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How to clean and fix your dishwasher

If your dishwasher displays computer messages telling you what’s wrong with it or if it comes with its own repair manual or parts kit, use those to solve any problems. Otherwise, try the following remedies.

Caution: Before working on a dishwasher, unplug it. If you have a built-in unit, turn off the power to its circuit.

Cleanliness is important. Every 2 weeks remove the spray arm or arms (some simply lift out, others require the removal of screws). Shake out the arm and use a pipe cleaner to clear its ports. Scrub the filter screen (strainer) or basket with a stiff brush. Clean the tub of debris and wipe down the detergent dispenser and the inside surfaces. If mineral deposits form, dissolve them by pouring a cup of vinegar into the empty tub and running the machine through the wash cycle.

Cover any fresh nicks in the enameled surfaces or racks with an epoxy coating made especially for the purpose. If the nicks are left unattended, rust may develop beneath the surface and eventually result in leaks. Get rid of rust immediately; don’t try to cover it up.

Remedies for poor washing
The most common cause of poor washing is low water temperature. Run hot water from a kitchen faucet over a glass thermometer for 2 minutes. (Use a thermometer that registers over 212F) If the temperature is not between 140F and 160F, adjust the setting of your water heater.

Dishes maybe insufficiently scraped or rinsed, or the machine maybe overloaded or poorly stacked. Avoid nesting dishes one inside the other-water must reach all surfaces. Make sure that no dishes block the spray arm and no utensils protrude through the bottom of the silverware basket.

The detergent dispenser may be stuck. Scrape and wash out the cup, and never fill it quite full. Also avoid wetting the detergent beforehand. Eliminating noisy operation Dishes may clatter when struck by water; make sure that 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 1 inch of water above the sump area (the depression around the pump). If the water is too low, the trouble may be with the timer, inlet valve screen, or overflow switch. Call a repairman.

Fixing leaks
In certain locations a bowl may cause water to splash out around the door. Move the bowl. Trickles around the door may indicate that the door 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 are 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 held by two screws), and check all hose clamps. Tighten leaking worm-drive clamps with a screwdriver. If a leaking clamp is of the spring type, use special hose clamp pliers to remove it; replace it with a worm-drive clamp. Catch drips in a pan when undoing hoses. If the washer won’t start Check that the door is properly locked and that the push button or dial setting is correct. Then look for a blown fuse or an open circuit breaker to be sure the dishwasher is getting power. If it still won’t start, call a repairman.