Saturday, December 11, 2010

Dishwasher not getting hot

I have a 3 year old Kenmore Ultra Wash dishwasher. I am noticing this week that the water inside is not getting hot. Typically when open the door to put something in that I have forgotten I have massive amounts of steam coming out. This week I have seen almost no steam. I have tested the water in my sink and it is 130 degrees F. I have also tested my washing machine and my bathroom sink and shower that water is the same.

Do washing machines have a thermomenter? Could it be possible that mine is broken? Is this something we can fix ourselves or do I have to call a repairman? My husband is faily handy-- he has fixed our dryer before by watching a you tube video and we have a friend who is a plumber who installed the dishwasher for us. I would love not to call for service if I do not have to.

I look forward to a response.


My response to Lisa:

First check your setting on the dishwasher panel. Some dishwasher models have a energy saver button that will not allow the heater to come on during the cycle to save money. Also, the first wash water in the dishwasher could be cold water coming from the water pipes from the water heater. This is normal. Some model dishwashers have a thermostat mounted to the bottom of the tub to sense the water temperature within the tub. This thermostat will stall the wash cycle until the water temperature rises to 140 degrees.
I hope this information is helpful.

Lisa responded back:

We pushed the button that says "High Temp" that seems to have solved the issue -- right now. Thanks for your help!
Happy Holidays!

Please send me your how-to questions ( and I'll answer them in this forum, helping you decide if you can fix your appliances yourself or if you need to call a professional.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Dishes are not coming out clean

The dishes are not coming out clean. I have tried different brands of detergents
with no results. All the glasses have a white film rather than being clear and
the dishes have stains on them. Tonight I sat in front of the dishwasher and
checket it out after each cycle. It seems to me that it just sits there during
the washing cycle for the longest time and there were lots and lots of suds in
dishwasher. I am guessing about the cycle as the dishwasher panel does not not
have anything but "pots and pan", "normal" "dry" and "rinse and hold". Could the
soap be sticking the the dishes too long?
It is a kitchen aid about 15 years old. When problem started I changed the
tablets I was using to liquid, for a while it got better but now is even worse.
What form of detergent is best to buy?
I am not ready to buy a new one, especially when I hear the bad experiences
friends have had with fairly new dishwashers.
Any help would be appreciated. Don't want to go back to washing dishes by handl

My response to RSL

Dishwashers are similar to automatic clothes washers. They apply three kinds of energy on
the things to be washed. These forces are:
• Mechanical energy: Water that is sprayed on to the dishes to remove the food
• Heat energy: Using hot water to liquefy the fats and greases on dirty dishes.
• Chemical energy: Detergent dissolve the fats and greases off the dishes.
Dishwashers perform four basic functions that are modified and put together in different
ways to create the various cycles. The four functions are:
• Fill
• Wash/rinse
• Drain
• Dry
As with clothes washers, the only difference between the wash and rinse cycles is the
presence of detergent in the wash water. The mechanical activities that make up a wash and
a rinse cycle are basically the same function.
Unlike clothes washers, most dishwashers fill and begin to wash (or rinse) at the same
time. The functions are put together in various ways to make up different cycles

The temperature of the incoming water is critical to the operation of a dishwasher. Most
dishwashers have heaters, and some have delay periods that extend the time during which
water is heated to a specified point, but this does not fully compensate for low temperature
of the water supply. You can check the temperature of hot water at the sink nearest to the
dishwasher with a thermometer. Open the hot water faucet. Let the water run until it is as hot
as possible, and then insert the thermometer into the stream of water. On some models, if the
thermometer reading is below 140 degrees Fahrenheit, you will have to raise the water heater
thermostat setting. On other models, the dishwasher was designed to operate with water
temperatures as low as 120 degrees Fahrenheit. These models have longer detergent wash
periods that allow 120-degree Fahrenheit supply water to be heated up to a temperature that
gives good washability results. The dishwasher delay periods occur in only one, two, or three
of the water fills, and do little for the remaining rinses. Except during delay periods, the water
is not in the dishwasher long enough to be heated adequately.

