We all take our dishwashers for granted until they stop working, and then we realize just how much we rely on them!
If your dishwasher has stopped working, it could be for any number of reasons. Some reasons are more common than others, and some problems can be easily fixed with a few easy steps.
In this blog post, we’ll explore some common causes of dishwasher failure and provide you with some easy do-it-yourself solutions for each problem.
Troubleshooting Your Dishwasher
Dishwashers may have over a hundred moving parts depending on their make and model. When you turn on your dishwasher, any one of those hundreds of components may be working improperly and interrupting the cycle.
A dishwasher with a problem will have noticeably reduced washing performance or stop running altogether after a few minutes.
But before you can fix any problem, it’s vital that you know how to troubleshoot it. Here are some things you need to know about troubleshooting your dishwasher, alongside possible solutions to these problems.
1. It Doesn’t Fill with Water
If your dishwasher doesn’t seem to be filling correctly, there are three possible culprits. The first thing you should do is check the water supply.
Ensure that both hot and cold faucets are turned on in your kitchen or bathroom, then run the tap in your sink until the temperature changes. This will tell you if the problem is your hot water heater or a faulty cold water connection.
After that’s confirmed to be OK, check the inlet valve on the back of your dishwasher for signs of corrosion and mineral buildup.
If there’s any buildup, clean it off with WD-40 and a toothbrush, and check for leaks. If the valve is defective, you’ll need to replace it.
If your dishwasher has a drain line, ensure that it’s not clogged with food particles or mineral deposits. And if you have an older model without a drain line, then there may be gunk in the water valve that will need to be removed.
2. The Dishwasher Doesn’t Fill with Rinse Aid
If your dishwasher doesn’t have a rinse aid dispenser, this could be why it isn’t filling correctly. You can check the tube that supplies it for blockages or clean the dispenser itself.
If you have a rinse aid dispenser, then your dishwasher most likely has an electronic control board that’s malfunctioning. This is relatively rare, but it usually means replacing the entire control board when it happens.
Frequently, control board replacements are expensive. Check with a technician to see if something else can be done. Request a quotation and see how much it’ll cost you to fix.
3. It Doesn’t Cycle Through Wash and Rinse Cycles/The Dishwasher Takes too Long to Fill With Water
If your dishwasher doesn’t seem to be turning on or filling with water, then your problem is most likely in the timer assembly. This happens when there’s a faulty connection between one of the timers and the start button.
If you have a dishwasher with electronic controls, then this is likely the culprit. Electronic control boards are expensive to replace but necessary in most cases.
If you’re unwilling to pony up for an entirely new board, you can always consider finding a cheap replacement part.
4. It Doesn’t Drain
If your dishwasher doesn’t drain properly, the problem is usually with any one of these three things. First, check to see if there’s a clog in the sump or drain hose.
Second, ensure the drainage pump isn’t faulty through a continuity test. And third, make sure that nothing obstructs the impeller in the pump.
5. It Smells Bad
If your dishwasher smells bad, it probably has a funny smell coming from the vents. This usually happens when the dishwasher’s interior gets soiled with food particles and minerals.
While not terribly harmful to your health, it can cause an unpleasant odor that you won’t want to live with.
If this is the case, the best option is to run a cycle with bleach and hot water on your dishwasher’s hottest setting. This should help get rid of any particles so you can stop smelling the stink.
Additionally, some dishwasher models have a smelly rubber seal that needs to be cleaned. The best way to do this is by removing the door, so you can get at it more easily. Consult your owner’s manual to find out how to do this.
Lastly, if you have a dishwasher that doesn’t have stainless steel or aluminum components, then it might just smell bad every now and then because the rubber gasket needs to be replaced.
6. The Dishwasher is Leaking/There are Water Stains on My Floor
If your dishwasher is leaking, then it’s most likely that it has a hole in the tub or base pan. This can be caused by many different things–from rocks in the drain to debris in the spray arm.
If the leak only happens during a cycle, try checking for debris in the spray arm. If it’s clear, then there may be something plugged up in the drain line.
If you have an issue with rocks or debris in your dishwasher’s drain pan, this is probably because of improper drainage.
This means that either you’re not using enough water pressure to drain the dishwasher, or that your plumbing is unable to support proper drainage.
You should also check for any rips in the rubber seal of the door. If this gets damaged, it can cause leaks anywhere from under the door to near where the upper half meets the lower half of your dishwasher.
7. It Doesn’t Heat Water
If your dishwasher doesn’t heat water, then it’s likely that the heating element and/or the thermostat aren’t working. You can test this by removing the cover of your dishwasher, which is usually found on the top or at the bottom near where the door meets the machine.
