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Appliance Maintenance Tips to Keep Them Running Like New

Save Money with These Appliance Maintenance Tips

Appliances are the vital organs of your kitchen. Without them, cooking meals at home would be next to impossible. Large items like your refrigerator, stove, dishwasher and the microwave cost a great deal of money. Considering how much you rely on these large pieces of equipment, it’s important to keep them running as efficiently as possible. Performing some routine maintenance will save you thousands of dollars in the years to come. Learn how to make the most of your kitchen appliances with these DIY maintenance tips.

Using Your Refrigerator Wisely

Most people tend to neglect the interior of their refrigerator, but all of those crusty containers of food are forcing your refrigerator to work overtime. It’s time to throw out the Chinese takeout that’s been sitting at the back of your fridge for months on end. Using drawers and shelf space wisely is one of the easiest ways to improve efficiency. Try not to overload your fridge either. The more food you add, the harder your fridge has to work every second of the day. Think of your fridge as a human being. Just like an obese person that’s at risk of heart failure, the cooling system in your fridge won’t last forever. Help your fridge drop a few pounds and clean out the interior regularly.

Keep Power Cords Tidy

The idea of inspecting the power cables on your appliances might sound frightening. The area behind your fridge or the stove probably hasn’t seen the light of day in over a decade. But cords tend to get bogged down by dust, dirt and all kinds of debris, making it that much harder for electricity to go from point A to point B. Take a deep breath and get behind those large-ticket items and start cleaning. Take a moist cloth and run it over the power cord on your refrigerator, microwave, washer and dryer, and the stove.

Lighten the Load for Your Dishwasher

You might be amazed with your dishwasher’s ability to gobble up and dispose of large bits of food, but your dishwasher doesn’t have the same rip-roaring power as your garbage disposal. Those hearty chunks of food will take a toll on your dishwasher overtime. Bits of food will jam the system in all sorts of places, leading to frequent clogs and poor drainage. Do your automatic dishwasher a favor and take a few seconds to rinse off your unwanted food in the sink. Your garbage disposal is much better equipped to take on those large chunks of food.

Address Spills and Messes Immediately

So your frozen pizza spilled some cheese on the oven floor. What’s the big deal? If you don’t clean up all of those splats and stains, your oven, microwave, or toaster oven will reheat those leftover pieces of food every time you need to cook something. For efficiency’s sake, wipe down the interior of your appliances on a regular basis. If you notice bits of sauce, a stray onion, or a clump of cheese sizzling on the oven floor, you might as well clean it up now instead of waiting until it’s black and crusted over.

If you’re having trouble with one of your appliances, contact Absolute Appliances Repair for fast, reliable in-home service today!

REPAIRING A DISHWASHER

The control panels on the latest dishwashers can look intimidating.

They’re loaded with so many dials, push buttons, and other features that the machine looks too complex to repair. This is actually not the case. With the exception of the control panel, dishwashers haven’t changed much in basic design over the last two decades. You can repair most dishwasher malfunctions yourself, and we’ll discuss tips for do-it-yourself service and maintenance in this article.

Dishwasher parts can be replaced as a unit, which is often easier and less expensive than having a professional service person make repairs. If you aren’t sure a part is still usable, remove it from the dishwasher and take it to a professional for testing. You can then decide whether to buy a new part or have the old one repaired on the basis of the repair estimate.

Dishwashers usually run on 115-volt or 120-volt power. The water they use comes directly from the water heater, and wastewater is drained into the sink’s drainpipe. The dishwasher is not connected to the cold-water supply. For best dishwashing results, set the temperature control of the water heater to no less than 140 degrees Farenheit. Water cooler than this usually doesn’t get the dishes clean, unless your dishwasher is a newer model that preheats incoming water. The water shutoff for the dishwasher is typically located below the adjoining sink.

Caution: Because the dishwasher is connected to both the plumbing system and the electrical system, you must consider both systems when working on this appliance. Before doing any work on the dishwasher, make sure the unit is unplugged or the power to the unit is turned off, and remove the fuse or trip the circuit breaker that controls the circuit at the main entrance panel or at a separate panel. Shut off the water supply to the dishwasher at the shutoff in the basement or crawl space under the kitchen.

