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The Complete UK Guide to Dishwasher Maintenance and Troubleshooting

Keep Your Dishwasher Running Smoothly & Efficiently

person removing a dishwasher arm for cleaning and maintenance

Dishwashers are great when they’re working well, but frustrating and expensive to repair or replace, when they go wrong.

To keep it running smoothly and efficiently, regular maintenance is essential. Additionally, understanding common dishwasher issues and troubleshooting techniques will save you time and money. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through dishwasher maintenance and troubleshooting tips to ensure your dishwasher performs at its best.

Dishwasher Maintenance: The Key to Longevity

Regular maintenance can significantly extend the lifespan of your dishwasher and improve its cleaning performance. The best dishwasher should last over ten years, but too many models don’t last half this time. 

Follow these quick & easy steps to keep your dishwasher in top condition…

1. Clean the Filter and Drain

The dishwasher’s filter and drain are critical components that prevent debris from clogging the machine and blocking the cleaning process. Depending on your dishwasher model, the filter is most likely located at the bottom of the dishwasher or under the spray arm.

To clean the filter, remove it carefully and rinse it under warm running water to dislodge any food particles and residue. Use a soft brush or an old toothbrush to scrub away stubborn debris. Likewise, check the drain for any blockages and clear them to ensure proper drainage.

2. Inspect and Clean Spray Arms

The spray arms are responsible for distributing water throughout the dishwasher during the wash cycle. Over time, they can become clogged with mineral deposits and debris, hindering their effectiveness. 

To clean the spray arms, remove them from the dishwasher and soak them in warm soapy water. Use a small brush or toothpick to remove any debris from the spray arm holes. If you’re unsure how to do this, it’s best to check the manual – every model is different.

3. Check and Tighten Connections

Inspect the dishwasher’s water inlet valve, drain hose, and power cord for any signs of wear or leaks. Make sure all connections are secure and tighten them if necessary. Addressing minor leaks and loose connections promptly can prevent more significant issues down the line.

4. Keep the Interior Clean

Regularly wiping down the interior of the dishwasher helps prevent the build-up of grime and odours. Use a soft cloth or sponge with warm soapy water to clean the door, sides, and other accessible surfaces. 

Pay special attention to the rubber gasket around the door, as mould and mildew can sometimes accumulate there. If left, it will leak and cause big problems. 

5. Use Dishwasher-Safe Detergents

Always use detergents specifically designed for dishwashers. Never use regular dishwashing liquid or soap, as they can create excessive suds and cause leaks or other issues.

6. Top Up the Salt & Rinse Aid

The salt & rinse aid will make a significant difference to the cleaning performance on every wash. But what’s super important is that the salt stops limescale build-up inside the dishwasher. Especially in hard water areas, limescale is the main reason dishwashers fail & need replacing. Do keep the salt topped up!

Dishwasher Troubleshooting – Sorted

Despite regular maintenance, dishwashers may encounter occasional problems. Here are some common dishwasher issues and their possible solutions:

1. Dishes Not Getting Cleaned Properly

If your dishes are coming out dirty or still have residue on them after a wash cycle, several factors could be at play. Check the spray arms for clogs and ensure that they can rotate freely. Make sure the filter and drain are clean, allowing proper water circulation. Also, ensure you’re loading the dishwasher correctly, leaving enough space between dishes for water to reach all surfaces.

2. Dishwasher Not Draining

If water remains in the dishwasher after the wash cycle, it could be due to a blocked drain or a faulty drain pump. Inspect the drain hose and make sure it’s not kinked or blocked. Check the drain pump for any obstructions and clean it if necessary. 

If the issue persists, there may be a problem with the drain pump, and professional repair might be required.

3. No Power or Lights

If your dishwasher doesn’t turn on or show any signs of power, check if it’s properly plugged into a functioning electrical outlet. Ensure the circuit breaker or fuse connected to the dishwasher is not tripped. If you’re confident in handling electrical components, you can also check the dishwasher’s power cord and control board for any visible damage or loose connections.

4. Strange Noises During Operation

Unusual noises, such as grinding or squealing, during the wash cycle, could indicate an issue with the motor or pump assembly. First up, check that the machine has been stacked correctly and it’s not that the rotating arms are hitting your crockery or cutlery. 

Inspect the pump and motor for any foreign objects or debris that may be causing the noise. If the problem persists, it’s best to call a professional technician for a thorough inspection and repair.

5. Leaking Water

Water leaks can occur due to various reasons, such as a worn-out door gasket, damaged door latch, or loose hose connections. Check & clean the door gasket for any signs of wear or damage and replace it if necessary. Ensure the door latch is secure and tight. If you notice water dripping from the bottom of the dishwasher, inspect the hoses for leaks and tighten the connections.

6. Error Messages

Premium models often flash up error messages. Each code relates to a different problem that is usually listed in the manual. Before calling an engineer, it’s worth Googling the code and model. There’s a load of great YouTube videos on easy fixes specific to most models.

When to Seek Professional Help

While some dishwasher issues can be resolved with DIY troubleshooting, certain problems may require the expertise of a qualified technician. If you’re unsure about how to proceed or the problem persists after attempting troubleshooting, it’s best to contact the manufacturer’s customer support or seek assistance from a reputable dishwasher repair service in your area.

The Verdict

Maintaining and troubleshooting your dishwasher doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Regular maintenance, such as cleaning the filter, checking connections, and keeping the interior clean, can go a long way in ensuring your dishwasher operates efficiently and reliably. 

By understanding common dishwasher issues and their solutions, you can save time and money while keeping your dishwasher in top-notch condition. With proper care and attention, your dishwasher will continue to be a dependable workhorse in your kitchen, delivering sparkling clean dishes after every wash.


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