APPLIANCES : Moderate Care Keeps Elements of Dishwasher Running Clean

From Associated Press

If you give your dishwasher a moderate amount of care, you increase the odds that it won't complain when you ask it to do the dishes.

A dishwasher is self-cleaning except near the rim of the door opening. Wipe this area clean before starting the machine so that spills don't bake on. It's also a good idea to check the tub for any remaining debris and wipe out the detergent dispenser.

Every few months, remove the spray arm or arms (some simply lift out, others unscrew). Shake out the arm and use a pipe cleaner to clear its ports.

If mineral deposits form, dissolve them by pouring a cup of vinegar into the empty tub and running the machine through the wash cycle.

If Dishwasher Won't Start

* Check that the door is properly locked and that the push button or dial setting is correct.

* Look for a blown fuse or tripped circuit breaker.

* There may be a faulty door switch, selector switch or timer. Call a repair service. If a dishwasher does not fill or drain properly, check the float in the bottom of the tub. It should move freely and not be clogged with detergent or debris. If that's not the problem, call a repair service because repairs can be complex.

How to Correct Noisiness

* Do dishes clatter during washing? Make sure they lean against the racks.

* A grinding noise may mean low or no water. Open the door during the wash cycle to check. Most machines require at least one inch of water above the sump area (the depression around the pump). Taking a shower, washing a load of clothes or watering the lawn while using the dishwasher can mean that it's not getting enough water. A stuck float can also be the problem. Otherwise, the trouble may be with the timer, the inlet valve screen or overflow switch. Call a repair service.

Tips to Correct a Leak

* Dishes may be improperly loaded. Reposition dishes in the racks to prevent accidental deflection of water through the door vent.

* Trickles around the door may indicate that it isn't tight. Loosen the screws in the lock strike and realign the strike with the door latch to create a firmer seal.

* Check the door gasket. If it's worn or brittle, replace it. (Gaskets, available through the manufacturer, may be mounted with clips, screws or pop-in fasteners.)

* If water comes from under the machine, disconnect the power, turn off the water supply, remove the bottom access panel (usually clipped in place or held by screws) and check all the hose clamps. Tighten leaking worm-drive clamps, which have an adjusting screw, with a screwdriver. If a spring-type clamp is leaking, use pliers to remove it. Replace it with a worm-drive clamp.

Not Washing Properly:

* A common cause of poor washing is low water temperature. Run hot water into a glass in the kitchen sink and insert a candy thermometer. If the temperature is not at least 140 degrees, you may want to adjust the setting of your water heater. Don't set it too high, though, especially if you have children or others who may scald themselves.

* If your water heater is not near your kitchen, run the tap in the sink until the water heats before starting the dishwasher.

* Follow the owner's manual recommendations for proper precleaning and loading, and type of detergent.

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