Replace ducts.  Replacement ductwork is inexpensive and readily available.  Instead of cleaning, replacing the ductwork is a quick option to improve airflow.
  • Ensure your dryer vents to exterior.  Your dryer should vent to the exterior of your home. If your dryer vents to your attic or an interior space, call a professional to reroute your dryer vent.