Once you’re in, check to see if the heating element is glowing red. If it’s not, then there’s a good chance that your thermostat or circuit breaker is faulty. Before performing a replacement, make sure that the wires are connected properly.
You should also check if the heating element is connected properly to the machine. Sometimes, it just needs some adjusting, so that it’s in better contact with the water.
If neither of these steps fixes your problem, then you might have to replace both the thermostat and circuit board–or even the entire heating element assembly. But, you can always save time and money by just replacing the heating element assembly.
8. My Dishes Aren’t Getting Clean
If your dishes aren’t getting clean, then it’s possible that there isn’t enough water pressure going to your dishwasher. This is a problem with the water supply line or a clogged spray arm or drain.
You can fix this by replacing either one of those parts with a new one that works just as well. Or, you can try to fix the problem yourself. To do this, remove all of the spray arms and use a pipe cleaner to clean out any debris inside.
If you still have problems, then it’s time to check your water supply line for signs of leaks or kinks. If it looks like there could be an issue with either one of these, tighten the line up so that it’s not restricting water flow.
If you’ve done all of this and your dishwasher is still getting stuck on the cleaning cycle, then it might be time to replace your heating element assembly. It’s usually best to just go ahead and purchase a new one.
9. I Have Hard Water and My Dishes Aren’t Getting Clean
If you have hard water, then it’s possible that your dishes aren’t getting clean because of the high mineral content. If this is the case, you’ll need to install a new water softener or try one of these tactics:
You can use dishwasher salt and white vinegar together. Each cup should help with hard water issues without interfering too much with the normal cycle.
If your dishwasher has a delayed start feature, then try using it when you have a load of dishes to wash. This allows the salt and vinegar time to sit in the water for a while before starting the cycle.
You can also try using a rinse agent to make the water more effective when cleaning dishes. You can either buy one that’s meant for dishwashers or simply add some vinegar to the rinse compartment. This works by leaving small amounts of calcium ions in your water, which dissolve off of your dishes during the cycle.
10. My Dishwasher is Making a High-Pitched Noise
This means that either the door or drawer is out of alignment or there is a buildup of mineral deposits on the spray arm. To fix this, you’ll need to open up your dishwasher and see if it needs realigning. You can do this by popping off the lower kick plate and pulling out the drawer.
After doing this, you should be able to see if the door or drawer has become misaligned. If they have, then just realign them by pushing or pulling on one side until both sides are flush against the dishwasher.
If that doesn’t fix your high-pitched noise, then you should check the spray arm. Sometimes, water can get stuck between the spray arm and the dishwasher wall. Just remove your arm and clean out any debris that might be there.
It’s also possible that a buildup of minerals or food particles could be restricting your arm from spinning freely. Use vinegar to clean off any gunk that’s built up and see if that fixes the issue.
11. My Dishwasher Has Suddenly Stopped Working
If your dishwasher suddenly stops working, then there could be several issues that are causing this problem. The first thing you’ll need to do is check your electrical supply line for any leaks or kinks. Have someone turn on the dishwasher while you check for any power.
If you don’t see any problems with the line, then the next thing you should check is your unit’s circuit breaker. Sometimes, it might trip and need to be reset. Just flip the switch back on and restart your dishwasher.
If that doesn’t work, then you’ll probably need to replace the circuit board in the unit. Since this is something that requires an experienced hand, you should contact a professional to complete the job for you.
12. The Detergent Dispenser Isn’t Working
If your detergent dispenser isn’t working, then there could be two possible causes for this issue. First, you should check to see if the door is open or closed. You can do this by looking at the inside of the dishwasher and checking the underside of the upper raceway. If it’s closed, then just open it up.
If that doesn’t work, then you have to check the water pressure underneath the dispenser. There should be either very low or no water coming through at all. This is because of a failed water valve or faulty dishwasher hose components. You might also need to replace your dishwasher valves if this is the case.
13. My Dishwasher Is Making a Loud Grinding Noise
If your dishwasher is making a loud grinding noise, then you need to check the motor coupler first. This is usually where most problems occur with these units because of normal wear and tear over time. Replacing this part will take care of the issue for you.
If that doesn’t work, then you might need to replace your motor assembly, which includes the gearbox and motor coupler. With this part especially, it’s important to only use OEM replacement parts, so they fit properly. If it isn’t put in correctly or is faulty, then you’ll continue having problems with your unit.
So that’s it – the most common reasons why dishwashers stop working, and how to fix them!
With these easy solutions, you should be able to get your dishwasher back up and running in no time at all. For more appliance repair help or for professional advice, make sure that you get in touch with an experienced appliance repair specialist.