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Dishwasher Repair and Information

Aren't you tired of hand-washing your dishes yet? Or having the kids wash them? And yet, there the dish washer sits, in the corner of the kitchen, waiting to help you out--except it's broken. You can't afford a repairman, so instead, you've chosen to do without. Fortunately, it doesn't have to be this way. By understanding the basics of how a dishwasher works and how it runs, you can do many simple repairs yourself and also do regular preventive maintenance, to make sure it never breaks down again.

During a dishwasher's wash cycle, water and detergent are mixed and heated then sprayed with some force onto the dishes to clean them. The dirty water is then pumped out, and fresh, clean, hot water is sprayed onto the dishes to rinse them. Depending on the type of dishwasher, the dishes are then air or heat dried.

There is a large selection of detergents to choose from for the dishwasher. Some have just a detergent whilst others have added ingredients such as rinse agents. Whichever you use, in hard water areas, the machines will need water softer salts to keep them lime scale free.

As with many appliances, dishwashers can come in a variety of styles and options, from the most basic, with single-wash programs, to the ultra modern, with time delays and digital display read outs. All of them work in basically the same way. The door shuts and then presses a latch. Water is allowed into the tank through the water inlet valve, through either the hot or cold inlets. A float closes off the valve when the water reaches a certain level so there is no overflowing. Modern machines may use a timer for the same job.

The inlet valve closing releases the detergent and it mixes with the hot water or at this stage, the detergent and water are heated together by a heating element inside the main body of the machine. Poor cleaning can be a sign that the water is not being heated sufficiently hot enough.

Inside the dishwasher, the water is forced at pressure through the spray arms by the motor pump; this forces them to rotate and spray water over the dishes. Two-way motors force the dirty water out through the drains by changing their direction after pumping water in.

After the detergent and rinse cycles, the dishes are dried by the heating element. Rinse agents assure that dishes dry without spotting or streaking. Some dishwashers make use of fans for air-drying and thermostats rather than timers to end the cycle.


Here are some useful troubleshooting tips to remember in case anything goes wrong with your cook’s best friend, the dishwasher.

     When our dishwasher will not operate. . .

  1. If nothing electrical in the house works, check the fuse box to see if a breaker has been tripped.
  2. Check the plug has not come loose from the electrical socket.
  3. Check the fuse in the plug.
  4. Check the wiring for breaks or burns.
  5. Make sure the latch is connecting to the trigger as the door closes.
  6. Test the selector switch; is just one program not working or is it all of them?
  7. If the motor is attempting to pump check to see the door is closing tightly and not jammed.
  8. Check the timer motor and belt drive to see if they are broken or damaged.
  9. If the dishwasher runs but does not fill or drain check the water valves and float assembly.
  10. Check the fill water tubes for kinks and that the inlet valve is free of debris.
  11. Check the drainage outlets are open and clean.
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