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Troubleshooting Dishwasher Issues

When it comes to saving time and effort, your dishwasher might be one of the most important appliances in your kitchen. No one’s got time to stand at the sink endlessly washing plate after plate by hand; we want to load it all up and get everything sparkling clean in one fell swoop. But what happens when your dishwasher’s not doing the dirty work? Let’s look at a few things that might go wrong, how to fix the easy ones, and when to call in professional help.

If It Won’t Start

First things first: if the dishwasher won’t start, check to make sure you haven’t blown a fuse or tripped a circuit breaker. Check the power source as well, and try that age old solution: unplug it, then plug it back in (and while you’re down there, examine the cord for any visible damage). Finally, make sure the door is properly latched — if it won’t stay closed, that is almost certainly the issue. Remove any objects or residue that might be preventing the door from latching.

If the Dishes Aren’t Clean

We know there’s no one right way to load a dishwasher — but there are a few ways that will drastically reduce its cleaning ability. Make sure the dishwasher isn’t overcrowded and that none of the contents are preventing the spray arms from spinning freely. Also, if you’re loading up plates that are still caked with food, you might be expecting a little too much from your humble washer. At the very least, scrape plates prior to loading.

If you’re certain your loading method is foolproof, then take a good look at the inside of the dishwasher, checking for built up grease or debris on the strain screen and door gasket. Try to spin the spray arms — if they’re locked in place, or if they appear dirty, they might need to be removed and gently cleaned. Run a cleaning cycle with dishwasher cleaner and no dishes once a month and remove and clean the filter once a week to keep it in good condition.

If There’s a Leak

It’s important to understand where the leak is coming from. If it’s around the door, examine the door gasket. It might just need a thorough cleaning to remove built up residue or debris, but if it appears damaged or cracked, it will need to be replaced.

If the float switch (which indicates the dishwasher’s water level) has become stuck or damaged, it won’t tell the dishwasher to stop filling, which will lead to the machine overflowing. In this case, remove the float switch to clean it and be sure nothing is wrapped around it or otherwise interfering with its movement.

Finally, the leak might be coming from a loose hose connection or cracked gasket. Check all hoses to make sure they are properly connected and free of any cracks or other damage. You should be able to tighten loose connections yourself and may even be able to perform minor repairs by consulting the manufacturer’s website. However, if the leak is the result of damage to the pump, it will need to be replaced by a professional.

Don’t let the dishwasher woes get you down! In most cases, a thorough inspection and cleaning is all that’s needed to get this appliance back up and running. In more extreme cases, your plumber can quickly put you back in business — especially if you’ve already done some investigative work and located (or ruled out) the potential problem.

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