Archive for the ‘FAQ’ Category

Dishwasher troubleshooting: How much dish detergent to use

January 31, 2013
Who's ever been that happy to open her dishwasher? I'll have what she's having, please.

Who’s ever been that happy to open her dishwasher? I’ll have what she’s having, please.

When determining how much dishwasher soap to use, ignore the size of the dispenser in your dishwasher and whatever you do, ignore the suggestions made by the detergent-makers, whose interest it is to get you to overuse soap.

You probably only need a fraction of what detergent-makers want you to use. If that sounds fishy to you, consider that modern dishwashers use far less water than their ancestors, they also require less soap to do the job.

Back in the late 70s, the average dishwasher cycle burned through 11 to 15 gallons. This decreased to an average six to 10 gallons per normal cycle in 2000. These days, dishwashers use as little as 2 gallons of water; they simply use it better.

 

Proper dishwasher detergent amount

So, the answer to the $64,000 question?

KitchenAid says to use anywhere from 2 teaspoons to 3 tablespoons, depending on how dirty your dishes are and how hard your water is:

dishwasherdetergentamountchart1

Postscript (now, this is important)

soap-dishwasherIt doesn’t matter how much or how little soap you use, if you pre-wash your dishes, they won’t get as clean. Sounds counter-intuitive, right?

But dishwasher detergent needs a little bit of grime to activate. And some dishwashers are equipped with a “turbidity sensor,” which monitors how clean the water in the dishwasher is and adjust accordingly, eliminating cycles and not fully heating the water if the dishwasher doesn’t sense that it needs to.

Scrape, don’t rinse and try using less soap. Get the hardness of your water tested, as that can also be a giant leap toward clean dishes.

HOW TO: clean stove drip pans

January 26, 2012

OK, stop acting like you're having fun. Cleaning the stove is NOT fun. Especially with that spray; you'll be scrubbin' all night.

Cleaning my stove top reminds me of making the bed: even if I do it today, I’m still going to have to do it tomorrow, too.

If you have an electric coil stove you have drip pans, which — by name — catch drips. Even if you clean your range top often, it’s a mess the next time you cook.

So the clean up should be quick and easy, or it won’t get done, right?

The method I’ve suggested before is cleaning stove drip pans with a paste. But no matter how wonderful, applying the paste and rinsing the pans is still more than some of us have time for on a nightly basis.

And this applies to gas stove tops like mine, too. Lots of drips land on the burner caps and below the grates.

The fastest, easiest — and perhaps even most effective way to clean the surface — Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, or a generic version of this melamine foam sponge.

It looks like an ordinary sponge, but because it’s melamine, it actually has little microscrubbers that can remove discoloration and baked on mess with minimal elbow grease.

That being said, it is abrasive in nature so it can scratch or dull surfaces if you’re not careful (Bon-Ami is a great alternative in this case). ‘

If you’re like me, you get so excited about the sudden ease of cleaning your seemingly impossible stove top that you move on to those marks on the floor, that mildew in the shower grout…

Front load washer taking longer than it says it will?

January 23, 2012

But the washer said it would be done by meow! What's taking so long...

I love my front load washer. It fits double the load of my old top load washer, cleans better and spins out more water so I don’t have to ruin my my clothes by drying them for an eternity.

It also estimates the amount of time it will take to finish the cycle, which comes in handy when deciding whether I should wait around to throw the clean clothes in the dryer or run an errand.

But what about when the washer shows the wrong time estimate? Maybe sometimes when your washing machine says it will take 40 minutes, it takes 50 minutes instead.

Your clothes washer time to complete a cycle is based on the type of laundry detergent you use, the size and type of your load, which cycle you chose and temperature and pressure of your water.

So, for instance, if you use too much detergent, it will “oversuds” and take longer to rinse out of your clothes. (Some brands will flash “Sd” or “Sud” on the indicator when this happens. To avoid, use the recommended amount of HE detergent).

If the load is unbalanced, say, due to you only washing one item or particularly a bulky item, your washer will keep trying to rebalance itself and that will add minutes to the process.

No brainer: larger loads will take longer to clean, especially on specialty cycles like delicate.

If you choose a sanitatization or white cycle, the water will need to be hot and if the incoming water is cold — well, you get the idea.

7 most popular appliance blog posts of 2011

December 28, 2011

A post on cleaning the dishwasher was a top dog.

