How to Diagnose Sump Pump Problems

Home ownership can be trying. If you have basement flooding problems, you might install a sump pump. Then you might develop sump pump problems. There are a number of things that can go wrong to make your sump pump ineffective at preventing floods. The list below will help you diagnose your sump pump’s problem(s).

How to Understand Different Types of Outlets

An electrical outlet is the receptacle for the plug of an electrical device or appliance [source: Merriam-Webster]. Outlets can come with one, two, or three receptacles where one, two, or three appliances can be plugged in. There are various types of outlets available, so it’s important to know the differences between them before you attempt to rewire your house.

Fortunately, we will explain the different types of outlets you’ll encounter in your home’s electrical system. We’ll also discuss tamper resistant outlets and smart outlets, while making you aware of electrical hazards you can avoid.

Standard receptacles are the regular outlets that are found throughout the rooms in your house. You can plug nearly all small household appliances, such as TVs, radios and computers into a standard outlet. These outlets supply 120 volts of electricity and will usually contain holes to accommodate two- or three-pin plugs.

GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupt) receptacles are standard in kitchens and bathrooms, or any place where the area can get wet. They are recognizable because they have two narrow slots and a semi-circular hole. GFCI outlets have a built in circuit breaker, so if water does get into the outlet, the outlet will be shut down without shorting the rest of the house.

GFCI outlets have a black button and a red button. The black button can be used to test the outlet and the red one is used to reset the outlet should it go down.

Dryer receptacles are outlets that are specifically designed for dryers. This is because dryer outlets have pins for both 120 volts and 240 volts. These outlets have either three pronged outlets or four pronged outlets.

If the dryer requires 120 volts its plug will have three pins and if it requires 240 volts the plug will have four pins. Building codes now require that all new homes be built with four-hole dryer receptacles.

Electric cooking ranges require more electricity than other appliances. These receptacles are designed to provide enough electricity for electric range cookers, and should always be attached to its own a circuit breaker [source: Do It Yourself].

Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) outlets are advanced electrical devices designed to enhance safety by detecting and protecting against arc faults, a type of electrical discharge that can occur in damaged or deteriorating wires and connections.

Unlike standard circuit breakers that protect against short circuits and overloads, AFCI outlets are specifically designed to sense a wide range of arcing electrical faults, which are potential fire hazards.

When AFCI outlets detect an arc fault, it immediately interrupts the power, thus preventing the arc from causing a fire. These outlets are particularly important in older homes where wiring insulation might be compromised.

These are electrical outlets that include one or more USB ports in addition to the standard AC power sockets. Their primary function is to provide a convenient way to charge devices that use USB charging, like smartphones, tablets, and certain cameras, without needing a separate adapter.

Smart outlets represent a significant advancement in home automation technology, integrating the convenience of modern living with the efficiency of energy management. These devices plug into traditional wall outlets, transforming them into smart, controllable points via a smartphone app or voice command through smart home assistants.

With features like remote control, scheduling, and energy monitoring, smart outlets allow users to manage their home appliances and electronics more effectively. For instance, you can set a schedule for lights to turn on or off at specific times, or remotely turn off an appliance you accidentally left on.

Monitoring power usage is another key feature. It enables users to track power consumption, identify energy-hungry devices, and potentially reduce electricity bills. Additionally, smart outlets enhance home safety by offering a way to turn off devices that might be hazardous if left on unattended.

A tamper resistant receptacle is an innovative and crucial safety advancement in electrical fittings, designed specifically to prevent electric shock and injuries, especially in households with small children. These outlets are engineered with spring-loaded shutters that close off the contact points or slots of the outlet. The shutters only open when equal pressure is applied simultaneously to both shutters, as occurs when plugging in a standard plug.

This design effectively deters common household items like keys, paperclips, or curious little fingers from being inserted into one slot, significantly reducing the risk of electric shock. Beyond their safety benefits, tamper-resistant outlets are also simple to install, requiring no additional wiring or complex procedures, making them a straightforward upgrade from standard outlets.

Dealing with electrical outlets can pose several hazards if not approached with caution and proper knowledge. They include:

One of the most common risks is electrical shock, which can occur when a person comes into contact with an energized part of the outlet or a connected appliance, especially if the outlet is damaged or improperly wired.

A grounded plug or ground pin plays a crucial role in preventing electrical shocks by providing a safe pathway for stray electrical current.