 

DISHWASHER NOT DRAINING

Piston & Nut Assembly

Some models of dishwashers utilize a check valve as part of the drain sump. Within the check valve there is the piston and nut assembly. If your dishwasher is not draining water properly, the piston and nut assembly could be the source of the problem. This assembly is located on the bottom of the tub beneath the sump cover and is accessed by removing four screws. The piston and nut assembly should move up and down freely. When the piston is in the down position, it should form a tight seal. If it is not forming a complete seal, the dishwasher will not completely pump out the water and the piston and nut assembly will need to be replaced.

You should also check the body valve gasket to make sure it is fitting properly over the threaded portion of the piston and nut assembly and replace if damaged or worn.

Drain Pump & Motor

All dishwashers will have a method to drain the water. Most models will have a single motor driven pump with two separate compartments, one for circulation and one for drain, each with its own impeller. Other types will have a separate drain pump and some will utilize the main circulating pump in conjunction with a drain solenoid and diverter valve or flapper. On models that use a separate drain pump you should check to see if there is any obstruction to the input and output of the pump and also verify that there is power getting to the pump motor during the drain portion of the cycle. If both check ok, then you should replace the pump and motor assembly.

On models that use a drain flapper and solenoid, again you should check for any obstructions and verify that the solenoid is getting energized and that there is continuity. Use a multi-meter to make these tests. Check that the linkage operating the flapper or diverter is moving freely and replace any defective parts. On models that have a two section pump, the drain impeller may be at fault. First, verify that the motor is running in the proper direction. If the motor does not run, then check for power at the terminals on the motor. If voltage is not present, then you should check door switches, timer or electronic control as a possible cause. If proper voltage is present, then the motor windings could be open. If the motor is humming, then the problem could be that the drain impeller is jammed or the motor could be seized. If the motor is seized, then the motor or motor and pump assembly will need to be replaced. The electrical checks can be made with a multi-meter.

Disassembly of the pump will be required to determine if the impeller is the problem. The drain compartment is typically located beneath the circulating compartment. Remove the lower rack, spray arm, pump cover and filter assembly to gain access. Inspect the drain impeller for damage or wear and replace if required. Also check that the food chopper is in good condition and not allowing large food particles to clog the drain outlet, and that both the chopper and impeller are turning freely.

Check Valve Flapper

Some dishwasher models will use a check valve in the drain outlet. The check valve is used to allow water to flow in one direction but will prevent the dirty water from re-entering the dishwasher. The valve is normally a rubber flapper that is located on the outlet port of the drain pump or housing. If you suspect that the drain hose has a restriction or if you find that waste water is getting back into the dishwasher tub, then the check valve is most likely the problem. The flapper valve should fully open during the drain portion of the cycle but should close the opening to the pump outlet when in the wash or circulation portion of the cycle. If there are no foreign objects restricting this action, then the check valve should be replaced.

Belt

Some older dishwashers may use a belt driven pump. If the belt has come off or is slipping then the pump that drains the dishwasher won’t function properly. Inspect the belt for signs of wear or stretching and replace if required.

Timer

Some dishwashers will use a mechanical timer to operate the cycles. The timer controls the main pump motor as well as the drain solenoid or separate drain pump motor if your model has that style. The timer is normally located in the control panel at the top of the dishwasher door. You will require a wiring diagram and schematic to identify the correct timer contacts that control the drain cycle. These can then be checked for continuity with a multi-meter and if defective then the timer will need to be replaced.

Drain Hose

A dishwasher will not drain properly if it has a restricted or clogged drain hose. Restrictions typically appear most often at the outlet from the pump or drain housing where a check valve may be located, at the input to the household drain system or anywhere that a kink may have formed in the drain hose. If food debris has caused a restriction, then you should check the condition of the food chopper as a possible source of the problem. If the hose has developed a kink it should be replaced and the new hose should be supported well enough to prevent any new kinks from forming.

More Repair Parts

We’ve identified the most common parts that can cause a dishwasher to stop draining, but there are other parts that could be at fault. If you are unable to fix your dishwasher with the information above, enter your model number into the search box for additional repair help. Searching with your model number will give you access to all parts and schematics, symptoms for your specific dishwasher as well as all installation instructions and videos.

