Is Your Dishwasher Quiet Enough?

Ten to 15 years ago, dishwashers whooshed and washed and clunked and clanged with the vigor of a pile driver. It was annoying, but most people didn’t know it was possible to wash any other way. Dishwashers were loud, a Bush or Clinton was running for president, and everyone was excited for the new James Bond and Star Wars films.

Over the past decade or so, things have changed—at least when it comes to dishwashers. While there are certainly some stragglers, most name-brand dishwashers on the market today are quiet enough to run in a library. Typically, they range from 45 to 50 decibels—roughly the noise level of typing on a keyboard, and just below the threshold needed to wake someone up.

Now compare that to dishwashers from the mid-2000s. Those machines averaged about 60 decibels—just below the sound level of a vacuum. So today’s machines are much quieter, but the trend has had an interesting effect on consumers: Shoppers tend to overvalue the significance of the industry standard noise rating—the decibel A-weighting, or dBA.

The dBA rating is complicated, but it basically boils down to this: Compared to straight-up decibels (dB), dBA puts emphasis on noises that we hear most clearly and de-emphasizes sounds that are harder to hear. The result is a rating that should, in theory, give shoppers a better idea of how much their dishwasher will annoy them.

But how did a quiet dishwasher become the envy of homeowners everywhere, and just how quiet is quiet enough?

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A Quieter Kitchen

It was actually a German brand, Bosch, that first got Americans thinking about sound back in the early 2000s. The manufacturer already had a line of quiet dishwashers in the European market, so it had a leg up when it came to developing new models for quiet-hungry American buyers.

In short, Bosch anticipated a need that customers didn’t know they had. Americans were starting to spend a lot more time in their kitchens, thanks the rediscovery of cooking via foodie culture and the growth of the “open kitchen” concept. Suddenly, a demand for quieter dishwashers was born.

The German giant met that need by fundamentally redesigning the dishwasher. Bosch engineers first incorporated a solid base made of heavy-duty plastic—the same material used in football helmets. They also installed a sensor-based drain pump that only ran when it detected the presence of water, eliminating much of the loud sucking noise heard during draining. Bosch also redesigned the hydraulic system, introduced a new filtration system to replace the hard waste disposer, and began using two motors instead of one to spread the work load.

(Not long after Bosch revolutionized the industry, a few retailers partnered with a sound lab to develop a standard measurement of dishwasher noise output. That’s the reason for the ubiquitous dBA ratings you’ll see in stores, in ads, and online—we’ll explain those later.)

Dishwashers have gotten so quiet that the differences among them are hardly noticeable.

The result was a line of “SuperSilence” dishwashers that, today, operate in the range of 38-46 dBA. It also led to a race for the lowest possible sound rating. That’s why Bosch’s primary competitor, Miele, pushed hard to hit an impressive 37 dBA with its Futura Diamond model. Using a specific “Extra Quiet” mode, it limits mechanical action and prolongs the length of its wash cycles. In other words, it’ll wash your dishes silently while you sleep, but it may take all night.

“Although there are peaks and valleys in measuring the sound levels during a wash cycle, we have managed to suppress even the portions of the cycle where the pump and drain noises are at their highest, turning them into a low-pitched hum,” said Hiroko Kawaguchi, a product development manager at Miele.

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DISHWASHER TIPS

WHAT CAN I DO TO GET THE MOST FROM MY DISHWASHER?

Cleaning your machine about once a month will remove any grease and lime scale deposits which can build up on the inside of the machine. Special dishwasher cleaners are available which are used when the machine is empty. These cleaners will often leave a fresh smell in the dishwasher too. If you want to have that fresh smell all the time, use a dishwasher freshener. These are usually supplied as hanging tags, which should be carefully positioned away from any moving arms. A freshener is essential if you load during the day and then run the machine at night.

HOW A DISHWASHER WORKS

Put simply, the dishwasher takes in cold water and heats it to a temperature far higher than possible for hand washing – usually above 130ºF. The dishwasher does not use a great deal of water, as it does not actually fill up. The water enters through a resin-based water softener, usually in the base of the machine. The water softener uses granular salt to maintain its efficiency and will require topping up regularly. Pumps force the water at high temperature into rotating arms containing spray jets. It is the force of the water that rotates the arms and enables the water and detergent to reach all parts of the load. After the programmed cycle of washing and rinsing is complete, heating elements dry the dishes, or they are left to drain dry, dependent on the programme you’ve chosen.

LOADING

crape off as much surface food as possible and place larger and dirtier items on the bottom rack with cups, glasses and less soiled items on the top rack. Load plates and glasses so they aren’t touching and put cutlery in the special basket, handles facing downwards.

