How to Troubleshoot Common Dishwasher Problems



Like many people, you depend on your dishwasher almost every day. These space-saving appliances keep us from prepping, rinsing, and cleaning dishes, silverware, and utensils after every meal. They can also handle difficult parts of cleaning with ease. But what happens when they make a mistake? Unfortunately, dishwashers don’t always work properly, even if you do everything right.

Here’s a list of how to troubleshoot common dishwasher problems so you’re never stuck with a pile of dirty dishes.

Dishes don’t come out clean

When your dishes come out of the washer looking speckled with food still on them, the problem could be due to several causes.

Food residue stuck to dishes or to the bottom of the dishwasher often prevents dishes from being cleaned properly. If you notice that your cups or mugs have stains or streaks, try using rinse aid and see if that makes a difference.

Another common problem is food particles getting stuck in the sprayer arms and filter screen. You can easily remove these arms by turning off the dishwasher and removing the bottom rack.

Photo: dishwasher parts that need to wash off food particles.
Run a cycle without any dishes in the appliance and check for any blockages or debris that could be causing the problem. You can also try cleaning the strainer with vinegar or baking soda.

Dishwasher not working

When the dishwasher is not working, the first step should be to check the circuit breaker or fuse box and make sure the power is on. If it turns off, turn it back on. Next, check the circuit breaker or fuse box again to make sure nothing else in your home has gone out while you’re checking it. If so, flip it over again, too.

Image: A woman sits despondently next to a broken dishwasher.
If the power is fine and the dishwasher still won’t turn on, there may be an electrical issue that needs to be fixed by a professional.

Most dishwashers also have an open door sensor, which prevents the unit from operating if the door is open.

Finally, the water inlet valve opens when the water supply is turned on and closes when the water supply is turned off. If the valve is closed, water will not flow into the dishwasher. If this happens, try turning the dishwasher off at the breaker box and then back on again to reset it. If this does not work, Call a professional plumber To repair or replace the water inlet valve.

Dishwasher not filling

The floating arm is a piece of metal that floats above the water level inside the dishwasher. When it gets high enough, it interrupts an electrical connection that tells the washer to stop draining and start washing dishes. If this part breaks or falls out of place, the dishwasher will not fill with water.

The inlet valve activates when hot water flows into it at the bottom of the tub faucet. When you run hot water inside your home, it travels through the pipes until it reaches the valve inside your dishwasher. When it opens and closes properly, the water flows into the basin opposite it without problems. But if something goes wrong with that part, like corrosion or a faulty wiring, the hot water won’t make it to the dishwasher – which means no filling and no washing either!

Dishwasher not draining

If your dishwasher won’t drain, it could be due to a clogged drain pump or an internal problem. The first step is to check the pump at the bottom of the machine. The drain pump is often clogged with food scraps and other debris, so removing and cleaning it is a good first step.

Another thing to check is the check valve on the drain pan. This simple device can cause major problems in your dishwasher if it becomes clogged or damaged.
Image: A puddle of water on the kitchen floor, from a leaky dishwasher.
The check valve is located at the bottom of the dishwasher drain pan. It’s designed to allow water to flow in one direction only, which prevents it from being sucked back into the dishwasher after it’s drained. If this is broken, you will make a mess on your hands and your dishes will end up in dirty water.

Dishwasher smells bad

When your dishwasher smells funky, you might be tempted to grab a bottle of bleach. But before you do that, look at the problem from the inside out.

You may have food or grease residue buildup on the bottom of the appliance. This is common with older machines, especially if they are not cleaned regularly. It is important to clean the filter every time you run your dishwasher.
Image: A woman holds her nose because her dishwasher smells bad.
If you don’t like bleach, vinegar is a great cleaning agent for your dishwasher. Pour ½ cup of white vinegar into the bottom of the dishwasher and run it through a cycle. This will kill any microorganisms living in the device and prevent future growth.

Do you have a problem with your dishwasher? Contact the Service Champions plumbing professionals.


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