Have you ever cursed at your dishwasher for failing to clean properly or your dryer for taking too long to dry its load? Before you complain about the quality of a manufacturer’s product, there’s something you should know; from dishwashers and refrigerators to dryers and washing machines, many appliance problems are caused by operator error.
Foggy glassware and six other “operator error” problems
The good news is that by following the appliance owner’s manuals and reviewing best maintenance practices (RepairClinic.com’s maintenance and repair help information can get you up to speed), you can avoid these “operator errors” in the future. The following are seven common myths associated with unfairly maligned appliances along with the real causes of the issues that have you so frustrated:
Problem: Glassware appears cloudy or foggy after dishwasher cycle.
Common myth: The dishwasher is failing to clean properly.
Real cause: You’ve used too much detergent and it caused permanent damage known as etching.
How to fix it: Once etching is present on glassware, there is no way to remove it. Avoid using too much detergent by following the owner’s manual’s recommendation. Consider detergent pods in lieu of filling the detergent cup directly to avoid overfilling it.
Real cause: You have hard water.
How to fix it: To find out if you have hard water, pick up water test strips from a home improvement store. Alternatively, you can hire professional water experts to test it for you. If water is found to be too hard, you may need to install a water softener. The softer the water, the less detergent the dishwasher will need to do its job.
Problem: Dryer is taking longer to dry clothing.
Common myth: The dryer is aging and/or parts are failing.
Real cause: Lint buildup in the venting system is restricting airflow.
How to fix it: At least once per year, the entire venting system should be cleaned out from the inside of the dryer to the outside vent cap. A vent cleaning brush makes this an easy DIY job. In addition to causing performance problems, this is an extreme fire risk. The lint trap filter should be cleaned out after every load; this is critical for proper airflow.
Problem: Ultra wrinkled clothing after washing.
Common myth: Washing machine’s agitator is twisting clothing too much.
Real cause: Too many clothing items are being stuffed into a single load.
How to fix it: Don’t overload your machine. Remove clothing promptly after the spin cycle has completed.
Problem: Washing machine doesn’t clean clothes anymore.
Common myth: Clothing is stained or smelly because the washer is malfunctioning.
Real cause: Residue, mold, or mildew is built up in the front-load washer’s door boot seal and creating more stains and foul odors.
How to fix it: Run the Clean Washer cycle and try using Affresh washing machine cleaner. An additional measure is to hand-clean the door boot seal. Scrub the seal with stain remover using a brush to remove stains and kill mold or mildew. You may be overdosing detergent in an effort to clean the clothes better. However, using too much detergent, or the wrong kind of detergent, can gum up the washer and cause it to run less efficiently. If your unit is a high-efficiency model, use only high-efficiency (HE) detergent at the recommended amount. You should also leave the washer door open to air out after use.
Problem: Freezer burn (a.k.a. the frost that forms on food stored in the freezer) is covering the freezer contents.
Common myth: There’s a problem with the freezer’s thermostat.
Real cause: Food is dehydrated due to exposure to the air, likely caused by improper food packaging. Most frozen foods available at grocery stores are not packaged to prevent dehydration.
How to fix it: Food intended to be stored in a freezer for more than a few days should be placed in airtight containers or zippered plastic bags specifically designed for freezer storage. Is it safe to eat freezer-burned food? Yes, but most people find that dehydration leaves the food tasting fairly bland.
Problem: Refrigerator/Freezer icemaker not making any or enough ice.
Common myth: The ice maker is broken.
Real cause: The ice maker fill tube is clogged with ice, the refrigerator’s water inlet valve may be obstructed, the water supply line may be impeded by a kinked line or clogged water filter, or there may be insufficient water pressure in the home.
How to fix: If the ice maker fill tube is clogged with ice, you can use a hairdryer to thaw the ice to clear the tube – but be aware that a frozen fill tube is often caused by insufficient water pressure or a defective water inlet valve. The supply line needs to provide water pressure between 20 and 120 pounds per square inch for the icemaker to function properly; an obstructed inlet valve will need to be replaced with a new one. Next, check to make sure the household water supply valve is open and that the water supply line isn’t crimped or kinked when the refrigerator is pushed into place against the wall. If the supply line is okay, the water filter may be clogged with foreign material. If the water dispenses slower than normal, or if the filter has been installed longer than 6 months, it should be replaced.
Problem: Oven burns food on the bottom.
Common myth: Oven is not heating properly.
Real cause: The culprit is most likely poorly made pans or using too many pans in the oven at once.
How to fix it: Don’t overcrowd the oven rack; choose pan sizes that will permit 5.1cm to 10.2cm (2″ to 4″) of air space on all sides when placed in the oven. The material the pans are made of can also affect how the food cooks. Dark pans absorb heat faster than lighter colored pans which could shorten cooking time unexpectedly. Using a medium-weight aluminum baking sheet is probably the best choice for baking or broiling most food items. Alternatively, you can adjust the oven racks to raise them a notch or two above the bake element or burner on the bottom of the oven or lower them a notch or two below the broil element or burner located at the top of the oven. And, it goes without saying even though we’ve all done it: don’t attempt to bake or broil without pre-heating the oven first.
When in doubt, Repair Clinic has the solution… and the parts
As noted earlier, RepairClinic.com is a great resource for maintenance tips, troubleshooting advice, and DIY repair help covering all of your home appliances (as well as outdoor power equipment and heating & cooling products). The Repair Clinic website also stocks 4+ million replacement parts so you can fix your problem promptly. If you need to replace the refrigerator’s water filter, the dryer’s thermal fuse, or the oven’s bake element, simply type the full model number of the appliance into the website’s search bar. This will reveal a comprehensive list of parts compatible with your model. You can then refine your search by using the “Part Category” filter (Example: “Fuse, Thermal Fuse & Breaker”) followed by the “Part Title” filter (Example: “Thermal Fuse”) to identify the specific item that fits your appliance.