Top 10 Common Dishwasher Problems and How to Troubleshoot Them


Many of us nowadays have used the dishwasher to save time. However, when the dishwasher is malfunctioning, it can cause a major headache as the dirty dishes pile up. 

With that being said, in this article, we will discuss 10 of the most common problems for dishwasher, and how to easily handle them.

Let us begin with the first one. 

1. Dishwasher leaks onto the floor

This is a fairly common problem, and often caused by the dishwasher door not sealing completely or leaking due to cracks. Check for debris and damage that might prevent the door from sealing, and check for cracks. If the problem is not on the door, then it might be caused by a cracked gasket. Clean your door gasket with a disinfectant first before checking, and look for significant cracks.

Also, check for the float switch—which will automatically turn off the flow of water to the dishwasher—. It might be stuck on the down position, or simply broken. Try cleaning it while removing any debris that might affect its mechanism.

2. Dishes not drying completely

This is commonly caused by human error. Which is, not using a liquid rinse aid in the dispenser. The dispenser’s function is to drip the rinse aid at exactly the right for the best possible results. In turn, rinse aid will prevent water droplets from forming, and will significantly improve the drying process.

Also, another common issue is the failure of heating devices of your dishwasher. Check the bottom of the dishwasher tub for the high-limit thermostat, and check whether it’s working properly. Check other heating elements, they might also need replacing. 

3. Dishes are not clean

This problem is, again, often caused by human error:

  • Check the quality of your detergent. You might need to upgrade to a higher quality detergent, ot the detergent  might be stuck in your house for too long
  • Don’t overload the dishwasher, and don’t forget to clean food debris with each use. 
  • Check the doo gasket, sprayer arms, and strain screen, and clean them from food debris and especially grease
  • Check the pressure from spray arms, and make sure it can move freely. This can often caused by buildup of hard water, and you might want to replace worn spray arms.

4. Dishwasher produce uncommon noise

Some noise with dishwasher is relatively common, unless yours is an ultra-silent type. However, if your dishwasher is suddenly making noises it previously didn’t, it can be a sign for a few possible defects. 

First, check your pump. It might be broken or you might have a defective one. Next, check the wah arm seal or bearing ring, both are relatively easy to replace. Another common cause is when your spray arms are not turning properly so it bounced on dishes or racks. In this case, replace the spray arms. 

5. Dishwasher takes too long to clean

Dishwasher that are running too long might be caused by several different reasons: 

  • Your water is too cold. Your water should be at least 135ºF. Let it run in the sink before starting the dishwasher. Clear cold water from the pipes by starting the hot water faucet for a minute or so. Your dishwasher will heat the water, but it will take a couple of minutes to heat the water by 1 degree. So, it can significantly prolong the cycle if your water is too cold.
  • Some options like extra dry heat or sanitize might run longer than others. 
  • If necessary, you might need to raise the water heater’s thermostat to at least 120ºF

6. Dishwasher simply won’t start

This issue can be caused by several possible reasons:

  • If you hear a humming sound when trying to start the dishwasher, the motor might be stuck. 
  • If there’s no noise at all, various possible causes from failing switch, broken wiring or clogged pump might be an issue. You might want to call a professional to help identify the problem.
  • Check the power source and the fuse, and whether the outlet is simply dead. 

7. Bad, weird smell from the dishwasher

This is commonly caused by old and wet food debris accumulated in the dishwasher. You should first check the dishwasher’s screen at the bottom, and clean it thoroughly.

If the dishwasher produces a chemical smell, it is often caused by the melting plastic or container that has fallen onto the heating devices. Generally, clean your dishwasher regularly, and if possible, pre-rinse your dishes.

8. Water doesn’t drain properly

A common cause for this issue is clogged filter or drain, which might need replacing. Also, check underneath the spray arms for accumulation of food debris. Malfunctioning sensor or pump can also be the issue here, and you might want to contact a professional.

9. Your dishwasher won’t fill, or won’t stop filling

Dishwashers need just the right amount of water to function properly. Check the inlet valve whether it’s in need of a replacement. Also, check the float and float switch as they might get stuck, causing this issue. The float and float switch might have accumulated food debris, hindering their movement. 

Another common issue is when the dishwasher door is opened, which can, in turn, caused by a wrong door sensor. If your dishwasher can;t stop filling , it might be caused by a stuck timer or a stuck inlet valve. 

10. Your dishes come out dirty

Check for the movement of the spray arms, where the movement might be restricted too close to the customer’s proximity. Try spinning the spray arms, which is a good way to check whether they are still flexible. If not, they might be covered in dust and debris.

Check for any grease and blockades on the door gasket and on the stain screen.  

End Words

A malfunctioning dishwasher can be a great source of headache for many families. Thankfully,many dishwasher problems can be troubleshooted by ourselves, saving you from the need to call a profession. In general, make sure to clean your dishwasher regularly and check for cracks and debris buildup.

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