We specialize in fixing broken appliances, but the truth is that many of the most common problems can be easily prevented. That’s why we’re answering some of the most frequently asked appliance questions to help you save money and avoid future repairs.
Big changes have taken place in environmental laws. The phosphates we have relied on for so many years have been banned from both dishwasher and washing machine detergent. The result is that your detergent just does not clean like it used to. Great for the environment but changes what we need to do to get our dishes clean.
Dishwasher soaps are not created equal! There are two types of dishwasher soap, bleach-based and enzyme based. Bleach-based soap, like Cascade, is mainly for stains on glasses and dishes and are not great for cleaning food off the plates. Enzyme-based soap, like Finish tabs, is for breaking down food particles. Surprise! Until now, no product had both ingredients. Finish Quantum tabs is the first to combine the two cleaning agents. It may seem a little expensive but as they do not have all the fillers most powders have, it actually costs the same as the box of powder. They combine the two, bleach and enzymes, with the added bonus of jet dry for sparkling clean dishes.
Q: How can I make my dishwasher clean better?
A: To begin, always read your user’s manual for their recommendations. We may not always agree, but it is a good place to start!
Do you have hard water? A good way to tell is if you see a white residue buildup in your dishwasher or around your water faucets. Those are mineral deposits from hard water. If you have hard water, you absolutely must use an additive in combination with your regular soap. However, if you have a water softener in your home, use a little less detergent, as it tends to foam more.
How hot is the water out of your sink? Your water temperature will make a huge difference in how well your unit cleans. Typically, your water temperature should be around 140 degrees. Always run your water at the sink until it is hot prior to starting the machine. Trust me, it will make a difference.
Q: Should I use powder, liquid, or tabs?
A: Our first recommendation is to discontinue use of any liquid or gel-type detergent. It can actually gum up or build up in the appliance and cause damage to the machine.
Q: Do I need to pre-rinse my dishes prior to loading them into the machine?
A: No. You may have seen the commercials that show someone putting and entire cake in the dishwasher and everything comes out clean, but in the real world that is just not the case. Always scrape the debris off the plate prior to loading, and that includes every grain of rice! The food left on the plate actually activates the soap’s action! Note: If your dishwasher starts to smell bad, you probably have food debris in the sump and pump that needs to be addressed by a professional.
Q: Can I use liquid detergent (for hand washing) in my dishwasher?
A: No! No! No! Way too foamy! Even a little bit of hand-wash soap can cause intense foaming which can cause the unit to leak during its cycle. Which leads us back to the scrape only idea.
Q: Do I need rinse agent?
A: Whether you use the liquid, little hangy baskets, or tabs with the balls in them, rinse aid is important. As a matter of fact, some brands of dishwashers require it. It helps the water sheet off of the dishes, and viola, no spots! These units have no heating element and rely on the hot water at the end and the sheeting action to dry the dishes. I know some people feel that rinse aid may leave chemicals on their dishes. Not so! Studies show, the sheeting action actually takes away far more end-of-cycle debris, thus cleaner glasses and dishes, and any chemical residue was practically nonexistent.
Q: Is how I load the machine important?
A: Yes! Just make sure that the spray arms can spin freely and you can pretty well pack it in. Just use common sense in loading; if it looks like water wouldn’t get to it, it probably won’t. Sturdy stuff like pots on the bottom, dedicates on top, like glasses. And silver items should never be cleaned in the dishwasher. It will discolor them permanently.
Q: Is it okay to run the machine at night or when we are away?
A: Not advisable. Those units use a lot of water, and if something goes awry, it may leak all over your kitchen. And if you have experienced a leak and ruined your flooring, you know what a disaster that is. It is just prudent to be home to minimize any damage in case of failure. If you don’t like to run your unit during the day because it is just too noisy, there is probably a cause! Our company also has a fabulous little leak detector we sell that will screech when it comes in contact with water. (It also works for washers, behind refrigerators, or even the water heater). Give us a call if you have questions.
If your dishwasher is louder than is should be or does not clean as it used to, it is a good indication that it needs attention. As a workhorse in the home, it needs to be in peak condition. Call for professional service.
Refrigerator Water Filter
The life of refrigerator water filter is dependent upon the volume of contaminants in the water as well as the amount of use of the filter. Well water is more likely to contain contaminants not found in publicly treated water and may need even more frequent filter changes. As a rule of thumb, the filter should be changed every 6 to 12 months.
Failure to change these carbon-block filters allows contaminants to saturate the filter, forcing the filter to leak contaminants into the processed water. In a nutshell, after the life of the filter has expired, the water you are drinking may be even more contaminated by bacteria and impurities than what you were filtering out in the first place or bypassing all together!
You should also be careful not to purchase or install aftermarket water filters which were not made by the manufacturer of your refrigerator. Aftermarket, or non-OEM filters, are much more likely to fail and lead to other serious issues. They’re notorious for causing leaks and even damaging other refrigerator components during installation or replacement. Always purchase a brand-name filter for your model and follow the installation instructions carefully to avoid these problems.
And remember, refrigerator ice is also affected by your water filter. It comes from the same source. So, if your ice becomes smelly, cloudy, or has little floaties, it is time to change that filter!
Dryer Vent Safety and Maintenance
The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that 15,000 clothes dryer fires occur annually. These fires account for and average of 10 deaths, 310 injuries, and more than $67.7 million in property damage! (See our YouTube video on our home page).
The leading cause of home clothes dryer fires was a lack of maintenance, followed by unidentified or unknown-type mechanical failure.
If your unit is taking a long time to dry, it is time for a check up! Delay can not only cause your dryer to break down due to stress on components but it can be an indication that you are heading for a dangerous situation!
- Clean your lint filter every single load. It cuts down on drying time, saves energy, and discourages lint buildup. And teach your kids those good habits!
- Do not use dryer sheets. Studies have found that dryer sheets leave a residue in the dryer and can be detrimental to the machine’s components as well as contribute to vent lint buildup.
- Have your vent professionally cleaned yearly. It is an absolute must, especially if your ducting runs up to the roof, under the house, has elbows, or is longer than 5 feet.
- Do not use plastic vent material. It is not to code and it is a fire hazard! And much of the “accordion style” vent material that looks like aluminum is really silver-colored plastic. Do not be fooled!
- Do not push your dryer back too far against the wall, pinching off the vent. It simply won’t dry well and causes the lint to back up into the unit, causing a fire hazard.
- Keep the area under and surrounding the dryer clean.
- Make sure the exterior vent is not blocked. It needs to be clear of any type of debris, birds nests, soil, firewood, etc.
- Do not vent your unit into the laundry room. It’s dangerous to do so. Also, do not put a nylon stocking at the end of the vent to catch lint or vent it into a bucket of water. The air needs to flow freely to work properly.
- Do not dry any rags that have had contact with a flammable liquid. The chemicals may not have been removed in the wash cycle and can ignite in the dryer.
- If you have an older home, have an inspection. Your venting may not be to code and a fire hazard. It must be replaced!
These simple steps can make such a difference in the safety and security of your household. Call us today if we can offer assistance or request service right here online!