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INSIDE & OUT | A HELPING HAND

Dishwasher Owners Can Get the Drop on Cleaning Woes

February 24, 1996|JOHN MORELL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Q. After years of doing a beautiful job, our dishwasher has suddenly stopped cleaning our dishes. The mechanics of it seem to work fine, and there's no problem with the drains and inlets. The water pressure and temperature check out, and we've tried different detergents. What could be wrong?

S.E.

Newport Beach

A It could be that there's an excess calcium buildup in the dishwasher, says Ken Tessen of Appliance Parts Center in Laguna Niguel. Try pouring apple cider vinegar into the unit, turn it on and let it run, then repeat it. If that doesn't do the trick, you can try using citric acid crystals, which are usually available at appliance supply stores, and let these run through the system.

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Q. Before turning on our furnace for the first time this year, we replaced the filter and cleaned out the system. Yet I still have sneezing fits when it's on. Could there be dust mites or perhaps asbestos blowing through the system?

C.B.

Los Alamitos

A. It's not uncommon to have some problems with dust when the furnace is first turned on, says Joel Gwartz of B.J. Discount Plumbing & Heating Supply. The ducts probably haven't been used in a while, and dust has settled in them.

In very old homes, it's possible that asbestos was used to make the ducts; however, it would have been used to make the outside lining of the duct, and it wouldn't cause any danger unless the duct was broken. You may want to have a furnace technician check the system to make sure it is intact.

As to the dust problem, remember that the cheaper the filter, the less effective it is. You may want to consider installing an ionizing filter that uses static electricity to remove particles from the air.

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