The kind and amount of dishwasher detergent that is used is an important part of getting
the dishes clean. Different brands of dishwasher detergent contain different amounts of
phosphorous, which works to soften water and prevent water spots. If the water is hard,
you will have to instruct the customer to use a detergent with a higher phosphorous
content—above 12 percent. If the water is soft, the customer can use a low-phosphorous
dishwasher detergent. Some areas restrict the phosphate content to 8 percent or less. This
means that the customer will have to increase the amount of detergent used in those areas
where the water is hard. This is done by adding 1 teaspoon of dishwasher detergent manually in the main wash cycle for each grain of water hardness above 12 grains (water
hardness is measured in grains):
• 0 to 3 grains for soft water
• 4 to 9 grains for medium-hard water
• 10 to 15 grains for hard water
• Over 15 grains for very hard water.
If the hardness of the water supply is unknown, contact the local water department.
Always instruct the user to use automatic dishwasher detergent only. The use of soap,
hand dishwashing detergent, or laundry detergent will produce excessive suds and will
cause flooding and damage to the dishwasher.

Poor Washability on the Upper Rack
1. Is the upper spray arm turning?
a. Are the holes in the spray arm plugged?
b. Check to see if the spray arm is split.
c. Is there uneven loading of the dishes?
d. Check the filter assembly for blockage.
e. Check the lower impeller to see if it is defective or blocked with debris.
f. Are any objects protruding down that might prevent the upper spray arm from
2. Is the water charge okay?
3. What is the temperature of the water entering the tub? Is the temperature at
140 degrees Fahrenheit?
4. Is the user using the proper amount of detergent?
5. Is the detergent dispenser functioning properly?
6. Are the dishes loaded properly? Ask the user to load the dishwasher so that you
can observe whether he or she is loading the dishwasher properly.
Poor Washability in the Lower Rack
1. Is the lower spray arm turning?
a. Are the holes in the spray arm plugged?
b. Check to see if the spray arm is split.
c. Is there uneven loading of the dishes?
d. Is the spray arm binding on the housing?
e. Are any objects protruding down that might prevent the lower spray arm from
2. Is the water charge okay?
3. What is the temperature of the water entering the tub? Is the temperature at
140 degrees Fahrenheit?
4. Is the consumer using the proper amount of detergent?
5. Is the detergent dispenser functioning properly?
6. Are the dishes loaded properly? Ask the user to load the dishwasher so that you
can observe whether he or she is loading the dishwasher properly.

Etching occurs when the glass is pitted or eroded. It appears as a permanent film on the
glass. The beginning stages of etching can be identified by an iridescent look—shades of
blue, purple, brown, or pink when the glass is held at an angle to the light. In the advanced
stages of etching, the glass surface appears frosted or cloudy.
Possible cause: Certain types of glass will etch in any dishwasher with the combination of
soft water, the alkalinity of dishwasher detergents, and heat.
Solutions: There is no way to remove the filmy appearance caused by etching; the damage
is permanent. There is no way to predict what glassware might be affected—it is not
related to the cost or quality of the glass.

RSL,let me know if that worked for you.

Please send me your how-to questions ( and I'll answer them in this forum, helping you decide if you can fix your appliances yourself or if you need to call a professional.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Refrigerator ice dispenser not working properly?

I received an email from Heather,

Hello. I'm hoping you can help me fix my problem. I have a Kenmore limited edition 26' black side by side refrigerator. Everything works perfects, except for the ice dispenser on the door. The ice maker inside the freezer works, but it won't produce it from the dispenser on the door. What could be the problem?? Is this an easy fix?? I'm not even sure where to start. PLEASE HELP!

My response back to Heather was:

Sometimes the fix is easy. When you want to get ice through the door the auger motor turns the auger in the ice bucket which allows the ice to travel to the door and through the dispenser door. If you hear the auger motor turning check for a ice cube blockage in the door. It is recommended that you clean out the ice bucket. Sometimes an ice buildup in the ice bucket can prevent ice from turning in the ice bucket. If you hear nothing when you press the pad on the door for ice, then I would recommend that you call for a service repairman to take a look at it.

