Monday, February 11, 2013

Dishwasher Problems: Is it Time to Call a Plumber?

Dishwashers are low-maintenance appliances, although that doesn't mean they aren't without problems. Your dishwasher requires regular maintenance like anything else, including checking for clogs, cleaning the screen or filter, checking the gaskets for signs of deterioration and more. Here are some general maintenance guidelines for your dishwasher -- as well as some advice when it's time to call a professional plumber about a malfunctioning or leaking dishwasher.


General Dishwasher Maintenance

Before you perform any maintenance on your dishwasher, start by turning off the power to the appliance at your circuit breaker box. Remember that dishwashers also pose a shock hazard as they have a built-in motor and water heater. It's a good idea to check that your dishwasher is installed level to prevent leaks. You can do this easily by opening the door and placing a small level on the edge just inside. If it isn't level, you can adjust the feet at the bottom or add a wedge.

Checking the gaskets: The gaskets are the small seals along the door of your dishwasher that make sure you have a water-tight seal. If you've noticed water pooling around the dishwasher, it could be caused by faulty gaskets, which develop cracks and deteriorate over time. If the gasket has damage, you can remove it with a screwdriver and order a replacement.

Checking the sprayer arm: Next, check the sprayer arm for clogs, which may be mineral deposits, food or any other debris. These tiny holes need to stay clear for the dishwasher to work. You can remove the arm from time to time and soak it in warm water mixed with vinegar to loosen any clogs, then clean it with a pipe cleaner.

Checking the screen: At the bottom of your dishwasher you'll find a screen, which sits above the drain to catch food. Try to clean this screen every two or three weeks to keep your dishwasher functioning properly.

Common Dishwasher Problems

  • Dishwasher won't drain. Try to clean the filter and then run your dishwasher again. If this doesn't fix the problem, call a professional plumber.
  • Dishwasher won't fill. Make sure the water is on, the door is latched and then check your circuit breaker. There may be problems with the inlet hose as well. If this didn't fix the problem, you may need to make a service call.
  • Dishwasher is making unusual noises. If the noise sounds loud enough that it could be damaging dishes or it's a sound you haven't heard before, you may need a plumber to run diagnostic tests.
  • Dishwasher leaks water. Check that the appliance is level then make sure there aren't too many suds causing the problem. Check the seals along the door and contact a professional plumber if the water is more than a few drops or this doesn't solve the problem.
Image: Joanna Bourne at Flickr

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