How to Perform a Dishwasher Tune-Up

How to Perform a Dishwasher Tune-Up

Leaking water, rattling noises and dirty dishes are signs your dishwasher may need a tune up as well as repairs

By Julie Hampton

Dishes in a dishwasher
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The dishwasher is generally a low maintenance appliance, and a tune up takes less than 30 minutes. Perform a tune up annually to avoid expensive repairs and keep the appliance in working order. Repairing an appliance may sometimes cost nearly the same amount as replacing it.

  • What You Need to Know
  • Use your dishwasher on a weekly basis to keep all seals moist and to prevent leaks.

Step 1:

Clean the filter. Remove the filter from the dishwasher, and rinse it in the kitchen sink. Use an old scrub brush, and massage soap into the filter to loosen any debris buildup. Some filters aren't removable; simply clean them in place. Newer appliances include self-cleaning filters; read your user manual to learn the best way to keep your filter clean.

Step 2:

Open the dishwasher, and remove the dish trays completely. Use a steel skewer to clean the holes of the dishwasher's spray arms. Add warm or hot water to soften debris clogging the holes. Use a scrub brush or other cleaning tools; however, don't use any items that could break off and clog the holes. Know that some dishwashers also have spray arms from the top of the dishwasher that also require cleaning. Spin the arms to ensure they are not wobbly or defective.

Step 3:

Check the hoses attached to the water inlet valve. Remove the kick plate at the front of the dishwasher; use a screwdriver to remove any screws holding the kick plate onto the appliance. Look for two tubes; one tube leads water to the dishwasher; the other leads it away. Inspect the connections to ensure they are firm and tight. Keep hoses straight and free of kinks.

Step 4:

Remove all soap buildup from the detergent cup. Make sure the cup opens and closes without difficulty. Replace the cup if the detergent cup appears difficult to unlatch.

Step 5:

Feel the heating element for grit and debris buildup. Calcium deposits form on the heating element and can cause temperatures to unevenly disperse. Use a mild detergent and soft sponge to remove buildup. Use caution when cleaning so the heating element doesn't become dislodged.

Step 6:

Inspect all the trays and dish racks. Clean up all buildup with a damp sponge. Look at wheels to see if they are firmly in place. Replace loose or dislodged wheels. Never lubricate wheels.

Step 7:

Open and close the dishwasher door. The dishwasher should close and lock without heavy pressure. You should not have to force the dishwasher to shut; if this is a problem, consider replacing the latch or gasket.

Step 8:

Open the dishwasher mid-cycle. Look for hot steam to release from the dishwasher. Water temperature should be between 120 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Continue to run the dishwasher to ensure it is working properly.

  • Tips & Warnings
  • If your dishwasher cleans most of your dishes, but seems to leave a few of your dishes dirty each cleaning, the spray arms are the likely culprit. Clean the holes at the ends of each arm with an awl or steel skewer.
  • Perform a dishwasher tune-up a couple of weeks before hosting a big event at your home, such as a holiday party. Service professionals are often unavailable during the holidays, so it's a good idea to give yourself some lead time.

About the Author

Julie Hampton is a regular contributor to DexKnows.

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