HomeWhen your dishwasher doesn't work properly, it's inconvenient, but might not require a service call. There are some easy fixes for common dishwasher problems shown below. You may be able to fix it yourself or at least eliminate some issues so the problem is easier for a technician to solve.
NOTE: These dishwasher repair tips are relatively easy and do not involve taking your dishwasher washer apart, which could void your warranty or limit your ability to have it repaired by an authorized service technician in future.
If decide you need professional help, AK Appliance Repair is always available to help with Same Day Dishwasher Repair – 7 Days A Week. We service all major dishwasher brands and provide warranty on all parts. Serving Cobb, Fulton and Dekalb counties.
Dishwasher Repair Guide
CAUTION: Disconnect the dishwasher from the power by turning off the circuit breaker supplying power to the dishwasher. Also, don’t work inside the dishwasher immediately following a cycle because the dish-drying element at the bottom may still be hot.
It's quite common for even the best dishwasher brands to pick up some unwanted scents over time. This quick fix will remove the bad smells.
Clean the Drain Filter
Most dishwashers have a drain filter to prevent food particles from clogging the drain. This is the most common cause of nasty dishwasher odors.
- Remove the drain filter from the floor of the dishwasher.
- Wash the filter in your kitchen sink with hot water and soap. Use a bottle brush if necessary to reach all the interior surfaces.
- Ensure the drain is free and clear of food debris and gunk before you reinsert the drain filter. Wipe away particles with a sponge if necessary.
Here's a how-to video from Whirlpool.
Remove Dishwasher Odor with Vinegar and Baking Soda
Vinegar is a potent odor-fighting agent, yet it’s completely natural and safe to use. Baking soda is also excellent for neutralizing smells without chemical cleaners. You can use both – but not at the same time – to sterilize your dishwasher.
- Empty the appliance of all dishes.
- Place one cup of white vinegar in a bowl on the top rack of the dishwasher.
- Run the dishwasher on the hottest cycle available. The acids in the vinegar will break down deposits on the interior of the appliance and leave it smelling fresh.
- Remove the bowl from the dishwasher once the cycle is complete.
- Sprinkle a cup of baking soda on the floor of the dishwasher.
- Run a short cycle at the hottest temperature setting to ensure all the baking soda dissolves. This should leave your dishwasher smelling fresh and clean.
Wipe Down the Inside of the Dishwasher
Over time, grime can accumulate on the interior walls of the appliance. A quick wipe down can do wonders for removing that foul dishwasher odor.
- Remove the upper and lower racks and run them under hot water in the kitchen sink.
- Scrub the inside of the dishwasher with a rag or sponge dampened with hot water.
- Clean the door gasket as well, which can collect mold and mildew, by scrubbing with a soft bristle brush (like a toothbrush).
Clean the Spray Arm
If the spray arm becomes clogged with food, the dishwasher’s ability to clean plates, cups, and silverware diminishes greatly. The debris also leads to a smelly dishwasher.
- Remove the upper and lower spray arms.
- Hold one spray arm over the kitchen sink and remove stray food particles using a cotton swab.
- Run water through the spray arm to make sure all the holes are clear.
- Repeat with the second spray arm.
If this doesn't work for your dishwasher and you want professional help, AK Appliance repair is available to help with Same Day Service - 7 Days A Week. Call (770) 394-4539.
If your dishwasher is leaking water, you may be able to fix it yourself. The leak may be coming from either the front of the dishwasher or from the bottom. You will have to find the leak first and then repair either a seal, a hose, pump, or other misc part. Follow the steps below to fix your dishwasher that is leaking water.
1) Leaky Dishwasher Door
If the water accumulating directly under the door, a leak in the door itself is likely the cause of your issue. Your door latch may be bent or loose, or not latching properly. You can tighten the latch with a screwdriver to secure the closure. New latch systems can also be installed.
If water still runs from the door, it may be time to replace the gasket. This is the rubber sealing on the door that prevents water from flowing out of your dishwasher. If your gasket is damaged, this can be replaced with relative ease. Soak your new gasket in warm soapy water, which will make it flexible and easier to install.
While you’re working on the door, go ahead and tighten the hinges if they’re loose.
2) Leaky Dishwasher Tub
If your dishwasher has seen its fair share of loads, a leak may have developed from a hole worn in the tub. Detergents and minerals can corrode the bottom of your tub, causing water to seep through and collect under your dishwasher. It’s possible to fix some tubs, but depending on the age of your unit and severity of the problem, it might be time for a new dishwasher.
Loose or Damaged Valves
Over time, connections and hoses inside your dishwasher can work loose. Check your drain hoses to ensure everything’s securely connected (including the clamps holding the hose in place on either side) and verify your water inlet valve isn’t stuck, which would certainly cause flooding. If you have cracked hoses, they’re easy to replace with new hoses from the hardware store.
