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Troubleshooting Dishwashers

You can't get the dishwasher to run.
Dishes are still dirty at the end of the wash.
The dishwasher's tub doesn't fill with water.
You can't get the water to stop running.
The water isn't draining out of the unit.
The dishes aren't drying.
Water is leaking out of the dishwasher.
The dishwasher is unusually noisy.

 

  • A dishwasher has many parts that can become blocked, jammed or clogged.
  • Very hot water -- 140°F to 160°F -- is basic to good service from a dishwasher.
  • Some dishwashers are equipped with an air gap to prevent waste water from backing up into the washer. Because it collects bits of waste, the air gap must be cleaned regularly (remove the cap and cover and use a wire).
  • A dishwasher without an air gap has a high loop in the drain hose. Make sure that it's not kinked, and clear any obstructions from it with a length of wire when necessary.
  • Safety Tip Before making repairs, pull the plug from the receptacle. Turn off the hot water valve under the sink before working on the water inlet valve or disconnecting the hot water hose.

You can't get the dishwasher to run.

Check for:

  • Unlocked door.
  • Timer or selector button in the wrong position.
  • No power is reaching the unit.
  • Defective door switch.
  • Loose wires.
  • Defective timer.

Remedies:

  • Relock the door.
  • Check the setting of both the timer and the selector button.
  • Check the fuse box/circuit breaker.
  • Check the door switch for damage.
  • Check all the terminals on both the timer and the motor.
  • Replace the timer.

Dishes are still dirty at the end of the wash.

Check for:

  • Water not hot enough.
  • Dishes not correctly prepared for washing.
  • Dishes aren't stacked correctly.
  • Detergent is old.
  • Detergent dispenser doesn't open.
  • Spray arms are blocked.
  • No water in the tub.

Remedies:

  • Check the temperature of the hot water from the tap - it should be between 140°F and 150°F.
  • Check the hot water setting.
  • Scrape and rinse all dishes before loading the dishwasher.
  • Dishes can't touch and must face the direction of the spray to get completely clean.
  • Start over with fresh dishwasher detergent.
  • Check the detergent cup and remove hardened detergent or mineral deposits.
  • Be sure the lid is not blocked and check the dispenser solenoid.
  • Check and make sure nothing is blocking the arms.
  • See the next section for not enough water.

The dishwasher's tub doesn't fill with water.

Check for:

  • Defective water inlet valve or solenoid.
  • Clogged water filter.
  • Defective overflow switch.
  • Defective timer.

Remedies:

  • Check the valve.
  • Check to see if your water inlet valve has a filter and clean it.
  • Check the switch. If it freezes in the FULL position, the unit will not fill.
  • Replace the timer.

You can't get the water to stop running.

Check for:

  • Stuck water inlet valve.
  • Defective timer.
  • Defective overflow switch.

Remedies:

  • Check the valve and see if you can shut it.
  • Replace the timer.
  • If the switch is frozen on the EMPTY position, the water will continue to run.

The water isn't draining out of the unit.

Check for:

  • Clogged or leaking drain hose.
  • Defective pump motor.
  • Defective timer.

Remedies:

  • Disconnect the drain hose and blow through it to be sure it is clear.
  • Call a qualified contractor.
  • Replace the timer.

The dishes aren't drying.

Check for:

  • Mineral deposits on the heating element.
  • Loose heating element wire.
  • Burnt out heating element.
  • Defective timer.

Remedies:

  • The deposits should come off with vinegar.
  • Check all the electrical connections around the heating elements.
  • Replace the heating element.
  • Replace the timer.

Water is leaking out of the dishwasher.

Check for:

  • Damaged door seal.
  • Defective overflow switch.
  • Broken door hinges.
  • Loose heating element nuts.
  • Loose hose clamps.

Remedies:

  • Replace the door seal.
  • Check the switch for damages.
  • Replace the hinges.
  • Tighten the nuts that attach the element to the tub.
  • To see if there's a loose hose connection, you may have to move the unit.

The dishwasher is unusually noisy.

Check for:

  • Spray arm hitting the dishes.
  • Damaged water inlet valve (a knocking sound while the unit fills)
  • Not enough water in the tub.

Remedies:

  • Reload the unit, so dishes don't touch the spray arm.
  • Replace the water inlet valve.
  • Stop using other faucets while the dishwasher fills.
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