3 Common Dishwasher Breakdown Problems and fixes

Dishwashers are an essential kitchen appliance. While they are mostly sturdy, breakdowns are very common – below are the most common dishwasher breakdown problems and how you could attempt to fix them before calling out a technician.

The dishwasher is not cleaning dishes properly

The water inlet valve is one of the most common reasons why your dishwater is not cleaning dishes as thoroughly as it used to. This is a frequent part to fail.

To inspect a dishwasher water inlet valve:

Disconnect the water supply and the power source from your appliance before beginning this inspection. It is advisable not to attempt this if you are not trained to do so. Refer to your dishwasher insurance if required.

The water inlet valve is usually located behind the lower access panel. Remove the lower access panel at the bottom of your dishwater to locate the inlet valve. Once located, have a thorough look at the water inlet valve for any signs of cracking, wear, or other damage. If any issues your dishwasher will likely require a replacement water inlet valve. This can restore proper water level in the tub.

There are other components of the dishwasher that may be the culprit for why your dishwasher does not clean as thoroughly as it used to.

Take the food chopper, for example, which breaks down the leftovers on your dishes into tiny pieces so that they can pass through the drain portion of the dishwasher pump. If the food particles are not chopped into sufficiently small pieces, the debris may prevent the dirty water from draining and could possibly get re-circulated in the dishwasher. If your dishwasher is not cleaning properly, have a look at the drain part of the pump, if you find that there is even a little more-than-usual food debris, it could indicate an issue.

To scrutinise the state of your food chopper:

Going through an expert, like an engineer from your appliance insurance company will be the best way to scrutinise the state of your chopper, however, if you are qualified then you could start by disconnecting your dishwasher. To access the food chopper, the lower spray arm will need to be removed as well as the spray tower. Once you have access to it, remove the food chopper to gain a closer look. Look at the chopper for any signs of wear, discolouration, damage, or cracking. Remove any debris you may find on or near the chopper. If you find your chopper shows any of the signs, a  replacement chopper may be in order.

There may be other faults with the dishwasher that have nothing to do with the food chopper. The problem may lie with low pressure from the spray arms, where an insufficient amount of water pressure is applied to your dirty dishes. This means that the upper discharge housing gasket could be the source of the problem.

You can look at your dishwasher upper discharge housing gasket by following these steps:

First, always unplug your dishwasher before starting this repair. This housing gasket is found discharge cover above the circulation impeller. To locate these, it would be a good idea to consult your manufacturer’s manual or look online. Look thoroughly on the gasket for any signs of wear, damage, cracking, and if it is properly attached. If it is loose, ensure that there is no debris that is preventing a proper seal and then reattach it.

If you find your housing gasket is damaged or worn, you will need a replacement upper discharge housing gasket.

This is by no means a comprehensive list of other dishwasher components that could be responsible for your dishes not being cleaned properly. You may need to have to look at the Docking Station, the Water Delivery Tube, the Wash Spinner and the Detergent Dispenser, the Heating Element, and the Pump Impellers to find the culprit.

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The dishwasher is not drying properly

A heating element that is not drying your dishes as it should in your dishwasher is unwelcome news. To test the heating element, first, make sure that power to your dishwasher is turned off, and then check for continuity with a multi-meter. If you do not have one these, do not worry, a trained technician perhaps from your dishwasher insurance provider will be able to perform these checks.

You can test the heating element in a dishwasher with a multimeter by following these steps:

Unplug your dishwasher before attempting this test.

Your heating element will be found inside the dishwasher, attached to the bottom of the tub. It may be covered or uncovered. If it is covered, remove the cover.  To disconnect the heating element, remove the lower access panel. Remove the wires attached to the heating element’s terminals by gently taking hold of the metal connector. Do not pull on the wires.

To test the element, set the multimeter to Rx1 and touch each probe to a terminal. The reading should be somewhere between zero and infinity. Consult the manufacturer’s manual to determine what reading you should receive for your dishwasher. If it is exactly zero or infinity it is defective.

If your test produces a reading different from the manufacturer’s recommendation, you will need a replacement heating element.

Alternatively, the rinse aid or the rinse aid dispensing cap could why your dishwasher is not fully drying your dishes. Without the rinse aid, the dishes will not lose water easily and will not dry properly. To inspect a dishwasher rinse aid dispenser, follow these steps:

It is straightforward to do this. Disassembly of the dishwasher nor tools will be necessary. The rinse aid dispenser will be found on the inside of the door, remove the cap from the dispenser.

After confirming the rinse aid in the chamber, look at the cap and chamber for any signs of discolouration, warping, or any other damage. If you find any issues with your rinse aid dispenser, you will need a replacement rinse aid dispenser.

The dishwasher is not draining properly

If draining the dishwasher is an issue (it should do this automatically), here are a few steps you can troubleshoot through to understand your problem:

  1. Look at the Disposal

A full disposal or a gap of air between the connecting hose may stop water from properly draining out of the machine.

  1. Look for Blockages

Inspect the bottom of the dishwasher to ensure that an object or food debris has not dropped from the racks to stall the water flow.

  1. Load the Dishwasher Correctly

Ensure the dishwasher is being loaded correctly. Read the manufacturers’ manual for any directions on how to load dishes for optimal washing and draining.

  1. Clean or Replace the Filter

The culprit may be a clogged filter. Many people are unaware that filters in the dishwasher require regular cleaning. Check your manufacturers’ manual to see where the filter is located on your dishwasher, and for instructions on how and when to clean it. For many dishwashers, the filter can be located with the inside bottom.

  1. Have a look at the Drain Hose

Inspect the drain hose connecting to the sink and garbage disposal. Remove any curls or any kinks that you may see which could be stalling the flow. Blow through the hose or shake gently through to check for clogs. Ensure the hose seal is tight.

  1. Look at the Drain Valve

Have a look at the drain valve found on the valve bracket, usually found at the inside base of the dishwasher. Press gently on the valve to ensure it moves freely and is not stuck.

  1. Unclog or Clean the Drain Basket

Look at the drain basket, often found on the bottom or the side of the dishwasher, to see if it has been clogged by any debris or detergent. Wash out the basket with lukewarm water to remove any debris.

  1. Listen to Your Machine While it is operating

Listen to your machine while it is in full flow. If the machine makes new or clearly irregular sounds, particularly humming or clicking noises, the drain pump and motor may require replacement.

How to Drain a Dishwasher Properly

If you need to clear the water which is awkwardly remaining at the bottom, here is how to drain a dishwasher. Line the floor under the dishwasher with towels or other absorbent materials. With a large ladle or similarly large vessel, scoop the water from the bottom into the sink. When the water becomes too shallow to scoop, soak up the remaining moisture paper towels or other absorbent materials.

Ensure the correct type of dish detergent is being used, consistent with the manufacturer’s guidance to avoid clogging the drain. Preventative actions to help maintain a dishwasher’s smooth functioning will also, needless to write, assist you through some avoidable drainage problems. Good luck!