Improper Alignment - Not Level
Water may pool in the corners of the appliance or spill out below the door if the dishwasher is not level during use.
- Place the dishwasher in its final position beneath the kitchen counter and close and latch the door. Check that the dishwasher is centered in its slot between the cabinets.
- Place a level against the dishwasher door. The bubble should be centered in the vial between the marking lines if the appliance is level front to back.
- Turn the legs with an adjustable wrench, or use a socket wrench if the legs are accessible from above. Extend the front leveling legs down if the bubble floated too close to the dishwasher; retract the legs if the bubble floated too far in the opposite direction.
- Check your progress by periodically placing the level against the door. Keep adjusting the legs until the bubble floats in the correct position in the vial.
- Open the dishwasher door and place the level side to side. The bubble should fall between the markings if the dishwasher is level side to side.
- Raise the right foot if the bubble floated too far left, or raise the left foot if the bubble was too far right. Check the balance after each adjustment until your dishwasher is level side to side and front to back
Wrong Dishwasher Detergent
Regular dish soap is a big no-no—it foams up too much and can lead to leaking. Only use detergents specifically intended for dishwashers. Even if you’re rinsing your dishes with soap prior to running them through the dishwasher, the solution on the dishes can bubble up and put pressure against the door seal, causing it to eventually leak. Avoid using dish soap when rinsing dishes to avoid this problem.
Your unit may be taking in more water than it should and not draining properly. This will force water out of your dishwasher and on to your floor. You may be experiencing problems with the drain itself or the float valve isn’t sealing properly. Depending on the type of dishwasher you have, this would be a good time to consult your owner’s manual and/or the manufacturer’s website.
If none of these fixes your dishwasher issue or you decide it is too technical and want to get professional help, AK Appliance repair is available to help with Same Day Dishwasher Service - 7 Days A Week. Call (770) 394-4539.
If you open your dishwasher and see standing water in the bottom, the good news is that fixing a dishwasher that is not draining is often something you can do yourself. So, before you call a pro, troubleshoot your dishwasher using the following simple steps.
Use the right detergent and run the cycle again
The first thing you should try is just running the cycle again. If the dishwasher gets shut off somehow before completing the wash cycle, there will be standing water in the bottom when you open it.
Also, dishwashers are designed for use with automatic dishwasher detergents that clean without producing suds. Regular dishwashing liquid can easily create enough suds to prevent proper draining. The same problem can occur if you run out of dishwasher detergent and substitute laundry detergent in a pinch. Simply remove the standing water as described below, and run the cycle again, this time using the correct detergent or no detergent.
Run your garbage disposal
The drain hose from your dishwasher empties into the garbage disposal drain. If the disposal unit contains food, or if food sludge settles in the drainpipe below the disposal, it can prevent the dishwasher from draining properly. Sometimes, just running the disposal is all it takes to get the dishwasher draining again.
In fact, get in the habit of leaving the water on and letting your garbage disposal run an additional 15 seconds after the food is gone. This clears all remaining food that might otherwise remain in the P-trap drain beneath the disposal.
If you don’t have a garbage disposal: clean your sink’s air gap
When a dishwasher hose connects to a sink without a garbage disposal, an air gap—a small, slotted cylinder (often made of stainless steel)—is installed on the top of the sink, right by the faucet. A small hose from the air gap connects to the dishwasher’s drain hose. This acts as a vent to prevent an air lock from forming in the drain hose, but occasionally, the air gap can become clogged with debris. To investigate, twist the air gap counterclockwise to remove it, and check it for gunk. Clean the air gap with water and a stiff brush, replace it, and run the dishwasher cycle again.
Remove standing water
If the dishwasher still won’t drain, it’s time to drain the water to allow a closer look at possible culprits. Place absorbent towels around the base of the dishwasher and then remove the bottom dish tray by simply sliding it out. With the tray out of the way, use a plastic cup to scoop the dirty water into a bucket for disposal. When the water level is too low to scoop, use a large sponge or towels to sop up the remaining water in the bottom of the machine.
De-gunk the drain basket
The drain basket is found at the bottom of your dishwasher’s interior. Its cover often resembles an upside-down basket, which either snaps off or is held in place by one or two screws. (If you can’t find it, consult your owner’s manual—which you can often download from the manufacturer’s website). Remove the cover, and check for food buildup in the basket beneath. Use your hand or a spoon to remove any debris, replace the cover, and run the dishwashing cycle again.