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

Phone lines

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

 

 

APPLIANCES RECENT NEWS

Samsung adds a Sodastream dispenser to its new refrigerator

 

If you like sparkling water or homemade soft drinks flavored with syrup, the Samsung RF31FMESBSR four-door refrigerator might deserve a spot in your kitchen. Samsung partnered with Sodastream, manufacturer of the countertop soda makers that have become popular in recent years. The refrigerator’s dispenser uses the same CO2 cylinders as the countertop devices. The cost of the sparkling water works out to about 25 cents per liter, if you get 60 liters to the cylinder, according to Sodastream. Syrups, available in more than 60 regular and diet flavors, are an additional cost. The cylinders and syrups are available online and at 10,000 locations, so you shouldn’t have to travel far for replacements.

KitchenAid dishwasher recycles water as it washes

Twenty years ago, it wasn’t unusual for a dishwasher tested by Consumer Reports to use 10 gallons of water or more for a normal cycle. Today, because of tighter federal efficiency standards, half that amount is common. And this week, Whirlpool introduced a KitchenAid dishwasher that’s even more of a water miser, using up to a third less water with a water-recycling system made available two years ago in Europe.

The AquaSense Recycling system, which will appear first in Whirlpool’s KitchenAid, filters the water from the last rinse of one load of dishes and uses it to prerinse the next load. It stores the extra water in a slim tank on the side of the dishwasher (at right in photo), which holds a little more than three quarts of water, without the need to enlarge the dishwasher cavity. The rinse water is mostly clean, company representatives said, but contains a residual amount of detergent that makes the water slightly alkaline and discourages mold growth.

And AquaSense has other ways to keep the system clean. If you don’t use your dishwasher again within three days, or if you lose power for a period, the dishwasher drains the holding tank. And every 30 days (or 30 cycles), the unit adds an extra 30 minutes to a cycle to flush out the tank and lines with hot water.

DISHWASHER NOT CLEANING?

If your dishwasher is running but the dishes aren’t getting clean, one of these simple fixes could solve your problem. Start by consulting your manual to be sure you’re using the right detergent, loading the dishes correctly and maintaining the right hot water temperature.

Insufficient water in the dishwasher also can cause poor cleaning. If the float gets stuck in the raised position, the dishwasher won’t fill with water. Another likely cause is a clogged inlet screen or faulty inlet valve. To determine if your dishwasher is getting enough water, start a wash cycle. Open the door when you hear the machine stop filling. The water should reach or come close to the heating coil. If it doesn’t, first make sure the float valve is operating freely. If this doesn’t solve the problem, check the inlet valve and screen.

Inlet valves that are starting to fail sometimes make a hammering noise. If you hear this, replace the valve. But before you start any work on the dishwasher, unplug it or turn off the power at the shutoff switch or main circuit panel. Test to see if the power is off by turning on the dishwasher and making sure it doesn’t run. You’ll also have to shut off the water before removing the inlet switch. Usually you’ll find a shutoff valve under the kitchen sink or in the basement or crawl space under the dishwasher. Otherwise, close the main water valve.

Whether you’re replacing the valve or simply cleaning the screen, you’ll have to unscrew the brass fitting that connects the water line to the valve. Remove the four screws that secure the valve to the bracket to access the filter screen. Reassemble and reinstall the valve in the reverse order. Wrap Teflon tape around the fitting threads before screwing the fitting into the valve.

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

Phone lines

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

 

DISHWASHER WATER-SAVING TIPS

DISHWASHER

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 A DISHWASHER

how to buy a dishwasher, dishwasher buying guideDishwashers rule for more reasons than getting rid of dishpan hands.

They slash hours off your weekly chores, literally hide your dirty dishes, and, best of all, use less water than hand-washing – 9 gallons versus 20.But should you go for a high-end European unit that will run you $700 or pick up a basic model for under $200? Here’s what to consider:

Is it the right size?

The standard width of a dishwasher is 24 inches, but 18-inch models are also available. If you usually make reservations for dinner, a smaller unit might work for you. Go for a larger washer if you like to cook at home or have big dinner parties.

Can it get into hot water?

The water heaters in most homes are set to 110 degrees. But to get your dishes sparkling clean, a dishwasher needs water heated to 140 degrees. Make sure the unit you buy has a water-heating feature.

Is it eco-friendly?

