7 Signs You’re Dealing with a Broken Dishwasher

Broken dishwasher

Your dishwasher can be your best friend in the kitchen. Labor-saving and hygienic, what’s not to love?

That’s true until the day it starts spewing out dirty dishes, with the stuff even more baked on and hard to remove than when it went in.

If you’re battling with this problem, chances are that your dishwasher is broken and needs some repair work.

Here are seven common signs of a broken dishwasher that tell you it’s time to call the repairers in.

1. Food Baked onto Dishes

It’s pretty demoralizing – not to mention pretty gross – when food appears to have simply traveled around your dishwasher during the washing cycle. If you’ve got lasagne on your drinking glasses, you know something went wrong.

Before you conclude that you have a broken dishwasher, check out the following areas:

  • Is the filter clean and clog free?
  • Are the sprayer arms clean? (hint – check the holes)
  • Is the gasket/seal clean or harboring debris?

It’s a good idea to give your dishwasher a thorough clean before concluding that there’s a more serious problem.

The cleaning detergent you can buy at the supermarket is good, but there should be a final clean done. The filters, sprayer arms, and gasket have been manually cleaned.

2. Dishes Come Out Cold

When a dishwasher is firing on all cylinders, you’re greeted with a pleasing impromptu kitchen sauna and roasting hot dishes when you open it after a regular cycle.

If you don’t get either the steam or the hot dishes, you’ve likely got a broken dishwasher, and that’s potentially a serious issue. If the water isn’t getting hot, there’s an obvious culprit – the element, or heating coil – might be broken.

This probably isn’t a job most DIYers should take on; it’s time to call in a professional. You also might want to weigh up the cost of replacing this expensive part against the cost of a new machine.

3. Discolored/Scratched Dishes

The racks in your dishwasher take a lot of hammer. After years of being subjected to a daily flow of hot water and detergent, they can start to break down and even rust.

The evidence of this will be discoloration on your dishes, and sometimes, even scratches from the exposed metal.

If you see these telltale signs, it’s worth having a good look to see where the damage is in the dishwasher.

The good news is that this doesn’t have to spell the end of a good machine. There are ways to repair a dishwasher rack that can save you the expense of a full replacement.

4. Cloudy Glasses

This is a common complaint, and it usually comes from a hard water buildup. It isn’t always a sign of a broken dishwasher; it can just be resolved by using a home water softener or a special detergent for hard water.

If you’ve already tried these remedies and you still have a problem, then chances are you’ve got a broken dishwasher on your hands.

5. Busted Lock

Your dishwasher lock is probably the most vital piece of the whole dishwashing puzzle.

Why? Because without it, you’ve got a whole heap of mess on your hands, with water at 60°C plus (140°F) cascading onto your kitchen floor.

If it’s not catching properly or needs a lot of encouragement to catch, it’s time to get it checked out.

An appliance service professional can tell you more about whether it’s gone further than just the lock and it’s time for a replacement dishwasher.

6. Water Pooling Inside

If you open the door after a cycle to find a pool of water inside, you’ve almost certainly got a broken dishwasher.

The first thing to check is whether or not the removable filters are clogged, as mentioned in point one.

If they aren’t, then there is likely a blockage in the drain, meaning that the wastewater cannot pass through.

You can attempt to unblock this yourself or get an appliance repair service in to help you.

If there are serious issues with the drainage system, this might be more money than it’s worth to repair.

7. Dishwasher Won’t Start

Probably the easiest way to diagnose a broken dishwasher is if you can’t fire the thing up in the first place.

The first thing to check is point five – the latch. If it’s broken, even if it’s not obvious, there’s usually a failsafe mechanism in the dishwasher to prevent it from starting up with a dodgy lock.

If this seems fine, then electrical issues are the next thing to check. A circuit breaker might have tripped, or a fuse may have blown between cycles without you noticing.

If these check out, then it could be an electronic fault. It might be that the signal for the program you’ve selected or the button you’ve used is not getting through as usual. Fiddle about with the settings to see whether just that one setting is on the blink or none of them work.

If they’re all playing up, you can reset the dishwasher according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This could help to debug any software glitches that are causing it to act up.

If everything fails, it could indicate a more serious problem. This may include issues with the motor start relay or thermal fuse.

An appliance technician will be able to test these out for you and see whether it’s worth repairing or it’s time for a dishwasher replacement.

The Bottom Line – What Shall We Do with the Broken Dishwasher?

If you’ve got a broken dishwasher, it doesn’t mean it’s all over. Many problems can be easily fixed, and there are home repairs you can do to get clean dishes again in no time.

However, if you’re dealing with one of the more serious problems, it may be time to kiss it goodbye and enjoy the perks of a more modern and probably more energy-efficient machine.

Whether it’s a dishwasher or other household appliance that’s giving you grief, there are some fixes that can be implemented at home.

Click here for more appliance troubleshooting and repair advice!

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