How to prevent your pipes from freezing

How to prevent your pipes from freezing

Plumbers have been busy during the recent cold snap because when the temperature plummets, the risk of pipes freezing goes up. In fact, frozen pipes are one of the most common causes of property damage during frigid weather and can cause more than $ 5,000 in water damage, according to the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety. The pipes that freeze most frequently are those in such unheated interior spaces as basements, attics, and garages. But pipes that run through … (read more)

What the purchase of Nest by Google means to you

What the purchase of Nest by Google means to you

Google is buying Nest Labs, a company that makes Internet-connected products for the home—combination smoke/carbon monoxide alarms and thermostats that take note of your schedule and preferences and fine-tune your home’s climate accordingly. So Google gets a company that makes smart devices for the home; Nest receives a reported $ 3.2 billion in cash. But what does it mean for consumers?
 
“Nest’s privacy policy, so far, has been pretty good, but it’s something that definitely should be … (read more)

Are you allergic to house dust?

Are you allergic to house dust?

Have you sealed your home tight against cold winter drafts? That can lead to stale, allergen-laden indoor air. If you’re coughing, sneezing or wheezing, your body’s immune system might be overreacting to rising levels of house dust and the allergy-causing particles they harbor. Vacuuming at least weekly and taking other steps can help reduce your exposure, says Thomas A. E. Platts-Mills, M.D., Ph.D., professor of medicine at the University of Virginia and indoor-allergy expert. (See our new vacuum Ratings to find a … (read more)

What’s making me so itchy?

What’s making me so itchy?

Q. My skin feels itchy all over, not just in one or two places. What could that mean?

A. The likeliest culprit is either dry skin (especially if the weather is cold or very dry) or allergies. In those cases, steps that can help include using mild soap, bathing or showering in warm (not hot) water, and using plenty of over-the-counter moisturizing lotion. Avoiding harsh chemicals and scratchy fabric can also help, as can using a (read more)

5 gross things Consumer Reports buys for testing

5 gross things Consumer Reports buys for testing

Dust, pet hair, soap scum and other dirt and debris that homeowners struggle to get rid of are coveted items in the labs at Consumer Reports. In fact, we pay for the yucky stuff. What better way to determine if the vacuums, air purifiers, washing machines and other products we test are up to the job? Here are five gross things we buy that no one else wants and how we use them in our tests.

Household dust for air purifier tests

(read more)

Calphalon XL 9-speed blender deemed safe by Consumer Reports

Calphalon XL 9-speed blender deemed safe by Consumer Reports

During initial testing of the Calphalon XL 9-speed blender last summer, we discovered a defective blade assembly that could pose a serious safety risk to consumers. The $ 130 blender landed on our Don’t Buy: Safety Problem list, and was later recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. As part of the recall, Calphalon promised a free repair kit to all owners of the defective product. We’ve since received our repair kit and retested the blender, subjecting … (read more)

5 easy appliance fixes you can do yourself

5 easy appliance fixes you can do yourself

In Consumer Reports recent report “Repair or replace,” we advise consumers not to spend more than 50 percent of the cost of a new item to repair the old one. But not every problem needs a repair technician. Here are five easy fixes you can do yourself for as little as $ 2.

Refrigerators. If it seems to run constantly, dirt and debris might be coating the condenser coil. (See the manual for the location.)
Cost: Up to $ … (read more)

5 low-cost vacuum repairs you can do yourself

5 low-cost vacuum repairs you can do yourself

When is a broken vacuum cleaner too old to repair and when is it worth saving? According to Consumer Reports’ latest surveys, upright vacuum cleaners usually aren’t worth fixing after five years and canisters after seven years. But some repairs make sense even on an older vacuum, provided the repair is no more than half of the cost of a comparable new model. Here are five low-cost repairs you can do yourself.
 
Problem: Vacuum is especially hard to push … (read more)