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How to Repair a Dishwasher


Servicing Drain Valves

Servicing Drain Valves

Some dishwashers have drain valves. These valves are used only in dishwashers with nonreversible motors. When the drain valve malfunctions, call a professional service person.

Servicing the Heating Element

The heating element is used to help dry the dishes. In most dishwashers, the heating element fits around the screen in the bottom of the tub housing; it looks like an electric oven element. The heating element doesn't malfunction often, but it can burn out. If you suspect a faulty element:

Step 1: Test it with a VOM set to the RX1 scale. Remove the dishwasher's bottom access panel and disconnect one of the power leads to the element. Clip one probe of the VOM to each element terminal. If the meter reads between 15 and 30 ohms, the element is working. If the reading is higher than 30 ohms, the element is faulty and should be replaced.

Step 2: As needed, replace the heating element with a new one made for the dishwasher. Disconnect the electrical leads to the element's terminal screws and remove the nuts or other fasteners that hold the element to the terminals. From inside the tub, lift the element out. It may be held by clips and ceramic blocks in the tub, but you can easily thread it past these spacers. Set the new heating element in position, reconnect the power leads, and replace the fasteners that hold the element in place.

Servicing the Detergent Dispenser

Accumulated detergent from prior washings can cause problems with the soap dispenser. Buildup can get into the soap dispenser and interfere with the spring that triggers the flip-out tray, or it can slow down the pivot action of the tray. If the dispenser is not opening, first make sure you aren't loading the machine so dishes or pots and pans are touching the dispenser, and that dish racks aren't blocking the dispenser. Also check to make sure the dispenser tray isn't cracked. If leftover detergent in the tray is almost liquid, rather than just damp, the tray may be damaged.

If you can't solve the problem easily, replace the entire dispenser unit. This is usually easier than trying to disassemble it and replace separate parts. Use a new dispenser made for the dishwasher. The screws holding the dispenser in place may be on the front of the unit, or you may have to remove the front door panel to get to the screws and make the replacement. Remove the old dispenser and secure the new one, connecting it in the same way the old unit was attached.Troubleshooting Dish Racks

Problems with the dish racks usually occur because the racks have been jammed back into the tub housing after they're fully loaded. Careless handling can exert enough force to crack or break the roller wheels or throw the racks off the tracks. The solution is easy: Stop jamming the racks.

The repair is easy, too. Remove the racks by pulling out the tiny metal pins that hold them in the tracks. Or simply lift up on the racks and pull them out of the tracks. Then reinstall the racks on the tracks so that they roll smoothly. If the rollers are cracked or broken, replace them with new ones of the same type. The rollers may be friction-fit to their hubs. Pull them off for replacement. Or, if they are held by tiny spring clips, pull the clips out with pliers, or pry them out with the tip of a screwdriver. If you can't pull the rollers off for replacement, remove and replace the entire rack.

A noisy wash cycle or water that won't drain are problems that, for the most part, can be handled yourself. We'll discuss how you can pinpoint these water-related problems in the next section.

Get your dishwasher fixed quickly! Check out Repair.com to schedule a service appointment today.