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Overloading it

Overloading it
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“If there are too many dishes loaded in the washer, the chances of overheating go up greatly,” says Mark Stoltzenburg, an HVAC/R-MAR program director/instructor at the Midwest Technical Institute. “Many of the components inside have a safety device to protect them from overheating, but by overloading the dishwasher those devices have a harder job, and component failure is more likely.”

Don’t miss these nearly-forgotten house cleaning tips from the past. 

Using the delay cycle

Using the delay cycle
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“Even if the delay start option is invented to deliver comfort and convenience, in a mechanical point of view, your appliance works harder to warm the water to the required temperature for dish-washing,” Smith says. “A harder and longer operation always impacts service life and reliability.”

Forgetting to empty the food trap

Forgetting to empty the food trap
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Extra food particles that don’t come off dishes from an initial rinse gets collected in your dishwasher’s food trap. To avoid clogging, Family Handyman recommends lifting up the arm at the bottom of your dishwasher to empty the food trap about once a week. It might be making your dishwasher mouldy.

Running through candle holders without removing melted wax

Running through candle holders without removing melted wax
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Hood says people often throw candle holders and glass votives in the dishwasher without removing the melted wax first. The wax can cause residue build-up, which if not removed, can clog the wash and drain pump over time.

Putting in items that are too dirty

Putting in items that are too dirty
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Items marred by dirt, sand, machine grease and metal shavings should all be kept out of the dishwasher. “The system is robust, but if too much dirt gets into the dishwasher these fine particles might get into the rack tracks and inner workings of the system,” says Christopher Carlson, a senior analyst in dishwasher engineering and technology for Whirlpool Corporation. “Best to rinse off those picnic dishes from the beach before loading them.”

Skipping surge protectors

Skipping surge protectors
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It may seem extreme, but installing surge protectors can prevent future dishwasher breakdowns by diverting extreme voltage in the case of a power surge or spike brought on by a thunderstorm or lightning strike, Smith says. The bonus: these protectors will protect all your big appliances from electrical shock during a storm.

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Not using a dishwasher cleaning product

Not using a dishwasher cleaning product
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You know to use dishwasher soap to clean the dishes, but are you cleaning the dishwasher itself? Rogers recommends running a dishwasher on an empty cycle every three to six months to clear calcium deposits. “This prevents the sprayer arm from becoming clogged, so you don’t have to worry about repairing it prematurely,” he says. Running once a month with white vinegar instead of detergent also keeps the machine running efficiently and eliminates any lingering odours. It’s one of the many dishwasher problems you’ll regret ignoring!

Now discover 16 things you never knew you could put in the washing machine. 

Using cheap dishwasher products

Using cheap dishwasher products
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Saving a buck on dishwasher soaps, detergent or degreasing products can cost you in the long run, Smith advises. “The best rule of thumb is to use only top-rated dishwasher products to clean the dishwasher interior,” she says. The best bet is to buy products labelled as “detergents.” The particles in cleaning powders can scratch the interior appliance surface, lead to clogs and cause leaks.

Forgetting to lock the filter at the bottom of the dishwasher

Forgetting to lock the filter at the bottom of the dishwasher
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“This can cause large food items like nuts or even glass to get into the drain pump and cause damage to the line,” says Hood. “The mesh filter at the bottom of most dishwashers is for protection of the wash pump. If you don’t place the filter back into the lock position after removing it for cleaning, you are giving it the chance to move around during the wash cycle, allowing room for food particles and even glass to get into the drain pump which over time can clog or damage the line.”

Neglecting to clean the dishwasher screen

Neglecting to clean the dishwasher screen
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Check to see if there’s a filtering screen under the bottom spray arm of your dishwasher. Rogers says this is present in some models and cleaning this regularly can prevent trapped food particles from turning into a sludge that blocks water flow.

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