How to Troubleshoot Common Dishwasher Problems

Like many people, you rely on your dishwasher almost every day. These space-saving appliances keep us from prepping, rinsing, and scrubbing our plates, silverware, and pots after every meal. Also, they can handle the tough parts of cleaning with ease. But what happens when they go wrong? Unfortunately, dishwashers don’t always work correctly, 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 Aren’t Coming Out Clean

When your dishes come out of the washer looking speckled and with food still on them, the problem could be caused by multiple things.

Food residue stuck on dishes or in the bottom of your dishwasher often stops your dishes from cleaning properly. If you notice that your glasses or cups have spots or streaks, try using a rinse aid and see if that makes a difference.

Another common issue is having food particles stuck in the sprayer arms and strainer screen. You can easily remove these arms by turning off your dishwasher and removing its lower rack.

Image: Parts Of The Dishwasher That Need To Have Food Particles Washed Off.
Run a cycle without any dishes in the machine and check for any clogs or debris that might be causing the problem. You can also try cleaning the strainer screen with vinegar or baking soda.

Dishwasher Doesn’t Run

When your dishwasher doesn’t run, the first step should be to check the circuit breaker or fuse box and ensure the power is on. If it’s off, flip it back on. Then, check the circuit breaker or fuse box again to make sure that nothing else has gone out in your home while you were checking it. If so, flip those back on as well.

Image: A Woman Sitting Despondently Next To Her Broken Dishwasher.
If the power is fine and your dishwasher still isn’t running, there may be an electrical problem that needs to be fixed by a professional.

Most dishwashers also have an open door sensor, which will prevent the unit from running if the door is open.

Finally, the water inlet valve opens when you turn on the water supply and closes when you turn off the water supply. If the valve sticks closed, no water flows into the dishwasher. If this occurs, try turning off the power to your dishwasher at the breaker box and then turning it back on again to reset it. If this doesn’t work, contact a professional plumber to repair or replace your water inlet valve.

Dishwasher Doesn’t Fill

The float arm is a piece of metal that floats on top of the water level inside your dishwasher. When it rises high enough, it trips an electrical connection that tells the washer to stop draining and begin washing dishes. If this part breaks or becomes dislodged, your dishwasher won’t fill with water.

The inlet valve activates when hot water flows into it at the bottom of your sink faucet. When you turn on hot water inside your house, it travels through pipes until it reaches the valve inside your dishwasher. When it opens and closes properly, water flows into its corresponding tub without problems. But if something goes wrong with this part, such as corrosion or faulty wiring, hot water won’t reach your dishwasher — which means no filling and no washing either!

Dishwasher Doesn’t Drain

If your dishwasher isn’t draining, 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 waste and other debris, so removing and cleaning it is a good first step.

Another thing to check is the check valve in the drain sump. This simple device can cause major problems with your dishwasher if it becomes clogged or damaged.

Image: A Puddle Of Water On The Kitchen Floor, It'S From A Leaking Dishwasher.
The check valve is located in the bottom of your dishwasher’s drain sump. It is designed to allow water to flow in one direction only, preventing it from being sucked back into the dishwasher after it’s drained. If this is broken, you will have a mess on your hands, and your dishes will end up sitting in dirty water.

Dishwasher Smells Bad

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

You may have a build-up of food scraps or grease in the bottom of the machine. This is common with older machines, especially if they haven’t been cleaned regularly. It’s important to clean out the filter every time you run your dishwasher.

Image: A Woman Holding Her Nose Because Her Dishwasher Smells That Bad.
If you dislike bleach, vinegar is a great cleaning agent for your dishwasher. Pour 1/2 cup of white vinegar into the bottom of your dishwasher and run it through a cycle. This will kill any microorganisms living in the machine and prevent future growth.

Struggling with a dishwasher problem? Contact the plumbing professionals at Service Champions.