Another potential danger is electrical fires, which can be caused by overloaded circuits, short circuits, or using appliances with frayed or damaged cords. An electrical outlet that is old, has loose connections, or is not fitted with appropriate safety features like GFCIs, can also increase the risk of accidents.

Water exposure near electrical outlets heightens the risk of shock or fire, hence the critical need for GFCIs in damp or wet areas. DIY electrical work without adequate expertise can lead to improper installations, creating latent hazards.

Therefore, it’s vital to ensure that electrical outlets are regularly inspected, maintained by qualified professionals, and used with care to minimize the risk of these hazards. You can also seek out weather resistant outlets to reduce your risk.

This article was updated in conjunction with AI technology, then fact-checked and edited by a HowStuffWorks editor.

How to Hook Up a Water Line to a Refrigerator

Imagine the convenience of having cold water or ice cubes any time you want them — no more filling up pitchers to keep in the refrigerator or waiting for ice cube trays to freeze. But once you’ve bought a refrigerator with a cold water dispenser and automatic ice maker, you’ll still need a way to get water into it. It takes patience, but you can hook a water line up to your refrigerator on your own. Here’s how [sources: Family Handyman, Whirlpool].

What is a Blower Motor, and How Can You Test One?

A blower motor is an electric motor that powers a fan or blower, creating a flow of air or gas. The primary function of blower motors is to ensure that air circulates efficiently in desired environments. This circulation can involve either bringing fresh air into a space or expelling stale or heated air out.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what blower motors accomplish across a range of applications. We’ll also help you troubleshoot a failing blower motor in your car, which could otherwise impact your heating and cooling system.

In HVAC systems, blower motors are indispensable. They are responsible for moving hot or cold air through the ducts of your air conditioning or heating systems, ensuring even distribution of air within a building.

In heating systems, the blower motor pushes heat generated by the furnace through the ductwork. Conversely, in air conditioning systems, it circulates cooled air. The effectiveness of an HVAC system is heavily reliant on the efficiency and reliability of its blower motor.

In automobiles, HVAC blower motors are a key component of heating systems and air conditioners. They are responsible for circulating heated or cooled air throughout the vehicle’s cabin, maintaining a comfortable temperature regardless of exterior weather conditions. A bad blower motor in a vehicle can lead to a lack of airflow from the car’s vents, directly impacting passenger comfort.

Beyond HVAC and automotive applications, furnace blower motors are used in a variety of industrial and commercial settings. For instance, they are essential in air filtration systems, removing pollutants and maintaining air quality in industrial environments.

For example, in settings such as cleanrooms and laboratory environments, this HVAC equipment works in conjunction with filtration and climate control systems to maintain strict air quality and temperature standards. This precise control is crucial in industries like pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, and electronics manufacturing, where even minor fluctuations in environmental conditions can impact the quality and safety of products.

They also play a crucial role as a cooling system for electronic components and machinery, preventing overheating and potential damage. Think of them as a mini HVAC unit within lots of modern technology.

In the realm of modern furnaces, blower motors have evolved to seamlessly integrate with smart home technologies, elevating their functionality and user convenience. An advanced furnace blower motor can be connected to a smart thermostat and home automation system, allowing for precise control over heating patterns and energy usage.

This integration enables homeowners to adjust furnace blower settings remotely via smartphone apps, ensuring optimal comfort and efficiency. Furthermore, smart systems can provide real-time diagnostics and performance data, alerting users if they need to have their furnace checked.

This proactive approach to maintenance can prevent costly repairs and prolong the lifespan of the furnace. A smart furnace blower motor is a major evolution of home heating solutions.

Your car’s HVAC blower motor is not only necessary for the operation of your air conditioner. Without a functioning blower motor your engine runs the risk of overheating. If you hear that the system’s fan is operating but don’t feel any air flowing through the vents, the problem is with the airflow controls [source: RepairPal]. If the blower motor isn’t running you should:

If your engine’s working fine but the HVAC blower motor is suffering from variable speed or unusual noises, you can test it to see if it needs cleaning or repair. Here’s what to do:

If you can get the HVAC blower motor working again, reinstall it. If not, you’ll have to buy a new blower motor.

This article was updated in conjunction with AI technology, then fact-checked and edited by a HowStuffWorks editor.

Set Your Dryer to Perm Press … Meaning What, Exactly?

Creases and wrinkles are the enemy, whether they’re on a bedspread, Monday’s clean white shirt or that nice pair of comfy sweats you plan to wear for weekend relaxing. If you despise ironing, you might wonder if there’s a magical way to wash and dry clothes without them turning into a crinkled, misshapen and distorted mess.

