Dishwasher malfunctions can look intimidating, but they don’t have to be. Many of the common problems resolve with minor repairs that you can do yourself using simple tools.
Here are some common problems and basic solutions that will save you a call to the repairman.
Before doing any repairs to your dishwasher, be sure to consult your owner’s manual for the manufacturer’s instructions. And remember to always turn off the power to the dishwasher before doing repairs.
Dishwasher Won’t Run
- If the control panel doesn’t light up, and there are no signs of life, make sure the dishwasher is plugged in. Push the reset button if the outlet is a GFCI receptacle. You can test the outlet for power by plugging in a working hand-held appliance. If the dishwasher is hard-wired into an electrical box, look for another receptacle close by with a reset, and try resetting it. It may solve the problem if the dishwasher is on the same circuit.
- Check the electrical panel for a blown fuse or tripped circuit breaker. Replace the fuse or reset the breaker if necessary.
- Ensure the door is closed properly. The dishwasher won’t operate unless the latch is properly engaged.
Some reasons a door latch stops working include:
- Too much debris. Solution: clean it thoroughly. To access the latch, unscrew the inner door panel, and depending on the model, a control panel as well.
- Out of alignment. Solution: loosen the screws holding it in place and realign until it catches properly.
- Strike plate is out of alignment. Solution: adjust it by loosening the screws and realigning, or if tilted up or down, gently hammering it back into position.
- Latch not moving properly. Solution: spray a little silicone spray on all the parts to lubricate them.
If none of the above solutions fix the latch, you’ll have to replace it. Check your owner’s manual for the part number. Simply unscrew the inner door panel, and control panel for certain models, and then switch out the latch for the new one.
- Use detergents specifically for dishwashers only and use the proper amount. Hand dishwashing detergents will cause oversudsing and overflowing. Cut back on the amount you’re using to see if that stops the leaking.
- Make sure your dishwasher is sitting level. Even the slightest tilt can cause your dishwasher to leak. The front feet can be adjusted up or down, and many dishwashers have levelers at the back.
- Water dripping from the sides or bottom of the dishwasher door often occurs because of a malfunctioning door seal or gasket. Check the door gasket for cracks, brittleness, signs of wear, and caked-on food. You’ll have to replace it if it’s damaged. If the gasket is just dirty, clean it with a sponge or brush and mild detergent to see if that fixes the leak.To replace the gasket, pull it out by hand, paying attention to how the old one fits in the channel so you can fit the new one with the correct side out. If the new gasket feels dry or hard, soak it in hot water first for a few minutes until it softens. Thoroughly clean the channel with mild dish soap and warm water, then let it dry before inserting the new gasket.Arrange the gasket across the top center of the channel so an equal amount hangs down each side, and start pressing it into the channel at the top and down the sides. Make sure the gasket doesn’t protrude more than 3/4 inch on each side. You can use a utility knife to trim it.
- A stuck float, or a malfunctioning float switch, can cause the dishwasher to overflow. To access the float assembly, take out the lower dishrack. If the float assembly has a cover, remove it — it either snaps in place, or has a screw. Move the float up and down with your hand several times. Sometimes this motion is all it takes to unstick it.
While moving the float, you might hear a clicking sound. This clicking sound usually means the float switch is working. It’s located beneath the tub directly below the float, and only activates to turn off the water inlet valve when the float can move freely.Also check for any food debris under the float restricting its movement. Some floats just lift out, and some snap into place, but if you can’t remove it by pulling on it, it could be connected to the float switch beneath. In that case you’ll have to disconnect it. The float switch is easily accessible by removing the toe-kick panel on the bottom of the door and locating it beneath the float in the tub. It’s usually found within a white plastic housing.
If the float is damaged, or you didn’t hear the float switch click, you can purchase a float switch kit to replace both. Take apart the float (noting how the parts go together). Then locate the float switch beneath the tub, and also carefully note (or make a diagram) how it’s assembled within the housing. The stem on the float switch housing fits into a hole above in the tub, where the new float will be assembled.
Dishwasher Not Draining
- A small amount of water at the bottom of the tub after a complete cycle is normal for some dishwashers. Check your owner’s manual. An excessive amount of water indicates a problem.
- If you have a garbage disposal, run it with plenty of water. The dishwasher won’t drain properly if the kitchen sink is clogged. A blockage in the garbage disposal affects both the sink and the dishwasher, because both drain into the same place. It’s a good idea to run the garbage disposal before running the dishwasher to clear a path for the water to drain.
- Check the dishwasher’s drain filter, which is located on the bottom of the tub under the lower spray arm, or toward the back of the dishwasher. Remove any paper, bits of food, plastic, glass or other debris from the filter. Do a further check by removing the screws holding the filter in place and clear any other debris you find.
- Clean the air gap (an egg-sized device that gets mounted beside or on the back edge of the sink to help prevent contaminated water from draining back into the dishwasher). If water comes out of the air gap and all over the counter when the dishwasher is running, there’s a blockage between the garbage disposal and air gap.
You can clear it by first removing the chrome cover and top from the air gap and cleaning the inside. Next, disconnect the hose connecting the air gap to the sink drain or garbage disposal, and clean out any clogs by running water through it.
- Look for a clog in the drain hose that runs from the dishwasher to the sink drain, garbage disposal, or air gap, depending on how it’s set up. To access it, remove the toe-kick panel under the dishwasher door and locate the drain hose (usually the hose with corrugated ridges). Loosen the clamp and disconnect the hose from the dishwasher pump. Have a flat basin ready for any water that comes out. Check for and remove any debris you find.
Next, disconnect the dishwasher drain hose from its connection under the sink (have a basin ready for any water). Check for and remove any debris you find at this end as well. If you suspect or discover the hose is not completely clear, you’ll need to pull the hose out and run water through it (using a garden hose or water at full strength from a faucet). In order to pull the hose out, check where it exits the dishwasher, and remove any securing mechanism first.
Replace the hose after unclogging it, making sure there aren’t any kinks. If you can’t unclog it, or if the hose is damaged, you’ll have to replace it.
If you’d rather have a pro repair and maintain your dishwasher, call the experts at C&W Appliance Service at (855) 358-1496 or (214) 358-1496.