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Common Dishwasher Problems

Your dishwasher does more than clean your dishes; it is an important part of maintaining your family’s health. That means that it’s a real problem when your dishwasher isn’t working right. In this post, we’ll look at some common dishwasher problems and what you can do about them.

Unpleasant Odor

It’s probably the filter. The filter sits at the base of the inside of the dishwasher, and traps large food particles that might otherwise get into the mechanisms and gum up the works. Most manufacturers recommend cleaning it once a month, but if that maintenance job has slipped your mind, it’s easily dealt with. It’s designed to be clipped in and out, so take it out and give it a good clean. If it’s been damaged, it’s probably replaceable.

Poor Cleaning

If your dishes are coming out with food particles still in place, it might be time to unclog the spray arms. These are the longish, flattish plastic arms that spray and rinse the dishes and other items you put in the dishwasher as they spin about. These, too, are designed to be removed easily, cleaned, and reinstalled. And remember to clean the mounting too. Occasionally cleaning the spray arms can significantly improve the performance of your dishwasher.

Unsteady Bottom Basket

If it’s a struggle to get the bottom basket out, or if it is so unstable you hold your breath pulling it out, you probably need to replace the wheels. They are designed to snap on and off, and it’s certainly worth avoiding the hair-pulling frustration of trying to coax the thing in and out if it’s bothering you.

Damaged Detergent Dispenser

The detergent dispenser can be easily replaced, if your unit isn’t too old. However, this is definitely a more involved repair, and you may want to call the experts at Dave’s Appliance to make sure it’s done correctly and quickly. If you want to do it yourself, you may want to view an online video, especially if it treats your specific model, and to have all the tools you need immediately on hand. The front panel of your dishwasher is going to have to be unmounted, electrical connections undone, and everything replaced. While it is rather involved, it’s still a simple repair.


If your dishwasher is leaking, it could be any of a number of issues. You need to do some diagnosing.


It may be faulty door hinges. If the door seems to drop heavily or seems misaligned, it could well be a hinge. If so, you might want to call Dave’s Appliance. If you choose to do it yourself, you’ll need to remove the side panels to get a good look. It’s a good idea to watch a video on replacing the mechanism and remember to find one that deals with your specific make and model. Also, it’s probably a good idea to replace both at the same time.

Door Seals

The problem could be door seals, and depending on which seals are acting up, it may be an easy fix. Check the upper door seal, which goes from one side, around the top, and down the other side of the door. Usually a new seal costs $30 or so, and it’s not a hard job to replace it. If it’s the lower seals, though, that’s another matter. It involves disassembling the entire door, and is best left to the professionals.


The fill hose brings water into your dishwasher, and the drain hose removes the wastewater. In time, these can corrode, degrade, or get clogged, reducing the performance of your dishwasher. It’s usually possible to get replacements and not too hard to install them yourself.

Not Draining Properly

If there’s still a lot of water in your dishwasher when it’s completed its cycle, there’s probably an issue with the drain pump. The drain pump is located at the bottom of the appliance, and pushes wastewater out of the dishwasher and into the adjacent sink drain. Bits of food, chips of dishes, slivers of glass, and other material can get caught in the pump and prevent it from working efficiently. That means that the drain pump needs to be disassembled and cleaned. While that’s possible for you to do yourself, it’s a better idea to call the professionals at Dave’s Appliance since the whole machine needs to be tilted onto its back and the baseplate needs to be removed.

Water’s Not Hot

If the water isn’t heating up, that’s a serious problem since the intense heat kills the bacteria on your dishes and cutlery. It might be that the heating element has burned out. Here again, you’re best advised to contact an expert (like those at Dave’s Appliance). If not, you’re going to need a multimeter for this one. You will need to lay the unit on its back, remove the baseplate and anything else that might be blocking the element, remove the wires to isolate it and then check it with your multimeter by touching it to the terminals. If a fault is indicated, you need to replace the heating element.

Dishwasher Not Filling

This issue is very similar to the heating element problem. This time, though, you’ll need to check the water valve, located behind the back plate, near to the fill hose. Remove the wires, check with a multimeter, and replace if faulty.

No Bleeping Sounds

Disqualify the obvious first. Check to make sure it’s properly plugged in and that the circuit breaker isn’t tripped. If that’s not the issue, you probably want to call Dave’s Appliance. However, if you know your way around a multimeter, you may be able to track down the problem on your own and fix it.

And remember, a dishwasher that’s lasted 10 years may just be done. It might be time to get a new one.

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Things to check before you call:

  • CHECK for a blown fuse
  • CHECK that the appliance is plugged in
  • CHECK that the dryer vent is clean
  • CHECK that refrigerator controls are at the proper setting