Dishwasher Problem

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Last January, we bought a new Kitchen Aid dishwasher, which cost about $550. There were bargain brands for $300 but we decided to get a better one this time. I installed it myself, as I have all the dishwashers we've bought over the last 15 years.
It worked perfectly all year. We went on a ski vacation during the week before Christmas and were gone for five days, during which time the dishwasher was not used. When we got back, it started leaving specks of dirt or food or whatever on some of the dishes. This condition seems to be getting worse. I can't see why a week of inactivity would cause this but this is the only time we were away for an extended period of time and the problem started when we returned.
The user's manual suggests scraping the dishes before putting them into the dishwasher and loading properly when this happens. We do both and are doing nothing different than we were doing all year.
Before calling a repairman, I suggested that my wife run a cycle with no dishes in in to clear out the lines, then to run a small load to see what happens. She's doing that today. Any other suggestions as to what might be causing this?
Paul
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Sounds like the symptoms mine has when the strainer is clogged. Sitting might have let a bit of label or crud dry, blocking the strainer.
See how hard it is to get to the pump & check the screen and the impeller.

Use some vinegar on the empty load.
On my Whirlpool it is about a 1 hour job to get to the screen/impeller/pump area, clean & re-assemble. It uses torx srews, and there is one piece that needs to come out at just the right angle--- but the dishwasher doesn't need to be pulled & it is a fairly easy job.
Jim
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I have had this happen a couple times on my 3 year old KitchenAid too. Don't know why either. Twice I've removed the lower spray arm, stainless strainer, and other components to get to the sump. There was definitely grease and gunk there, which I cleaned out. However, it looked like it had been slowly accumulating over time, was stuck on well, and I had a hard time figuring out how it could account for small bits of food, not grease, suddenly showing up on dishes. In any case after screwing around a bit, running some more washes, it went back to normal.
Suggest you do the same. Remove the lower spray arm and the large stainless sheet that covers most of the bottom. Clean out everything. Make sure all the holes in the lower and upper spray arm are open and both move freely. They have a special dishwasher cleaner, which appears to be mostly citric acid, that you can buy at supermarkets, appliance shops, etc. Get that and run it.
I've also gone to using extra heat cycle once a week to try to loosen up or prevent grease from accumulating.
Oh, and also look under the lower door seal are from inside. Found lots of disgusting crap there that had been there for a long time. In short, doubt there is a problem that needs a service call.
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Sounds like it is not draining properly. Like many washing appliances it has no way to detect when the water has drained, it just runs the pump long enough to be completely sure that all the water got pumped out. If there is any impedement to the drain line it won't drain completely. It does have a float that prevents it from overfilling. So when it adds water it will not add too much even if the old water is still in it. So your dishes get washed and rinsed with "used" water. Yuk.
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jamesgangnc wrote:

Why don't they put a glass window in the front door of dish washers?
--
LSMFT

Simple job, assist the assistant of the physicist.
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A couple of months ago, a number of states outlawed the use of phosphates in dishwasher detergent. Phosphates in detergents act as both a cleaner as well as holding particles in suspension.
P&G, the largest manufacturer, decided that they would reformulate their dishwasher detergents in all states as they didn't want the cost of managing different formulations of the same brand and the other manufacturers followed along.
As stocks are drawn down and people buy new detergent, they are discovering how crappy non-phosphate detergents work. Without phosphates, you get the results you noticed.
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On 1/3/2011 9:37 AM, Robert Neville wrote:

That was last July they did that and you are correct. The best way is to add the phosphate back in by adding a cup of TSP (from the deck cleaner aisle at the big box store) to a new box of detergent. Also, adding a cup of distilled white vinegar to each load works wonders also. One other thing, 140 degree water is essential to clean dishes. Most people THINK they're saving money or being safer or some other dumbass shit like that by turning down the water heater, but i can assure you, if you have a service call, the first thing the guy is gonna check is the water temp. If it's below 140, he's done.
--
Steve Barker
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wrote:

Get a DW with a heating element. Our water to the DW will never get to 140F. It's too far from the water heater.
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On 1/3/2011 11:49 AM, snipped-for-privacy@att.bizzzzzzzzzzzz wrote:

