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Dishwasher FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions about dishwasher racks, dishwasher drain hoses, dishwasher elements and other dishwasher repair parts.

Your dishwasher's error code
Why is My Dishwasher Totally Dead?
Should I pre-wash my dishes?
What's the best way to load my dishwasher?
Why are my dishes not dry at the end of the cycle?
Why does my dishwasher not finish the cycle??
Why is water not entering my dishwasher??
Is my dishwasher detergent safe?
Why doesn't my detergent cup open?
Why is my dishwasher still full of water at the end of the cycle?
My dishwasher is leaking, how can I stop it?
Why is water dripping from the vent?
My dishwasher door won't latch, what's the problem?
What's with the blinking and beeping?
What should the water temperature be?
Why is my dishwasher filling with water when it is not being used?
Why is my dishwasher noisy?
How much soap should I use?
Why does my dishwasher have the smell of burning plastic?
How do rinse aids work?br /> Why aren't the sprayer arms turning?
Why is detergent still in the detergent cup at cycle end?
What Is an Air Gap?

Your dishwasher's error code

Modern dishwashers with touch-pad cycle select and digital read-out have a variety of codes that indicate a problem that needs to be corrected before the cycle you have selected can continue, you can usually find the error code and the reason for the error code in the owner's manual for your dishwasher model. If you don't have the owner's manual for your dishwashers model you may be able to find it here.

Why is My Dishwasher Totally Dead?

Why is my dishwasher totally dead?? Some common and not so common reasons for a totally dead dishwasher 1. No power 2.Bad door latch/switch assembly 3. Child lockout feature ??4. Delay start feature 5. Broken wire under door 6. Bad timer. No power is usually because of burned and or corroded wires at the junction box located behind the lower kick panel in bottom front left or right corner .BEFORE you go to the trouble of removing the toe kick panel assembly be sure to first check the circuit breaker dedicated to your dishwasher. If the dedicated circuit breaker is off -- do the obvious. If the circuit breaker dedicated to your dishwasher is ON try flipping it OFF then back to ON, occasionally this alone will solve your no power problem. If this does NOT solve the problem turn the dedicated circuit breaker OFF and then remove the lower toe kick assembly and open the junction box where your household wiring enters, the junction box is usually located in the bottom left or right corner, remove the junction box cover and check the wire connections .If you have a volt / ohm meter this would be a good time to verify that you do have 120 VAC at the junction box connection.2.The door latch/switch assembly. The reason your dishwasher has a door latch / switch assembly is two fold , the first and most obvious is to latch the door snug against the flexible rubber-like door gasket so water doesn't splash out during operation. The second reason is to prohibit your dishwasher from running when the door is open. The latch operated switch is supposed to STOP the flow of electricity if you decide to open the door in mid cycle to add a dish {see photos of door latch/switch assemblies} if you haven't already guessed it -- If the latch activated switch assembly fails the dish washer will be totally dead.3.Some dishwasher models have a child lock-out feature .If your dishwasher has this feature make sure it is not in use 4. Some dishwashers have a DELAY start feature if your dishwasher has this feature make sure it is not in use 5.If you remove the upper front panel {see photo} you can see all the wiring from the timer go down the front and then underneath as it connects to the components under the dishwasher , if you open and shut the door you can observe that just under the door the wires bend a little each time the door is opened then closed, sometimes a main power wire will break in this area , you can check for a broken wire in this area if you hold below and pull from above {see photo}. 6. If you follow steps 1 thru 5 and still your dishwasher is dead the timer control is a possible culprit. At this point you're only reasonable option is to call a repairman or try this resource -- appliancetimers.com

Eight Common Reasons For Unclean Dishes

1. Wrong cycle selected.
2. Water temperature below 120 degrees
3. Clogged spray arms.
4. Detergent cup not opening.
5. Not enough water
6. Problem with drainage.
7. Clogged filters.
8. Damaged or broken wash impeller

1. Wrong cycle selected .Check the cycle you have selected, are you doing a heavy load with a short cycle??

2. Water temp below 120 degrees. Have you checked your in-coming water temperature as well as the water temperature in mid cycle ?? Incoming water temp should be 120 to 130 degrees as it enters your dishwasher. Immediately before you use your dishwasher try running the hot side of your kitchen faucet until the water becomes hot, this will insure the dishwasher will fill with hot water, the further your dishwasher is from your water heater the more cold water that must be chased out of the water pipe before the hot water reaches your dishwasher. Most dishwashers will boost the water temperature to 145 degrees or more during the wash and rinse portion of the cycle. The same heater that helps dry your dishes also acts as a mini water heater inside your dishwasher tub. Try checking the water temperature after the first fill, the main wash and the final rinse portions of your favorite cycle.

