8 Dishwasher Problems You’ll Regret Ignoring

If you notice any of these issues with your dishwasher, act swiftly—or else you could end up with a major problem.

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Photo Of Utensils Arranged In Dishwasher In Kitchen

Is your dishwasher on the fritz?

Having a dishwasher is arguably the luxury of all luxuries. A machine that makes the hassle of washing dishes as easy as loading up the appliance and pressing start? If only our ancient ancestors could have known this kitchen blessing! Of course, dishwashers are not without issues. Sometimes they act up, and when they do, you should look into it ASAP. The problem may amount to nothing more than a quick fix—or it could indicate a much larger issue, which could get worse if you neglect it. If your dishwasher exhibits any of the following problems, don’t ignore them.

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dishwasher problems
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Bad odour

Dishwashers should smell fresh and clean, so any off-putting smells are a sign that something’s not quite right. The primary culprit is likely the drain filter, according to Ron Shimek, president of Mr. Appliance, a Neighborly company. “Many dishwashers have a drain filter to prevent food particles from clogging the drain, so check yours,” he says. “To do that, simply remove the drain filter from the floor of the dishwasher. Wash the filter in your kitchen sink with hot water and soap, using a bottle brush if necessary in order to reach all the interior surfaces. Finally, ensure the drain is free and clear of food debris and gunk before you reinsert the drain filter.”

If you wait to address this issue, it can be problematic for a few reasons. For starters, your dishes won’t get cleaned properly, resulting in more work for you or the potential consumption of gross gunk. Second, you’re also risking potential water leaks from a backed-up drain, which can ruin your floors.

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Woman Standing In Kitchen Removing Bowls From Dishwasher

Loud, abnormal noises

Dishwashers aren’t exactly the quietest appliances, but anything outside of the typical low-pitched whirring means something’s awry. It could be a minor issue, such as a large pot getting in the way of the spray arms, in which case it’s time to rearrange so your dishes can get clean. However, it could also be a sign that the wash pump, drain pump, or a motor is malfunctioning, notes Sears, and that could lead to subpar performance or leaks. It’s best to have a technician take a look at your dishwasher to assess and fix the issue. The worst-case scenario is that the dishwasher needs to be replaced, but this is usually a fixable issue.

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Woman’S Hands Opening Or Closing Dishwasher’S Door, Closeup And Selective Focus. Young Housewife Puts Dirty Dishes In Dishwasher, Caring About House, Doing Housework, Run Dishwasher Machine.
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Grime on the interior

Over time, grime can accumulate on the interior walls of your dishwasher. Often it’s a gray, black, or orange colour. This is likely the result of food buildup, bacteria, mildew, and even mould—all of which you do not want adjacent to your dishes, notes Shimek. He says a quick but thorough wipe down will solve the problem. “First, remove the upper and lower racks, and run them under hot water in the kitchen sink. Then scrub the inside of the dishwasher with a rag or sponge dampened with hot water,” he advises. “Make sure to wipe down the door gasket, as well, which can collect mold and mildew.” The biggest issue you face here is getting sick from consuming bacteria or mould, but the gunk can also start to clog your dishwasher’s parts and result in malfunction.

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Dishwasher in the kitchen loaded with dirty dishes for washing
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Minor rust on the exterior is no biggie, but if you see rust on the interior, it may be time to replace your entire machine, according to Compact Appliance. Rust is indicative of an ongoing water leak and is a clear sign that your appliance is already in the later stages of decay.

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open dishwasher door with clean dishes inside
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Leaking water outside the dishwasher

Speaking of water leaks, if your device is surrounded by a pool of water (small or large) after being run, you’ll want to address the problem immediately. Standing water around and underneath this heavy appliance can rot away your floors. You may not need to throw out the appliance, but you’ll want a technician to diagnose and fix the problem. There are a host of reasons why you may experience a leak, says Shimek, including a clogged drain filter or parts that have rust or calcium/lime buildup.

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the dishwasher carriage. Dishwasher from the inside close up

Standing water inside the dishwasher

Standing water (or slow-to-drain water) on the inside of your dishwasher is less worrying than water on the outside, but it still requires some attention since warm water is a breeding grounding for bacteria. If you run the dishwasher with standing water, you also risk cleaning your dishes with this old, gunky water, warns SFGate. So, what’s the issue here? You’re likely dealing with a clogged drain or filter, so follow Shimek’s advice above to clean these parts or call a technician.

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dishwasher for washing dishes, dishwashing machine open for dishware with lots of dishes for dish washing basket cutlery

Not heating

Part of a dishwasher’s cleansing cycle involves heating your dishes to the FDA’s recommended 77 degrees celsius. (This is a sanitary measure that kills off any potentially harmful bacteria. A dishwasher that doesn’t leave your dishes hot to the touch after running likely requires a new (or mended) heating coil. In some cases, you may need to replace the dishwasher entirely.

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dishwasher problems
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Dishes that don’t get clean

If your dishes aren’t clean after running through a full cycle, that defeats the entire purpose of owning a dishwasher. This problem may be due to user error—for example, poorly arranging your dishes or not pre-rinsing them. Shimek says that you should always pre-rinse, even if your appliance advertised it’s unnecessary. “Food particles can gum up moving parts and become stuck in crevices, and rinsing first also helps prolong the appliance’s life,” he explains. If it’s minor residue from your detergent, you could also try adding this ingredient to your wash.

However, this issue could also be related to a clogged filtering screen, which is located under the bottom sprayer arm. “Clean this regularly to prevent trapped food particles from degrading into a sludge that blocks water flow and eventually requires a repair to get your dishwasher working again,” Shimek advises.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest