Home> Dishwasher Troubleshooting

Discover the Ultimate Dishwasher Troubleshooting Hacks!

November 9, 2023

Learn the best dishwasher troubleshooting hacks to fix common issues and get your appliance working like new!

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A dishwasher is undoubtedly a stellar addition to any kitchen, ease of use and convenience being its top-selling points. However, understanding how to troubleshoot your dishwasher when problems arise can save you a lot of time and potentially expensive repair costs. From a faulty water inlet valve to clogged filters and beyond, this guide will walk you through every common dishwasher issue and how to fix it.

Dishwasher troubleshooting not only helps you become knowledgeable about this frequently used appliance but also promotes its efficiency and longevity. All these incentives make it absolutely worthwhile to know basic troubleshooting steps.

Key Takeaways:

  • Regularly cleaning your dishwasher filter is crucial for optimal performance, sparkling dishes, and a hygienic kitchen. Don’t overlook this simple maintenance task to enjoy a clean and efficient dishwasher.
  • By following the step-by-step guide to clean your dishwasher filter, you can prevent clogs, eliminate odors, and extend the lifespan of your appliance. Enjoy spotless dishes and a smoothly functioning dishwasher with regular maintenance.

Overview of Common Dishwasher Problems

If you’ve ever asked the question, “Why won’t my dishwasher turn on?,” you’re not alone. Dishwashers encounter few common problems, starting from refusing to start and not draining correctly to leaving dishes unclean post a wash cycle.

Each problem signifies an underlying issue. For instance, if your dishwasher refuses to start, it can imply problems with the power source, door latch, or control panel. A dishwasher that doesn’t drain suggests potential blockages in the drainage system, faulty drain pumps, or issues with the drain valve. Moreover, dishes not sparkling clean after a cycle can point towards a lack of water, ineffective detergent, or a broken spray arm.

In-depth Understanding of the Dishwasher Components

A dishwasher consists of various components, including the water inlet valve, spray arm, and filters that each play a crucial role in its functioning. Firstly, the water inlet valve controls water flow inside the dishwasher. This can be the first go-to element for investigation if you’re dealing with issues like ” my dishwasher fills with water when it is not running”.

The spray arm sprays water and the dishwasher detergent solution on the dishes. Problems with spray arm can potentially lead to dishes not cleaning correctly. Understanding this will be beneficial if you’ve asked, “Why is my dishwasher not cleaning my dishes?”.

Last but not least, the filters prevent food debris from blocking the dishwasher and are critical for a clean and efficient wash cycle. Hence, knowing how to clean the dishwasher filter and where the filter is in a dishwasher are essential aspects of maintaining your dishwasher.

Understanding Energy and Water Usage

Different dishwashers come with different energy consumption levels. However, on average, a dishwasher uses around 1.5 kWh per load or 270-320 kWh per year if used two times weekly. Recognizing these figures can help in determining if your appliance is consuming more energy than it should and may indicate underlying issues.

Similarly, water usage matters. Most dishwashers present today utilize 3 to 5 gallons of water per load. If your appliance uses considerably more water, it might be due to a faulty water inlet valve, malfunctioning float switch, or problems with the water level switch. A deeper understanding of how a dishwasher works can indeed be fruitful in troubleshooting related issues.

Preventive Maintenance for Dishwashers

Preventive maintenance is the key to extending the life of any appliance, and dishwashers are no exception. Regular cleaning of dishwashers parts, such as the spray arm and filters, can significantly contribute to the efficiency of the appliance. Tips on how to clean a dishwasher and occasionally removing and cleaning its filters can ensure a long and problem-free operation.

Apart from cleaning, use the dishwasher appropriately. Overcrowding can lead to dishwasher problems and even hinder proper cleaning of your dishware. Finally, regular maintenance checks by a professional service can help diagnose any potential issues that you might overlook.

Proper Use of Detergents

Believe it or not, the correctness and efficiency of your dishwasher cleaning also depend significantly on the type and amount of detergent you use. Choosing the right dishwasher detergent influences the cleanliness of your dishes. Moreover, understanding how to use a dishwasher with liquid detergent or tablets is crucial to prevent any soapy residue left on your dishes after the wash.

Moreover, not all water types require the same amount of detergent. Hard water often requires more detergent than soft water. Therefore, recognizing the kind of water in your area can help decide the right detergent dosage. Lastly, the detergent’s placement matters, ensuring it dissolves completely during the wash and doesn’t clog any parts of your dishwasher.

