Dishwasher Not Cleaning? 3 Possible Repair Issues

Opening the door of the dishwasher to discover dirty dishes isn't the scenario most people expect. However, it can happen, especially if the dishwasher is malfunctioning. If your loads aren't as squeaky clean as they've been in the past, learn about some of the problems that could be taking place.  

Spray Arm

A dishwasher's spray arm might be a small structure, but it plays a major role in the cleaning process. When the cleaning cycle begins, water is pumped into the spray arm, and then forced out through its tiny holes. As you can imagine, if this water doesn't flow through these holes, the dishes won't get cleaned. 

Over time, food debris and grime can cover the spray arm's holes and prevent water from escaping. Typically, a deep cleaning of the arm will solve the issue. However, with an older dishwasher, it's not uncommon for the spray arm to bend or crack. Once this damage occurs, the spray arm must be replaced, as the water will no longer flow through it correctly. 

Water Heater

Hot water is another very important part of the cleaning cycle. While the force of the water helps dislodge food particles, heat helps to dissolve particles and kill bacteria. As a result, a lack of hot water flowing through the machine will have an impact on the cleaning cycle. 

Contrary to the belief of some, the hot water in the dishwasher does not come from the main water heater. The dishwasher has its own heating element that does the job. While it's not common, the element can burn out or fail due to an electrical wiring issue and cause a cleaning problem. 

Inlet Valve

Another issue that might cause problems with the cleaning cycle is a problem with the inlet valve. The inlet valve is the opening by which water flows into the washing machine. Generally, when this device starts to fail, water will still flow through the machine, but at a reduced rate. It's not uncommon for dishes to only be partially cleaned during this phase. 

However, over time, less water flows out, until you start to discover that none of the dishes are clean. Additionally, as the water struggles to make its way through the valve, you might also notice a loud banging sound. A complete replacement of the valve is generally necessary to resolve this issue. 

Fortunately, many of the issues that affect the cleaning cycle can be repaired. Contact an appliance repair technician for an assessment of your machine.