Though not the most-read posts of all time on the Warners’ Stellian Appliance blog, these next 7 posts garnered the most views of those written this year.

7. HOW TO: clean a dishwasher

With more states banning phosphates in dishwashers without consumers possibly noticing, dishwashers got white film.

But a regular maintenance cleaning is always a good idea.

6. HOW TO: clean cast iron grates

If you’re lucky enough to have cast iron grates, you’re unlucky enough to handle cleaning them. The experts at Wolf Range weighed in.

5. DIY Network ‘Rehab Addict’ Nicole Curtis talks appliances

Old house lover/rehabber Nicole Curtis invited us into her “Minnehaha House” in Minneapolis for tips on fixing up kitchens and buying the right appliances.

4. Stove drip pans cleaning tips

Is there anything worse than the grime that builds up on the burner pans on your stove top? Not only do I include a deep-cleaning method, but I offer up the secret ingredient to easily keeping those drip pans shiny on a weekly basis.

3. How long does a dishwasher last?

2. How long does a refrigerator last?

1. How long does a washer last?

No, you’re right; they don’t make ‘em like they used to. (But believe me, that’s not all bad!) Unfortunately, gone are the days when you could expect your appliances to last a decade and a half. Find the new lifespans in each post above.

If your stove dies on Thanksgiving

November 23, 2011

Many stoves choose to end their life right around the time you’ve finally finished thawing, brining, trussing and stuffing that huge bird on Thanksgiving morning.

Now your oven very well might be dead, but sometimes you just need to give it the ol’ Fonzie treatment.

Now, I’m not actually suggesting you punch your juke, er…range; but try shutting off your circuit or unplugging your appliance for 20 minutes. It’s always the first advice I give customers before we attempt service — and it’s worked before! Best case scenario, you’re back in business once you plug it back in or reset the circuit.

If you have a gas range and the cooktop is working but the oven isn’t, flip the regulator switch (which automatically cuts off the flow of gas at a certain pressure).

If you’re still getting an error code or the unit is still dead, you’re probably going to need service. You can call us on Friday at 651-222-0011 (opt. 4).

But at least you tried. In a pinch, fire up the grill.

Ice maker not working: Refrigerator not making ice

October 31, 2011

When your refrigerator’s ice maker isn’t working, you should definitely do some ice maker troubleshooting before calling repair.

Many people don’t even know how an icemaker works, so your ice maker problems can be a simple misunderstanding.

JennAir.com

Make sure the metal arm on your ice maker is DOWN and any control is set to “ON.”

Is the water supply properly connected and turned on? It should be, also.

A loose drain cap can leave you with thin ice because water will empty from the water pan, so tighten that drain cap!

The drain tube could be clogged from sediment, which you can flush out by shutting off the water line, waiting, and turning back on. Ensure there are no kinks in the drain that could prevent the flow of rejected water out.

Those are just basic tips everyone should try before calling for ice maker repair. Hopefully it works for you.

 

Dishwasher troubleshooting: Dishwasher drying tips

October 11, 2011

If your dishes come out of the dishwasher looking like this...

If your dishwasher isn’t drying, just know that your dishwasher drying problems might be completely fixable.

The No. 1 cause of wet dishes is lack of rinse aid, or drying aid as I like to call it.

Most think of rinse aid’s aesthetic benefits, because it helps water “sheet” off dishes rather than forming water droplets that cling and leave icky  spots.

But modern dishwashers are designed to use rinse aid for drying, so without it, your dishes and dishwasher interior will have excessive moisture. Also, the heated dry option will not perform as well without rinse aid.  (Now is a good time to check if your dishwasher includes a Heated Dry – or Extra Dry – option you might not be using.)

Once you fill your rinse aid dispenser, don’t forget to refill it. A full dispenser will last about a month, but I top mine off every couple weeks.

Proper loading also ensures good drying performance. Load items, especially plastic, at an angle so water can sheet off. Plastics have a porous surface and tend to collect droplets, so they take longer to dry and might not dry completely in a normal dry cycle.

For best results, the water should be 120 degrees F as it enters the dishwasher – not lower or higher by much. If your water heater is located far from the dishwasher, it may be necessary to run the hot water at the faucet closest to the dishwasher to minimize the amount of cold water in the water line.

HOW TO: defrost a freezer in 10 easy steps

July 29, 2011

I think it might be time to defrost...