Get ready to set your machine to perm press … meaning, what? We’ll explain this handy-dandy dryer and washing machine setting.

Perm press, or permanent press, is a delicate cycle found on both washers and dryers. Designed to minimize wrinkles, perm press uses warm water for washing and cold water for rinsing. These temperatures help to clean clothes effectively without causing shrinking or fading.

It also uses a slower spin cycle and a gentle wash motion. The permanent press dryer cycle uses reduced agitation and medium heat.

Unlike the permanent press cycle, which takes a gentler approach to prevent excessive wrinkling, a regular cycle typically involves higher agitation and spin speeds that are effective for heavy-duty cleaning.

A normal cycle may not prioritize wrinkle prevention, and clothes may require additional care, such as ironing or steaming.

Toward the end of the drying cycle, the machine reduces the temperature of the air used for drying. Instead of abruptly stopping the drying process, the cool-down function introduces a period of gentle, cooler air.

This gradual cooling helps relax the fibers of the clothes and minimizes the formation of wrinkles.

You should always wash clothes that say permanent press on the label through this gentle cycle. These articles of clothing, typically made of synthetic fibers like polyester, can become ruined if you do not wash and dry them properly.

But as it turns out, most clothes can benefit from a slow cycle. However, you want to avoid permanent press settings for the most delicate fabrics, like lingerie, because they might not be gentle enough.

Permanent press is a cycle that reduces wrinkles in clothes. Steam drying achieves a similar result by using water vapor to tackle wrinkled textiles. Steam dryer manufacturers claim their products relax wrinkles, reducing the need for ironing — but they don’t claim to eliminate the need for ironing altogether.

You’ve seen the difference between taking a load of laundry out of a conventional dryer right away and letting it sit for a few minutes or more. Even if you’re speedy at removing a cotton shirt, it might not look creased, but it won’t look ironed either. Getting that crisp, pressed look still requires pressing with an iron.

For fabrics that are naturally less likely to wrinkle, the results are somewhat better, but independent testing labs like Consumer Reports haven’t found steam dryers significantly better than conventional dryers when it comes to removing visible wrinkles from clothing.

Even though steam doesn’t get tough wrinkles out, it may relax them somewhat, making them easier to iron out later. If you’ve ever scorched a cotton shirt trying to press out the area around the cuffs or collar, a steam dryer may leave a fainter wrinkle that could be better than a tight, pesky one.

Steam dryers are better at deodorizing laundry, too. Because they use high-temperature steam, they kill more bacteria and can banish that smoky, musty smell on clothes that sometimes lingers through multiple washings.

If you’re really interested in killing germs in the laundry, look for dryer features like «sanitizing» or «antibacterial» cycles.

Steam drying can make fabric feel softer, too. This could make your blankets, sheets, cotton undies and jammies feel more fluffy and cozy.

Steam dryers also do a good job of refreshing clothes. If you defer to the dry cleaner every time you wear «good» garments, a 10-minute tumble in a steam dryer could relax and renew silk, wool and other fine fabrics enough to save on a couple of monthly dry cleaning bills.

This may not make a steam dryer the wonder appliance you’d hoped for, but it could make laundry day a little easier to tackle.

This article was updated in conjunction with AI technology, then fact-checked and edited by a HowStuffWorks editor.

5 Efficient Features of Top-load Washers

Front-load washing machines may be the super stars of the laundry room right now, but that doesn’t mean top-loaders are down for the count. Top-load washers have improved right along with their front-loading counterparts, and boast some improvements you should know about. Let’s take a look at five efficient features new style top-load washing machines offer the discriminating consumer. You’ll be surprised at how far these stalwart laundry room fixtures have come in the last few years.

We have to make a distinction here between high-efficiency top-load washers and conventional top-load washers. One of the most visible differences between the two is that high-efficiency top-load washing machines have generally eliminated the center-post agitator. Instead of whacking clothes clean by roiling them around, the clothes are lifted and tumbled employing any of a number of manufacturer-specific techniques. It’s amazing how much room that center post uses up; without it, a high efficiency top loader can hold up to 20 more pounds of laundry.

Once you start a front-load washer, any forgotten socks or other items will have to wait until next time. After that door closes, you’re locked out for the duration. With a top-loader, you can collect items dropped on the stairs or down the hall and just lift the washing machine lid and add them at your discretion. It might be a long wait between loads using a front-loading machine, too. A front-load washer can take over twice as long to finish a load as a high-efficiency top-loader. If you want to keep laundry day down to a few hours between shopping chores, 80 to 100 minutes per load may start to feel like an inefficient use of your time.