3. Clogged spray arm. Another reason for poor wash quality is a clogged spray arm. A clogged spray arm will compromise the cleanliness of your dishes; it is common for the wash-arm spray holes to become clogged with small debris. Most wash-arms can be dismantled and the plugged spray holes cleaned with a tooth pick or some other similar device. {Most spray arms are easy to dismantle see photo}.

4. Soap dispenser not opening. The soap dispenser opens when the timer dictates -- usually after the first fill and rinse and near the beginning of the main wash portion of a typical cycle. A common problem soap dispenser problem is getting caked with old soap and becoming stuck shut, also the soap dispenser has a spring to make it snap open and sometimes the spring gets misaligned or broken {see these photos}

5. Not enough water. not enough water is sometimes the reason for poor wash quality, the amount of water required for good washing varies significantly from brand to brand, but generally the water level should be very close or touching the bottom of the heater located in the bottom of your dishwasher tub { see photos } if you put your ear on the door of your dish washer while it is running you should hear vigorous / pressurized spray action. Inspect the float usually located in either the right or left front bottom corner{see photos} the float should be free to bob up and down with the turbulent water, a stuck float will stop the water inlet valve from becoming energized {see universal components for an explanation of the float switch / inlet valve assembly}

6. Problem with drainage during the wash portion of the cycle. If this is your dishwasher problem you can usually hear a trickle of water going down the drain. If you put your ear in your sink near the drain while your dishwasher is running you can hear a small trickle if draining during wash is a problem. If absolutely ZERO water is entering your dish washer check the inlet valve located beneath the dishwasher in either the left or right front corner , the solenoid could be bad (no continuity or the valve entrance could be plugged with sediment) { see photos}



7. Clogged filter. To keep the water free of debris during recirculation, every dishwasher has some kind of filter. Too much food debris may clog internal filters. be sure you scrape the dishes before loading. On some models these filters are self-cleaning, and they don't need to be cleaned regularly. Other models have filters in the bottom of the tub that you do need to clean. You can easily remove these filters. If a filter is full of debris, the water cannot circulate properly, and could be causing the dishes to remain dirty. Check to make sure the filter is not blocked or clogged with debris.{see photos here}

8. Broken wash impeller. The spinning shaft of the circulation pump motor has a thing on the end that is very similar to a boat propeller but on a dishwasher it is called an impeller. To gain access to the wash impeller you have to remove the bottom spray arm and the spray arm support that it spins atop { see photos} on some models the spray arm support is also a filter. Under the wash arm support / filter you can usually find the wash impeller {see photos} it should not be broken, damaged or inhibited in any way. Removing the wash impeller is usually fairly obvious , on most models beneath the wash impeller is the pump impeller {see photos} most newer brands have an independent pump/motor assembly {see photos} Good water flow, water pressure, fresh dishwasher detergent, and warm water are all needed for your dishwasher to work at its best. If the water is not hot enough, the dishwasher cannot clean dishes as effectively as possible. To test the temperature, turn on the hot water on your sink to see if the water is getting warm quickly. The selector switch on your dishwasher may let you select a higher temperature setting. You can try that to see if it helps with cleaning. Be careful if you increase the water temperature of your household hot water tank. Your hot water tank should be set to deliver water at about 120F. This may help, but you don't want to get scalded by it when taking a shower or washing your hands either. Most dishwashers use an internal heater to increase the water temperature to 140-150 degrees Fahrenheit before it will start cycling the dishwater through the spray arms

Should I pre-wash my dishes?

If your dishwasher is working right pre-washing is not necessary. HOWEVER it is recommended that you scrape off any large debris, also make sure your dishes are loaded properly {what is the best way to load my dishwasher} and be sure to use the right amount of quality automatic dish washing detergent.