Dishwasher Not Starting: How to Troubleshoot

Perhaps one of the most frustrating issues households face is a dishwasher that won’t start. This can be daunting, especially if you rely heavily on it for daily chores. But before spending money on a professional service, there are a few things you can troubleshoot yourself.

First, verify whether your dishwasher is receiving power. Several reasons can interfere with power delivery to the dishwasher, ranging from power outage to tripped circuit breaker or blown a fuse. Ensure that the plug is securely inserted into the wall outlet. If the dishwasher is still lifeless, the problem might be more severe, requiring a professional examination. This guide can provide several helpful steps.

Door switch/Latch Problem

If your dishwasher appears to receive power (lights are on), but the start button does nothing, the door latch or the door switch might be defective. The door switch ensures that the dishwasher doesn’t operate unless the door is firmly closed. If the latch or switch is faulty, it can prevent your dishwasher from starting.

Control Panel Malfunctioning

Problems with the control panel or the electronic control board can also prevent your dishwasher from starting. If some buttons on your control panel work while others do not, it’s likely that the control panel is defective and may need replacement.

Dishwasher Not Draining: How to Troubleshoot

On completion of a washing cycle, the dishwasher should be free of water. However, if yours is still filled with water, it’s time for some troubleshooting. Before rushing to claim professional help, many underlying reasons can be corrected with a little guided DIY repair.

Blockage in the Drainage System

A common culprit for a dishwasher not draining is a clogged drainage system. Check and clean the dishwasher filter, drain hose, and drain pump. Make sure you use caution when dealing with these parts, though, as there could be glass or hard food particles lodged in them. Here’s a useful guide on cleaning the dishwasher filter and manually draining your dishwasher.

Drain Pump or Drain Valve Problem

If cleaning the drainage system doesn’t solve the problem, you may need to look into the drain pump or the drain valve. A defective drain pump or a drain valve can hamper the dishwasher’s capacity to drain the water. Check for any signs of damage or blockages and replace if necessary.

Dishes Not Cleaning Well: Troubleshooting Guide

Another common issue with dishwashers is that, despite floating through a complete cycle, the dishes come out not as clean as they should. But beware, the problem might not always be with your dishwasher.

Spray Arm Issues

Over time, small bits of food and debris can block the holes in the spray arm, preventing the water from spraying out as forcefully as it should. Inspecting the spray arm and carefully cleaning the clog can often resolve this issue. Also, ensure that the spray arm spins freely and isn’t hitting any dishes.


Overcrowding can obstruct the water spray from reaching all the dishes. Ensure the dishes are placed correctly and there’s enough space for water to reach every dish. Avoid stacking dishes or placing them too closely together. Here are more dishwasher mistakes you should avoid.

Problems in the Heating Element

Dishwashers use hot water to help dissolve food and grime on your dishware. If the heating element can’t maintain the proper temperature, it might be the reason your dishes are not clean after a cycle. Inspect the heating element for any visible damages and replace if necessary.

Dishwasher Makes Noise: Troubleshooting Techniques

If your dishwasher makes noise when water circulates, there could be several reasons. It’s common for dishwashers to make some noise during operation. However, loud grinding, thumping or buzzing noises are not normal and need to be looked at right away.

Common Causes of Excess Noise

Food and debris stuck in the pump or spray arms can cause loud rumbling sounds. Additionally, a failing motor or water inlet valve may cause grinding or squealing noises. Other parts, like the washer arm bearing or drain impeller, might be broken and make noise when they spin.

Checking for Broken Parts

Inspect all parts of your dishwasher for signs of deterioration or damage, especially the spray arm, pump and motor. If parts are severely worn or damaged, they will likely need to be replaced. Here’s a helpful guide from Storable.com on examining your dishwasher for noise.

When to seek professional help

If all else fails or you can’t pinpoint where the noise is coming from, you might need to call in a professional to investigate. Sometimes, the problem might lie within the interior components of the machine which are not easily accessible or repairable without expert knowledge.

Dishwasher Leaking: Steps for Troubleshooting

Leaking is a common dishwasher issue which could be caused by various factors. If your dishwasher is leaking, it’s important to address the problem immediately to prevent water damage to your kitchen floor.