Most refrigerator-freezers and many standalone freezers feature automatic defrost, but for long-term food storage, manual defrost freezers can be the best option.

So when the ice crystals lining the walls of your manual defrost freezer stacks ¼- to ½- inch, it’s time to defrost.

Don’t lose your cool. It’s easier than you think, using these 10 steps adapted from Frigidaire:

1. Unplug your freezer. This keeps you from being electrocuted.

2. Open the freezer door and keep it open throughout the process.

3. Remove food into a cooler

4. On upright freezers with a defrost drain, remove the drain plug on the inside floor
of the freezer by pulling straight out. To access external drain tube on models with a
base panel, first remove the two screws from the base panel. Locate the drain tube
near the left center under the freezer. Place a shallow pan under the drain tube. Defrost
water will drain out. Check pan occasionally so water does not overflow. A ½ inch
garden hose adapter can be used to drain the freezer directly into a floor drain. If your
model is not equipped with an adapter, one can be purchased at most hardware
stores. Replace the drain plug when defrosting and cleaning are completed. If the
drain is left open, warm air may enter freezer.

5. On chest freezers with a defrost drain, place a shallow pan or the Divider/Drain Pan
(some models) beneath the drain outlet (Figure 2). A ½ inch garden hose adapter can
be used to drain the freezer directly into a floor drain (Figure 3). If your model is not
equipped with an adapter, one can be purchased at most hardware stores. Pull out
the drain plug inside the freezer, and pull off the outside defrost drain plug (Figure 4).
Defrost water will drain out. Check pan occasionally so water does not overflow.
Replace the drain plugs when defrosting is completed.

***If you don’t have a defrost drain, line the freezer bottom with towels to catch
the frost. The frost will loosen and fall. Remove towels and/or newspapers.

6. If the frost is soft, remove it by using a plastic scraper (or if you’re a cheap & hardy Minnesotan like me, an old CD).
7. If the frost is hard, fill deep pans with hot water and place them on the freezer bottom. Close the freezer door. Frost should soften in about 15 minutes, after which you can refer to No. 6. Repeat if necessary.

8. After defrosting, wash inside surfaces and removable parts of the freezer with a solution of two tablespoons of baking soda in one quart warm water. Rinse and dry. Wring excess water
out of the sponge or cloth when cleaning in the area of the controls, or any electrical parts.
Never use metallic scouring pads, brushes, abrasive cleaners, nor alkaline solutions on any surface.

9. Replace drain plug and food.

10. Close freezer door.

Window AC shortage means you better keep yours working

June 20, 2011

I’ve blogged previously about this summer’s air conditioning unit shortage, which will likely not be noticed until more retailers sell out (we still have stock; we were shipped 100% of our order.).

This weekend, my brother Joe Warner shared tips on what to know when buying a window AC, and more importantly, how to keep it working for summers to come.

>>Watch video here: How to maintain your window air conditioner

Really, maintenance becomes most relevant during a manufacturing shortage. If you don’t have a window air conditioner, you probably bought one or are buying one this week.

But what if you already have one, and it breaks down in the middle of July? You probably will be out of luck when trying to replace it. So stay cool and listen to my brother’s wisdom!

As always, professional installation and maintenance is a good investment to consider, and we offer easy (no-sweat, ha!) plans for you.

Dishwasher troubleshooting: Dishwasher not cleaning dishes

June 15, 2011

Gloria Steinem said that the truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.

Well, here’s some truth for you. A lot of your dishwasher problems don’t have anything to do with your dishwasher — they have to do with you.

No other appliance operates with so many variables, many of which you can affect: the amount of dishes, the amount of soil, the amount of detergent and rinse aid, dish placement, etc.

Before you get all huffy because you spent X-hundred amount of dollars on the darn thing, understand that little, tiny changes to the way you do things will improve the cleaning results of your dishwasher immensely.

If you do nothing else differently, here’s the best dishwasher hack: just before you turn on your dishwasher, run your faucet until the water is steaming hot.

Otherwise, the water pumped into your dishwasher will be cold from sitting in your copper pipes. This way, you start with steamy water that has the best chance of reaching the high temperatures necessary for cleaning and drying completely. Water needs to be heated to 140-degrees Fahrenheit to dissolve food messes and disinfect dishes.

Read more tips on how to fix your dishwasher.


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