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Frequently asked questions

Get fast answers to common dishwasher questions here!

Dishwashers

If your dishwasher is not performing properly or producing the cleaning results you want, there are things to check before you call for service.

Often manufacturers' websites will offer suggestions. GE Appliances and Frigidaire have extremely comprehensive Frequently Asked Questions information on their websites. Here is information from those two sites.

From Frigidaire website:

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS - FRIGIDAIRE

Click on the questions below to get answers.

What are the available drying options on my dishwasher?
What is the difference between a stainless steel interior and a composite plastic interior?
What is the difference between integrated controls and controls that are on the front of the dishwasher?
What does Real Stainless Steel mean?
How can I ensure the best drying results?
Why is water in the dishwasher after it runs?
How do I know how much detergent to use in my dishwasher?
The display shows "HO" or "Hd." What does this mean?

From GE website:

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS - GE Appliances

Click on the statements below to get answers.

My dishwasher does not drain the water out.
My dishwasher does not wash or rinse well.
I've turned on the dishwasher, but the motor only hums.
My dishwasher will not run.
My dishwasher leaks, over-suds, or floods.
My dishwasher has little or no water in it.
My dishwasher tub has dark gray or brownish stains.
My dishwasher soap cup will not close.
I want to find the model and serial number for my dishwasher.

ANSWERS

What are the available drying options on my dishwasher?

  • The Heat Dry option, in combination with a rinse aid, will enhance drying performance by using heat. The energy required to use this option costs only pennies per cycle.
  • The Air Dry option relies on air rather than heat, and can result in having some items that are not completely dry at the end of the cycle. You may see water vapor coming from the vent during this drying cycle.
  • The PowerPlusTM Dry cycle adds a forced air system to the Heat Dry option, and is available only on select models. When used with a rinse aid, it offers our best drying performance (based on industry standard dryability testing).
The drying option may be changed at any time during the cycle.

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What is the difference between a stainless steel interior and a composite plastic interior?

Plastic dishwasher interiors are durable, quiet, and usually less expensive than stainless steel interiors. They are usually white, but many models offer a Granite Grey tone for a more premium look.

Stainless steel dishwasher interiors are long lasting, very durable, and stain resistant. They not only offer a premium appearance, but retain heat from the wash water to aid in the drying process.

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What is the difference between integrated controls and controls that are on the front of the dishwasher?

There are two types of dishwasher controls, and the difference between them is primarily visual. A dishwasher with fully integrated controls has the control panel on the top of the door, where it will be hidden when the dishwasher is closed. Controls on the front of a dishwasher will be visible with the door closed.

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What does Real Stainless Steel mean?

Frigidaire's Real Stainless Steel is true stainless steel that has been treated with a protective coating that reduces fingerprints and smudges, making it much easier to clean.

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How can I ensure the best drying results?

For the best drying results:

  • Select the "heat dry" option.
  • Use a rinse aid. Check to make sure the rinse aid dispenser is full (the clear window on the dispenser should be very dark). If the dispenser is low, remove the cap and fill the reservoir.
Some dishwater models offer a "sanitize rinse" option, which will deliver higher heat for maximum drying and NSF certification that ensures a 99.99% reduction of bacteria.

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Why is water in the dishwasher after it runs?

It's normal to see a thin layer of water in your dishwasher after a wash cycle is done. If you're seeing more water than that:

  • Check to ensure that the drainage system is free and clear of debris.
  • If your dishwasher is hooked up to a garbage disposal, run the disposal to clear the drain system.
  • If you have a new garbage disposal, the "knock-out" plug might need to be removed from the disposal. (This step can occasionally be overlooked during installation.)

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How do I know how much detergent to use in my dishwasher?

