There’s never a good time to have problems with your dishwasher. When your dishwasher starts acting up, you might feel like the only solution is to call a repairman right away.
But, hold the phone! Before you call someone to come and look at your dishwasher, you should try to troubleshoot and fix it yourself. While some problems may require the help of a service technician, others can be solved by DIY-minded homeowners. Many common dishwasher problems, like leaking water, residue on dishes, or a failure to drain completely can be resolved without professional help.
1) Water Not Draining
A small amount of clean water in the bottom of your dishwasher after a cycle is one thing, but if a lot of dirty water is pooling in your dishwasher, or if dirty water is spewing from the air gap on your sink, then it’s time you rolled up your sleeves and took a closer look.
Wait till your dishwasher has cooled down, and then turn off the power to it. You might be able to unplug it, or you might have to turn off power to the appliance at your breaker box. Pull off the air gap cover at the back of the sink and clean out the air gap with a stiff wire brush. Check the dishwasher drain hose for knots or kinks.
Next, remove the strainer under your dishwasher’s bottom sprayer arm. Remove the sprayer arm, too. Scrub both clean, paying special attention to unclogging the holes in the sprayer arm.
If the dishwasher still won’t drain properly, there might be a clog in your plumbing. If your sink isn’t clogged, it might be the dishwasher drain hose. You can unclog it by removing the hose and flushing it out with water.
2) Water Leaking on the Floor
If your dishwasher is leaking on the floor, it’s probably a faulty door gasket. Sometimes It’s just a large piece of debris stuck to the gasket. Clean the door gasket with a disinfectant, examining it for cracks or damage. If it’s damaged or cracked, you’ll have to replace it.
If the door gasket looks good and is clean, it might be a problem with how you’re loading the dishes. Consult your owner’s manual to make sure you’re loading the dishes correctly, as incorrectly loaded dishes can cause water to spill through the dishwasher’s door vent. You can also check that the dishwasher is level, and if it isn’t, adjust the front feet until it is.
3) Residue on Dishes After a Cycle
If your dishes come out looking just as dirty as they did when they went in, it could be something you’re doing. Make sure you’re not overloading the machine, especially the utensil basket, and rinse everything before it goes into the dishwasher.
Once you’ve been able to rule out user error, check the strainer and door gasket for debris. Clean any residue, grease, or other build-up from these parts. Try turning the spray arms with your hands to make sure they’re spinning easily. Remove them and clean off any gunk, taking care to unclog any blocked holes. Once you’re done, run a cleaning cycle with vinegar and baking soda to remove any gunk that’s still inside the machine.
4) An Unpleasant Odor
Bad smells wafting out of your dishwasher are usually the result of old, rotten food stuck somewhere inside. Clean the screen, gasket, and sprayer arms and run a cleaning cycle with vinegar and baking soda, as above. To keep your dishwasher smelling nice, run a hot rinse cycle with just a cup of vinegar in your dishwasher about once a month. If you’re smelling a hot chemical smell, like burning plastic, chances are that a plastic container lid or some other plastic item has gotten stuck under your heating element.
5) It Just Won’t Start
You might think that if your dishwasher isn’t turning on at all, it’s time to call for professional dishwasher repair. And, indeed, you might be right. But you should check a few things first.
Check your circuit breaker to make sure that you haven’t blown a fuse, and verify that the outlet your dishwasher is plugged into is functioning properly. If those two things look good, the problem might be that your dishwasher door latch is faulty. If the door won’t latch correctly, the dishwasher won’t turn on. Replace a faulty latch to solve the problem.
If your dishwasher will power on and sounds like it’s trying to work, the motor might be stuck. You can shut off power to the appliance, pull off the motor casing, and try to turn the fan blades manually to loosen them. Make sure the mounting bolts are tight to keep the motor from rattling around. If your motor hums but still won’t turn on, or if the water pressure in your dishwasher has dropped even though the water pressure in the rest of your home is normal, then it may be time for a new motor.
A dishwasher that doesn’t work can really put a cramp on your style. But you might not need a repairman to get it up and running again. Try one of these dishwasher repair hacks first – you might just save some money, and build some confidence in your home repair skills to boot!