Most have a heated water option. And you are right, distance will make a difference. My DW is about 4.5 feet from a Point of use 10 gallon WH that feeds the DW and clothes washer. And it IS a hot mo fo.
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Steve Barker
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wrote:

In a previous house, all the appliances and bathrooms were about that distance from the furnace, which had a domestic hot water coil. Talking about a hot mo fo...
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Yep. Can't wait until they outlaw TSP. Or try to.
A couple of comments - this is definitely a case where more is not better. Use too much TSP and you will damage any metal things (like silverware, utensiles or bowls) or even the dishwasher itself.
Dishwasher detergent is one of those things sold by weight and used by volume. The amount of TSP mentioned above is about right for one of the 85oz boxes of dry detergent. Costco sized (125 oz) boxes use about a cup and a quarter. Adjust for smaller boxes in proportion. Make sure you blend well. Pouring a cup of TSP into the detergent box and shaking a couple of times won't cut it.
If you use the liquid detergents (why?), you'll have to add a teaspoon of TSP in the dishwasher detergent cup. Also - be sure you get straight dry TSP. There are lots of cleaners with TSP in the title that contain other substances.
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Thank you all for your comments and help. My wife put a quart of vinegar in the dishwasher and ran a cycle with no detergent or dishes. Then she ran a light load of dirty dishes and pans and there was no residue. We plan to pick up some official dishwasher cleaner (which I've never heard of before) as some here mentioned and run a cleansing wash every few months.
Paul
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off topic slightly but i think this should be mentioned!
we have hard water, and our dishwasher wasn't doing a very good job anymore. someone suggested "lemi-shine", you add it to the soap container, i do it ever other load, 1/2 the container, the other 1/2 normal detergent.
wow, dishwasher looks brand new inside and dishes are cleaner than ever! love it. Walmart sells it..
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Surprise, surprise. I stopped by the local big box store to pick up a few more boxes of TriSodium Phosphate (TSP). Right next to the real TSP were green boxes of "Phosphate Free" TSP. Setting aside how stupid that is, you just know the next step will be to ban the sale of real TSP. Stock up now, folks.
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Sounds like the 'green' muriatic acid my Lowes carries. It is 1/2 strength and twice the price. Otherwise-- it is the same stuff in a green colored container. Read the labels and the directions are exactly the same-- except they say to use twice as much product.
So it is actually 4x the cost--- but it is good for the environment. . . or is it?
This DW thing is sure to hurt the environment more than the regulated amounts of phosphates that used to be in the detergent. As we all come up with creative ways to achieve the same effect- but with overkill amounts of TSP & [my choice] a bit of acid once a week as a DW wash, we're wasting energy & polluting more than the old style detergents did.
Jim
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wrote:

more
boxes
the
And twice as much packaging. Not very green in reality. Just part of the great green "cash in."
-- Bobby G.
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On 1/3/2011 7:03 AM, Pavel314 wrote:

We had problems with our dw due to detergent residue - ours was that it caused foaming that then caused leaks around door. Solved, on advice of serviceman, by pouring a quart of white vinegar into dw and running it through a cycle. No dishes in this cycle. Worked fine. Something in the mechanics of the dw caused the foam to keep it from draining properly - don't know anything about the mechanism but the solution was a simple one and the serviceman didn't try to sell us another dw. There has been a lot of news - mainly in Florida? - about new formulations of dw detergent causing cloudy residue on glassware. I don't use my dw any more :o)
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If you installed this yourself, why not remove the hose connection (under the sink) run a cycle making certain the drain is connected to a lower drain source, (outside), (basement) etc. This should allow all foreign material in the drain lines to exit...just a thought

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Use CLR cleaner. That works, check there site to see what is on there. ww
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responding to http://www.homeownershub.com/maintenance/Dishwasher-Problem-612742-.htm jodytomp wrote: This is becoming a common problem. It's probably due to hard water deposits. They are occurring because many state governments recently passed laws that changed the ingredients in dishwasher detergents. Phosphate is now outlawed and it was the chemical that removes the hard water deposits. I created a product to solve this problem. It's a powder you add to each wash cycle. You use 1-2 tablespoons and a just a little of your normal detergent. So your cost per wash does not increase. The product is all natural, contains no phosphates, and it works great. Your dishes (and your filter) will be as clean as new. See my website at www.CitriClean.net
WW wrote:

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