How to Fix Your Broken Dishwasher

Mar 27 2020
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Dishwashers have always been a bit of a nightmare in my life. Honestly I’ve just never owned one that I liked or seemed to work well lol I took my own here at home a part at one point and omg DISGUSTING. After that I do a maintenance at least once of a month of running it through its heavy cycle with nothing in it but a bowl full of bleach. So far *crosses fingers* it seems to be working!

Operation BLISSFULLY HAPPY: My updated 1, 2 and 10 year plans! Paying off my home mortgage within ten years, putting in a VRBO rental suite in the basement

(This is a contributed post, for more information about my compensation please read my disclosure policy)

Your dishwasher is one of the most important appliances in your kitchen, which is why you need to keep it in good working order. Fortunately, many dishwasher problems can be diagnosed and fixed DIY-style, so there’s no need to call a service contractor.

In fact, a little maintenance is all that’s needed to resolve most common dishwasher issues. So, when your dishwasher breaks down, take the time to try and fix it yourself before you call someone in. It might save you a lot of money.

Dishes Are Coming Out Still Dirty

This is one of the most common problems homeowners have with their dishwashers. Often, it’s a question of loading the dishwasher incorrectly or failing to rinse the dishes adequately, so make sure you consult your user manual for proper loading procedure and give your dishes a thorough pre-rinse before loading them into the machine.

However, if you’ve been loading correctly and rinsing well and you’re still finding dirty residue and food particles on your dishes after a cycle, you might need to perform some basic maintenance. Remove and clean the sprayer arms and the filter screen in the bottom of your dishwasher. Next, open up the front of the machine to replace the inlet valve and clean the dishwasher filter screen.

Water Is Leaking Out Onto the Floor

When your dishwasher leaks water onto the floor, it’s usually because of problems with the seal around the door. Your first step should be to clean the door gasket – debris stuck to it can weaken the seal and cause leakage. Examine the gasket for signs of wear or damage. If you find cracks, breakage, or missing pieces, replace the door gasket.

The Dishwasher Won’t Drain

If you’re finding big puddles of dirty water in the bottom of your dishwasher after a cycle, there could be a clog somewhere in your plumbing. If your kitchen sink isn’t clogged, then the culprit is your dishwasher drain hose. You can usually unclog a dishwasher drain hose by removing it and flushing it out with a garden hose or hot water, vinegar, and baking soda. Before you go to all that trouble, though, check to make sure it’s not actually a kink or knot in the hose causing your problem.

It Stinks

Rotten food smells in your dishwasher are just that – rotten food. Remove your dishwasher’s sprayer arms and the screen in the bottom of the unit and give them a thorough scrubbing. Pay special attention to clearing the holes in the dishwasher sprayer arms. Then sprinkle a cup of baking soda over the bottom of your dishwasher, place a cup of vinegar in the top rack, and run a hot water rinse cycle. If the rotten food smell persists, you may need to replace the drain hose.

Dishes Don’t Get Dry

This will be either a problem with the heating element or with the high-limit thermostat, so you may want to call in a service technician if you’re not up to this dishwasher repair job yourself. To test the heating element, you’ll need to remove it from the dishwasher and perform an ohm test on it. If it’s working, then your problem is the thermostat. You can open up the front of the dishwasher and use a multimeter to test it.

The Dishwasher Won’t Start

If your dishwasher won’t start at all, check for a blown fuse or a bad outlet before calling in the repairman. The door latch could also be the culprit, as a dishwasher won’t start if the door is not properly latched. If the door isn’t shutting right, you can replace the latch.

If your dishwasher powers on and sounds like it’s trying to work but it’s struggling, the motor may be stuck. Cut power to the appliance, remove the front panel, and then take off the motor housing. Turn the motor fan blades manually to free them from whatever is holding them in place. If that doesn’t work, or if the motor hums but doesn’t actually start running, it may be time for a new dishwasher motor.

It’s Loud

A hammering sound in your dishwasher is usually a sign that you need to replace the inlet valve. Rattling sounds, on the other hand, typically indicate that the motor has come a little loose and is moving around while the dishwasher operates. Not a big deal – take off the front panel and tighten down the bolts that secure the motor in place.

Chaos can descend quickly on a household when the dishwasher breaks – it’s one of those modern conveniences that quickly become a necessity. But don’t jump right to calling a plumber – give fixing it yourself a try. You might just be surprised at how easy it is.

Your dishwasher is one of the most important appliances in your kitchen, which is why you need to keep it in good working order.

(This is a contributed post, for more information about my compensation please read my disclosure policy)


  1. March 28, 2020 at 1:10 am

    It’s nice when you see such a great work! Continue writing

  2. Emie
    March 28, 2020 at 6:06 am

    Thank you for this tutorial. You’ve taken the guess work out and I think I could do this.

    • March 30, 2020 at 8:47 am

      Great! Thanks for checking it out!

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