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How to Troubleshoot Common Dishwasher Problems

11/08/22

Image: a woman loads her dishwasher, cover for How to Troubleshoot Common Dishwasher Problems.
Few household appliances can say they save us time more than the dishwasher. With this appliance, it takes no time to load up your plates, pots, pans, and silverware after dinner. However, when your dishwasher has problems, it can quickly become a major inconvenience.

If you’re having problems, here are our tips to troubleshoot common dishwasher problems.

Dishes Aren’t Coming Out Clean

Dishwashers are the most popular home appliance in the United States. Approximately 56 percent of households have one. However, it’s not uncommon for dishes and utensils to come out of the dishwasher dirty.

Here are some reasons why your dishwasher isn’t cleaning properly:

  • The wrong detergent. Detergent that is too strong or weak can leave soap scum on your dishes. Use a mild liquid detergent and check that it doesn’t contain chlorine bleach or phosphates. If you use powdered detergent, ensure it dissolves completely before starting the dishwasher cycle.
  • Food particles are left behind. Food particles left on plates or flatware can cling together and stick to your dishes during washing, preventing them from getting clean. Add a rinse agent to help loosen food particles so they can be washed away by water pressure during rinsing cycles.
  • Water temperature is too low or too high. Water temperature affects how well soap dissolves into sudsy bubbles that lift off food particles. Warm or hot water is best for this purpose because it speeds up the evaporation of excess water from soiled items.

Dishwasher Doesn’t Run

Dishwasher not running? It could be due to several issues.

Image: a woman sits by her broken dishwasher.
It may seem obvious, but you won’t get any water in your dishwasher if you’ve turned off the water supply or if it’s broken. Check that someone hasn’t switched off the water by mistake. Also, make sure that the water valve is on and that there aren’t any leaks or other issues with the plumbing system.

If the door doesn’t close properly, water won’t enter the machine when you turn it on. To fix this problem, check that all parts are correctly installed and in good condition. For example, you may need to replace or repair a defective latch assembly.

Image: a woman is upset over her broken dishwasher.
Finally, a malfunctioning timer can prevent your dishwasher from starting at all. The timer regulates when different components turn on and off so that water enters the machine and drains away at appropriate times during the cycle. If it’s broken or defective, you’ll need to replace it to get your machine working again.

Dishwasher Doesn’t Fill

If you have a dishwasher that won’t fill, the problem may be with the float arm or inlet valve. The float arm is a small metal rod that sticks up from the bottom of the dishwasher. When it fills with water, it signals to the dishwasher’s computer that there’s enough water in the tub to start filling. Unfortunately, if this piece is broken, there’s no way for the computer to know when there is enough water in the tub.

The inlet valve is a small piece of plastic or metal that connects your faucet to your dishwasher hose. If this valve is broken or missing, your dishwasher can’t fill with water because it doesn’t know when there’s enough pressure coming out of your faucet.

Dishwasher Doesn’t Drain

If your water doesn’t drain out of your dishwasher, something may have been caught in the drain pump screen or the impeller (the part that pumps water). First, remove any foreign objects from both locations by hand. If necessary, use a pair of needle-nose pliers for this task. Then try rerunning your dishwasher; if it drains now, you solved the problem.

Check for obstructions in your sink’s drain line leading up to the dishwasher (not just in the line by itself). If there’s an obstruction in this line, it can prevent water from flowing through it. Make sure to clear out any debris inside this line before running your dishwasher again.

Dishwasher Smells Bad

If your dishwasher smells bad, your dishes smell bad, which is someone no one wants to experience.

If you have a very old dishwasher (or one that is not energy efficient), you may need to run it with hotter water than it’s used to. This will help get rid of any food particles in the pipes and filter, preventing mildew from growing.

If possible, use liquid detergent in your dishwasher as it dissolves more easily than powder detergents. If you don’t have enough detergent in your machine, there won’t be enough suds to clean the dishes properly. They’ll come out smelly and dirty looking no matter how much you run them through the cycle again and again.

Image: a woman plugs her nose because of how bad her dishes smell.
Got a problem with your dishwasher? Call the plumbing experts at HELP.

Posted in: Plumbing

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