Dishwasher troubleshooting: Dishes not clean

Thanksgiving means two things: lots of food and lots of dirty dishes. And more dirt requires more soap, right?

WRONG.

Despite what you might think, too much soap can actually prevent your dishes from getting clean — especially on the top rack.

You should only use about half the amount of detergent recommended on the package. And if you have a water softener, you need only 1-2 teaspoons of powder — even less if you use liquid.

I think these people may have used too much detergent.

Too much soap can cause over-sudsing. Our customer service representative Maghan explained to me that the dishwasher tries to drain as much of the soap suds and food residue as it can. But when too much soap is used and it produces  so many suds, the dishwasher can’t drain it all in the time allowed.

So instead of draining, the soap bubbles pop inside, redepositing tiny food particles back onto the dishes, which show up most on glassware and silverware.

How do you know if you’re over-sudsing? Run a cycle without any soap. If suds are left at the bottom of the tub, you’re over-sudsing.

To remedy, we suggest a “vinegar cycle”:

  • Empty any dishes and shut soap door, without adding any detergent
  • Run dishwasher until it gets to the wash cycle
  • Open the door and check if the dispenser flap has opened
    • If it hasn’t, run for another minute or so until the flap opens
    • If the flap has opened, add the 1 cup vinegar and run through the full cycle.

You might have to repeat the process two or three times to ensure you’ve eliminated the build up of soap. Maghan also suggests trying a dishwasher cleaner like Glisten or Dishwasher Magic.

And I’ve said it again but I will continue to harp on about using rinse aid. It’s not just for looks, people! Maghan reminds us dishwashers today come designed to use rinse aid to help dry, as they lack a built-in fan.

So remember: gorge on turkey, just go easy on the soap, OK?

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Dishwasher troubleshooting: Dishes not drying

So you go to take your dishes out of the dishwasher and they’re completely wet. Sound familiar?

howtodrydishes

If your dishwasher has a stainless steel tub, you probably need rinse aid. Sure, your dishwasher could be the best, highest-efficiency model. It still needs rinse aid. Rinse aid helps dry dishes by reducing water droplet formation. (Note: If you have a plastic tub and your dishes aren’t drying, you might need a service call on the heating element.)

If you’ve added rinse aid to your dishwasher and your dishes still come out wet, check if you’re washing a lot of plastic dishes. Sometimes these can exacerbate the problem. Have you ever noticed that plastic dishes often come out with droplets of water while all your glass and porcelain dishes are completely dry? That’s because plastic does not hold heat the same way regular dishes do.

Why does that matter? It throws the dishwasher off its drying mojo. Here’s how the dishwasher drying process works:¬† The final rinse water reaches a very high temperature (at least 157 degrees on European models) — and the final rinse temperature is really important to the drying process. By now, the dishes ideally hold a lot of heat. But the stainless steel tub (hopefully you purchased a model with a SS tub) is a cooler surface, so the moisture collects on the tub and condensation naturally occurs.

Other things that throw the dishwasher off its drying mojo:

  1. Washing all the dishes before you load them. Scrape off large food pieces, but just say no to washing your dishes before you wash them! If the dishes are clean, your smart dishwasher cuts the wash time down. If this happens, the dishwasher may not have time to get hot enough. The water is heated to more than 40 degrees higher than the hot water being piped in. There are other reasons to not wash your dishes before you wash them, but I’ll save those for another post…
  2. You’re using the light or quick wash cycles for everyday stuff. It won’t usually wash or dry as well.
  3. You’re not using rinse aid (shame on you). Rinse aid is a key element in drying and it will keep everything sparkling as well.

So retire that dishtowel, OK?

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Ice Maker Not Working? Try This

Ice makers built into your refrigerator are super handy, but if something on a fridge requires troubleshooting, it’s usually our frosty freezer friend. The good news is you can probably diagnose and treat the most common problems without a service tech.

We’ve compiled some of our most frequently asked questions from about ice makers for you to print, save or bookmark¬†(or frame).

