Dealing with a faulty dishwasher can be a frustrating, if not costly experience. Another one of life’s unwelcome interruptions, I suppose. But don’t lose hope just yet…
If your dishes come out spotted or stained, if you’re left with smelly, dirty water in the dishwasher basin, or it simply refuses to start – take a deep breath, keep calm and let’s carry on.
This handy guide to dishwasher repair will solve most of the dishwasher issues you’ll ever encounter. Best of all, these simple solutions don’t come with a hefty price tag and are easy enough for the “not-so-handy” handyman. After all, repairing a dishwasher is not rocket science.
Let’s get crackin’,shall we?
Using the “Dishwasher Diagnostics” section below, simply identify your issue and click the link. From there, you’ll be led to the relevant step-by-step solution.
Before you go off and start dismantling your dishwasher with surgical like precision, always heed this.
SIMPLE SAFETY TIP FOR DISHWASHER REPAIR
Anytime you’re performing a repair that DOES NOT require you turn the dishwasher on, unplug the unit or turn the breaker off at the electrical panel.
Electricity and water do not mix well!
“Dishwasher Diagnostics” – Simple DIY Solutions To Common Dishwasher Issues
Please click on one of the following links in order to jump straight to that section of the DIY guide:
- My Dishwasher Doesn’t Clean
- My Dishwasher Doesn’t Start
- My Dishwasher Doesn’t Fill
- My Dishwasher Doesn’t Stop Filling
- My Dishwasher Doesn’t Drain
- My Dishwasher Is Leaking
My Dishwasher Doesn’t Clean
After running your dishwasher, if your dishes are still spotty, stained or covered with residue, you have 3 possible solutions. All of which are pretty straightforward.
1. Be sure you’re not overloading
Do not overload the dishwasher and use the right detergent (you can find this information in the owners’ manual).
2. Check the spray arm for clogs and clean if necessary
Over time, the detergent may build up and cause residue or scaling to clog the holes in the spray arm.
To remove any debris from the holes, simply remove the spray arm by turning the cap clockwise and lift it off. Using steel wire or a hanger, gently feed the wire through the holes in the spray arm to loosen any debris.
Alternatively, you can soak the spray arm in white vinegar. Over time, the vinegar will naturally break down old soap and scale buildup.
Reattach the spray arm and cap and give it a whirl to see if there’s improvement.
3. Check to see if it’s getting enough water.
During the operating cycle, when you hear the dishwasher stop filling, open the door to check the water level. The water should reach or come close to the heating coil. If it doesn’t, check to ensure the float valve is moving freely up and down and not full of debris.
If there’s any resistance to the floats movement, clean any debris and refer to the “My Dishwasher Doesn’t Fill” section of this guide to further diagnose the float issue.
My Dishwasher Doesn’t Start
So you’ve loaded the dishwasher, ready to get on with your day only to find the dishwasher won’t start. There’s not a single sign of life on the control panel. No lights, no sounds -frankly, you don’t even know if it’s getting power.
Here’s what you can do.
1. Check to ensure the door is latched and closed properly.
This should be pretty straight forward. Make sure the door is firmly closed and latched.
2. Check to ensure the breaker hasn’t tripped.
Check the electrical panel in your home or apartment to be sure you haven’t accidentally tripped a breaker. If so, a simple reset will do the trick.
3. Check to ensure the outlet doesn’t need resetting
If your dishwasher plugs into an outlet (as opposed to be hardwired) check the GFCI outlet and reset it.
If this doesn’t kickstart your dishwasher back into gear, it may be time to call in the recruits.
At this stage the usual suspects are the faulty door switch, door latch, a thermal fuse, or (god forbid) the control board – and you may have to call in a local appliance tech to solve these problems.
My Dishwasher Doesn’t Fill
It’s tough to clean the dishes with detergent alone. If your dishwasher is not filling with water, here are the possible culprits.
1. Check The Float Isn’t Stuck
The float rises as water fills the dishwasher. Once it reaches a preset level, the water will switch off. If the float is stuck, this may be the reason why it won’t fill.
To check the float, remove the float assembly cover. It’s usually easily identified on the bottom basin inside your dishwasher.
Now, try raising and lowering the float. It should move quite easily. If it doesn’t, check for any debris and remove it.
2. Check The Float Switch
Unplug your dishwasher or turn the breaker off at the electrical panel.
Using a the multimeter, check the float switch (found under the dishwasher, behind the kickplate). Disconnect the wires that attach to it. If the meter reading is anything other than zero (when the float is lowered) or infinite (when the float is lifted up), you’ll need to replace the float switch to repair the dishwasher.
3. Check Water Inlet Valve
A clogged filter screen on the water inlet valve can cause your dishwasher not to fill.
You’ll find this valve behind the kickplate. It’s the one with hoses connected to it. Firstly, ensure the hoses are securely connected and not kinked anywhere. If the hoses seem undamaged, turn off the water supply to the dishwasher and remove them.
Remove the two or four wires (depending on dishwasher type) from the inlet valve. Label them so you’ll be sure to reconnect them properly. Unscrew the water inlet valve and check the screen for any debris.
