The dishwasher is such a convenience in modern households that it can be very disappointing when it doesn’t work. Many dishwasher problems are easy to repair by yourself, saving you time, money, and giving you a sense of satisfaction of ownership over your home appliances.
The most common dishwasher problem is that of incomplete cleaning. Before you suspect a mechanical problem consider the following. Are you loading the dishes according to the manufacturer’s directions? Most manufacturers recommend placing the plates so that they face the center of the machine. Glasses should go on top and large pots and pans should be placed in the rear of the bottom rack. Do not over load your machine and make sure tall objects do not block the spray-arm.
Another cause of incomplete cleaning is hard water. Hard water is water that has a lot of minerals in it. You will know if your water is hard if you have a dull film in your tub or sink, and if soap does not lather well. Installing a water softener will help. Also, you may find that using extra detergent in your dishwasher is necessary.
Old detergent may cause improper cleaning as well. Be sure to keep the detergent fresh by closing the container after each use.
Another cause of improper cleaning occurs when the rinse agent dispenser is not filled. Rinse agents make water flow off the dishes faster insuring fewer water spots.
It is important to check your water temperature if your dishes are not as clean as you would like. The temperature of your water must be between 140 and 160 degrees Fahrenheit to properly dissolve all the detergent and grease. To check the water temperature at the dishwasher, start it up and then interrupt the cycle once the first wash cycle has begun by opening the door. Place a meat or candy thermometer in the water in the bottom of the dishwasher. If the temperature is low, raise it a bit at the thermostat control of your water heater.
Proper water pressure is important for dishwashers as well. If you suspect you have low water pressure, do not run other water-related appliances or the shower when you are washing the dishes.
Finally, remember that this is a dishwasher not a dish scrubber. Rinse off your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. Food particles can clog the drainpipes and filters. Make sure that no foreign objects such as rubber bands, nutshells or popcorn kernels have entered the dishwasher prior to using it.
If you think you are loading the dishwasher correctly as outlined above and do not suspect you have low water temperature or pressure you may have clogged water jets. This is simple to fix. First, make sure the power supply to the dishwasher is off. Turn it off at the circuit breaker or fuse box. If you have a portable dishwasher make sure it is unplugged. Unscrew the nut that holds the spray arm. Lift the spray arm out and clean out the holes using a piece of wire. While the spray arm is out, also check that the drain hole isn’t clogged.
Perhaps your dishes are clean but the dishwasher leaks. A cracked or broken gasket is the usual cause of leaking. Replacement gaskets can be obtained at your local hardware or home improvement store. They are not difficult to install. The instructions will be on the packaging.
Sometimes, however it may be necessary to call in a professional. If the pump is clogged, if the impeller is jammed or the motor is faulty, a professional will be better able to access the problem and repair it safely and without further damage to the machine.