Approximately 25 percent of dishwashers meet green guidelines set by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program. So be sure to check for the yellow Energy Guide label on machines. The lower the Energy Star number, the more efficient the washer is. This will also translate into a lower overall utility bill!

dishwasher_couponDoes it have all the cycles?

Almost all brands come with the standard light, normal, heavy, and pots/pans settings. But the rinse-and-hold feature is a bonus that removes food from dishes that are going to sit before a full cycle runs — a big plus if you tend to use every last dish in the cabinet before turning on the dishwasher.

Is there already enough noise in the house?

Consider how important a quiet wash cycle is before you commit to a unit. If you usually run your dishwasher at night, look for machines with added insulation and smaller motors.

Are you a control freak?

Smart controls are available on state-of-the-art dishwashers. These use sensors to monitor cleaning during wash cycles and tailor the machine’s effort to meet the load’s requirement.

Plan on moving?

A good dishwasher will last about nine years. So if you’re planning on sticking around your current nest, spend a little more now and spare yourself from prematurely having to buy another dishwasher!

Article by Margaret Winslow

CLEANING A DISHWASHER

Step 1. Empty dishwasher and remove dish racks

Step 2. Remove and clean spray arms

With your hands, unscrew the caps or bolts that secure the spray arms, or pop off the spray arms using a screwdriver.

Soak the spray arms in a sink full of water mixed with soap and a cup of vinegar.

Use an old toothbrush to further loosen debris, and use tweezers, needle-nose pliers or fine wire to remove larger debris from the holes. Be careful not to scratch the spray arms.

Tips:

  • For a deeper cleaning, thread a fine wire through each hole to the center. Every time you pull the wire out, some debris will get dislodged.
  • For tough mineral deposits, soak spray arms in straight vinegar.

Step 3. Clean dishwasher door and gasket/seal

Use an old toothbrush dipped in hot, soapy water to loosen any debris built up around the inside of the door (especially at the bottom), in the grooves and crevices of the rubber gasket, and around the hinges.

Wipe around edges of the door and gasket with a damp cloth or sponge soaked in hot, soapy water or white vinegar to remove loose debris.

Step 4. Clean around drain at bottom of dishwasher

Wipe around drain with a rag or paper towels to remove any food remnants that could be preventing wastewater from draining.

Step 5. Clean dishwasher filter

efer to your owner’s manual to determine the filter location and proper method of removal.

Remove and disassemble in your sink.

With a toothbrush, wash filter parts with soapy water or baking soda paste.

Step 6. Reassemble and replace dish racks and filter

Move on to tackling deeper cleaning as needed.

Step 7. Remove hard water deposits (scale) inside dishwasher (optional)

Put 1/4 cup of acidic powder (e.g., lemonade mix or Tang) or baking soda into the detergent cup.

Put 2 cups of distilled white vinegar in the bottom of the dishwasher or in a dishwasher-safe cup on the top rack.

Run dishwasher through a light or short cycle (without dishes) using the hottest water available but with the heated-dry option off.

If possible, stop machine midwash and let it stand for 20 minutes to give vinegar a chance to work. Turn on and finish cycle.

When done, wipe the inside walls with a soft rag or dry paper towels.

Step 8. Remove mildew or mold from inside dishwasher (optional)

Add 1/2 to 1 cup bleach to the bottom of the dishwasher.

WARNING: Do not use bleach if you have a stainless steel interior or door.

Run dishwasher through a light or short cycle (without dishes). Run separately from the acidic powder cycle above.

WARNING: Never mix household cleaners, especially bleach, with other cleaners or chemicals.

Step 9. Remove rust stains (optional)

Put dishwasher-safe rust remover into detergent cup and on the bottom of the dishwasher.

Run dishwasher through a light or short cycle (without dishes).

If rust is caused by a chipping or flaking wire basket, try a paint-on sealant made specifically for dishwasher racks.

If rust is caused by minerals in the water, consider investing in a water purification and filtration system.

Step 10. Clean front and sides of dishwasher

Spray with mild cleaner or stainless steel cleaner.

Wipe with sponge or soft cloth.

Don’t forget the controls, handle and ledge between panels.

Tip: For a streak-free finish, spray cleaner on a towel and wipe on. Wipe cleaner off with a second clean towel.