Checking Seals and Gaskets

Check your dishwasher’s door gasket, a rubber seal that lines the door opening. Over time this gasket can become damaged or brittle, leading to leaks. If the gasket looks worn or damaged, it will need to be replaced.

Investigating Door and Latch Problems

A leak may also be the result of a misaligned dishwasher door or a faulty door latch. Adjust the latch, or if it’s worn out, consider replacing it. The door should close smoothly and firmly without force.

Verifying Functionality of Water Hoses

The hoses which connect your dishwasher to the water supply and the drain might also be the problem. Leaks from these areas might indicate that your hoses are worn out and need replacement.

Dishwasher Running too Long: How to Troubleshoot

If your dishwasher runs for too long, it can be an inconvenience and lead to wastage of water and energy. This problem could be due to malfunctioning components or issues with your water supply.

Importance of Thermostat in Cycle Timing

The thermostat is a critical component that measures the temperature of the water and air inside the dishwasher. If it’s defective, it could cause the dishwasher to run too long, as it might not be able to tell when the desired temperature is reached. Check the thermostat for defects and replace if necessary.

Role of Heating Element

The heating element plays a vital role in heating the water and aiding in the drying process. If it’s not working properly, the dishwasher can run longer to reach the required temperature or dry the dishes. Check it for continuity and replace it if it’s defective.

Issues with Timer

Sometimes the timer, responsible for regulating the length of each cycle, might be faulty causing the dishwasher to run too long. You might have to replace the timer if it’s not advancing or if the contacts are defective.

Dishwasher Smells: Causes and Troubleshooting Procedures

A bad smell in your dishwasher can be caused by leftover food particles that have decomposed over time, blocked dishwasher filters, or stagnant water sitting at the bottom of the machine. It is important to troubleshoot these issues to prevent a persistent unpleasant odor.

Role of filters in maintaining smell

Your dishwasher’s filter plays a crucial role in trapping food particles to prevent them from redepositing on your dishes during a wash cycle. If not cleaned regularly, these trapped food particles can create a foul smell. Here’s a useful link on how to clean the dishwasher filter to prevent it from developing unpleasant odors.

Possible problems with the drain hose

A blocked or kinked drain hose can cause water to stagnate and smell in your dishwasher. Regularly check and clean your drain hose to keep unpleasant smells at bay. Here’s information on how to unclog your dishwasher.

The importance of regular cleaning

Regularly cleaning your dishwasher can significantly reduce or prevent bad smells. It is important to remove the stuck-on food and grease that accumulate over time. Here is a useful guide on how to clean a dishwasher.

Strange Dishwasher Colors and Stains: Troubleshooting Guide

Discoloration or strange colors in your dishwasher could be caused by various factors such as the type of water in your area, certain foods, or the material of the dishware.

Causes of Discoloration

Areas with hard water often experience white or chalky stains on dishes, while iron or manganese in the water can cause yellow, brown, or orange stains. Certain foods, like tomato-based products, can cause red or orange stains on plastic dishes or the dishwasher itself.

Cleaning Procedures for Stains

Dishwasher-safe rust removers can be used to remove rust or iron stains from the dishwasher interior. Regularly running an empty cycle with a dishwasher cleaner can help remove hard water stains. Here you can find practical tips on how to clean a dishwasher.

Preventative Measures

You can prevent these discolorations by using a dishwasher detergent booster, a product that softens the water and enhances the power of your regular dishwasher detergent. Here’s useful information on how to use a dishwasher with liquid detergent.

Inadequate Water Filling: Troubleshooting Tips

If your dishwasher is not filling with water or it fills too slowly, it could cause problems with washing efficiency. The water inlet valve, float switch, or water level switch could be the culprits.

Understanding the Role of the Water Inlet Valve

If your dishwasher fills with water when it’s not running, the water inlet valve could be faulty. This valve controls the amount of water that gets into your dishwasher. If it’s clogged or defective, it can prevent the dishwasher from filling appropriately.

Common Issues with the Float Switch

The float switch is responsible for preventing the dishwasher from overfilling with water. If it’s stuck or broken, it could cause the dishwasher to under-fill. Ensure it moves freely and is not obstructed.

Inspecting the Water Level Switch

The water level switch signals the water inlet valve to shut off when the dishwasher has enough water. If it’s defective, your dishwasher may not fill adequately.