Note: If you find a lot of food debris in the drain basket, prevent future clogs by pre-rinsing your dishes. Most dishwashers manufactured today feature macerators that grind bits of soft wet food, but they don’t have nearly the power of a garbage disposal. So even if your owner’s manual says it isn’t necessary to pre-rinse your dishes, do so anyway to avoid repeatedly cleaning the drain basket.
Check the drain hose for kinks.
A kinked drain hose—the lightweight, ribbed plastic hose that connects from the dishwasher’s drain pump to the garbage disposal (or to an air cap)—can prevent water from draining. If something large or heavy was shoved under the sink it might have hampered the hose, so explore the area to locate the hose. If it’s kinked, try straightening it out manually. Unfortunately, once a drain hose kinks, it tends to happen again in the same spot. If this continues to happen, replace the drain hose. (See instructions below)
Examine the drain hose for clogs.
If the hose isn’t kinked, it could still be clogged with food sludge or debris. To check for a clog, you’ll need to remove the lower front panel and locate the spot where the ribbed hose attaches to the drain pump.
First, unplug the dishwasher: While you shouldn’t come in contact with any wiring, the general safety rule when working on appliances is to unplug them first. Then place old towels under the unit and remove the lower front panel. Many panels snap off but, depending on your model, you may have to remove a screw or two. Disconnect the hose from the pump (if you’re unsure where it is or how to disconnect it, consult your owner’s manual).
To check the hose for clogs, simply blow through it. If air won’t pass through, you’ve got a clog. If the clog is located at either end of the hose, you can try to carefully remove it with a screwdriver or other thin implement, like a straightened-out wire coat hanger. If the clog is not located near the end connected to the pump, remove the hose where it connects to the garbage disposal or air cap to check for a clog on that end. If the clog is lodged deeper, you’ll probably have to replace the entire hose. Don’t try to clear the clog with a plumber’s snake—dishwasher hoses aren’t designed to withstand that tool’s cutting motion and can be easily punctured.
Replace the drain hose.
For recurring kinks or a clog that you can’t remove, replace the entire hose. This involves unplugging the unit and sliding it out from under the countertop. Then, disconnect the old hose from both the pump and the garbage disposal (or the air gap), and attach the new one in the same manner. Consult your owner’s manual first to ensure that you purchase the correct replacement hose, and for any specific instructions on how it attaches to your model.
If you decide that professional help is what you need, AK Appliance Repair is available to help with Same Day Dishwasher Service - 7 Days A Week. Call (770) 394-4539.
If your dishwasher won’t start, save time and money by troubleshooting it before calling a professional. Repairing a dishwasher isn’t as difficult as it might seem and can be done even if you aren’t particularly handy. Use this guide to help you troubleshoot major parts of a dishwasher and determine if professional help is necessary.
- Make sure your dishwasher is plugged in—Occasionally, your dishwasher won’t start because it’s not plugged in or there’s an issue within the circuit breaker. Make sure your dishwasher is securely plugged in and that the circuit breaker switches haven’t been tripped.
- Make sure the child lock isn’t on—Some dishwasher models will have a child lock feature to prevent the dishwasher from starting. Check your owner’s manual and make sure the child lock settings are turned off.
- Reset the dishwasher—If your dishwasher won’t start but the lights are on, the start button may have been pressed more than once. While pressing the start button once starts the cycle, pressing it again resets the dishwasher and runs a drain cycle for 90 seconds. Wait until the drain cycle is complete and try starting your dishwasher.
- Ensure the door latch is working properly—The door latch assembly holds the door closed during a wash cycle to prevent water from leaking. It also houses the door latch switch that provides power to the dishwasher controls. If the dishwasher door isn’t closed properly, the dishwasher won’t receive power to complete a wash cycle. Locate the door switch at the top of the dishwasher door and check that both switches are mechanically activated when the door closes. You can also use a multimeter to check for continuity, but make sure the power to the dishwasher is turned off.
- Assess the timer and electronic control—After you’ve ensured that the door latches properly, look at the timer or electronic control. These parts are responsible for how much power is sent to each component of your dishwasher, like the drain pump, heating circuit, and water inlet valve, during a wash cycle. If these parts don’t get the power they need, they won’t work properly. Turn off the power before checking the timer or electric control with a multimeter.
- Check the selector switch—A selector switch allows you to choose different washing, drying, and heating options for a wash cycle. If defective or not depressed correctly, the selector switch could be the cause of your dishwasher not starting. Locate the selector switch on the control panel and make sure it’s not stuck between settings. Check to see if more than one button has been pressed at the same time—if more than one button has been pushed, this will create a no continuity situation for your switch and bring no power to these controls.
If you decide that professional help is what you need, AK Appliance Repair is available to help with Same Day Dishwasher Service - 7 Days A Week. Call (770) 394-4539.