Even a top-performing walk-behind mower, lawn tractor, or rider won't make your lawn the belle of the block if your mowing is too random. Here are some tips for smarter use of your mower or riding machine, along with some finishing touches to help your yard look its best before you fire up the grill this Memorial Day weekend.
Q: My electric water heater had a six-year warranty and is now nine years old. A plumber told me to replace it before I have a problem such as a leak because it may be a major one that floods my finished basement. Do you agree? —Michael Lah Portland, CT
At Consumer Reports, we strongly recommend that any walk-behind mower you buy have a premium engine. These engines, with their more efficient overhead-valve designs, run cleaner and quieter, and are easier to maintain. And the engines have better odds of lasting through the years. Of course, even with a good engine you need a mower that matches the size of your lawn and the type of grass you grow.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission today announced the recall of two models of Optimus portable electric space heaters, including one model that Consumer Reports judged a Don't Buy: Safety Risk last year and asked the safety agency to recall.
John Deere lawn tractors and riders have figured prominently in Consumer Reports' mower tests, and this year's Deere lineup—including at least one newly tested winner—shows that the company is responding well to increased competition from the likes of MTD's Cub Cadet and Troy-Bilt brands.
Quartz is the top-performing material in our countertop tests, and it's also where we're seeing some of the most innovative designs. That was apparent at the recent Kitchen and Bath Industry Show in New Orleans, where Silestone Suede, a quartz countertop with a soft, leathery finish was among the more head-turning products. The only catch? The surface may require extra care and attention, which negates the very attribute that makes quartz our top countertop.
With farmer's markets and produce stands about to burst, now is the time to pick up a new blender. Besides mixing up a season's worth of smoothies, you can experiment with whole-food juicing, whereby all or most of the fruits and vegetables are blended to a refreshing, vitamin-packed drink. Too healthy sounding? The following picks from our latest blender tests will also make a killer margarita.
Saving money on major appliances and kitchen countertops can take some sleuthing but who doesn't like discovering a deal? Good timing helps. Watch for major retailers to discount refrigerators, laundry appliances, and more around Memorial Day. Our own digital digging turned up six ways to save.
Our washing test for dishwashers is grueling, with 10 place settings slathered with egg yolks, peanut butter, raspberry jam, and other goo left to harden overnight before we run a cycle. We expect a range of results from utterly spotless dishes to those with bits of food still stuck to them. What we didn't expect was a load of items that stayed dirty because the soap dispenser didn't open.
The past few years have been tough for fans of Oreck vacuums, air purifiers, and other home cleaning products.The iconic brand that introduced lightweight upright vacuums to the market 50 years ago was not as successful with its newer products and last week the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Now it's trying to shore up its finances as Thomas Oreck attempts to buy back the company his father founded and revitalize its product line.
It's not the coziest looking chair, but "6 Shades of Grey," the winning entry in a design competition sponsored by Wilsonart, is one of the most inventive uses of laminate you might ever see. Designed by University of Oregon student Katie Lee, the chair will be on display from May 18-21 at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York City.
Painting the outside of your house is a big job and one you probably don't want to undertake yourself. But a new coat of paint can add value to your home so it's worth the investment. And avoiding some tempting shortcuts can ensure you a paint job that lasts 10 years or longer. Here's some tips from the paint pros at Consumer Reports.
There's so much more to grilling than burgers, steaks and hot dogs. Fish, veggies, whole roasts, and pizza are also great on the barbecue. But you'll need more than the old burger flipper to whip up those dishes. Special gadgets such as grilling baskets, woks, cooking racks and pizza stones will give you the tastiest and neatest results. But which ones are really worth it? To find out, Consumer Reports' experts tried eight new grilling gizmos and found some big differences in those that are designed to do the same job.
When you choose a product that's easier on the environment there's often a trade-off, such as a higher price or lower performance. Take washers, for example. Front-loaders use less water and extract more of it than top-loaders, but typically take longer. That's why the Maytag Maxima and Whirlpool Duet front-loaders Consumer Reports just tested turned our heads. They did an excellent job in 45 minutes.
Our testers put 100s of products through their paces at our National Testing and Research Center. Learn more about how we test for: