Common Dishwasher Faults and How to Fix Them?

Common Dishwasher Faults and How to Fix Them

Dishwashers aren’t the most complicated appliances. They are essentially water heaters that spray detergent and hot, pressurized water at dishes until they’re free from food, grease and bacteria. Because dishwashers are fairly simple mechanically, most of the problems they suffer from are minor and can be fixed by even the most unlikely DIY-er. That’s why at Handymantips.org we’ve compiled a list of the most common dishwasher problems to help you troubleshoot your dishwasher’s problems, find a fix, or figure out that you need external help!

What if your dishwasher smells bad?

The most obvious cause of odors in a dishwasher is old food.

To fix this:

  • Deep clean your dishwasher by removing and cleaning all removable parts thoroughly.
  • Run your dishwasher on an empty cycle with some vinegar to help neutralize the smell.
  • Then, make sure you pre-rinse your dishes before loading them into the dishwasher in future to keep it in good condition.

Stagnant water is another offender. If you have or have had, a leak, there’s a chance that water may have collected somewhere in or underneath your dishwasher. Fix this by tipping your dishwasher in different directions to get the water out.



Check underneath the dishwasher and mop up any visible water. A good rule of thumb is to prepare for safety and place bath maths throughout all areas that might cause you to slip.

Read more: How to clean a smelly washing machine?

Common Dishwasher Faults and How to Fix Them - dishwasher diagram

What if your dishwasher doesn’t dry your dishes?

When your dishwasher doesn’t dry your dishes, they tend to end up looking spotty or murky. The main cause of this is usually your heating element. To fix this, check your high-limit thermostat, which may cause your heat to shut off before your dishes are completely dry. Your high-limit thermostat can be found at the bottom of the dishwasher, behind the access panel. Another common problem that can lead to your dishwasher failing to dry dishes is an empty rinse aid dispenser. Make sure it’s not empty and is dispensing rinse aid properly.

Read more: Dishwasher or sink? Which one is better.

What if your dishwasher is not starting?

  • Check the latch and catch on your dishwasher.
  • A latch that doesn’t close will cause your dishwasher to fail to start.
  • Replace these if they are broken.
  • Check your water is switched on, and the pipes aren’t kinked.

Most dishwashers won’t work if the water supply is interrupted.

What if your dishwasher is not washing?

If you can hear the dishwasher has power but doesn’t start or sounds like it’s trying to start, it might be the motor. We’d recommend you call a professional dishwasher repair to sort this problem.

Common dishwasher faults and how to fix them - plate

What if your dishwasher is not cleaning your dishes?

Check it’s not you that’s the problem.

  • Are you overloading the machine?
  • Is a utensil restricting the spinning motion of the spray arms?
  • Are plates being scraped before they’re put in the machine?
  • Is your dishwasher stacked properly?
  • Are some of your dishes or cutlery obstructed by other dishes?

If it’s not you that’s causing the problem, check the machine for grease, debris or blockages in the strain screen and door gasket. Check your spray arms – are they able to spin easily? If they are covered in food, they need a clean. Once you’ve cleaned the arms, run an empty cycle to check it’s working as intended. If this isn’t the issue, it could be a problem with low water pressure. One way to remedy this is by trying to avoid using water elsewhere in your home when you’re running your dishwasher. Your dishwasher’s not filling up with water, or it won’t stop filling

Check the water supply. Are there any other taps running in the house? Are your insulator valves open? Closing one accidentally is easily done when you are cleaning or moving things around. You should also check that the external hoses aren’t kinked or blocked. Run water through a detached hose to see if it runs through without getting blocked. If it does get blocked, try to flush the hose with a strong stream of water or replace it. Check the float switch which will tell the dishwasher to stop letting water in. A dishwasher that won’t stop filling may have a faulty float switch, a timer stuck on fill or a water inlet valve that is stuck on open.

What if your dishwasher is not taking the detergent?

“If there’s detergent left over after a wash, you might be using too much. Tablets can get stuck in the door tray, so try adding them to the cutlery tray instead”, advised Madeleine Craig, a maid handling regular domestic cleaning jobs at the Go Cleaners (London) company, “When you get to use various washers you start to notice how much detergent is really used.”, she adds. Next, check your spray arm isn’t blocked. Try poking the holes with a cocktail stick if you can see any obstructions to clear them.

What if your dishwasher is not draining?

  1. Check your drains aren’t blocked. A blocked waste pipe will force the water to stay in the machine.
  2. Check that the filter is not blocked. Remove and clean the filter if it is. Next, check the sump strainer, which catches large pieces of food before they get to the pump.

What if your dishwasher is noisy?

Most dishwashers make some sounds. If the sounds your dishwasher is making are unusual, however, you might have a problem. Odd sounds tend to point to a faulty pump, so if you think it might be the pump, we recommend you call a dishwasher repair service. Another reason for a noisy dishwasher could be that the spray arms aren’t running properly. Faulty spray arms could be hitting racks or dishes, and should be replaced.

What if your glasses come out white, cloudy or spotty?

If your glasses come out of the dishwasher spotty, you can solve this by using or refilling your rinse aid dispenser. If your water comes out of the dishwasher white or cloudy, you may have hard water. Try using a water softener or a detergent that helps to soften your water. Other options include filter system, for drinking clean water is crucial to your health but if that used to clean your dishes isn’t, it can also pose risk. That’s why companies like Harveys Water Softeners provide specialized cutting-edge filters to aid the entire household in battling hard water.

Read more: Water softening methods to apply.

What if your dishwasher door won’t close?

This could be down to either the latch or the electronic control. If either of these is faulty, they’ll need to be replaced.

What if your wash cycle takes too long or doesn’t complete?

This is likely to be a problem with the timer motor, thermostat or heating element. Call an engineer who will have a multimeter to check it out, or do it yourself if you have the equipment and know-how.

What if your dishwasher racks won’t roll out?

If your racks aren’t moving properly, check the wheels for damage or obstructions. If they are damaged, you can replace the wheels yourself or realign the wheels with the track.

What if your dishwasher leaks?

If your dishwasher has a leak, you should inspect the following possibilities:

  • Check for a crack in the inner body, or large debris preventing the door from sealing completely.
  • Check the seal on the door. If it’s broken or cracked, replace it. Seals are hardworking and can get ripped, bent or pulled out place, affecting their ability to seal properly.
  • Check that the mechanism that indicates your dishwashers water level, called the float switch, is not stuck in the down position. If it is stuck, clean it and remove anything that might be preventing it from working properly.
  • Is your dishwasher overloaded with detergent? Excessive foam will make its way out of the dishwasher and turn back into water on your floor.
  • Check the connectors on the pipes and that pipes are connected properly.
  • Check pipes for splits or damage.
  • Check that the waste hose is fully inserted into the waste pipe.

Read more:

Final remarks,

While some of these issues are easily fixable yourself, some will be beyond your ability or knowledge. In those cases, we’d highly recommend getting a technician who is qualified and experienced in dishwasher repair to have a look at your dishwasher to avoid causing further problems.


By |2018-11-06T13:40:54+00:00November 6th, 2018|Appliances|0 Comments

About the Author:

Dmitri is a passionate and creative author and editor of the Home & Love community. Passionate about everything home and garden, you'll find his works full of passion and care.

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