Heather, let me know if that worked for you. Remember to send your appliance questions to

Monday, May 24, 2010

Purchasing a new range

Peter writes:
HI ERIC, I ENJOY YOUR WEB SITE. I have to buy a oven range and have a budget of 700 and under. What is a good brand my old GE was 20yrs .

My response to Peter is:

I recommend that you pick a oven/range with the most features and the best warranty within your budget. Use the checklist below to help you on your venture.

Checklist for cooking products

I also recommend before you go to the store to select and purchase a range, cooktop, oven, etc., that you take the time to fill out the following checklist to take with you. Check all that apply to your selection:

Check the area available for the range




These measurements are the cut-out measurements not the old range measurements. Also make sure that the range can fit through the openings of the house, so that it can be installed where you want it.

The type of range you are looking for:

__Free-standing with one oven

__Eye-level (High-low) with two ovens

__Eye-level with one oven






__LP ___natural

Type of oven you are looking for:





__Combination oven


Oven location

__Below cooktop

__One over, one under

__Separate built-in oven(s)

Oven controls

__On back console

__On range front

__On hood


__Touch pads

__Automatic oven clock/timer

Cleaning system

__Self-cleaning (pyrolytic)



Broiler type


__Low broiler

__Variable heat

Cooktop style



__Grille/griddle convertible


Cooktop controls

__Thermostatic control

__Eye-level controls

__Eye-level controls on hood

__Controls on back splash

__Controls at front of cooktop



__Roast temperature probe


Venting system

__Separate hood

__Built-in down draft

__Vent-microwave oven combination

__Hood attached to upper oven

__Vent over regular cooktop

__Vent over grill/griddle cooktop

The color of the range preferred


Price range: $________________

Warranty and service information:___________________________

Additional information on warranties, safety, recalls, and maintenance must be taken
into account when purchasing a range. Ask the salesperson for a demonstration
on the range you are considering.

For more information on appliance and air conditioner selection and purchasing order a copy of my book.

Peter, let me know if that worked for you. Remember to send your appliance questions to

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Carbon Monoxide (C0) - How much is too much?

My daughter called me today to tell me that her CO (carbon monoxide) detector has been sounding off all day today and what should she do. When I heard this I immediately told her to open the windows and contact the gas company to check her gas appliances and gas furnace. I also asked her when did she last changed the batteries in her CO detector? She said the batteries were new. Luckily the gas company was open on a Saturday evening and they told her to contact the the fire department. When the fire department came out to her home they checked the home for CO (carbon Monoxide) and found that the CO levels were between 2-4 ppm (parts per million). They advised my daughter if the CO detector goes off again to call the fire department back again. Lets hope she does not have to. My daughter has a young baby and the baby will be more acceptable to CO poisoning at the lower levels than adults.

I told my daughter to go out and buy two new CO detectors with the capabilities of reading CO levels between 50-70 ppm. Also, have the gas company come to the home on Monday to check the gas appliances and gas furnace to make sure that they are operating within the manufacturers specifications.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a toxic gas that can cause death if inhaled in copious amounts.
It is odorless, colorless, and has no taste. The human body cannot detect carbon monoxide
with its senses. When carbon monoxide is inhaled, it is absorbed into the bloodstream and
stays there longer, preventing oxygenated blood from performing its job in the body. Two
factors affect the amount of carbon monoxide absorbed into the bloodstream: the amount of carbon monoxide in a room and the length of exposure. Lower levels of CO inhalation can
cause flu-like symptoms, including headaches, dizziness, disorientation, fatigue, and
nausea. Other exposure effects can vary depending on the age and health of the individual.
Carbon monoxide in homes without gas appliances varies between 0.5 to 5 parts per
million (ppm). CO levels in homes with properly maintained gas appliances will vary from
5 to 15 parts per million. For those gas appliances that are not maintained properly, carbon
monoxide levels may be 30 ppm or even higher.

