Category Archives: Machine Maintenance

dishwasher-open

Keeping the Dishwasher Clean

The other day Brandon stopped into one of his favorite suppliers and a regular customer approached to thank him for the tips in our last blog on how to clean the garbage disposal. “I just thought it was supposed to stink like trash,” the busy mom of four told Brandon as she picked out hardware for the G&C Plumbing and Heating guys to use when they installed a new sink and vanity in her bathroom. “You know, my dishwasher smells pretty bad too, how should I clean that?”

Take it away, Brandon…

The first thing you’re going to want to do is clear the drain and filter. It’s not a glamorous job, especially if you don’t do it regularly, so you might want to put on some rubber gloves.

dishwasher-filter

  1. Remove the bottom dish rack and locate the filter and drain. In newer machines, these filters eliminate the grinder that pulverizes food scraps and then pushes the food down the drain. If your drain is clogged, your dishwasher will be louder and stinkier than it should be.
  2. Remove the filter system, which typically has a few interlocking parts, and clean the parts individually at the sink. Use the spay of the faucet, sponge or small brush to dislodge the gunk (hence the gloves) This is going to help immensely with drainage and efficiency.
  3. Check the spray arm for trapped food scraps by lifting it off its base with a little tug. Rinse that under water and clear clogged holes with a toothpick. There is often an additional hole on the underside of the spray arm that shoots water into the filter, make sure you clean that out too before popping it back into the bottom of the dishwasher.

Once you have all the components back into place, and it’s not many so don’t be afraid to take them out, I recommend a vinegar wash to sanitize and deodorize the dishwasher.

  1. Place a cup of white vinegar in a bowl at the back of the upper rack in an empty washer.
  2. Run the dishwasher on your pot scrubbing, or longest, cycle to wash away grease and yuck. If you have hard water, the vinegar will even help with discoloration if you use it regularly – I recommend three or four times a year.

Now that the gunk and yuck is all washed out, I like to give a final rinse for lasting freshness.

  1. Sprinkle about a cup of fresh baking soda across the bottom of the dishwasher. (Fresh baking soda does a better job than the box you’ve had in your cupboard for a decade)
  2. Run the shortest cycle available with nothing else in the dishwasher and you will be greeted with a fresh-smelling, brightened and stain-free interior when all is said and done.

The last step is to take a warm rag dipped in a vinegar and water solution and clean the seal along the frame and top of your dishwasher. Regular cleanings like this will also help prolong the life of the machine – Bonus!

Dishwasher

Thanks, Brandon!

 

garbage-disposal

Keeping the Garbage Disposal Clean

Sounds like an oxymoron doesn’t! But, this holiday season, your garbage disposal will likely be on over-drive with all the prepping and cooking going on in your kitchen. The last thing you need is a backup or a breakdown! So, the guys at G&C Plumbing and Heating suggest you start the New Year off right with a good old cleaning of the garbage eating machine.

Little Back Ground Info

We all know and love that a garbage disposal chews up all the food scraps we toss down the drain. But, do you know how it works?

“The disposal operates with an electric motor that is either hardwired or plugged into a 120-volt box,” said Grand Master Plumber, Greg Sheck. “Inside the disposal is a grinding chamber where shredding blades grind up whatever you toss down the sink. From there, tiny impeller blades and a plate force the particles and liquid down the drain which is why it’s super important to run cold water while the disposal is on. The dishwater is what carries the garbage through the entire process.”

If you learn anything from Greg about your garbage disposal today…

“It’s not a trash can. Only put biodegradable food in your garbage disposal. No gum, garden debris or chemistry experiments,” said Greg. Other things to avoid include fibrous, oily, starchy and expandable material that can tangle or clog up the system:

  • onion skins
  • grease and fat
  • corn husks
  • artichokes
  • celery stalks
  • potato peels
  • rice and pasta
  • coffee grinds
  • egg shells

Daily Maintenance

“When you run your garbage disposal, let it keep going a few seconds after the grinding you can hear stops,” said Greg. “There may still be small pieces, so leave the water and everything on for a few seconds before you shut it down.”

Also, when you are cleaning up after a good chicken fry, use a towel or paper towel to wipe off as much grease as you can from pans before rinsing.

Finally, if you accidentally toss a big chicken bone down there (small chicken and fish bones actually help clean the blades) Physically remove objects by first turning off the fuse that supplies power to the disposal. “So you don’t chop your hand off,” said Greg. “You can then use pliers or tongs to remove the trapped object.  A flash light will be helpful. “Be careful, damaging the grinder while sticking metal objects down the disposal is easier than you might think. Bottom line – Don’t stick your hand down there!

The Big Cleaning

There are a few routes you go when it comes to cleaning a disposal. If you kept your owner’s manual, that would be a good place to start. If not, Greg recommends the following options:

DIY Clean

Grinding ice cubes and salt in your garbage disposal is a great way to remove sludge and debris. In addition to cleaning the garbage disposal, grinding ice will sharpen the blades and salt will help with stinky smells.

