Renovation & Design

SOLUTIONS: Trash microwave oven over safety concerns

QUESTION: I am hoping you might have a solution for getting rid of a burnt popcorn smell in a microwave oven. I have tried lemon juice, vinegar, baking soda, and even microwaving meat with a barbeque sauce on it, hoping to get rid of the smell. If I leave lemon juice and water in it with the door open, it almost disappears. But as soon as I microwave even lemon juice in water, the smoke smell predominates.

This smell came while heating up a "bed buddy," which contains grain for use on my sore joints. I have used this item for years, heating in the microwave on high for three minutes as the directions say, with never any problem. I am not sure what happened this time, but I heard a pop, and when I got to the microwave, smoke and a terrible smell was coming from the oven. There was even a burn hole in the material with lots of smoke coming out of it.

I have been working on getting rid of this smell for two weeks now. I have even washed the microwave oven inside and out with dish soap. I don't want to use anything that might be toxic to food. The microwave is not freestanding. It is boxed in against a wall over a built-in oven. Marian (Winnipeg)

ANSWER: In order to offer the safest advice available to us, I turned to a microwave manufacture. I want to share a quote I took from the General Electric website: "The popping noise is electrical or mechanical in sound, and GE recommends contacting service. If the arcing burned a hole through the cavity wall, the damage is non-repairable. You can continue to safely use the microwave if the hole is equal to or smaller than the hole size that you see on the door screen and additional arcing is not occurring during the cooking cycle. If the hole is larger than this, it is recommended that the microwave be replaced."

Sounds like the smell is coming from the microwave mechanics, which is why the odor returns even after the box of the microwave is treated. Safety is definitely an issue.

QUESTION: I would like to know if you have any suggestions to get rid of some oil spots on my paving-stone driveway? Please and thanks. Judy (Winnipeg)

ANSWER: The fresher the oil stain, the easier it is to remove. For new oil stains, cover the area with cheap kitty litter or diatomaceous earth. Leave for three hours or more and then sweep. For older stains, begin by purchasing degreaser. Cover the area with degreaser and scrub with a brush, making sure the entire grease stain is covered. Another option is to pour hot water onto stones and scrub with dish soap such as Simple Green. Leave for 10 minutes. Do not allow dish soap to sit on paving stones for an extended period of time. Scrub with a stiff brush and rinse. Caution: Do not use muriatic acid on paving stones; it is too strong and may damage the stones.

QUESTION: I was at a garage sale the other day and wanted to purchase a chair for my home. I did not have a measuring tape on hand. What else could I have used to figure out the size of the chair? Maurice (Otterburne)

ANSWER: Here are a few bits of trivia you need to know (if you don't already). On most adults, the length from the tip of your thumb to your first knuckle is one inch. Since you were at a garage sale and probably had some cash on hand, you could have used the length of paper money to measure the chair because Canadian paper currency is six inches long. Lastly, take a moment to measure the span of your hand (in case you are ever stranded on a desert island, this may come in handy). The average adult hand span measures eight inches.

Avocado answers

I found a way to liven up devilled eggs by adding one mushed-up avocado. For 12 boiled egg yolks, I add three tbsp. mayonnaise, the juice of half a lime, and salt and pepper to taste. Delicious and healthy. Submitted by Belinda

Chocolate Avocado Pudding! Into a food processor: Combine three avocados, one third cup cocoa powder, half cup milk, one third cup maple syrup and half a tsp. vanilla. Process and refrigerate. Submitted By: Cynthia

Avocado Makeover: Into a food processor combine: One avocado, one egg, 1 tbsp. olive oil. Massage onto face and hair. Heat with a hair dryer and let sit 15 minutes. Wash as usual. Submitted By: Cynthia

The fastest way to remove an avocado pit from its skin. Cut around the lengthwise circumference of the skin; twist the avocado to open it. Tap the pit with the blade of your knife, twist and pull the pit out of the skin, the pit will stay attached to the blade. Submitted By: Darren

I enjoy your questions and tips, keep them coming. Missed a column? Can't remember a solution? Need a speaker for an upcoming event? Check out my website



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