Quick tips for buying and repairing a dishwasher

Few labour-saving machines are as appreciated as dishwashers. They are relatively expensive, but the final cost depends on how many special features you want. Here's what you need to know about selecting the right dishwasher and solutions to common problems you might face.

Quick tips for buying and repairing a dishwasher

What to look for

When you choose a dishwasher, look for a machine that operates quietly, has a load capacity large enough for your family's needs and offers a convenient and flexible rack configuration.

  • You'll also want to check the appliance's energy guide for estimated annual operating costs to calculate how much payback you will receive from choosing an energy-efficient model.

Buying the perfect dishwasher

Dishwashers today include a number of other new features that make them more efficient and easier to use. These may include the following.

  • Adjustable racks with flexible loading options.
  • Delay start to begin wash operation at a different time.
  • Electronic control for cycle readout.
  • Electronic diagnostics to help solve problems.
  • Flush control panels.
  • Hot-water temperature booster so you can keep your water heater temperature at 49°C (120°F) and avoid scalding hot water in the rest of the house.
  • Insulation for quiet operation.
  • No-heat drying option to save on electricity.
  • Special cycles for pots and pans, light wash or rinse-and-hold.

Before you make a final choice, be sure that your home can handle the required voltage and water capacity of the machine you like.

Easy dishwasher repairs

Before you pick up the phone to call a repairperson, here's how to do a little troubleshooting of your own. There are many simple problems that you can easily take care of yourself in just a matter of minutes.

  • Dishwasher won't run: Is power to the unit? Check for blown fuse or tripped circuit breaker; check that portable unit is plugged in.
  • Door not latched: Is there a jammed or stiff door latch not engaging door switch? Try opening and closing door a few times; apply penetrating oil spray.
  • Cycle-selecting button not depressed: Push button all the way.
  • Dishwasher doesn't fill: This could be because the water inlet valve is closed. Open the valve to the dishwasher located under the sink.
  • Float switch stuck in up position: Clear obstructions under the float switch.
  • Dishwasher doesn't drain: This might be because of a clogged filter screen. Clean filter screen.
  • Dishes aren't completely clean/don't dry: Is the water not hot enough? Test water temperature and reset water heater's thermostat.
  • Clogged spray arm or filter screen: Clean spray arm and filter screen.
  • Detergent dispenser not dumping: Move any dish or pan obstructing dispenser operation. Open front panel of door (see owner's manual) and check dispenser mechanism for a broken or corroded spring or lever.
  • Dishwasher leaks: This could be because improperly loaded dishes deflecting water through vent. Reload dishes following instructions in owner's manual. This might also be because of oversudsing. Don't use non-dishwasher detergent or pre-rinse dishes in liquid soap.
  • Door gasket is worn or cracked: Replace gasket — some pop in, others are held by screws or clips.
  • Dishwasher is noisy: Is the spray arm hitting dishes? Reload so that spray arm can rotate freely; check loading guidelines in owner's manual.
  • Low water pressure prevents machine from filling completely: Don't use water in other areas of the house while dishwasher is filling.
  • Silverware or broken dishware in bottom of tub: Remove piece. Let heating element cool completely before reaching into tub.

In general, the more tricks the machine can do, the pricier it will be to buy. Check out these tips before you buy your dishwasher to get the best deal and keep these easy repairs in mind, should you run into any problems.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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