About 90 percent of the energy used to wash clothes goes into heating the water. Using less water in the process saves energy dollars as well as the wet stuff, which makes it one very important element in efficient washing machine design. A conventional top-load washer uses a huge amount of water — around 40 to 45 gallons for every load. Water slapping the agitator pummels the clothes clean using a process that hasn’t changed much in decades. High-efficiency top-loaders use half the water of conventional top-load machines — and still manage to get clothes as clean or cleaner.

Old style top-load washers can leave as much as 2 gallons of water in a load of freshly washed laundry. That’s after the spin cycle! All that moisture has to be extracted in the dryer, which translates to longer drying times and higher energy costs. High-efficiency top-loaders and front-load machines, on the other hand, use higher velocity in their spin cycles. High speed spinning removes more water per load and is another important feature that distinguishes high-efficiency washing from conventional clothes washing. There is one small downside to improved water extraction, though. It can set in wrinkles that won’t shake out as easily in the dryer. Oh well, no technology is perfect.

Top-load washing machines can be a little noisy sometimes, but they rarely have the window rattling potential of front-load washers. A front-load washer can cause lots of vibration and noise during the spin cycle. Some manufacturers even go so far as to recommend their equipment be installed on concrete flooring to keep the shaking to a minimum. Noisy operation may not seem like a deal breaking proposition, but if you have a baby in the house, or your spouse sleeps during the day, the prospect of having a washer that sounds like it’s about to taxi down the runway may not be your idea of cutting-edge technology. After all, if manufacturers can use quiet operation as a selling point for dishwashers, shouldn’t consumers be able to expect a little peace and quiet in the laundry room, too?

5 Innovative Vacuum Cleaner Features

Vacuum cleaner technology has seen some important advancements in the last few years. If you’re still yanking an ancient canister vacuum around, consider an upgrade. With vacuums, suction is the name of the game, but you might want a little fun (and fresh, clean air) with your 10-minute parade around the living room. Nowadays, vacuums can do more than just annihilate dust bunnies and coax cat hair out of shag carpet. Let’s explore five innovative and useful features you should consider when you buy your next vacuum cleaner.

Yes, this is a small innovation, but an important one. If you’ve ever gotten exasperated when corralling a long vacuum cleaner cord, looping it around those hooked posts, straightening it when it gets kinked or rescuing it from under the beater brush, a cord that will retract into the vacuum with the slightest tug is almost as nice as having a dog that actually stops barking on command. Don’t expect this feature on all vacuums, though. It’s more common on canister vacuums than on uprights. Oh, and if you want the most versatile retractable, look for models with 30-foot cords instead of the puny 20-foot lengths. That way you’ll be able to get all the way down the hall and into the small bedroom without having to switch outlets.

Bagless technology has been around a while in light duty stick vacuums, but newer style bagless models have amped up the power with high suction for big jobs like the living room carpet or the man cave.

We’ll admit that the idea of bagless vacuuming is appealing. With no bags to buy, these models should be less expensive to operate, right? Well, that notion is a bit deceptive. In a standard vacuum (varieties that don’t have special filtration systems), the bag is the filter media. Dirt-laden air passes through the bag back into the room, leaving its load of dust and grit behind. In a bagless vacuum, there is no bag — but there is an onboard filter that has to be replaced periodically. The replacement schedule will vary from model to model, but it’s less frequent than the typical full-bag change out.

With a bagless vacuum, it’s easy to see the dust and dirt you’ve collected, but easy access has its drawbacks. When the time comes to dump the dirt receptacle, it can be tough to pitch the contents without unleashing a cloud of debris that would make Pig-Pin blush. If you love the idea of going bagless, though, it’s a good bet you can develop a dumping technique that loses the toxic cloud. It’s probably all in the wrist.

You’ve seen them in ads, those computerized light-duty vacuums that use complicated algorithms to scoot under and around obstacles like chair legs, reclining pets and toddlers. They’re actually pretty nifty. They’ll do their cha-cha-cha whether you’re in the room or not — or even at home. Some models operate on timers and dock themselves to recharge. If you seldom get under your couch to clean, one nice feature of a robotic vacuum is that it can roll under a large furniture piece with ease (if it has the height clearance to do so).

