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Solutions to The 6 Most Common Dishwasher Problems

You Are Here:   Home > Automatic Appliance Parts Blog > Solutions to The 6 Most Common Dishwasher Problems

In many households, the dishwasher is one of the most frequently used appliances. Without it, you'd end up spending hours washing and drying dishes by hand, causing cleanup after every meal to be slow and inefficient. That's why it's so frustrating when your dishwasher won't cooperate. Fortunately, many of the most common issues with this appliance can be solved at home with simple DIY solutions.

In this list, you'll find examples of common dishwasher problems, along with directions or how to fix it yourself (and tips for how to know when it's time to call in a professional repair service). If you've been disappointed with your dishwasher's performance, consider some of the solutions suggested here.

Problem #1: Your Dishes Aren't Getting Clean Enough

Is your dishwasher leaving food, grease, or a gritty feeling on your dishes? Having to re-wash your dishes after every cleaning cycle in the dishwasher is bound to leave you exasperated. But rather than cleaning those dishes again, it's time to take a closer look inside your appliance.

Solution:
This problem is likely linked to something inside your dishwasher getting clogged up. Many dishwashers have a strain screen or a removable filter that needs to be occasionally cleaned out. You can also check the sprayer arms and door gaskets for any grease or food buildup that may have occurred.

Once you've cleaned any areas inside the dishwasher that need attention, run a cycle using a special dishwasher cleaner. You can find these products in most grocery stores. Follow the directions on the packet; typically, you will need to run a heavy cycle with hot water during this cleaning.

Problem #2: Your Dishes Come Out Cloudy or Spotty

Dishes may technically be clean when they come out this way, but they certainly don't look as nice as they could. Hard water is the most common culprit behind this dishwasher issue.

Solution:
Get a dishwasher detergent made to be used with hard water. Also, use a rinse aid in addition to your detergent. If you're still having issues despite trying these easy DIY solutions, you may want to consider getting a whole-house water softening system.

Problem #3: Your Dishwasher is Leaking

A leak can be a particularly troubling dishwasher issue since excess water could potentially cause damage to your house.

Solution:
One of the first places you should check for possible leakage is the door gasket. This is the rubbery strip that runs around the front edge of the interior of the dishwasher. If the door gasket breaks down, tears, or becomes too compressed, it can lead to leakage around the dishwasher door. Try inserting a replacement gasket if this is the case.

Another easy DIY fix for this issue involves the float switch. This is the mechanism in the dishwasher that indicates the water level inside. If it's stuck in the down position, clean the switch and remove any debris so that it can function properly.

If these solutions don't work, there are other areas of the dishwasher you can check for damage. There may be cracks in the drainage hose or damage to the gaskets in the heating element. Problems with the pump or the pump seal may also cause leakage. If you're pretty handy and have the right tools, you can try to replace these parts yourself. Otherwise, call an appliance technician to fix the issue.

Problem #4: Your Dishes Are Still Wet at the End of the Cycle

It's no fun to dry every dish by hand when it comes out of the dishwasher.

Solution: If this is happening to you, there may be a problem with the dishwasher's heating element. Use a multimeter (available at most hardware stores) to check that the heating element is still functioning.

If the heating element appears to be working, check the high-limit thermostat with your multimeter. This part of the dishwasher is usually located at the bottom of the dishwasher tub behind the access panel.

It's definitely possible to replace either of these parts on your own using DIY methods. However, you may want to call a technician to make these repairs, as they do involve working with electrical parts on the appliance.

Problem #5: Your Dishwasher Has an Unpleasant Odor

Does your dishwasher smell bad? Even if the odor is subtle, don't put off addressing this issue. If the odor becomes worse, your dishes might come out with an odd scent even after completing the cleaning cycle.

Solution:
Usually, the cause of a smelly dishwasher is old food that's become lodged somewhere inside. This food gets wet and rots, causing the odor to strengthen over time. The sooner you clean it, the better.

Check the dishwasher screen at the bottom of the tub to see if any old food particles are stuck in it. If there's a removable filter, take it out and give it a good cleaning. You can also check the jets in the sprayer arms, the bottom edge of the dishwasher door, and any crevices around the bottom of the tub for old food. After removing everything you've found, run an empty cycle with a special dishwasher cleaning product. To avoid this issue in the future, pre-rinse your dishes before placing them in the dishwasher.

Problem #6: The Dishwasher Won't Start

When the dishwasher won't run at all, it can cause a moment of panic.

Solution:
First, make sure you haven't blown a fuse. You can also check to see if the dishwasher plug has gotten loose in or fallen out of the outlet. Try unplugging it and plugging it back in.

If that doesn't work, there are other possible solutions. Check to see if the dishwasher door is closed correctly. If it's not fully latched, it likely won't allow a cycle to start. The door latch may need to be tightened or replaced if this is the issue.

Don't let simple dishwasher problems cause you an undue amount of stress. In most cases, a simple and inexpensive DIY fix will be sufficient to get your dishwasher working correctly again. Do you need help with an issue with your dishwasher? If so, let us know and we'll happy to offer some helpful tips and point you to the correct replacement dishwasher parts when needed.