Testing for Carbon Monoxide
Consumer products for detecting carbon monoxide in a home have been on the market for
years. Carbon monoxide detectors should have an alarm that alerts consumers before they
are exposed to hazardous levels of carbon monoxide. In order to prevent false alarms, CO
detectors must be able to distinguish carbon monoxide gases from other types of gases, such
as butanes, heptane, alcohol, methane, and ethyl acetate. Two manufacturers that you can
visit on the Internet to view the different types of carbon monoxide detectors available
include and
Technicians who test for carbon monoxide use a special handheld meter to check the
levels of carbon monoxide in a room or home.

When to check for carbon monoxide in a home:
• When the consumer complains of headaches or nausea
• Houseplants are dying
• Unknown chronic odors from unknown sources
• Condensation on cool surfaces that might lead to flue gas products in the home

If you see any of these conditions contact you gas company. You may save your life and your family.

Gas Safety
The following are a few safety tips to help you in handling major gas appliances and gas furnaces in your home:
• Always follow the manufacturer’s use and care manual for the gas appliance.
• Always keep combustible products away from gas appliances.
• Keep your gas appliance clean from soot, grease, and food spillages.
• Teach your children not to play near or with gas appliances.
• Always have a fire extinguisher nearby just in case of mishaps that might lead to a fire.
• Have a smoke detector and a carbon monoxide detector installed in the home, and
check the batteries yearly.
• Never use a gas range to heat the home.
• Make sure that gas appliances have proper venting according to the manufacturers’

If you have oil fired furnaces they must be checked for proper CO levels too.


12,000 PPM Death within 1-3 minutes
1,600 PPM Nausea within 20 minutes, death within 1 hour
800 PPM Nausea and convulsions, death within 2 hours
400 PPM Front headaches within 1-2 hours; life threatening within 3 hours
70 PPM If CO at this level for four hours, your CO detector should be sounding
50 PPM MAXIMUM average level for a continuous exposure in an eight hour workday per federal law
10-35 PPM Marginal levels - small children, elderly, and those suffering respiratory or heat problems from chronic exposure
9 PPM Measured around a busy street and intersections
1-9 PPM These concentrations may not be avoidable without life style changes

Indoor air quality (IAQ) is very important to us all. Please check this link for further information on Carbon Monoxide.

Safety reminder to all, have your gas appliances and gas furnaces inspected for proper operation. This also includes oil fired furnaces too.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Refrigerator ice and water dispensor has brown stuff coming out of it.

Heather writes:
We have a Kenmore refrigerator with a filtered water/ice dispenser on the front. For the past few months, a very strange brown gunk has been coming out of the water dispenser in little flakes. Most of the time, we'd just pour the water out and get another glass and the brown gunk wouldn't be there. I went to do that tonight, got a glass of water, got a brown flake, poured it out, went to get another glass, and this one was FULL of the brown gunk. It was disgusting. What is happening? Is there something in the filter? Or in the line of water? Help.

My response to Heather is:
You might have two to three faults to look at. First, the water filter attached to the cold water of the refrigerator might have to be changed. Most water filters that are attached to the refrigerators have a six month lifespan. Second, If you fill the glass with ice first and then water, you might have to check the ice maker mold. Inspect the ice cubes for brown pieces. The ice maker sometimes peels off brown flakes from the ice maker mold. This is caused by the minerals in the water that react with the finish on the ice maker mold. Take a mirror and inspect the ice maker mold. If its cruddy and missing pieces replace the ice maker. Third possibility, If your refrigerator model has a water tank stored behind the lower drawers in the fresh food compartment, it might have to be cleaned out or replaced.

Heather, I hope these tips are helpful. Good luck, let me know if that worked for you. Remember to send your appliance questions to

Heather writes back:
Thanks. The timer on the fridge didn't say it was time to replace the filter, but we live at the beach and I think we have hard water that's softened, or something. We can never get rid of the rings around the toilets. We have just put in a new filter and are purging it now to see if it helps. This has only been happening with the water, not the ice. Next is to see if we have a tank. Is that something that will be visible? Or will I have to dig for it?

Thanks for your help.

My response is:
The water tank is located behind the two bottom drawers in the fresh food compartment. Good Luck.