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Is it time to replace your dishwasher?

There's nothing better than a dishwasher!

It cleans dishes and keeps the kitchen nice and neat. But when that dream appliance breaks, oh baby, it’s a nightmare — and so is deciding whether to repair or replace it. Jim Roark, owner of Mr. Appliance in Tampa Bay, has been around enough broken dishwashers to know what should be fixed and what should be dumped.

Read on as he shares his expert advice, including what you can do to extend the life of this kitchen workhorse.

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How to load your dishwasher properly (and what NOT to do)

Play Video - 3:45

How to load your dishwasher properly (and what NOT to do)

Play Video - 3:45

Before calling a repairman...

Sometimes, the solutions are simple. So make sure that ...

1. ... you’re using the right kind and amount of detergent. This is particularly important with high-efficiency models. Too much detergent can damage your appliance. To see if that’s the case, run a cycle without adding any soap. Halfway through the cycle, open the dishwasher and look at the water. If it’s soapy, that means your machine needs a good cleaning.

2. ... you’re using rinse aid. It can get rid of food spots and dingy film that coats glasses and dishes.

3. ... the unit is filling with water properly. Double check that the water supply has not been disrupted. Also, check the filter and spray jets for any clogs.

4. ... the water temperature is hot enough. Before starting the dishwasher, run the tap in the kitchen sink until the water is very hot.

5. ... power is getting to the dishwasher. Has the breaker been tripped? It might be as simple as that!

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How to clean your dishwasher

Play Video - 4:29

How to clean your dishwasher

Play Video - 4:29

When to repair it:

The following are the most common dishwasher problems that can typically be repaired by a technician.

1. The door is not opening or closing properly.

2. The dishwasher is not draining or filling properly.

3. Odd noises are coming from the machine.

4. The dishwasher isn’t heating.

When to replace it:

“Dishwashers are tricky, so it tends to be pretty speculative when deciding which issues call for a replacement,” said Roark. However, some red flags include:

1. When the control board is no longer responding.

2. When the spray arms are no longer turning.

3. If the machine is consistently not washing dishes well despite using the right type and amount of detergent, a rinse aid and hat water.

4. If the dishwasher regularly dies or stops working in the middle of a cycle. If this continues after everything has been checked out, it’s time for a replacement.

5. If the machine is more than 10 years old.

6. If the cost of repairs exceeds 50 percent of the cost of a new dishwasher.

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Surprising things you can do with your dishwasher (including cook food!)

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Surprising things you can do with your dishwasher (including cook food!)

Play Video - 1:01

How to prevent problems in the first place:

Here are a few maintenance tips that will help extend the life of a dishwasher.

1. Keep the filter clean. When your dishwasher starts leaving food particles behind, your filter might be clogged. This will limit the flow of water. Pull out the lower rack and remove the filter cover or follow the directions in the owner’s manual.

2. While you’re in there, clear out any debris trapped inside the food drains, and check the water spray arms, too. To clean, remove the arm and soak it in warm white vinegar to loosen mineral deposits.

3. Keep the door and frame gaskets clean with a soft brush or sponge. Food debris can build up and weaken the seal, allowing water to leak out during the wash cycle. Check for gaps or cracks. And a damaged gasket should always be replaced.

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