How do I know how much detergent to use in my dishwasher? The amount of detergent you need to use depends on whether you have hard water. To determine the proper amount, consult your owner's guide, which lists the correct amount of detergent for degree of water hardness. To determine your water hardness, contact your water supplier or county extension office, or have it tested by an outside source (such as a company that sells water treatment equipment).
For best results, follow these tips for detergent use:

  • Make sure the detergent is fresh. When it's old, it might not dissolve properly.
  • Store detergent in a cool, dry place (under the sink is not the best location for it).
  • When loading the dishwasher, be sure that the detergent dispenser can open freely and that water from the spray arm can reach the open dispenser.
  • Because most detergents are designed to dissolve and activate at 120°F, your dishwasher will perform best if your water temperature is 120°F or higher at the start of a wash cycle.

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The display shows "HO" or "Hd." What does this mean?

HO" or "Hd" means the dishwasher's cycle time is being extended while it is heating water. At certain points in the wash cycle, the dishwasher uses hotter water to ensure a clean load of dishes. If it detects that the water is not hot enough, it will heat it.

If you're seeing "HO" or "Hd" frequently, check the temperature of the water available to your dishwasher. It's best to do this at the sink closest to it, allowing the hot water to run until it reaches its maximum temperature before you test it with a thermometer. For best results, water should be not less than 120°F.

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My dishwasher does not drain the water out

To minimize the possibility of electric shock, unplug this appliance from the power supply before attempting any maintenance or cleaning.

  • Some water, usually 1 to 2 cups, remaining in the bottom of the tub is normal. However, if water is covering the bottom of the tub, the dishwasher is not draining properly.
  • Check for paper or large objects covering or blocking the sump area in the rear of the tub.
  • Be sure the kitchen sink drain is not clogged. The dishwasher typically drains into the kitchen sink drain or a garbage disposer. If the dishwasher drains into a garbage disposer, run the disposer to clear the drain system. Do not put your hands into the garbage disposer. Serious injury could result. You should always turn on your garbage disposer prior to running the dishwasher to clean out any food or debris within the drain system.
  • Check drain hose where it connects below the sink for blockage or a kink in the hose. New dishwashers come with a white corrugated drain hose, which should be used. Re-using old, worn out drain hoses may promote kinking and blockage.
  • Check the air gap if one is installed. It could be clogged. An air gap (not part of the dishwasher) is usually located on top of the sink. Some state or local plumbing codes require the use of a drain air gap between the built-in dishwasher and the drain system of the home. This plumbing device is used to prevent the possibility of back flow into the dishwasher in the event of a clogged drain system. This item is not a part of the dishwasher and, therefore, the dishwasher warranty does not cover costs related to cleaning or repairing a drain air gap.
  • Typical air gaps are easy to inspect and clean. Be sure the dishwasher latch is in the "Off" position or unlatched prior to removal of the drain air gap cover. Simply lift off the chrome cover and unscrew the plastic cap. Remove any material that may have accumulated and replace the plastic cap and chrome cover. This simple procedure should be followed any time the dishwasher fails to drain properly.
If the problem persists, arrange service.

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My dishwasher does not wash or rinse well

To minimize the possibility of electric shock, unplug this appliance from the power supply before attempting any maintenance or cleaning.

