Do It Yourself Appliance Repair: Troubleshooting Common Dishwasher Problems

Some common dishwasher problems can be fixed without a repairman or plumber - some can't. Here are some that you can fix yourself and save the money you would spend on a professional.

What good is a dishwasher if, after running it, the dishes are still dirty? If this is the treatment your dishwasher is giving you, there are a few things you can do to improve its performance, without calling a plumber or repairman. First of all, make sure you have loaded the dishwasher correctly. Do not put 2 plates together in the same slot; this will keep water from shooting up in between the plates and leave you with a dirty back side on one plate and a dirty front side on the other. Don't put dishes on top of each other, like loading plates, then placing a pan over the top of them. Don't cram a bunch of silverware into each compartment. Unload the dishwasher after each use and it'll be easier to keep the silverware compartments loaded with only a few pieces in each. To check whether or not the washer arm is working properly, put a cup in each of the four corners of the top rack, right side up. Run the dishwasher on "wash" cycle for about 20 seconds, and then open the dishwasher. If all four cups have filled with water, it's a good sign that the arm is functioning correctly. If one or more of the cups has little or no water, the arm is either not working or it is stopped up with debris. Take a good look at the arm and examine the water holes for any sort of blockage. Remove the debris and run your test again. Another thing to look for if your dishes aren't getting clean is the water temperature, which should be set at 125 to 140 degrees. Also, take a look inside at the bottom of the dishwasher and make sure the water is draining after each cycle. There will be a slight amount standing in the bottom, but the bottom area should not be pooled up to the element.

If the water isn't draining from your machine, start with a check of the dishwasher and its hoses. Look at the bottom of the inside and see if there is any blockage of the drain hose. Remove any food or debris. Listen to make sure the cycle is pausing before beginning a new cycle. This allows time for the excess water to drain. If yours is not pausing, you might need a repairman to fix this problem. When the machine begins to pump the water out, listen for a "clunk" sound, which indicates that the pump motor has kicked on. Again, if this is not distinctive, you might have trouble with your pump motor and need a repairman. If your dishwasher drains - but it drains on your floor, this is probably a crack in the corrugated plastic drain hose. You can replace this hose yourself with little difficulty. Another reason dishwashers allow water to sometimes drain out onto the floor is that the rubber seal around the door is broken. The old seal can be removed and a new seal affixed with a waterproof adhesive. And, there's always the possibility that you've put in too much soap, which allows millions of bubbles to pour out on the floor. Never use regular dishwashing soap in a dishwasher, and always use the proper amount. There are 2 cups for placing the soap, 1 has a door on it. This second cup is for a heavy load, so make sure you've got your dial set properly. If you have it set for a short wash, you'll only need to fill the first cup.

A common problem with dishwashers is the sliding of the racks. Sometimes they seem hard to pull or push and maybe even impossible without lifting them up and putting them in place. This is most probably a problem with the wheels. This problem occurs most often with the bottom rack but can also occur on top. Check the wheel rod, where it inserts into the wheel. See that there is no debris wrapped around it, or inside the hole of the wheel. Place a tiny dab of lubricant, such as cooking oil onto the wheel rod and snap the wheel back into place. If the wheel is cracked or otherwise damaged, it might be necessary to buy a new wheel assembly at a hardware store. If you open the door on the machine and it falls down, most likely you have a broken door spring. You'll have to remove the access panel to fix the spring, but it's a fairly easy job. Once you spot the spring, remove it and take it to your hardware store where you can get help in finding a replacement. You can also order some parts from the store where you purchased the dishwasher, but this will take longer than running down to the nearest hardware store.

For a dishwasher that won't fill, this can be fixed without a professional, but you'll need to test the fill valve, and for this you'll need an OHM meter. If this doesn't locate the problem, you'll also need a volt meter. Since the average person might not have these items, some must resort to calling in a repairman. Any time you decide to work on your own appliances, make sure you have eliminated the power supply before removing any access panels or inserting any tools into the machine.

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