Robotic vacuums are also diligent. They don’t stop for phone calls. They don’t take coffee breaks. And even if it takes an hour or more for one to clean a medium sized room, it’s not like you’re paying overtime.

It isn’t all space age technology and less work for the beleaguered human, though. According to Consumer Reports, robotic vacuum cleaners typically fare poorly when it comes to getting into corners or along baseboards. They’re also an expensive option for light duty vacuuming. If you don’t mind doing a little rearranging to make it harder for your robot helper to get hung up on electrical cords, area rugs and floor vents, robotic vacuums can get into spots you’d otherwise skip. They can also give well-trafficked areas a daily treatment and remove surface dirt before it has a chance to sink deep into carpet fibers.

We mentioned that standard vacuum cleaners use the bag as a filter medium. If you’ve ever noticed dust on your vacuum cleaner after using it, you’ve seen proof positive that this arrangement releases dust (mites and mold) back into the air after liberating them from the carpet. If someone in your household has allergies or asthma, vacuuming with a conventional vacuum cleaner has the potential to cause health problems. Enter onboard vacuum cleaner filtration. Although HEPA filtration is probably the best known filtering method for vacuums, it isn’t the only method. Some vacuums use water as a filtering medium, for instance. Others use the principle of electrostatic precipitation. There are even new technologies that make use of UV light to kill microbes and control odor.

Let’s take a closer look at HEPA filtration: HEPA is an acronym that stands for high-efficiency particulate air. A HEPA filter is designed to trap a minimum of 99.97 percent of particulates 0.3 microns or larger. That’s the optimum or «A» standard, but HEPA filtration in vacuum cleaners may or may not filter that efficiently. Some vacuum filters claim they use HEPA filtration or comparable, but may just have filters that look similar. In some vacuum cleaner models, small amounts of particulate laden air can bypass the onboard filter completely. If you consider air filtration a critical feature in a vacuum cleaner, check out a number of independent testing lab reviews before you buy. A good filter isn’t something you can detect from a quick demo on the showroom floor, so defer to the experts.

The new guy on the block in vacuum cleaners loses the vacuum bag in favor of a whirlwind that deposits dirt directly into a holding tray. It’s called cyclonic action, and Dyson claims to have invented this revolutionary approach to floor cleaning 30 years ago. There are a number of models using this technology, some better than others. If you’re in the market for one, Consumer Reports has reviewed a number of them, giving each one a rating out of 100. All have pros and cons, so do your research before you buy one.

Washing Machine Water Usage

Washing clothes has been a big chore since man first discovered the value of whacking garments on rocks in nearby streambeds to get them clean. There was plenty of water back then, but the labor was backbreaking. Modern washing machines save on labor and time over the old rock or washboard methods, but energy and water usage issues are putting them in the line of fire from environmentalists and cautious consumers.

It’s hard to look at water usage for washing machines without looking at the issue of energy usage, too. Washers soak clothes, tumble or agitate them and then extract as much water as possible to promote fast, efficient drying. From a water usage standpoint, it’s a matter of employing as little of the wet stuff as possible at the beginning of the process — to wash the clothes — and then getting rid of as much water as possible from the newly cleaned clothes to make drying them an energy-efficient process.

The washing machine style you’re probably most familiar with is the top-loader. A conventional top-load washing machine uses agitation to clean clothes. It’s been the standard for decades. The concept of agitation has a long history that goes back to manual paddle mechanisms that worked a little like handheld egg beaters to churn the dirt off of clothing. For agitators to work well, though, they need lots of water to toss, whip and stir clothes around. That water can get expensive, and the energy necessary to heat it can get expensive, too. Around 90 percent of the energy necessary to clean a load of laundry in a top-load washer is used to heat the water.

Newer clothes cleaning strategies lose the agitator altogether. This allows more room for dirty clothes in a load while still lowering the water requirement. Other refinements in the process also mean less water left in the finished batch of laundry, which translates to less water for the drying process to remove. That’s good news all around. What’s the magic machine that saves water and energy while allowing you to wash more clothes per load? That would be the front-loading washing machine.

No washing machine style is perfect, but front-loaders have a lot going for them, especially from a water management standpoint. On the next page, let’s look at a few water facts as they relate to top-load and front-load washing machines. No spin here, just the facts.

What is an Induction Cooktop? 5 Benefits of Making the Switch

Boiling water is quicker in Paris than it is in Buffalo. It takes less time to sauté vegetables, brown chicken, and bring soup to serving temperature, too. Europeans are quicker to the draw because they can answer this burning question: what is an induction cooktop?