These items can be washed in a dishwasher, with the following guidelines:

Glassware – Any ordinary glassware and ovenware such as Pyrex. Do not wash lead crystal glasses unless they carry a “dishwasher safe” label.
Tableware – Most everyday crockery is safe. Bone china usually has under-glaze decoration and should be safe. Avoid antique or hand-painted and over-glaze decorated items. If in doubt, check with the manufacturer.
Cutlery – Stainless steel and silver cutlery are normally suitable for machine washing, but it pays to rinse off any acidic food before loading to prevent any corrosion and, if possible remove the cutlery immediately after the cycle, to avoid prolonged exposure in a humid atmosphere. Do not mix steel and silver cutlery in the same basket and wash bone or wooden-handled items by hand.
Plastics – Check whether they are dishwasher safe and do not place in the lower rack, where the heating element may affect the plastic during drying.
Pans – Stainless steel is ideal for dishwashers. Aluminium can be washed in the machine, but may discolour during the rinsing. If in doubt, remove aluminium pans before the rinse cycle.

Always wash cast iron and wooden handled items by hand.

WHY DOES MY MACHINE HAVE A WATER SOFTENER?

If the water is soft (i.e. does not contain calcium particles), the detergent will work more effectively and there will be less streaking on dishes. Hard water can also block the washer jets with lime scale and cause deposits on heating elements, which will reduce the cleaning efficiency, increase electricity costs and shorten the life of the machine. All dishwasher manufacturers and detergent suppliers want you to get the best results from the machine – and soft water is one of the most important factors in achieving this. The way to ensure water remains soft is to regularly top up the reservoir with granular salt.

CAN I USE ORDINARY TABLE SALT?

No. Table, cooking, rock and sea salts may contain additives that can actually increase water hardness. Also, the fine consistency of some of these salts mean they are likely to clog when wet. Always use granular dishwasher salt because it is very pure and is the right consistency for use in your machine.

Granular salt is the ONLY type of salt that should be used to regenerate the softener. Be aware that some varieties of ‘dishwasher salt’ use Dead Sea salt. This variety may contain minute insoluble organic matter that may adversely affect the resin within your softener over time. If you are in doubt about the origins of the salt, ask the retailer or manufacturer.

CLOUDY GLASSES?

You can determine the cause of cloudy glassware by soaking a glass in vinegar for 5 minutes. If the cloudiness is removed it is due to hard water deposits; make sure the salt reservoir is topped up. Do not worry about over-filling it.

If the cloudiness is not removed, it is a permanent condition known as etching. In this situation, use less detergent and stop pre-washing. Dishwashing detergent needs a bit of soil to work on, otherwise it will tend to foam up.

WHAT DETERGENT SHOULD I USE?

All modern dishwasher detergents are formulated to work specifically in dishwashers. On no occasion should ordinary washing up liquid be used, as it will cause excess foam, which can result in a leak. If it is accidentally used, sprinkle ordinary salt into the chamber to disperse the resulting suds. Then rinse away the excess salt before using.

There are 3 main types of dishwasher detergent – Powder, liquid or gel and tablets. Which one you choose will be down to personal preference, but most people find tablets very convenient, although using powder is usually more economical and liquids are less abrasive on more delicate items.

WHAT IS RINSE AID?

Rinse Aid is added to a special compartment in the machine and a very small amount is released during the final hot rinse cycle, to reduce the formation of water droplets on crockery etc and so ensures that the water dries away properly and evenly to avoid leaving smears.

Call Absolute Appliance Repair NOW if you have any problems with your dishwasher!

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Dishes Done Right

How to properly load the dishwasher has long been a matter of discord in many a household. Cutlery handle-up or down? Cram the dishwasher full or let each plate and bowl have its space? These questions and more are answered in our definitive dishwasher guide!

After you learn the basics of using a dishwasher, such as not putting regular dish detergent in the dispenser, it is time to move on to the more nuanced techniques of loading up. Make sure to angle your cups and mugs so that water doesn’t pool on top of them, and place large items like plates and cutting boards on the bottom rack, away from the spray arm so that it has room to rotate. Consider which items do and don’t belong in the dishwasher. Stainless steel, non-stick bakeware, and wooden items are all best washed by hand.

A dishwasher may seem like a luxurious indulgence, particularly if you have access to one for the first time. But improvements to the efficiency of this appliance have made it so that using a dishwasher is actually more energy efficient than washing dishes by hand! Dishwashers with an Energy Star rating use a maximum of 5.8 gallons of water per cycle.