  • Check the wash cycle selection. Selecting the proper wash cycle for that particular dishload has many benefits. Selecting a short or light wash cycle may save water and energy, but may not provide proper wash action for a heavily soiled load. If food soils remain on the dishload after the cycle, a longer cycle may be required. The Use and Care Manual supplied with the dishwasher offers cycle selection recommendations.
  • Check the water temperature. Proper water temperature is essential to achieve optimum results from your dishwasher and the detergent. Hot water is needed to dissolve and activate the detergent so that it can loosen and remove common food soils.
    The hot water heater should be set to deliver water at the dishwasher of at least 120 degrees Farenheit. To check the water temperature, run the hot water at the kitchen sink and measure the temperature of the running water with a canning or meat thermometer. Adjust the temperature of the water heater accordingly.
    To be sure that the dishwasher is filling with the hottest possible water, run the hot water faucet at the kitchen sink prior to operating the dishwasher. Also, avoid running the dishwasher while hot water is being used for other activities like laundry or showers/baths.
  • Check the amount of detergent and the water hardness. The amount of detergent needed depends upon the water hardness and the amount of food soils left on the dishload. The heavier the soil, the more detergent should be used. Fresh detergent is also recommended. Caked or clumped detergent that has collected moisture while stored may not activate or dissolve properly.
    Water hardness also affects how much detergent is needed. A general rule of thumb would be 1 teaspoon of detergent for each grain of water hardness. If you do not know your water hardness grain level, you can check with your local water company. Check the dishwasher loading. Make sure dishes are loaded properly to insure that water can reach all of the soiled surfaces in both racks. Refer to the Use and Care Manual for proper loading patterns for your specific dishwasher model. Here are some common loading guidelines for assistance:
    1. Be sure that larger items do not block smaller items from the wash action.
    2. Place all items in both racks so that they are separated and face the center of the dishwasher. This will ensure that water reaches all soiled surfaces.
    3. Place glasses with the open end facing downward to allow proper washing action.
    4. Do not place glasses over the tines, but rest between the tines.
    5. Do not allow for flatware to "nest". This prevents proper water distribution between the surfaces. Load flatware, except knives, with some handles up and some down to prevent nesting.
    6. Avoid placing items over the retractable tower area in the lower rack. This tower provides wash action to the upper rack.
    7. Check all wash arms to make sure they are not blocked by any items protruding above or below the racks and that they are free to rotate.
Note: Rinse Aids, such as Jet-Dry, are wetting agents that allow water to "sheet off" glass and dinnerware instead of drying and causing spotting. Rinse aids also improve overall drying which results in less spotting.

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I've turned on the dishwasher, but the motor only hums

To minimize the possibility of electric shock, unplug this appliance from the power supply before attempting any maintenance or cleaning.

  • This could be due to not running the motor for a week or more. This can cause the dishwasher motor seals to dry out and stick. To remedy this situation, follow these simple steps:
    1. If there is water in the dishwasher tub, remove it.
    2. Remove dishes, glasses, and utensils.
    3. Completely dissolve 3-4 oz. of Citric Acid in 1 quart of the hottest tap water you have..
    4. Pour Citric Acid solution into the sump area (right rear of tub bottom) and let it stand for 15-30 minutes.
    5. After the time limit has expired, attempt to start the dishwasher again. If it still does not start, arrange for service.
    Note: A solution of 1 cup of White Vinegar and 1 quart of water can be used in place of the Citric Acid, but it is not as effective as the Citric Acid solution.
  • Operating the dishwasher at least once a week keeps the seals from drying out and sticking.
  • Dishwasher water valves do make a hum that lasts about 60-90 seconds several times during the wash cycle. This is normal and should not be confused with the hum of the primary motor.

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My dishwasher will not run

  • Make sure the dishwasher door is latched correctly and tightly.
  • Be sure the power switch is in the "On" position if the dishwasher is installed on a wall switch.
  • Be sure the power cord is plugged into the wall if the installer attached a power cord.
  • Make sure the child lockout feature is turned "Off" if your dishwasher model has electronic controls with a child lockout feature.
  • Check the home fuses or the circuit breaker if there is no sound at all after starting the dishwasher. If the problem persists, arrange service.
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    My dishwasher leaks, over-suds, or floods

    To minimize the possibility of electric shock, unplug this appliance from the power supply before attempting any maintenance or cleaning.