If it appears clean and clear, use a multimeter to check the solenoids on the valve itself. If the multimeter reading is infinite, it’s time for a trip to the appliance store. You need to replace the water inlet valve.
My Dishwasher Doesn’t Stop Filling
If you’re looking to “catch a wave” in the privacy of your kitchen, this may not be an issue. However, if you’re just looking to run the dishwasher, a steady stream of water is not what you need.
If your dishwasher doesn’t automatically shut the water off after the fill cycle, check to ensure that:
1. The Water Inlet Valve Isn’t Stuck on Open
You’ll find this valve behind the kickplate. Once again, it’s the one with hoses connected to it.
Remove the two or four wires (depending on dishwasher type) from the inlet valve. Label them so you’ll be sure to reconnect them properly.
Using a multimeter, check the solenoids on the valve itself. If the multimeter reading is infinite, the solenoid has failed and it’s time for a trip to the appliance store. You need to replace the water inlet valve.
2. Check Float Switch
Unplug your dishwasher or turn the breaker of at the electrical panel.
Using a the multimeter, check the float switch (found under the dishwasher, behind the kickplate). Disconnect and label the wires that attach to it.
If the meter reading is anything other than zero (when lowered) or infinite (when lifted up), you’ll need to replace the float switch to repair the dishwasher.
My Dishwasher Doesn’t Drain
Unless you’re on a sinking ship, you don’t want to be frantically bailing buckets full of water. Thankfully, your dishwasher draining is not a matter of life or death. But leaving standing, dirty water in the base of your dishwasher tub in not a good idea.
Here’s how to deal with a dishwasher that doesn’t drain.
1. Check The Drain Line Isn’t Clogged
The drain hose is connected to the tailpiece under the sink and continues to the basin under the tub of your dishwasher. The drain hose is usually clear and transparent, making any blockages easy to spot.
Inspect the drain hose the entire length and clear out any blockages.
2. Clean The Filter/Strainer
Usually located in the center of the basin, you’ll find the dishwasher filter.
To access it, carefully remove the screws that connect the filter cover. Lift the cover off to access the strainer.
To ensure you don’t accidently clog the pipes further, place a cloth over the small opening of the filter before cleaning.
Using a rag and a cleaning agent wipe down the area, remove any debris and buildup. A small brush will give you access the tight, hard to access spots.
Replace cover and screws. Be sure not to overtighten them.
3. Be Sure The Sink Drain Is Not Clogged
This one seems obvious but it does happen.
(I don’t need to tell you how to test this, do I?)
4. Check the sidepipe of garbage disposal
If you’ve recently installed a new tailpiece to your kitchen plumbing or a garbage disposal unit, check and make sure the cap has been popped or cut off the newly installed tailpiece that connects to your sink.
5. Can You Hear The Pump During Drain Cycle?
Dishwashers don’t drain by gravity, they have a pump. And if you don’t hear the pump – the problem is an electrical one, not a plumbing issue.
At this stage the usual suspects are the impeller, pump, or the control board – and you may have to call in a local appliance tech to assist with these issues.
My Dishwasher Developed A Leak
You don’t want to ignore a leaky dishwasher. And despite the possible structural damage, the rotting floorboards, or the festering mould and mildew it may also lead to bigger problems if it’s not dealt with promptly.
Here’s 3 simple checks to repair a dishwasher leak.
1. Check The Door Gasket
Dishwasher have a rubber gasket that continues along the perimeter of the door which keeps the water and soap on the inside of the dishwasher, and not on your kitchen floor. Over time, this gasket can dry out, crack or form a tear.
Inspect the gasket visually for any tears or cracks.
To replace, simply locate the rubber gasket on the inside of the door. Using your fingers or needle nose pliers, remove the old gasket by pulling it out of the recessed channel. Then use a rag or paper towel to clean any debris from the channel.
Hold the new gasket in the middle so that an equal amount hangs to either side. Starting at the top center of the door, use your fingers (no sharp objects, please) to press the gasket into the channel. Continue to insert the gasket into the recessed channel along both sides.
At this point, you want to examine the ends of the gasket so that no more than ¾” protrudes from the channel on either side. You can trim using a utility knife if necessary.
2. Check For Leaking Hoses and Supply Line
Remove the kickplate at the bottom of the dishwasher and visually inspect the hoses for any obvious leaks.
Run you hand along the length of all hoses feeling for any evidence of a leak.
If you find the exterior of the hose to be wet, replace the hose. Duct tape won’t cut it, sorry.
Also, pay special attention to the connection points – where the hoses connect to your dishwasher.
If there’s evidence of water at these points, it may just be the clamp needs to be tightened.
3. Ensure Dishwasher Is Level
If your dishwasher is unlevel it can cause a leak.
If it’s leaning too far forward, the water displacement will be higher than it’s meant to. The water level should always be just below the lower edge of the door.
To check it, turn the dishwasher on and allow it to fill. Once the fill cycle is complete and you hear the water shut off, open the door and verify the water level is just below the lower edge of the door.
Well, there you have it. Some simple dishwasher repair solutions to some of the most common problems.
While these may not be the only dishwasher malfunctions you run into, these are, without a doubt, the most frequently occurring calls we receive.