Dishwasher Won’t Dry Dishes: Steps for Troubleshooting

If your dishwasher isn’t drying your dishes effectively, it could be due to a few reasons. Poor running habits, improper loading, or technical issues can all cause dishes to come out wet.

Application of Heating Element

The heating element in your dishwasher is responsible for raising the temperature during the drying phase. A faulty heating element might be the reason your dishes aren’t drying. Here are some steps on repairing common dishwasher issues.

Role of Rinse Aid in Drying Dishes

Rinse aid plays an essential role in the drying process. It lowers the surface tension of water, helping it slide off the dishes and thus speeding up the drying process. If you’re not adding rinse aid, your dishes might not be drying as effectively.

Common Problem Areas to Check

If you’ve ruled out the above issues, consider checking the dishwasher vent for blockages, ensuring proper loading of dishes for optimum water circulation, and confirming the selected setting includes a drying option.

Dish Rack Issues: Troubleshooting Guide

The dish rack provides a space to place your dishes during the wash cycle, but over time, it may face certain issues such as falling off the tracks, broken wheels, or rust.

Common Issues With Wheels and Adjusters

Dishwasher rack adjusters and wheels often endure significant wear and tear. The wheels can break or come off entirely, and the adjusters that help position the height of the top rack can also break.

Tips for Maintaining the Rack

Regular cleaning and inspection can prolong the life of your dishwasher rack. Treat rusty spots immediately and replace broken adjusters or wheels promptly for smooth operation.

When to Replace the Rack

If the rack is severely rusted, or multiple components are broken or missing, it might be more economical and efficient to replace the entire rack.

DIY Repair vs. Professional Services

Dishwasher repair can either be a do-it-yourself (DIY) project or a job for professional technicians. Determining which route to take depends on several factors, including the nature and severity of the issue, your level of technical expertise, and cost considerations.

When to Opt for DIY Repair

Minor issues like clogged filters, failing to start, or poor cleaning performance can be fixed using guides on how to fix a dishwasher. However, ensure you’re comfortable with completing these repairs on your own.

Situations that Warrant Professional Help

When your dishwasher faces more complex problems relating to electrical components or the motor, it’s safer and wiser to seek professional help. Use this guide to find out how much it might cost to repair your dishwasher.

Understanding Potential Costs

When contemplating between DIY and professional repair, be aware of the potential costs. While DIY may seem more cost-effective initially, incorrect repairs can lead to more expensive issues in the long run. Compare these costs against the cost of hiring a professional or even replacing the dishwasher.

Tips on Choosing the Right Dishwasher

Choosing the right dishwasher for your needs can greatly impact your dishwashing experience. Considerations like your budget, space, usage and energy and water efficiencies are important factors to consider.

Understanding Your Needs

Determine what you value most in a dishwasher. This could be the number of dishes it can handle, its noise level, special features like sanitizing or delayed start, or the types of dishes it can accommodate. Having a clear understanding of your needs can help narrow down your options.

Energy and Water Efficiencies

Check the Energy Star ratings to determine a dishwasher’s energy and water efficiency. Dishwashers with high efficiencies could cost more upfront, but they can save you money over time by reducing your utility bills. Visit this guide to increase your understanding of how dishwashers work.

Factors to Consider: Brand, Size, and Features

The brand matters when it comes to the durability, performance, and after-sales service of your dishwasher. Also, ensure the size of the dishwasher fits your kitchen and meets your capacity needs. Always consider the features a dishwasher offers, as some could make your dishwashing task easier. Make sure you also avoid these common dishwasher mistakes.


Dishwashers can significantly ease the task of doing dishes, but only if they’re in good working condition. Understanding basic dishwasher troubleshooting and maintenance can help keep your dishwasher running smoothly and efficiently, and save you time and money on unnecessary repairs or replacements.

Knowing when to opt for DIY repairs and when to call for professional help is also key in maintaining your dishwasher. While it’s possible to fix minor issues on your own, technical or serious problems should be addressed by professionals. Refer to this guide on how to fix a dishwasher for more assistance.

Lastly, when purchasing a new dishwasher, attentively choosing one that fits your needs and preferences will optimize your satisfaction and usage. Whether it’s the brand, price, size, features or energy and water efficiency, every factor counts towards potentially many years of hassle-free dishwashing. Just make sure to avoid these common dishwasher mistakes.

In the end, understanding more about dishwasher functionalities, troubleshooting, and maintenance can lead to high performing appliances and a more efficient kitchen.