The dishwasher provides a huge convenience in any kitchen. This is especially true if someone has a large dinner party, celebrates a holiday or birthday at their home, or if they have a big family and have to use it daily. Washing pots and dishes by hand is something most people want to avoid. Not only does it take a lot of time and water, but it’s also a tedious process. This means, when the dishwasher is broken or not working properly, most people want to repair it as quickly as possible. That’s when knowing about common dishwasher problems and their solutions comes in handy.

While a home warranty helps with necessary dishwasher repairs, it is also important for homeowners to get to know some of the most common issues that can occur. Remember, dishwashers are made up of several parts including the door seal or latch, lower and upper racks, drain impeller, main tub, pump, soap dispenser, blades, thermal fuse, thermostat, and more. Most people don’t have the skills, tools, or know-how to make dishwasher repairs. Instead, calling the professionals when an issue occurs is best.

However, good information always helps ensure the right steps for repairs. If you need a little help with common dishwasher maintenance issues, continue reading to learn about 12 common dishwasher problems and their solutions.

Your Guide to Common Dishwasher Problems and Their Solutions

12 Common Dishwasher Problems and Their Solutions - lady in front of dishwasher with green and orange dishes.

1. The Dishes Aren’t Clean

After the dishwasher runs, if the dishes come out dirty or covered in residue, there is a problem. To troubleshoot this issue, make sure there is nothing that has caused the unit to malfunction. It may also be a good idea to read up on maintenance in the user’s manual. Some specific things to check include if the machine is being overloaded, if there is a utensil restricting the spinning motion, or if the plates are covered in food when loaded into the machine.

Once all this is checked, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations to check for issues with the machine. This can include blockages, debris, or grease in the door gasket or strain screen. The spray arms may also be the problem, so use your hand to ensure they are moving freely.

If the dishes come out with water spots, then the water is likely staying on the dishes too long. Adding a rinse aid may help with this issue. For residue problems, the problem may be hard water. Consider a detergent that softens the water or a water softener for this issue.

2. The Dishes Aren’t Getting Dry

A dishwasher is designed to use liquid rinse aids. This is going to help improve the drying process. The rinse aid will also help to keep the water droplets from forming, in the first place, which minimizes the likelihood of streaks or spots on the dishes while they are drying. Even if the tablet or detergent includes a built-in rinse aid, it is still a good idea to add the liquid rinse aid in the dispenser. The dispenser is designed to distribute this when needed to achieve the best results.

3. A Leaking Dishwasher

The first step is to check the door and the door gasket. Try to see if there is any large debris, damage, or cracks that may keep the door from sealing completely. Try to clean the door gasket using a disinfectant. If there are large cracks, the gasket will need to be replaced.

Another issue may be with the float switch. This is what tells the dishwasher when there is enough water in it. It may be stuck in the “down” position. This will cause the machine to overfill and leak. If the float switch is stuck, clean the area and remove strings, plastic, or anything nearby that may keep it from functioning properly.

4. It Smells Bad

Wet, old food is usually the reason there is a bad odor coming out of the dishwasher. Look through the machine for any signs of food and clean the screen in the dishwasher, which is found at the bottom of the unit. If there is a chemical odor, the issue may be a Tupperware container or plastic plate that has fallen into the bottom of the unit and melted to the heating element. Be sure to load the dishwasher more carefully and scrape off all dishes before loading them to avoid these types of smells in the future.

5. The Dishwasher Doesn’t Drain

When a new garbage disposal is installed, it is not uncommon for the knockout plug to remain in place. For some dishwashers, the drain hose is connected to this garbage disposal, which means the knockout plug has to be removed to allow the dishwasher to drain. If this is the issue, contact the pros to remove the plug and ensure the hose is connected properly and securely.

6. It Doesn’t Start

Check all power sources to ensure the outlet is not malfunctioning and that no fuse has been blown. It is also a good idea to try to power cycle the dishwasher. Sometimes, the door is the issue. If the latch is not closed, the dishwasher may not start. If the dishwasher sounds like it is trying to start but can’t run properly the motor may be stuck.

7. It Makes a Lot of Noise

If the dishwasher makes strange sounds, it is an indication something is wrong. Be sure to check the internal parts to see if they are working properly. If the wash arm is bent, it could make weird sounds. Bearing rings and seals that require replacing can make rattling sounds. This is also a common dishwasher problem.

8. The Dishwasher Runs to Long

There are several issues that may cause long cycle times. One is if the hot water is not turned on in the sink before the dishwasher is turned on. Try to turn on the hot water faucet closest to the dishwasher for a few minutes to clear away any cold water from the pipes.

It is also important to select the right cycle. There are some that will run longer than the others. For example, if someone chooses extra heat or sanitize options, the dry heat will increase the total cycle time. Another issue will be what the water temperature the water heater is set to. It should be at 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

9. No Soap is Dispensed

With pod and powder detergents, they are put in a closed, small compartment before the washing cycle begins. In some cases, there will not be enough water entering into the compartment to dissolve the detergent and dispense it the right way. It may be a good idea to use less detergent or switch to a liquid detergent. If this is not effective, check out the compartment, it could be encrusted or jammed, which prevents it from opening when the dishwasher is turned on. This is a very common dishwasher problem.

10. Food or Crumbs on the Dishes

Not all models come with removable filters. Be sure to check the owner’s manual. If the filters have become dirty or clogged, it can cause food particles to remain on the dishes and impact the unit’s cleaning performance. It is a good idea to clean the filters if there are solid areas on the upper parts of the filter assemblies if there are food particles left on the dishes, if dishes feel dirty, or if a certain amount of time has passed, as outlined in the user’s manual.

11. Buttons Don’t Work

If the buttons on the dishwasher do not work, there could be either an electrical or mechanical issue present. It is best to call the professionals to inspect the unit, as this is a problem that may be difficult to diagnose.

Keep in mind, one possible issue is that the door is not latching properly. If the door is not latched, then the buttons will not work to turn the unit on. Be sure to check this to see if this is the problem.

12. Flashing Lights

If the lights on the unit have started to flash, it indicates a problem. A good place to start is with the user’s manual. Here someone can read about all the most common issues that may occur with a dishwasher and take steps to fix the problem outlined. Modern units are designed with these types of warning systems to help make finding and diagnosing an issue easier.

Call the Professionals for Help with Common Dishwasher Problems

If someone notices any of the issues or problems mentioned here with their dishwasher, the best thing a person can do is to call dishwasher repair professionals for help. They can evaluate the problem and make the proper repairs to restore the proper function and efficiency to the unit. Being informed and knowing what the most common issues are is the first step; however, making sure the proper repairs are made is essential to ensure the unit works as needed and as expected.

Keep in mind, that not all repair services are the same. It is a good idea to find a company with experience with the make and model a person has. This is going to help ensure they can diagnose the problem and get it fixed quickly. If you have any questions or comments you want to add, please do so in the comments below. Also below you will find links to more interesting articles about ALL things DESIGN for your home or business.

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About the Author: Ashley Edwards