Step 11. Clean flatware basket

Use liquid dish soap and a scrub brush to remove debris.

Maintenance tips

  • DO use your dishwasher regularly. It will help prevent food and other debris from building up, reducing the need to clean it.
  • DO leave dishwasher door ajar after cycle to let it dry out. It will prevent the growth of mold and mildew—and the stinky odor that comes with it.
  • DON’T wash containers that have labels that could come loose.
  • DO scrape heavy debris off dishes before placing them in the dishwasher.
  • DON’T bother rinsing dishes. It’s a waste of time and water. Detergent works best on dirty dishes, not clean ones.
  • DO use a rinse aid such as Jet-Dry to help your dishwasher stay cleaner.
  • DON’T use dishwashing gel. It typically contains bleach that causes rubber seals to break down and leak. It also tends to stick and leave a film in the dishwasher.

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

Phone lines

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

 

10 Appliance Maintenance Tips You Can Do

Many people think of cleaning as a chore, but periodic maintenance of your household appliances can potentially save you from a list of repairs. Regular upkeep, such as replacing worn appliance parts, will improve the appliance’s efficiency while also keeping more money in your wallet. Take 10 minutes out of your schedule to try one of these 10 quick and easy maintenance tips.

Verify Oven Door Has Tight Seal:

Over 20% of your oven’s heat can escape if the door is not sealed properly.

  • Open the oven door and locate the rubber gasket around the perimeter of the door.
  • Feel for any broken, torn or deformed areas on your seal. Close the door and see if you can find any leaks.
  • Replace the gasket if necessary.

 

Clean or Replace Dirty Vent Filters:

  • Metal-mesh grease filters can be washed by hand in soapy water or you can put them in your dishwasher for a thorough cleaning.
  • Don’t attempt to wash charcoal or paper filters; they need to be replaced.

 

Clean Stovetop Drip Bowls:

  • Remove drip bowls from underneath your burner elements.
  • Presoak the drip bowls in a cleaning solution for 5 minutes. Then wash, clean and replace.
  • Remember to clean drip bowls immediately after spills. If spills burn into the bowls you may need to replace them.

 

Clean Coils In Your Refrigerator:

  • Depending on your model, the coils are either behind the kickplate or at the rear of the fridge.
  • Use a shop or handheld vacuum to suck up any loose particles.
  • Vacuum every 6-12 months.

 

Change Refrigerator Water Filter:

Filters that don’t efficiently remove contaminants and impurities may expose you to harmful water.

  • Follow water filter instructions, as all water filters are different depending on model. However, most are as easy as turning the filter one quarter inch and popping it out or locking it in place.
  • Change the filter every 3-6 months depending on water condition and usage.

 

Fix Rusty Dishrack Tines:

If your tines are rusty, the rust can adhere to and ruin your dishes and silverware.

  • Purchase a tine repair kit.
  • Use a sealant to adhere the tips over any rusty or chipped tines.
  • Let dry for at least 24 hours before running your dishwasher.

 

Clean and Deodorize Garbage Disposal:

  • Make sure the unit has been turned off.
  • Look down the drain for any large, stuck items. Don’t stick your hands in the disposal. Use tongs or another tool to fish items out.
  • Prepare a mixture of ice cubes and salt (or vinegar) and pour it down the drain. Run cold water over it for 10 seconds and then turn the unit on.
  • To deodorize, place a handful of citrus peels in the disposal, run cold water and turn it on.

 

Clean Dryer Exhaust:

Lint in your dryer exhaust is a fire hazard; clean the exhaust annually.

  • Loosen the clamp and pull the exhaust off the back of the dryer.
  • Remove clumps of lint from the tubing and the hole in the back of the dryer. Use a coat hanger to carefully remove any large clumps that you can’t reach with your hands.
  • Vacuum all the small lint.
  • Reattach exhaust.

 

Inspect Washing Machine Hoses:

Most washing machine floods are caused by leaks in the hose.

  • Remove the panel on your washing machine.
  • Search for any cracks, leaks or weak spots on your hoses.
  • Replace the hose if needed.

 

Clean Your Air Conditioner Filter:

  • Pop off the front panel of your unit.
  • Replace disposable filter or vacuum re-usable filter to remove as much dirt as possible.
  • Clean your filter every 2-4 weeks.

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.