Common dishwasher problems and how to fix them
When's the last time you thought to clean your dishwasher? It may seem counter-intuitive to clean an appliance that does nothing but wash and disinfect dishes all day, but regular cleaning is important for maintaining all of your appliances.
Here's how to tackle common dishwasher problems:
Dishes come out dirty
If your dishwasher isn't cleaning properly, it might be a simple issue that you can easily repair yourself. For starters, avoid overloading the dishwasher, as doing so can prevent it from cleaning properly. In addition, many times dirty dishes are the result of dirty spray arms. Clean clogs from detergent or mineral buildup, and remove small items that may be restricting spray arm movement. Inspect for the same buildup on the strainer screen or door gaskets. Finally, run a cleaning cycle without dishes.
If you still notice water spots or white residue on your dishes even after cleaning and inspecting your dishwasher, use a water softener or specialized detergent with rinse aid.
Dishwasher smells bad
Trapped food and grease can cause your dishwasher to smell even after a cleaning cycle. This problem has an easy DIY repair: Simply clean the filter, strainer screen and sprayer arms to get rid of the old and wet food. (It can be a dirty job, so consider wearing rubber gloves.) Run a cycle without dishes, using a dishwasher cleaner or disinfectant. To avoid future issues, pre-rinse your dishes to remove grease and large food particles before putting them in the dishwasher.
Dishes won't dry
If your dishwasher isn't drying properly, it's likely an issue with the heating element. The easiest fix is using a liquid rinse aid in each cycle. If that doesn't work, use a multi-meter to check the high-limit thermostat, usually at the bottom of the dishwasher tub. If it's malfunctioning, it can cause the heater to turn off before your dishes are fully dry. If this is the case, you'll need to call in a professional to install a new heating element.
Dishwasher is cracked
If you find a crack on the inside of your dishwasher, your unit is likely at the end of its life. Cracks leave the mechanical parts vulnerable to water and soap, which can be a serious safety hazard. Unfortunately, there aren't any DIY solutions to repair this issue. You'll need to replace the dishwasher.
Dishwasher is old
Once your dishwasher reaches a certain age, repeat repairs and poor performance will eventually cost more than purchasing a new one. According to Sears, seven years is usually the cut off. At that point, it's a better decision to invest in a new dishwasher, especially if the repairs will cost at least half of the unit's original price. If you decide it’s time to replace, consider an energy-saving model. Energy efficient appliances are better for the environment and can help lower your monthly bills.
Being prepared before home repair issues arise is always a good strategy. Plans from HomeServe can help with the costs of covered repairs. See what plans are available in your area.