What's the best way to load my dishwasher?

The top rack is for saucers, cups and glasses, the cups and glasses fit best along the sides. The top rack is also good for any dishwasher safe plastics and strangely shaped utensils .Use the bottom rack for larger items such as, large platters, bowls, plates, pots, and pans. The basic guidelines for loading a dishwasher are simple: place the dirty side of the dishes towards the spray arms, don't cover smaller items with a large item, place sharp utensils pointing downward, make sure fragile items are securely in place and don't stack items . For best results the pressurized hot water needs to spray freely between the dishes proper loading also facilitates drying.

Why are my dishes not dry at the end of the cycle?

If your dishes are not dry at cycle end the reason could be as simple as not having selected the heated dry option , if you have selected heated dry and still your dishes are not dry at cycle end some other possible reasons are:

1. a dead heating element

2. improper loading

3. hard water

4. dead blower or no venting .

Before you go to the trouble of checking the heating element for continuity try opening the door in the middle of the drying portion of the cycle , if the air is hot and the heater is too hot to touch you can be sure that the heating element is working and the answer to the "not dry" problem is elsewhere , however if the air during the dry portion of the cycle is definitely NOT hot it is likely that the heating element is bad or one of the wires going to it is burned and has lost connection , at this point you should have a qualified person check continuity and wire connections to the heating element.

Improper loading, Is your dishwasher loaded in such a manner so as to facilitate air flow during dry?? {What is the best way to load my dishwasher}. Hard water, Is your water hard?? Soft water facilitates drying, if you have hard water consider installing a water softener. Dead blower, does your model have an air circulation blower for the dry cycle?? Many Maytag and older Kitchen Aid dishwashers have a blower that comes on during the dry portion of the cycle if your model has a blower make sure it is working.

Why does my dishwasher not finish the cycle??

Most models have a cycle with a delay feature, during such a cycle the timer {universal parts} stops advancing as the dishwasher continues running while the heater {universal parts} stays on and heats the water to a pre-set higher temperature {the pre-set higher temperature varies among manufacturers, but a general range is 135 degrees to 165 degrees}. When the pre-set temp is met, the timer is again energized and the cycle continues advancing. HOWEVER if the pre-set water temperature is not met the dishwasher just runs and runs and runs, Most of the time the reason is because the heater is not on hence the water is not getting hot enough to meet the pre-set higher temperature, if your dishwasher has this problem it most likely a bad heater or a burned wire connection. Have a qualified person check the heater continuity and the wire connections at the heater.

Why is water not entering my dishwasher??

If water is not entering your dishwasher make sure the water supply to your dishwasher is on , that the door is latched correctly and the float {universal parts} located in either the left or right bottom front corner is not stuck , if the float is stuck it can stop the water inlet valve from becoming energized .If you are sure your water supply to the dishwasher is OK the door is latched and you can move the cone shaped float up and down and STILL NO WATER the next item to check is the water-inlet valve. The water-inlet valve is usually located behind the lower access panel on the left or right side. It's the device with the main water line (usually copper) connected to it and a rubber fill tube from it to the dishwasher, and two wires attached to it. Have a qualified person use a VOM and check the inlet valve solenoid for continuity

Float switch The float switch is a small electrical switch that's located right below the dishwasher "floor." Above the switch, on the inside of the dishwasher, is a plastic cylinder that floats up as water fills the dishwasher. If this switch is defective, or if the plastic float gets caught or trapped in the raised position, the water can't enter the dishwasher.

Is my dishwasher detergent safe?

Dishwasher detergent is safe when used according to instructions, however it should be stored in a cool dry place also make sure kids and pets are denied access.

Why doesn't my detergent cup open?

The most likely reason for the detergent cup not opening is the trigger device has failed. Every detergent cup has a trigger device of some sort, what kind of trigger device i.e. bimetal {most older kitchen aid and others} , wax motor {Maytag and others} , Solenoid { recent kitchen aid and whirlpool} depends on brand / model / year manufactured etc...Your dishwasher timer sends an electrical charge to the trigger device after the first fill and drain usually near the first part of the wash portion of the cycle and before the final rinse. The cup that holds the detergent can get caked and gooped up with soap and become stuck shut, if this has happened do the obvious. If the timer does not advance to the part of the cycle that the soap-dish is supposed to open the problem is most likely NOT THE DETERGENT CUP. To make a visual inspection you can remove the front panel {see photo} If after a visual inspection you cannot see anything wrong with the trigger you should have a qualified dishwasher repair professional look at it.