  1. Turn the cold water on
  2. Turn on the disposal
  3. Empty four cups of ice cubes into the sink
  4. Feed the cubes down the disposal as quickly as it will take them – This will freeze all the gunk, causing it to chunk off the impeller blades and the plate
  5. Add one cup of rock salt
  6. Let everything continue to run a minute beyond the grinding noise

Professional Clean

“Don’t use drain cleaners,” said Greg. “These are mainly caustic chemicals that can corrode your disposal’s guts and kill it.”

BCcontainterMDInstead – order a tub of BIO-CLEAN from the G&C guys. “BIO-CLEAN is a blend of bacteria and enzymes. The bacteria are natural, and the concentration is the most powerful on the market,” said Greg. Interestingly, one $49.95 tub of BIO-CLEAN can clean your garbage disposal about 100 times. And, it cleans pretty much anything involving organic waste.

Bottom line, it works better than anything you can pull out of your freezer, but either option should do the trick and keep your disposal running smoothly through the holidays.

From all of us at G&C Plumbing and Heating

We hope you had a restful holiday that is full of peace, love and absolutely no plumbing emergencies. However, if your sister-in-law clogged up your disposal with potato peels, your kids gunked up your washing machine with that magic snow, or your heater just finally gave out – you know how to contact us! We promise to get you back on track for relaxation as soon as possible.

washer-dryer

Keep the (Washing) Machine Clean

Sweater on top of sweater with two or three layers under the sweaters – that’s how we roll during a New England winter. If you’re still playing our friendly Heating Hold Out, you might have a few more layers on top of all that, making your winter laundry piles the biggest you’re likely to see all year.

Help Your Washer Keep Up

While your machine is ridding your mounds of winter clothes of dirt, pine needles and ice melting sand, it can accumulate a buildup of said dirt and detergent residue that makes it harder to do its job.

“We’ve helped out a few clients whose machines were so dirty, they actually thought the machine was broken” said Brandon Sheck from G&C Plumbing and Heating. “These machines wash some pretty dirty stuff, and need to be cleaned to keep up.”

Most manufacturers recommend cleaning the machine once a month, but let’s face it, that’s as likely to happen as your eight-year-old remembering to floss his teeth every day. So, let’s get real here.

If you’re lucky enough to have a separate cleaning cycle as an option on your machine, run it whenever you can remember. Brandon suggests trying, really hard, to remember this option after you wash a load of cleaning rags because that can really gunk up your machine.

If you don’t have a cleaning cycle, not sure or unsure how to use it – not to fear. “Just identify your machine and select a cleanser,” said Brandon. “High energy front loaders and top loaders need one cleaning approach; top-loading non-HE machines need a slightly different approach.”

Pick a Cleanser

White vinegar, bleach or a commercial cleanser are your best options. Vinegar is nontoxic, cheap and easy to get your hands on, but some manufacturers recommend bleach or other chemical cleansers. “If you still have your manual, check to see what it recommends, if not, vinegar is pretty harmless,” said Brandon. “Just don’t mix cleaners – that’s a big and dangerous mess!”

HE Washers – Front Loading or Top Loading

Wiping down the interior of the washer to keep these machines from developing an odor is something you should do frequently. Here is the bigger cleaning:

  1. Choose the “clean” cycle if your machine has one. If not, select the hottest water setting –
  2. typically the one for whites or heavily stained clothes.
  3. Choose an added rinse cycle if available. (If not, run the rinse cycle a second time manually)
  4. Fill the bleach dispenser with your cleanser.
  5. Fill the tub as high as you can and run the machine.
  6. When the cycle has ended, clean the gasket that seals the door and the area around it.
  7. Clean the detergent, bleach and fabric softener dispensers. If you can pop them out – do it!

If you’re feeling extra motivated, wipe down the controls and the outside of the machine for a like new shine. This won’t help your machine clean your laundry, but it will look nice.

Top-Loading Non-HE Washers

Chances are these machines will not have a cycle for cleaning, but no worries. Cleaning is a bit more time consuming, but you can do it a few times a year for the sake of your clothes, can’t you?

  1. Choose the hot water setting and the longest cycle.
  2. Fill the tub to the maximum level, then pause the machine.
  3. Add 4 cups of white vinegar or 1 cup of bleach to the water and let the machine agitate for a minute or two.
  4. Pause the machine and let it sit for an hour. Dip a cloth into the soaking solution, wring it out and use it to clean the top of the drum, agitator, and inside of the lid.
  5. Clean the bleach and fabric softener dispensers.
  6. Restart the machine and finish the cycle.

Again, if you’re feeling fancy, clean the control panel and the outside of the machine for sparkle. Brandon considers this extra credit.

Pat Yourself on the Back

And relish in the fresh clean smell of all the layers you wear in the winter. You are rocking this Heating Hold Out! Don’t forget to tell us about your tips to stay warm on the G&C Facebook page!