Dishwasher Malfunctions

Problem: Dishwasher won’t work, or doesn’t operate properly.

Background: To do a good job dish washers need water that is hot enough, supplied with enough pressure, and that is not too hard. Manufacturers recommend water temperature be at least 140°, though some energy specialists say 130° is hot enough. Because a dishwasher fills with wash or rinse water for a limited length of time, it will not get enough water if the water pressure is too low. Pressure should be between 20 and 120 pounds per square inch. A simple test for pressure is to close all other faucets and put a half gallon container under a fully opened hot water faucet nearest the dishwasher. It should be full in less than 14 seconds. Review the following suggestions before calling a technician.

What to do: If the dishwasher will not run, make sure it is receiving electrical power and that the controls are in the “on” position. If the unit doesn’t fill, check first to see that the water is not shut off; the valve on the incoming water line should be in the open position. Also check to see that the unit’s float is not stuck. (To prevent the float in side the unit from sticking in the up position where it stops the water from filling, periodically lift it out and clean around the tube it fits into. Make sure the float moves up and down freely after it is replaced in the tube.) A small amount of clean water in the bottom of the unit after each cycle is normal and serves to lubricate the water seal. However, excess water in the bottom may be caused by an improperly installed drain hose. If water won’t drain from the machine, check to see if the house drain is plugged or if the drain air gap (if used) is stopped up and needs cleaning. If the dishwasher leaks, it may be because it does not sit level or because a detergent used has caused excessive sudsing.

Special advice: If the dishwasher produces excessive noise, make sure dishes are loaded properly (see your owner’s manual) and that the unit is sitting level. Noise can also be caused by hard objects—such as fruit pits, measuring spoons, or bottle caps—that have fallen into the pump openings in the bottom of the unit. To clean, make sure machine is cool, then remove the bolt above the spray arm. Remove any objects that are in or around the pump openings, and replace the spray arm and bolt. (Note: It is important not to let small metallic items, such as pot-handle screws, fall into the pump openings since they may cause serious dam age to the pump parts.)

Helpful hint: Plugged spray arms, or spray arms that do not turn freely, can keep dishes from getting clean. If necessary, clean out any food fragments that may have collected in the openings. Also check it to see that they rotate freely after loading to make sure some utensil is not pre venting them from turning.