Keeping the dishwasher's sprayer arms, strainers, and water pump clean will help deter problems before they begin. Here's how to check on these important features.
Cleaning Sprayer Arms
The sprayer arms seldom cause any trouble, but sometimes the spray holes in the arms become encrusted with detergent or minerals. When this happens, the holes must be cleaned out so that the arms will work efficiently. Remove the lower arm by twisting off the cap that holds it to the motor shaft. Wash it thoroughly with water and mild household detergent. Sharpen a lead pencil and break off the lead point. Use the tapered end of the pencil to ream out the holes. A wood manicure stick can also be used.
Do not use toothpicks, matches, or metal objects for this job. Lightweight wooden sticks could break off in the ports, causing blockage; metal could scrape and enlarge the ports. After cleaning, place the sprayer arm back on the motor shaft and twist the cap back on to hold it in place. Follow the same procedure to clean the upper sprayer arm.
Removing and Cleaning the Strainer
The strainer is located directly under the lower sprayer arm. When the strainer becomes clogged with food and detergent debris, the dishwasher may flood or overfill. On some dishwashers, the strainer is a plastic or metal component consisting of two semicircular halves. To remove this type of strainer, pry it up. On other dishwashers, the strainer is a one-piece component. To remove this type, remove the cap that holds the sprayer arm on its shaft. Then remove the sprayer arm and the strainer.
Wash the strainer in the kitchen sink with water and a mild household detergent. Use a fairly stiff brush to get all the debris out of the holes and slots in the strainer. Rinse the strainer well and replace it. If part of the strainer lifts out for regular cleaning, check it and clean it -- if necessary -- after each load of dishes is washed.
If the dishwasher leaks, and you know the problem is not related to tub overfilling, the pump, or inlet valve problems, the plumbing connections may be faulty. Most dishwashers are connected to the water supply with metal pipe fittings, and the leak could be at these fittings. If the fittings are threaded, tighten them with an adjustable wrench. If this doesn't work, chances are the threads are stripped or the fitting is cracked or otherwise damaged. In this case, replace the fitting.
Most dishwashers discharge used water through a pipe or a hose connected to the drain or garbage disposer under the kitchen sink. If the drain line is made of flexible hosing, it may have cracked from prolonged exposure to hot water. Examine the hose; if it's damaged, replace it. If the hose is leaking at its connections with the disposer or dishwasher, tighten the fittings or clamps at the connections, or replace the clamps. Also check for water leaks around inlet valves, drain valves, and anywhere you see flexible hoses and hose connections. Leaks at clamps can be stopped by tightening or replacing the clamps. Leaks in hoses can be eliminated by replacing the hoses.
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