Not many people know this, but dishwasher detergent actually has a fairly short shelf-life. Resist the temptation to buy more than you can use in two months. Also, check out our life hacks to see which foods and household items can be cleaned in there. After reading this guide, you’ll be a full-fledged advanced dishwasher. Have fun lording your new-found knowledge over family members!

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DISHWASHER WATER-SAVING TIPS

Most of the energy used by a dishwasher is for water heating. The EnergyGuide label estimates how much power is needed per year to run the appliance and to heat the water based on the yearly cost of natural gas and electric water heating.

DISHWASHER WATER-SAVING TIPS
  • Check the manual that came with your dishwasher for the manufacturer’s recommendations on water temperature; many have internal heating elements that allow you to set the water heater in your home to a lower temperature (120° F).
  • Scrape, don’t rinse, off large food pieces and bones. Soaking or pre-washing is generally only recommended in cases of burned- or dried-on food.
  • Be sure your dishwasher is full (not overloaded) when you run it.
  • Avoid using the “rinse hold” on your machine for just a few soiled dishes. It uses 3-7 gallons of hot water each use.
  • Let your dishes air dry; if you don’t have an automatic air-dry switch, turn off the control knob after the final rinse and prop the door open slightly so the dishes will dry faster.
LONG-TERM SAVINGS TIP

When shopping for a new dishwasher, look for the ENERGY STAR label to find one that uses less water and energy than required by federal standards. They are required to use 4.25 gallons of water per cycle or less — older dishwashers purchased before 1994 use more than 10 gallons of water per cycle.

BUYING MAJOR APPLIANCES

What to Look For:

  • A machine that heats only the water it needs. “This is the most important thing that people overlook,” says John O’Meara, manager of Standards of Excellence, an appliance showroom in San Rafael, California. The feature saves energy by heating only the necessary water, not the entire household water tank. In general, “washers made now are one-third more efficient than those made seven years ago,” says Jill Notini of the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, in Washington, D.C.
  • A speedy spin cycle. The faster the cycle, the more water will be extracted, and the less time clothes will spend in the dryer. Look for “a high rpm [rotations per minute], which adds up to energy-efficiency,” says Alex Cheimets, editor of applianceadvisor.com. Go for at least 900 rpm. To save even more energy, pair the washer with a dryer that has a moisture sensor, which shuts off the unit when the clothes are dry.
  • Minimal water usage. Most conventional washers go through 40 gallons of water per cycle, so “if you do a load a day,” says Audrey Reed-Granger of Whirlpool, “that’s more than 14,000 gallons a year.” Check the labels; some machines consume as little as 14 gallons a cycle.
  • Pedestals. Some washers (and dryers) can be equipped with pedestals ($100 to $200), which sit underneath the appliance and raise it for easier loading and unloading. Many include drawers for stashing detergent, bleach, and stain-removal sticks.
  • An additional rinse cycle. This option, which dispenses extra water during washing, is great if you need to fight a stubborn stain or want to remove excess detergent that can irritate allergy sufferers or babies. But it will increase your water bill.

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Appliance Science: Dishwashers

dishwasher-1We tend to take things in our home for granted, casually accepting the miracles of chemistry, physics and biology that our appliances involve. Take your dishwasher, for instance: a device which cleans all manner of foods from a huge pile of dishes, quickly and efficiently. When you actually stop and think about it, the amount of work this involves is impressive, and the physics of this process are more complex than you might first think.

So how does a dishwasher use the power of water to wash dishes? Let’s take a look at the physics of water and how dishwashers use these forces to scrub your dishes.

Although the specifics differ, all dishwashers have the same fundamental design: a sink at the bottom that fills with water, a pump that moves this water and spray arms, sprayers and other devices that squirt this water onto the dishes.

When you look inside any dishwasher, one of the most obvious things you’ll see is a wash or spray arm, a rotating bar that sprays water onto the dishes, helping to dislodge the food. The dishwasher pumps water through this, but there is no motor to rotate the arm. Instead, the dishwasher uses the pressure of the water to spin it around.

The water jets on the spray arm are angled, so the water sprays out at an angle, usually about 45 degrees off the vertical. The force of this water pushes the arm, and it rotates. This shows the third of Newton’s laws of motion. As the man himself said in Latin in his 1687 bestseller, “Actioni contrariam semper et aequalem esse reactionem.” To translate: “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

So, as the water sprays out of the spray arm, it pushes the spray arm back again, sending it spinning. It’s the same principle that rockets use: hot gas gets pushed out of the bottom, forcing the rocket up, up and away.

To save water, all dishwashers recycle water. After it has been sprayed over the dishes, it collects in the sink at the bottom of the dishwasher, where it is then pumped it back up to wash the dishes again. A filter catches most of the large waste, but the smaller waste particles remain suspended in the water. So, how does the dishwasher know when the dishes are clean?