Click on links below to jump to a section or scroll down and read the post in its entirety

How do ice makers work?

Troubleshooting

Still having problems?

How do ice makers work?

Water constantly runs over a freezing plate in your ice maker. Meanwhile, minerals from your water are rejected; this mineral water, if you will, is drained with each ice-making cycle.

When the ice is thick enough, it slides down into a cutter grid that separates the sheet into cubes, which fall into the storage bin. A sensor determines when the bin is full and the ice maker shuts off until more ice is needed.

Key takeaways: The bin isn’t refrigerated so some melting will occur, especially if you take your good, sweet time loading the freezer after a trip to the grocery store. Also, higher temperatures in the freezer mean fewer cubes. So shut that door! Likewise, if you want more ice, dial your freezer to a colder setting, wait for 24 hours and see what happens. Wash, rinse, repeat — ice cubes!

If your freezer is completely cooled, you should get a batch of cubes every three hours. Note: It takes 24 hours for a newly installed ice maker to start making ice and 72 hours for it to swing into full operation. So be patient and remember to be supportive of your new fridge as it reaches its full ice-making potential.

Troubleshooting

Ice makers vary from model to model, but here are the most common issues and how to make them go away.

Ice maker not/barely producing ice

Is the control set to “ON”? It should be.

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. Shut off the water line, wait, and turn it back on. This should help flush the sediment out. And speaking of the drain tube, make sure there are no kinks in it as they could prevent the flow of that rejected water out.

Make sure the metal arm on your ice maker is DOWN. (Remember: There’s no “on” in UP, but there’s “on” in dOwN.)

My ice cubes are small/hollow

You probably have low water pressure. You need a cold water supply with pressure between 35 and 120 psi to properly operate the ice maker. If you have a water dispenser, you can test the pressure by filling a measuring cup for 5 seconds. If you end up with fewer than 3 ounces (a little more than 1/4 cup), your pressure is likely low.

Do you have a water filter in your fridge? It could be clogged or installed improperly. Remove the filter and see if your water flow improves. If it does, try reinstalling the filter. If that doesn’t work, buy a new filter.

My ice dispenser isn’t working

Is your dispenser locked? It might sound stupid, but that’s probably why you didn’t check it before you checked this. Press and hold the lock button for several seconds to unlock.

Has there been a recent power outage? If power goes out for more than one hour, some models disable the dispenser. Press and hold the reset button to fix this. (Some models beep when they’re finished resetting.)

Check the ice chute for large clumps or cubes that are blocking it (continue below)

My ice cubes clump together

Pull any clumps out out of the dispenser and wipe the area out with a warm, wet cloth and then make sure to give it another once-over with a dry cloth. Ice clumps in the bin could also be your problem, so give the bin a good shake. If the clumps don’t separate, empty it and clean it out. This is also the solution is ice has formed around the auger (that usually-metal spiral thingy in the middle of the bin). Remember: It’ll take 24 hours to the bin to refill.

Ice clumps aren’t always because of melting. Even if freezer temperatures stay well below freezing, water molecules can condense and refreeze back together where the cubes are touching each other. So naturally, clumps can be lessened with more frequent use of the ice dispenser (i.e. don’t ignore it for a week).

Ice cubes can clump because of increased moisture due to a bad dispenser seal or gaps on in the freezer-door gasket (the rubber that seals to the freezer cabinet — try rubbing Vaseline on its face if it’s not sealing.) You’ll know bad seals are the culprit if there’s frost on the cubes. Unwrapped fresh food in the freezer can also be releasing the extra moisture.

Still having problems?

Call us at (651)222-001, option 4. We have a group of real, customer service representatives who answer the phones right here in our St. Paul headquarters/warehouse from 8:30-5:30 Monday through Friday.

Or you can contact the manufacturer directly, if you prefer.

Take some time to leave your own maintenance tips in the comments. What’s gone wrong? What works to fix it and what doesn’t?