Why is my dishwasher still full of water at the end of the cycle?

All dishwashers fill and drain several times during a normal cycle. If your dishwasher is full of water at the end of a cycle it is proof your dishwasher is not draining, some possible reasons for this are:

1. A clog or kink in the drain hose {remove clog and / or unkink}

2. A plugged or clogged air gap {unplug the air gap}

3. Your garbage disposal has recently been replaced and you didn't knock out the drain portal plug before attaching the drain hose {knock out the drain portal plug}

4. Some brands have a two direction main circulation motor--- the motor turns one direction when your dishwasher is washing and the opposite direction for drain --- the problem is that sometimes the motor is capable of running in the wash direction but not in the drain direction{ have a qualified dishwasher repair professional evaluate the motor and replace the motor if necessary}5.Some brands employ a pump motor assembly that is independent of the main wash/circulation motor assembly { some brands that use a Separate pump motor are Bosch , recent Kitchen Aid recent Whirlpool and most Frigidare models} If your model has a separate pump out motor have a qualified dishwasher repair professional evaluate the pump/ motor and replace if necessary

My dishwasher is leaking, how can I stop it?

If you can identify exactly where the leak originates you can usually find a way to stop it. Most of the time the drip is not where the leak is so you have to follow the water trail backwards or upstream till you find the source of the leak. Some common leak areas are: the inlet valve, the motor shaft water seal , the door latch and the water inlet tubing . Inlet valves sometimes fail when a small piece of debris becomes lodged inside of it in such a way as to prop it open just a little bit and allow a trickle of water to enter the tub even though the valve is not energized. The motor shaft water seal makes it possible for the upper portion of the motor shaft to be inside the dishwasher tub while the lower portion of the shaft is below the tub and NOT ALLOW water to seep thru .If this seal fails water will leak onto the top of the motor and when the motor is running a fine spray of water will be evident. The door latch, a leak at or around the door is often a loose door latch. The door gasket is seldom the cause of a door leak. Sometimes a leak will develop at the water inlet valve where the water supply tubing is connected

Why is water dripping from the vent?

Many dishwasher models have an air vent usually located near the top of the door. Refer to your owner's manual for the location of a vent in your unit. This vent remains closed until the dry cycle. During the dry portion of the cycle it opens to allow water vapor to escape. Sometimes the moisture will condense and some drops may fall on the floor.

My dishwasher door won't latch, what's the problem?

If your dishwasher door is a problem try opening the door to see if anything is stopping it from closing completely, sometimes one of the racks is being stopped from rolling all the way back. The hinges are also a possible problem source. The door rests and is held on by a pair of hinges, one on the bottom right and one on the bottom left side of the door, if the hinges are bent because the door slams open because the springs are broken or if a child sits on the door when open the hinges can be bent and the door will not latch correctly. Once the metal has been weakened, it is best to replace the hinges. If you try to straighten them back to the shape they were before, they will usually just bend again. The latch is at the top of the door, usually the latch can be adjusted. If your model is not adjustable you should look for other causes as to why the door is not able to latch and close, if the latch is broken it is best to replace it.

What's with the blinking and beeping?

Lights blinking and sounds of beeping are usually warnings specific to the brand and model of your dishwasher, consult your owner's manual and check the fault codes

What should the water temperature be?

The water entering your dishwasher should be at least 120F, and up to about 140F. To determine the water temperature as it enters the dishwasher, try running faucet nearest the dishwasher into a cup, until it gets about as hot as it's going to get. Insert a meat or candy thermometer into the cup . The water entering the dishwasher will be the same temperature. Most models boost the water temperature above 150 degrees after it has entered, if your model has a sanitary heat option your water could be as high as 160 degrees or more by the middle of the cycle. You can check water temperature if you place a bowl right side up on the bottom rack then use a thermometer to see what the temp is mid cycle and during extended rinse.

Why is my dishwasher filling with water when it is not being used?

