What does a Garden Gnome do when she is not gardening, in the kitchen or doing genealogy? Well the answer might just surprise you so read the entries to find out more. This blog focuses on everything we do to make our house a home. There will be a strong emphasis on home energy efficiency and do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. At the same time there will also be crafts, knitting and crocheting projects along with any other little tips we do to create that down to earth, I want to be here home. Please enjoy your visit :)

Thursday, March 1, 2007



We live in a modern age with a lot of nice appliances to take the work load off of us. Unfortunately, some of these appliances fail pre-maturely simply because they are not cared for properly. In most cases 5 or 10 minutes of simple routine cleaning and/or maintenance can save us so many headaches and a heck of a lot of money in appliance repair bills or replacement. So it is with dishwashers.

This is our dishwasher, a Kenmore Ultra Wash with Quiet Guard, model# 15522000. It is about eight years old and came with the house when we bought it. The previous owner had it installed with the intentions of moving into the house himself then for some reason decided to rent the house out instead. We bought the house sight unseen inside based on location and potential. This dishwasher is not one we would have bought ourselves based on durability and quality. We know how much was paid and honestly that was way too much money for the poor quality of this machine! Cleanliness obviously was not a high priority for the last tenant and this dishwasher was only one of several horrid messes we had to clean. Now in all honesty, I would like to replace the dishwasher and have my eye on a nice Bosch with stainless steel interior. However, it is too new to do so. Besides, the year of major appliance replacements has already been expensive enough!

Aside of the obvious dirt and grunge, the dishwasher had likely not been used by the last tenant, more likely the one before. It had obviously been left open at some point for cats to get into! The bottom rack had one piece of a plate pin missing and there were several cut marks suspected to be from cats chewing on a few of the pins. I cleaned every nook and cranny I could find. Now this is something that should be done with any dishwasher regardless of the age or condition. Open the door and at the bottom of the door spray with a heavy duty solution (1:1) of Simple Green®. This is a non-toxic, biodegradable concentrated solution that you make into varying concentrations based on usage. If this area of the dishwasher hasn't been cleaned recently expect to see huge chunks of gunk! Remove all of this and make sure this area is squeaky clean and keep it that way by doing a weekly wipe down. Another place gunk will build is around the hinges to pay close attention to cleaning there. From there it is simply cleaning around the door, checking the door seals and wiping down that area.

Then my husband removed and cleaned the filters. Most dishwashers will have two filters. The vent to one can been seen in the photo as 5 black squares in the upper left hand corner. This is where the steam comes out after the dishes are cleaned so you would think it would always be clean. Wrong! This can get small food particles and gunk it it as well. Cleaning this filter is as simple as popping the lid off and wiping it out well. The other filter in our model is under the bottom arm on the floor of the dishwasher. The screws have to be removed but this is very easy to do, takes little time and improves the cleaning ability of the dishwasher. It should be done every other month. Once the filters were clean I ran an empty load with 1 cup of 5% white vinegar. This is an inexpensive way to keep your dishwasher running top notch. It removes soap and water build-ups as well as help get rid of any small food particles. This treatment should be used once a month. There are commercial products available that will do the same thing but the vinegar is just as effective and considerably less expensive.

After cleaning the dishwasher the major concern was the seals failing. Unlike some appliances, dishwashers must be used to keep their seals functioning properly. Thank goodness it passed the first test run and has not had any leaks since we've been here. The inside of this dishwasher is white plastic that does turn an orangy pink for a day or two after something with tomato based anything is washed in it. The first inclination for most people would be to put some bleach in the dishwasher to remove the stains. This is one of the worst things you can do as bleach will cause the pre-mature break-down of your dishwasher's seals and valves.

Dishwasher repair is a relatively easy DIY project. After the third plate pin fell of the bottom rack last week and there are several spots of rusting inside the coating of the rack making it look like there is some kind of cancerous growth, I called Sears on Monday and ordered a new rack. It was $27 so the price wasn't bad at all. Then when I was doing the weekly cleaning, I noticed the door gasket is looking a little worn especially at the bottom corners. Since I don't relish the idea of having my floor washed for me at some inconvenient time, I headed over to RepairClinic.com to get a price on a replacement gasket. That $12.49 is looking pretty good in lieu of a late night floor washing! I've already ordered that part so it should be here shortly. I will give a very blatant plug to these folks. I've dealt with them before for other appliance parts. Other than being a happy customer, I have no affiliation. Their customer service is top notch, shipping is very reasonable and extremely fast. In order to find parts from them you will need your model number.

Look after your dishwasher and replace those key little things before there is a problem. With any luck, your dishwasher will give you years and years of service. So much for my Bosch!

Garden Gnome
© 2007


Anonymous said...

Hi there.

This is a looong shot, but I am trying desperately to remove the filter at the bottom of this very dishwasher (in order to clean it). I have removed the 8 screws on the circular plastic piece, but that's the only part that will come off for me.

When I called the company, they said I'd have to remove the black piece as well (the impeller???). It doesn't seem like this was hard for you to do. If you get this message, can you explain how to take this off. I have a socket wrench that fits, but it just keeps spinning because there's nothing to anchor it. How ever did you do it?

(I don't want to pay over $100 for someone to do something that I can do at home.

Thanks so much!

Garden Gnome said...

We no longer have this model of dishwasher as we sold it with the previous house. I know we cleaned the filter once on the Kenmore but that was quite some time ago so don't remember how we did it. Sorry. The best bet is to use the model number and ask live support at repairclinic.com or do an online search as to how to clean this particular filter.

Anonymous said...

Dear Garden Gnome,

Thank you so much for your reply! I actually called the company again, searched the internet for videos, called my brother in for help, bought new tools...and finally gave up! My guess is that the dishwasher is close to the end of its lifespan, and I'd rather use the repair money toward a new model. I bought a new dishwasher. It's coming at the end of the week. I very much appreciate the fact that you took the time to answer my query.

Thanks again!

Garden Gnome said...

You are quite welcome. Good luck with your new dishwasher.

Anonymous said...

Good maintenance tips. I've had this same dishwasher for nearly 10 years and haven't had any problems with it. I guess if it's in a rent house with tenants who let their cats crawl into it and don't bother keeping it clean, then yes its quality may suffer. Not the dishwasher's fault though. This particular model happens to be made by Whirlpool, as Kenmore doesn't manufacture appliances. They buy them from other manufacturers and brand them with the Kenmore name.