    • If it is a new dishwasher, it will have to go through a complete wash cycle to make the door gasket more pliable to create a better seal between the door and the tub.
    • Check the front, inside, lower corners of the dishwasher tub for black corner gaskets, one on each side. Are they missing or damaged? In either case, the corner gaskets will need to be purchased.
    • Check to be sure the control panel is not hitting the surrounding cabinets. The door may give enough to latch, but not enough to form a tight seal.
    • Inspect the door gasket for tears, cuts, and wear. If there are any tears, cuts, or wear, the door gasket may need to be replaced. There is a 3" gap or space at the bottom of the door on most models. This gap or space is required for venting and should be left open.
    • Make sure you are using the right type of detergent. Using the wrong type of detergent can cause over-sudsing and leaks or flooding conditions. Only detergent specifically designed for automatic dishwashers should be used.
      If an excessive amount of sudsing is present, drain the dishwasher and add 2 gallons of COLD water and drain again. Repeat this process until all of the suds are gone from the tub bottom.

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    My dishwasher has little or no water in it

    To minimize the possibility of electric shock, unplug this appliance from the power supply before attempting any maintenance or cleaning.

    • If this is a new installation or replacement dishwasher, check the water supply to be sure it is turned on. This is a very typical situation.
    • On some models, there might be a slight delay from when the water valve opens to send water into the dishwasher and when it actually is delivered into the dishwasher. This is normal.
    • Check the timer knob if your dishwasher has one. It might have been advanced too far in the starting process and bypassed the first fill of water into the dishwasher. If this is the case, turn the dial back to the starting position.
    • Follow these steps to check the water level if you think an insufficient amount of water is entering the dishwasher:
      1. Remove the lower rack and silverware basket.
      2. Rotate the timer knob to the "ON" position.
      3. Allow the dishwasher to complete the first fill by listening to when the water valve shuts off and water stops entering the tub.
      4. After the first fill is complete, unlatch the dishwasher. This will turn it off. Measure the amount of water in the bottom of the tub by getting a ruler and placing it on the pedestal for the lower wash arm located in the center of the bottom of the tub.
      5. The normal water level should be between 3/8" and 1" high.

    • If your water level is less than 3/8", check to be sure that the inlet water hose connected to the dishwasher is not kinked. This can be inspected by removing the lower toe-kick plate on the front bottom of the dishwasher. The water valve is located on the lower left side of the dishwasher. Inspect the inlet hose for possible kinks, bends, or wear. If no kink is found, arrange for service.

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    My dishwasher tub has dark gray or brownish stains

    Dark gray or brownish stains can be caused by a calcium or iron build up. To remove these stains follow these steps:

    1. Remove all silverware, metal utensils and dishes from dishwasher.
    2. Fill the detergent cup with 3-4 oz. of citric acid crystals. These are available at many drug or grocery stores in the canning or spice section (often called "Sour Salt"). Run the dishwasher through a normal cycle.
    3. Rinse thoroughly by running the dishwasher through another cycle without the crystals, but with a full cup of detergent.

      Note: Rinsing is very important. Prolonged use of citric acid without rinsing can cause etching of porcelain tubs.
    Note: This is a water condition, therefore it may appear again. If it reappears, use the citric acid procedure again.

    Note: If dishes or glasses have calcium or iron deposits as well, you can leave them in the dishwasher during the cycle. However, be sure to remove all silverware, silver, metal, and aluminum. Also, remove all dishes with patterns as these can be removed by the citric acid. Dishes and glasses must go through the wash cycle before being used.

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    My dishwasher soap cup will not close

    • Check to see if the timer has advanced to the off position. Models with mechanical knobs must be in the off position for the detergent cup to close.
    • Turn the control knob from the off position, clockwise, all the way around, and back to the off position. Then try again to close the cup.
    Note: The detergent dispenser can be opened without running through the entire cycle. On electronic models, press the clear/reset pad to open the detergent cup.

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    I want to find the model and serial number for my dishwasher

    • Open the door fully.
    • The model number plate is either on the left or right front lip of the tub or on the right hand side of the door.
    • For dishwasher sink combination models only: The model number is on the control cover just below the motor.
      1. To gain access to the motor compartment, remove the control knob by pulling it forward.
      2. Pull the front panel out at the bottom about 1/2" and pull down to release the upper panel clips.
      3. Then, ease the panel forward away from the dishwasher, being careful not to bend the control shaft.

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