Older dishwashers ran for a set amount of time, depending on the program you chose. You would set them to a shorter wash for lightly soiled dishes and longer for pots and pans. Most modern dishwashers have an automatic mode, where they can tell when the dishes are clean, thanks to a device called a turbidity sensor.

This neat device allows the dishwasher to see how clean the water is by measuring how much grunge is in the water as it is pumped out of the sink: if the water is dirty, grunge is still washing off the dishes. If the water is clean, all the dirt has been washed off the dishes, and the wash is done. It works by shining a light (usually an infrared, or IR, light) through the water onto a sensor that measures how much light reaches it. As the water passes through, the grunge dissolved in the water and larger particles reflect it away. So, if the water is clean, most of the light passes through. If the water is dirty, less light passes through and is detected by the sensor.

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DISHWASHERS NEWS

When you buy a dishwasher these days, it’s not just about clean dishes, sparkling glasses and avoiding the dreaded dishpan hands. Many people want a quiet, sleek-looking appliance that conserves energy at a decent price.
The Winning Models from  http://www.goodhousekeeping.com
ASKO (model D3530): Best Overall. The top performer of all the dishwashers tested, this model is very stylish, with stainless steel interior and hidden controls. The inside lights up, for easy loading and it also features fold-down tines (the prongs that stick up) and cup shelves. This model used less water than the other dishwashers tested, with only 11 gallons for normal and heavy duty cycles combined
KitchenAid, model KUDS01FLBL: The best thing about this model is that it’s easy to load. A removable and height-adjustable upper rack helps you fit big platter and pots, making it easy to load. A large flatware basket caddy provides space for long cooking utensils and a mesh sack can be filled with smaller items, such as measuring spoons or small lids.
Miele, model G892SC: This dishwasher works great for pots and pans. This stainless-steel dishwasher excels at scrubbing hard to clean casseroles and sauce pans. Glasses with milk crust came out virtually spotless. It also features a height-adjustable upper rack that makes way for big platters and pots.
Kenmore Elite, model 16482: This dishwasher seems to have baskets for everything, including knives, spatulas and serving spoons. Sensors detect the load’s size and soil level and then adjust water volume and temperature. Other special features include sanitizing rinse, delayed start and a child lock.
Frigidaire, model PLDB998CC: Great performer at great price. Out-cleaned many models that were more expensive. Can wash just upper or lower rack to save time and water if you have less than a full load. The water hits both top and bottom but more of it hits the top or the bottom, whichever you request. Other features include delayed start, high-temperature sanitizing rinse and child lock.

 

Dishwasher Problem?

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DIAGNOSING DISHWASHER PROBLEMS

Unlike some of your other household appliances, your dishwasher will give your specific symptoms to indicate what’s wrong with it. By diagnosing the problems with your dishwasher, you can save money by cutting down on repair times. You may even be able to take care of the simpler problems yourself. Read the tips listed below and learn about how you can diagnose dishwasher problems yourself .

A leaking dishwasher can indicate several problems.

  • Overloading By putting too many dishes in each load, you may cause the machine to leak. Try fitting in less dishes and see if the leak persists.
  • Faulty Door Seal Check the plastic seal around the door of your dishwasher. If there are cracks or holes, it may cause the machine to leak. Replacing the seal is an easy and cheap problem to fix.
  • Excessive Detergent Check your detergent tray. If there’s a soap residue left over, you’re putting in too much soap per load and causing your machine to leak.
  • Faulty pipe connections Check the pipes in the back of your machine. By tightening any loose pipes, you may be able to stop your dishwasher’s leaking.

If your dishes are coming out of the dishwasher dry and still dirty, it means that your dishwasher isn’t filling with soap and water. This can be caused by one of the following:

  • The hot water valve isn’t open. Check under your sink to see if the hot water value is fully open. If it’s not, opening the valve will allow your dishwasher to fill with water.
  • The inlet valve is clogged. If the valve is plugged with debris and residue, cleaning it will repair the machine and enable the dishwasher to fill.

A little water in the bottom of your dishwasher is normal. But if you think there is an excessive amount of water, you may have a problem with your drain hose. Refer to your machine’s manual to find your dishwasher’s drain hose. Check that the drain hose has no holes, isn’t damaged in any way and is free of debris or soap residue.

Call Absolute Appliance Repair NOW if you have any problems with your dishwasher!

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(415) 831-1259 San Francisco
(415) 388-0690 Marin County
(650) 525-0512 South SF / Daly City / Pacifica