Are you sure the dishwasher is actually filling? Most dishwashers leave a small amount of water remaining in the sump at the end of a cycle, check your owner's manual for the amount of water for your particular model that is supposed to remain at cycle end. However it is possible for your dishwasher inlet valve to fail in such a way as to allow a small or sometimes not so small trickle of water to enter the tub while the valve is NOT energized, if this is the problem the amount of water will increase with the passing of time. If you think this is happening try marking the water level with a crayon and then check again in a few hours and see if the water level has gone up. Another reason your dishwasher could have to much water left is that it is not draining or not draining enough. If you are not sure your dishwasher is draining sufficiently try starting a cycle and after a few minutes use the cancel / drain option and see how it drains.

Why is my dishwasher noisy?

First take notice of when the noise happens, what portion of the cycle does the noise happen? Is the noise associated with the running of the circulation pump motor? If so is it constant or intermittent? Is the noise a loud and constant grinding similar to a blender? If it is similar to a blender it is likely that the main water seal {this water seal protects the motor bearings from leaking water} has failed and the bearings have been ruined. Some models have an air blower to help dry the dishes at the end of the cycle, occasionally the blower motor will begin rattling. If there is a rattle sound throughout the wash and rinse portion of the cycle it is most likely some seeds or some similar small object has made its way into the wash or pump impellers. To gain access to the impellers is fairly straight forward on most brands- models ---- click here for disassembly photos.

How much soap should I use?

Use the amount of detergent recommended in your owner's manual for your brand/model. CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR OWNERS MANUAL If your water is soft a smaller amount of detergent will suffice also make sure the water that enters your dishwasher is hot enough. After consulting your owner's manual and through trial and error you will determine the correct amount of detergent for your circumstance.

Why does my dishwasher have the smell of burning plastic?

Sometimes a small plastic item will become dislodged from the force of the water turbulence and land on the heating element then when the dry portion of the cycle begins the plastic item begins to burn, melt, smoke and smell, just remove the item and scrape off the portion that has stuck to the element . {see photo}

How do rinse aids work?

Rinse aids contain chemicals called surfactants. Surfactants reduce the formation of water drops by reducing the water's surface tension. By reducing the surface tension of the water droplets the water drains off in thin sheets rather than forming drops that dry and leave marks from the dissolved lime scale and mineral elements contained in the water. Because less water is left on the dishes the use of a rinse aid saves energy by speeding drying time.

Why aren't the sprayer arms turning?

First make sure that there is enough water and nothing is blocking the sprayer arms. Some models have an alternating sprayer arm washing system. What this does is cycle the washing action between the lower sprayer arm and the middle sprayer arm. The cycle begins with the lower arm spraying first, and then switching over to the middle sprayer arm, and back again through-out the washing cycle. The sprayer arms will pause as they switch over from one to the other, making it sound like the sprayer arms aren't turning. If you're sure that the arms are not turning at all, open the dishwasher and verify that nothing is blocking the sprayer arm rotation, and that there is enough water in the tub.

Why is detergent still in the detergent cup at cycle end?

If detergent is still in the cup at cycle end it is likely that not enough water entered the tub to create sufficient turbulence so as to splash the soap out of the open cup. If you put your ear on the door of your dish washer while it is running you should hear vigorous / pressurized spray action. If you do not hear vigorous / pressurized spray action it is very likely that there is not enough water a problem with the wash impeller the circulation pump / motor assembly is not working. The amount of water required for good washing varies significantly from brand to brand , but generally the water level should be very close or touching the bottom of the heater located in the bottom of your dishwasher tub { see photos }. Inspect the float usually located in either the right or left front bottom corner{see photos} the float should be free to bob up and down with the turbulent water, a stuck float will stop the water inlet valve from becoming energized {see universal components for an explanation of the float switch / inlet valve assembly}

What Is an Air Gap?

An air gap is a device mounted on your sink next to your faucet. Current plumbing code in most areas require that your dishwasher drain line pass through a sink mounted air gap before entering your household drain system . The purpose of the air gap is to act as a check valve to eliminate any possibility of standing water from your sink siphoning back through your dishwasher drain outlet and into your dishwasher. It is common for a air gap to become plugged from debris contained in your dishwasher drainage, luckily most air gaps are quite easy to take apart and clean.