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7 Common Dishwasher Problems (and How to Fix Them)

by Isabelle

7 Common Dishwasher Problems (and How to Fix Them)

Dirty, smelly, possibly covered in cheese. Is there anything more frustrating than opening the dishwasher only to find the dirty dishes are still there?! I mean, the main reason you buy a dishwasher is so you don’t have to deal with dirty dishes. C’mon dishwasher, you had one job.

A little maintenance goes a long way when it comes to appliances, but the truth is nothing lasts forever (sadly). That doesn’t mean it’s hopeless, though. With a handful of simple tricks, you can fix some of the most common dishwasher problems and bring that sparkle back into your dishwasher and back into your life.

1. My Dishes Are Still Dirty

This is at the top of a list for a reason. Dirty dishes are common and frustrating. Easy fixes first; check if your dishwasher has a manual filter and make sure that it’s clean and clear of debris. Then, as you load your dishwasher, make sure that the spray arms can rotate freely, spraying water throughout the drum. If they’re blocked or obstructed, you won’t be getting optimal cleaning performance. If the problem continues, check if your spray arms are clean and moving freely as grease and food particles can prevent them from spinning.

Also, stop pre-rinsing your dishes! Modern dishwashers use sensors to determine the soil level of the dishes. If you rinse them off too much, your dishwasher may select a shorter cycle than is necessary. Modern detergents also use enzymes that activate when they come in contact with food particles. If you remove the particles, your detergent will be less effective too.

2. My Dishes Aren’t Drying

The easiest fixes here are to add Rinse Aid to your dishwasher when you start the load to assist drying, and to make sure you don’t stack plastic against plastic or other hard to dry materials. It’s also a good idea to open the dishwasher door when the cycle is complete to release steam and prevent condensation from settling on your dishes (some higher-end machines even open automatically). If your dishwasher has a heating element, you may have to check if it is working properly. Check also the fan if your dishwasher has a stainless steel tub that uses blown radiant heat to dry.

3. My Dishwasher Smells Bad

If your dishwasher smells bad, make sure your filter and screens are cleaned of any grime and food residue. Check the spray arms and gasket on the door to make sure there’s no grease or food waste there as well. If you’ve done that, then it may just be time to sanitize the drum. Place a small bowl with vinegar in the upper basket of your empty dishwasher and run the sanitize cycle (or the hottest cycle you’ve got) to blast away bad odours.

Leaking Dishwasher

4. My Dishwasher Is Leaking

The number one cause of a leaky dishwasher is a worn gasket around the door. Thoroughly inspect the gasket and check carefully for any cracks or wear that would suggest an imperfect seal. If the gasket isn’t the problem, then double-check that your hoses haven’t disconnected somewhere along the line.

Unfortunately, the next few common problems may require a service call if the hints fail to solve the problem.

5. My Dishwasher Won’t Start

If your dishwasher won’t start there’s often an electrical problem, and if you’re lucky that means there’s a very easy fix. Ask yourself, have I tried turning it off and on? If not, then do that. If it’s still not working, try unplugging and re-plugging in the machine and double-check your breaker to make sure power is feeding the unit. If it’s a mechanical problem, then it may be that your door isn’t latching properly and a simple realignment will get things sorted out.

Professional fixing a broken dishwasher

6. My Dishwasher Won’t Fill

If possible, check your intake valves and make sure that the screen is clear and that there’s no blockage obstructing water flow. If that’s not it, then the float and/or float switch located at the bottom of the drum could be the problem. Make sure that the electrical connections are intact and that the mechanism hasn’t been damaged or blocked in any way.

7. My Dishwasher Won’t Drain

There could be a few culprits here. To start, check that the air gap connection to your dishwasher hose beneath your sink hasn’t become clogged with debris. While you’re under the sink, make sure that your drain lines are straight and not kinked, and examine the hose for any clogs. If that doesn’t clear up the problem then there may be an issue with your pump or sensor, in which case it’s time to call in the professionals.

Hopefully, some of these helpful tips have gotten your dishwasher back in tip-top shape, but if your DIY has died and service can’t save it, then head on over to our store where one of our appliance experts will show you all the best in dishwashers.

Shop our dishwashers online now!

Isabelle, Your Appliance Expert