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Dishwashers are supposed to wash your dishes, right? Well, if your dishwasher requires you to wash your dishes before ever putting them into it, then it’s not doing its job very well. Sometimes just changing detergents can help. But most of the time, a good cleaning is all it really needs. Here are some tricks and tips you can try to make your dish-washing experience a little better.

Clean the inside of the unit with warm vinegar and a plastic scrubber to remove all of the mineral deposits that build up over time. These mineral deposits are the same thing that cause spots on your glasses.

Clean the arms that turn inside the washer. They should move freely. Be sure to clean out all of the little holes on these to make sure they can spray the water properly.

If your dishwasher has a rising spray assembly, make sure it also moves freely.

Clean the dispenser cup with warm vinegar and water, too. If these mineral deposits get into the springs and hinges, it won’t operate the way it is designed to.

Check the settings on the front to make sure they are set for the desired washing cycles.

Usually the water used in your dishwasher comes from your kitchen sink, so if it takes a while for hot water to get to that area, you can run the water in the sink for a minute or two to get it hot before starting your dishwasher.

The rinse agents that you can hang or add to a special cup in your dishwasher really help a lot, too. Most are added monthly, but it really depends on how often you use your dishwasher and how hard the water is in your neck of the woods.

When you are finished washing a load, there shouldn’t be any water left in the dishwasher. If there is, check for debris in the bottom of the unit that might be preventing the pump from working properly. If you don’t see anything there, then you might need to have your pump cleaned or replaced.

If the racks are starting to fall apart, check your hardware store for new rubber tips that can cover those rusty edges. These parts, and others also, are available online at places like RepairClinic.com.

Cleaning dishes is a dirty job, but somebody’s got to do it – better the dishwasher than you!

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Q: I was working on our toilet and broke the top that goes on the tank. What can I do to fix this? – G.R.

A: You can try gluing it back together, but if that doesn’t work, you can buy a replacement lid. Check with your hardware store or the manufacturer of your toilet. They aren’t very expensive.

Shoptalk

If you haven’t tried using a compact circular saw, you need to. They are so much easier to maneuver than the regular ones and work surprisingly well. Rockwell has a super model (RK3441K) that weighs in at only five pounds.

It’s slim, its inline grip provides great comfort, balance and control, and the left-handed design gives you better visibility. It uses a 4.5-inch thin kerf blade, works great on most materials and uses a quick, push-button arbor lock.

There are several blades available for a wider variety of projects. It also has some great, standard circ-saw features, including beveling capability, blade guard and vac adapter for dust collection. Check it out at www.rockwelltools.com.

Got a question or a handy tip? Send it to The Super Handyman at www.thesuperhandyman.com. Those of general interest will be used in future columns.