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Common Dishwasher Issues

Published July 17, 2022 by Manuel Escobar

The dishwasher can be a godsend. After a long day at work and a long dinner, the dishwasher can ease nighttime dishes. However, being unprepared for appliance issues could mean hundreds of dollars.

But don't worry! Here, you’ll learn some of the most common dishwasher issues to help save you time and possibly your money.

Common Issues

Dishes Still Dirty

A huge inconvenience is opening your dishwasher only to see all your dishes are still dirty! All that time wasted just for you to wash them a second time or by hand. To avoid this, start by checking the dishwasher and its guide to see if you’re doing anything you’re not supposed to be. For example, you could have a 12-place setting dishwasher but you’re treating it like a 16-place setting dishwasher. You’re filling it with much more than what it can even handle, which can cause several issues.

So, before you try to break anything apart or buy a part, be sure to check that you’re using the appliance as intended. Then check if there’s anything blocking vital machinery on the inside such as a utensil or food. If there’s no food or debris, check the machinery inside for any faulty parts such as spray arms not spinning. If they don’t spin easily with your hand, or if they’re clearly dirty, clean them. Start by removing the arms and gently cleaning them with either a pipe-cleaner or toothbrush.

After cleaning, place them back and run a clean cycle to see if your dishes come out clean. If they remain dirty, check the drain and dispensers to make sure they are also not dirty.


Leaks are frustrating, especially if you catch them too late. A small leak could quickly turn into a massive issue that can quickly damage your entire kitchen! Most leaks are caused by cracks or damage to the drainage hose or door gasket seal. Luckily, repairing these parts is easy. Start by checking the dishwasher for large debris anywhere near the door that might be preventing it from closing properly. After that, clean the whole door gasket with disinfectant. If you find any large cracks, you’ll need to replace the gasket altogether.

If the gasket is not the issue, move onto the drain hose. As with the door, check for any food or debris that may have found its way in. Once that’s done, check for any cracks or damages on the hose itself. If you see any damage on the hose, replace it immediately to ensure no water damage or leaks continue. Most of them are easy to remove without a professional, but you’ll need pliers, wrenches, nut drivers, screwdrivers, and possibly a drill.

Dishwasher Won’t Start

If your dishwasher won’t start, check to see if it seals properly before a wash. Make sure nothing obstructs the door gasket or the drain hose. Check each spray arm and make sure theirs no clutter of debris anywhere inside or in between. Then check to see if you’ve blown a fuse inside and check outlets to make sure there are no electrical issues. Electrical and wiring issues may call for a more professional hand to fix.

If everything seems to be fine, and the dishwasher sounds like it wants to work, then check the motor. The motor may be stuck, causing the dishwasher to not run. If this is the case, spin the fan motor by hand and see if it starts to move. Just be sure to turn off the power so you avoid any electrical shock.

Dishwasher Overfilling or Not Filling

Dishwashers need a steady supply of water to fulfill their cleaning needs. With that said, sometimes it’s common for a dishwasher to overfill or not fill at all. The culprit is more than likely the water inlet valve. If this valve stops working, then it won’t pull the necessary water into the appliance to fill. Likewise, the valve could also pull too much water if it remains open, basically overfilling the appliance and possibly leading to a leak.

The dishwasher float may also be the cause of over or underfilling. The float is another sensor that helps measure how much water should enter the appliance, so if it doesn’t work it will also give inaccurate results. Dishwasher floats usually malfunction due to debris and waste that make their way in.

Bad Smell

A very common issue with dishwashers is a bad smell. This usually calls for cleaning in the drain filter, usually located at the bottom of the tub. Simply remove it and clean it with some hot soapy water and be sure to remove any debris or food stuck inside. If this isn’t the issue, then just be sure to check throughout the dishwasher for any other food waste or debris that may be lurking around.

A thorough clean throughout the entire appliance is worthwhile to get rid of an awful stench!

The Next Move

Dishwashers work hard to cut us some slack after a busy day. So, we need to make sure they run smoothly and efficiently. However, common issues such as the ones listed can happen at any given time, so be sure to keep a watchful eye on your dishwasher. In the event, you can’t fix your dishwasher, head on over to Airport Home Appliance where you can find a large selection of in-stock appliances.

Visit us at any of our given showrooms or online at any time!


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