When your dishwasher doesn't clean well, fix it yourself following these simple steps and avoid the expensive professional service call. A simple cleaning often solves the problem.
By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine:June 2009
spray arm and
clean out the holes.
This also allows
access to the filter
for cleaning. Spray
arms like the one we
show simply snap
off. Others require
you to unscrew a
cap on top.
Clean the filter.
Remove the filter
screen if possible.
Otherwise, use a
wet/dry vacuum to
suck out the debris.
Make sure the
float moves up
and down freely.
If the float on
take the float apart
and clean it.
If your dishwasher is running but the
dishes aren’t getting clean, one of
these simple fixes could solve your
problem. Start by consulting your manual
to be sure you’re using the right
detergent, loading the dishes correctly
and maintaining the right hot water
temperature. Then follow Photos 1 – 5 for
Insufficient water in the dishwasher
also can cause poor cleaning. If the
float gets stuck in the raised position,
the dishwasher won’t fill with water
(Photo 3). Another likely cause is a
clogged inlet screen or faulty inlet
valve. Photos 4 and 5 show how to clean
the screen or replace the valve. To
determine if your dishwasher is getting
enough water, start a wash cycle. Open
the door when you hear the machine
stop filling. The water should reach or
come close to the heating coil. If it
doesn’t, first make sure the float valve is
operating freely (Photo 3). If this doesn’t
solve the problem, check the inlet
valve and screen.
Follow this diagram to locate the basic dishwasher parts.
inlet valve to
clean the screen or
replace the valve.
Unscrew the nut
that connects the
water line and
remove the water
line. Remove the
screws that connect
the valve bracket to
frame and lower the
valve. Pinch the
hose clamp to
remove the rubber
hose. Unplug the
Check to see if
the screen is
the water line fitting
from the valve. Then
unscrew the four
screws that connect
the valve to the
Inlet valves that are starting to fail
sometimes make a hammering noise. If
you hear this, replace the valve. But
before you start any work on the dishwasher,
unplug it or turn off the power
at the shutoff switch or main circuit
panel. Test to see if the power is off by
turning on the dishwasher and making
sure it doesn’t run. You’ll also have to
shut off the water before removing the
inlet switch. Usually you’ll find a shutoff
valve under the kitchen sink or in
the basement or crawl space under the
dishwasher. Otherwise, close the main
Photo 4 shows how to remove the
inlet valve. Yours may look different.
Whether you’re replacing the valve or
simply cleaning the screen, you’ll have
to unscrew the brass fitting that connects
the water line to the valve.
Remove the four screws that secure the
valve to the bracket to access the filter
screen (Photo 5). Reassemble and reinstall
the valve in the reverse order.
Wrap Teflon tape around the fitting
threads before screwing the fitting into
Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.
Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.
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