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Dishwasher repairs: DIY advice

ALWAYS UNPLUG AN ELECTRIC APPLIANCE BEFORE ATTEMPTING REPAIR!!!

1)      How to repair if dishes are not cleaned well

Dishwasher repairs most commonly are needed, because the dishes come out still dirty at the end of a cycle. There are a number of reasons why this may happen.
Make sure that you have selected the correct program for the degree of soiling first.
The second thing to consider is whether you have stacked the dishes according to the manufacturer’s recommendation, so that water can reach them from all sides.
Spray arms that spray the water in the dishwasher chamber could sometimes get stuck or have something preventing them to rotate properly. Try moving them to feel for obstacles while the dishwasher is still loaded. It could be just the case of a piece of cutlery sticking out and preventing the spray arm of rotating.

Another reason for the spray arms not to move during the program is if they are blocked. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions from the manual how to take the spray arms off and clean them once you have unloaded all dishes. Often the lower arm needs to be pulled up and the upper – unscrewed. Pay special attention to the small holes which can get easily blocked with food remains and lime scale. You should be doing this in your maintenance routine every month.
Bear in mind also that spray arms movement is triggered by the water pressure, so if not enough water enters the dishwasher, it will result in dirty dishes.

A few other easy steps before you call an engineer for this fault would be to check you’ve used the correct amount and type of detergent; the salt container is full; and the filter is clean.
The most important thing for effective cleaning in dishwashers is hot water. If your dishwasher is not cleaning well and everything else is fine, then you may need a new heating element in order to remedy the problem.


2)     How to repair if dishwasher smells bad
 
Dishwashers that are regularly used and properly installed and maintained do not normally suffer with this problem. Make sure you use appropriate detergent and clean the filter often. A dishwasher may develop bad odor, if you have not used it for a period of time, especially if it was left with the door closed. To get rid of the bad smell pour white wine vinegar in a mug, put it in the lower basket of the dishwasher and start the program with the hottest wash. Do not pour the vinegar in the dishwasher chamber as it will get drained out at the beginning of the program and it will not be effective. Do not load any other dishes in the same wash.
 
3)      How to repair if dishwasher would not drain
 
If water is still present at the end of the program at the bottom of the dishwasher, you may attempt repairing it yourself.
Unplug the appliance, scoop the water out and clean the filter. If you have access to the drain pump, which could be found beneath the filter, check for pieces of glass or bone stuck in it. Check the drain hose for kinks. Run water in the sink, under which the dishwasher drain hose connects, to exclude the possibility of the waste pipe being blocked. There may be a blockage in the drain hose or in the connector to the waste pipe.
If all of the above is fine, then a new drain pump may be required in order to repair the dishwasher.
If this happens the first time you use the appliance after its installation, check that the plug on the drain hose connector has been removed, or if the drain hose is the self screwing type, that it has been properly screwed in, so that it has cut through the safety cap.
Another reason why a dishwasher may not drain is blocked float switch. Some of Bosch, Neff and Siemens dishwashers have a float that is located inside the dishwasher in the tub. As water fills the tub, it lifts the float. When the float rises to a certain level it triggers the float switch which in turn closes the inlet valves. To inspect the float assembly, open the dishwasher and remove the bottom rack. Remove the float cover (if any; it can be identified by the fact that the cover does not move up and down). The cover may snap in place or it may be fastened in place with a screw. Lift and drop the float several times. It should move freely. If the float sticks, it may prevent the dishwasher from filling or draining properly. Remove the float and look for obstructions that may interfere with its free movement. The float usually snaps in place. If it does not come off with a small force, it may have to be disconnected from the float switch first. Replace the float and float cover. If you found no obstructions and the problem persists, call an appliance repair engineer out.


4)      How to repair if dishwasher does not take the soap
 
It may be the case that the appliance aborts the program before it has reached the moment when the soap tablet is released. This would mean that the fault is with another part of the appliance.
If the soap dispenser itself is not functioning properly, check that the lid is moving freely along the rails. Sometimes it simply needs readjusting to start functioning properly. Other times, it may require a new spring or lid and, on rare occasion,s you may need to replace the whole dispenser unit in order to repair the dishwasher.
 
5)      How to repair if dishwasher is not working
 
Are there any of the indicator lights on? If not, you need to check the power supply to the appliance by plugging a small portable electric appliance in the socket, where your dishwasher is plugged. If it works, then the problem is within your dishwasher. Otherwise, if the small appliance does not work as well, then check that the wall switch is on, the circuit breaker hasn’t tripped or the main fuse hasn’t blown. If all these are fine, you will need to call out an electrician to look at the installation.
In the case of dishwasher fault, before you call an appliance repair engineer out, please check that the fuse in the dishwasher plug hasn’t blown, that it is the right fuse 13Amp and that the power cord is intact.
Beyond this point tracing the fault requires professional skills and tools and it is best left to the professionals.

If there is power to the appliance, some lights are on, but it does not start the set program and you can hear humming noise, you need to switch it off and unplug it, clean the filter, check the drain pump underneath the filter for obstructions like pieces of glass, bone, tooth picks etc. Then switch the appliance back on and try restarting the program. If it is humming at the beginning, it’s usually trying to empty any water remained in the appliance. Not being able to do that, would lead to the program being aborted. Apart from being blocked, a reason for this problem could be faulty drain pump or Power circuit board.

If you can hear the dishwasher emptying water at the beginning of the program, but then another humming noise and then the appliance stops, then presuming there is water supply to the appliance, the problem is likely to lie in the inlet valves from where water is filling in the appliance.
If nothing happens after pressing the start button, check that the door is closed. It often needs to click shut. And if this does not resolve the issue, you need to call an appliance repair engineer out to trace the fault.
 
6)      How to repair if dishwasher door does not close properly or opens midcycle interrupting the program
 
Sometimes the door lock or the door catch may break, dislodge or become faulty causing the door not to shut properly. Most of the dishwasher door locks work on the same principal. The catch is sticking out of the door frame and it enters an opening on the inside of the top of the door where the door lock mechanism is located. If the door catch has snapped or bend it would cause the door not to close properly and would not allow the program to start. It also may be the case that some of the smaller parts of the door lock have become loose and are not making good contact with the door catch to close the chain and allow a program to run.
If it is not something quite obvious and straightforward to correct, please call an appliance repair engineer out.
 
7)      How to repair if dishwasher leaks

Dishwashers always have some kind of anti-flood device that would activate itself when the water level is dangerously high causing a program to stop and the drain pump to empty water from the dishwasher chamber. Many of the more modern appliances would indicate with an error code that the anti-flood device has been activated. This happens when there is an internal leak and you need to call an appliance repair engineer out to deal with this kind of fault.
If water leaks through the door, it may be the position of an item loaded in the dishwasher that results in water being deflected and leaking through the door. If your dishwasher does not always leak, the problem may be in the way you load it. Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for proper loading of the dishwasher.

Another cause for door leaks could be the door seal which is attached to the door or the cabinet. In most cases, it will have two parts, one piece along the bottom edge and a continuous piece around the other three sides. The door seal parts should all be smooth, supple and free of cracks or tears. Run your finger along the seal to feel for irregularities. If you find any damage or voids in the door seal, you will need to replace the seal. It is not a difficult job to do. The continuous part along the three sides is held by compression in a groove in the door or in the dishwasher cabinet. Simply pull the old seal out of its groove, you may find using pliers helpful. Soak the new seal in warm water to soften it and press it into the groove.
The bottom seal is a bit trickier to replace. You need to unscrew the front door panel to reach it. And then just notice how the old one is fitted, take it out and fit the new one in exactly the same way.