The speed has nothing to do with location, of course, and everything to do with technology, specifically the induction cooktop. This type of stove is pretty rare in North America but is common in European restaurants and homes. Plus, it has little in common with electric or gas cooktops, as induction cooking uses electromagnetism to heat pots and pans. As a result, it accomplishes the task significantly faster.

But speed is just one of the benefits. So, if induction technology is so great, why isn’t it everywhere? Price, mostly. Still, as people begin to put more money into their kitchens and the prices of induction cooktops start to inch downward, the U.S. has taken notice. So let’s take a look at five reasons a lot of people are willing to spend more on this cooking surface.

One of the biggest selling points of the induction stove is speed. It simply takes less time to cook food because the pan surface heats up quicker. That’s because while both gas stoves and electric cooktops use a middleman to transfer heat to the pan — flames and an electric burner, respectively — an induction cooktop generates heat directly in the pan.

Electromagnetic activity in the cooktop triggers electromagnetic energy in the pan, and the pan itself gets a rapid rise of heat (see How Induction Cooktops Work for more on this process). The pan is the starting point of the heat. Since there are fewer steps involved in heating the cookware, it takes less time for the heat to get to the food — 25 percent to 50 percent less time, on average.

It’s this direct approach that gives induction most of its uniquely impressive qualities, including the one up next.

It’s pretty easy to see why induction stovetops are more efficient than gas and electric models if you think about the heating processes involved. A gas flame is going to release lots of heat around the pan, and an electric burner emits radiant heat at any point where it’s not in direct, firm contact with the pan. When heat is generated within the pan itself, as with induction, more of that heat gets to the food, and less of it warms up your kitchen.

The most obvious result of energy efficient cooking options is reduced energy consumption, meaning lower power bills and a healthier environment. The added benefit of this cooktop surface is that you won’t sweat as much in the kitchen.

Another benefit of reduced accidental heat loss? The reduced possibility of accidents!

The stove top is easily one of the most dangerous places in the kitchen. It’s where grease fires begin, where the gas gets left on, and where little hands make contact with very hot surfaces. So, let’s start with the obvious: no flame means no grease fires, and no gas means no gas leaks.

But the induction stovetop has another safety feature: it typically doesn’t get all that hot, since the pan is its own heat source. This means it would be far less likely for the cooktop to cause a burn. What’s more, the pan’s response to a turn of the dial is practically immediate, so as soon as you turn off the heat, the pan cools down.

This makes it a lot more difficult to burn yourself as you pour your sautéed vegetables onto a serving plate. It makes it easier to get those vegetables just right, too …

For people who love to cook — or at least love to eat great home-cooked food — control is probably the most important feature of a cooktop. It’s why many serious cooks prefer gas to electric: gas cooktops are more responsive when you adjust the dial. The temperature change is fast.

An induction appliance is as responsive as a gas cooktop to a turn of the dial, and it’s got another thing going for it, too: more settings. Induction models allow for much more precise control of heat, with more temperature increments and better performance at very low heat settings. In this way, induction makes cooking delicate sauces or just keeping food warm a lot easier than with a gas flame, which can often falter on the low setting.

And finally, a benefit that rivals speed for practicality …

Quicker cooking is great. Less wasteful, safer and better cooking is great. But cooking that’s easier to clean up after is, we dare say, greater.

If the main purpose of your cooktop is to get dinner on the table faster and do it safer, it goes without saying that a quicker, less-intensive cleanup would be a big draw. Since an induction cooktop seldom gets very hot, food doesn’t burn onto the cooking surface. This means a splatter, a spill, or a pasta-sauce pop calls for a quick swipe of the sponge, not a good, long scrub.

Even with ease of clean-up — even with speed, energy efficiency, safety, control and easy clean-up — induction surfaces may not overcome the price issue for some. They’re still significantly more expensive than cast iron, gas and electric cooktop models, thanks to its copper coil and electromagnetic field construction. Factor in the new cookware you might need to buy, because your current stuff might not be induction compatible, and it’s a big investment.

But if you’re doing one of those increasingly popular $30,000 kitchen remodels, or even a $5,000 appliance upgrade, an induction cooktop should be at the top of your «look into» list — even, or perhaps especially, if all you do with your stove is boil water. Gas cooktops, electric cooktops and ranges may offer a lower price-point, but they’re also costlier and more complicated to use than magnetic cookware.

Are you induction ready? For more information on induction cooktops, kitchen appliances and related topics, look over the links on the next page.