Dishwasher Repairs: Cause, Effect, And Solution

Using a dishwasher every day will save you from having to repair it early on but problems will arise and having to pay for dishwasher repair is inevitable.

You can only postpone the process but if you really want to understand what’s going on with your own dishwasher and can you fix the problem yourself, we suggest you continue reading as we’re about to unravel everything that can go wrong.

Should I To Repair Or Replace My Dishwasher?

That would depend on what’s wrong with your dishwasher, how old it is, and how much you’ll have to pay for the repair. When you weigh out all of these factors, you can decide on whether or not you should completely replace or attempt to repair it.

Dishwasher Life Span

Most dishwasher manufacturers guarantee a life span of 6-10 years. After the 10-year mark, you can expect repairs to happen but most do report having issues with their dishwasher even before or right on the 5-year mark. If you have a decade-old dishwasher, it’s smarter to just replace it.

Fixing Cost

Smaller repairs will have you paying for a flat fee while complex repairs will have you paying the professional by the hour. Don’t forget that this is just the cost of labor and you’ll also have to pay for whatever needs fixing. This will depend on the repair service you choose and where you live but on average, it can cost anywhere between 50-350 dollars to repair a dishwasher.


New Dishwasher Cost

Newer dishwashers have more and more features so even the cheap ones are not so cheap. On average, a new dishwasher can cost 500 dollars while top-of-the-line ones can cost up to 1000 dollars or more. For example, a high-end Thermador dishwasher costs 2300 dollars.

Problems That Don’t Require Repairs

Unless your water is straight-up not working, the most common problem anyone will have with their dishwasher is that it’s not doing what it’s supposed to which is to clean dishes. Before you jump to conclusions that your dishwasher is broken and you need to repair it, check for these things first.

Dirt Inside

Sometimes dishasher doesn’t work well because it’s full of dirt. You’ll have to clean the filters, spray arms, the inside, and outside, and preferably the seals and rubber gaskets. All of these can be cleaned with natural cleaners too.

  1. Remove the filter and spray arms from the bottom of the dishwasher
  2. Make a 2 cups vinegar and water mixture
  3. Dunk the filter and spray arms and let soak for 30 minutes
  4. Take a toothpick and poke through holes of the spray arms and the filter (or use a brush for the filter)
  5. Rinse thoroughly and place back into the dishwasher

Cleaning Supplies

You Don’t Load It Properly

One situation that can happen is that you loaded cookware with no order so the water can’t reach all of the dishes so they get half dirty. Here are the basics of loading your dishwasher properly.

  1. Start loading from the back to the front
  2. All items should be angled to a certain degree so that each bit gets cleaned with the spray arms
  3. Don’t block the spray arms with larger items, always place them on the sides and vertically
  4. Learn which items go in the top rack and which ones go on the bottom rack

plates and cutlery in the dishwasher loaded

Problems That Require Repairs

Broken Dishwasher Rack

Cause: loading the dishwasher with too much weight, aggressive loading, rack quality
Consequences: broken rack rollers, rusting, rust streaks on dishes

  1. Take a rotary tool with a wire brush and cut off the rusted areas
  2. Retip the tines
  3. Grab vinyl repair paint, color match it and repaint with a brush
  4. Leave to dry and cure as per manufacturer instruction

Professional Rack Replacement Cost: $80 and more

Dishwasher Not Drying Dishes

Cause: the setting has to be turned on manually, no-rinse aid/dirty rinse aid dispenser, broken heating element, non-functioning high-limit thermostat
Consequences: Dishes/glasses with spots on them
Solution: Pour rinse aid, clean the dispenser, replace the heating element, test your thermostat
Professional Heating Element Replacement Cost: $150-$250

Dirty Dishes After Cycle

Cause: Clogged drain, garbage disposal clog, clogged drain pump
Consequences: gurgling/shaking/thumping, slow drain flow, leftover water, water backing up

  • Clogged Drain Repair – remove the filters located at the bottom to access the drain. Then, take a wire hanger and try to poke through the clog. If that doesn’t work, pour a mixture of equal parts baking soda and vinegar down the drain, let sit for 15 minutes, pour hot water, and run a rinse cycle to finish.
  • Unclog The Garbage Disposal – shut the power off and unplug the disposal. Locate the clog with a flashlight, use a mixture of 2:1 ratio vinegar and baking soda and pour into the drain, leave for 20 minutes and run hot water. Alternatively, plunge the drain (clamp off the connection hose first).
  • Replacing A Drain Pump – After an initial inspection that the pump is not clogged, if you find that it’s broken replace it. Unplug the dishwasher and place it on its back. Remove the base place and anti-flood sensor, and remove the old pump by unscrewing the screws. You’ll have to disconnect electrical connections from the terminals before twisting it and moving it aside, place the new pump, screw bac the screws and reconnect the electric connections, and place everything back.

Professional Replacement Cost For Drain Pump: $150-$350 or more

Dirty DIshes

Broken Heating Element

Cause: Electrical/wiring faults, getting in contact with foreign objects like plastic
Consequences: Dirty dishes, cold dishes, wet dishes
Solution: Out of the hand of a DIY replacement so professional work is needed
Professional Heating Element Replacement Cost: $150-$250

Dishwasher Leaking

Cause: Faulty float valve, drain clogs, wrong detergent, dishwasher not leveled properly, filter clog, broken door seals, faulty hose clamp, tub damage
Consequences: A flood every time you run your dishwasher
Solution: Either replace your detergent so it’s not foamy, check if your dishwasher is leveled properly, and fix it to an appropriate height using the pliers to adjust the height of the bottom legs, clean your filter, or replace your hose clamp. If the tub is damaged beyond professional repair, you’re likely to need a new dishwasher.
Professional Tub Replacement Cost: $150-$320

Water Droplets On Floor

Less Common Issues – What To Do?

Soap Dispenser Broken – You can manage to now even fix the dispenser by simply placing detergent directly into the dishwasher on the bottom. Professional repair costs $50-$80.

Air Gap Repair – The likeliest issue is that the air gap is leaky. It’ll either need cleaning or you’ll have to plunge the drain below.

Belt Repair – There are two belts in the dishwasher. If spin speed is reduced or your items are wet after a cycle, it’s likely that one or both are broken and needs replacement.

Dishwasher Float Replacement – This one you can do yourself or you can ask for professional help if you’re not sure you can pull it off. The replacement process should be similar across the board with most models so here’s how it looks.

Control Board Repair – You can try and reset the control panel or remove the child lock. If neither of that help, you’ll likely need to replace it. We suggest a professional handle this. It’ll cost anywhere between $200-$500 so it might be better to just buy a new dishwasher.

Which Dishwashers Need The Least Repairs?

If you’re just buying a new dishwasher, you can always opt for a model that’s likely to need the least repairs over the years. This depends on the brand, so you can check the realiable brands such as Samsung and Bosch dishwashers.

Note that a high-end dishwasher doesn’t always mean fewer repairs nor does a cheap dishwasher mean more repairs.

To Wrap It Up

Whether or not you can repair a dishwasher on your own depends solely on your expertise, experience, and the problem with the dishwasher. Most problems can be delayed but not prevented so if you have a dishwasher that’s pretty old (a decade), it might be wiser to just replace it since you’re likely to need repairs more frequently and those costs easily add up. Before attempting any repairs, always remember to unplug the dishwasher and anything else that you’re working on.

As an English major student at the time, Petra was stuck at home with online classes when the lockdown started. Soon enough, Petra discovered a passion for cooking and making pastries to pass the time. She started small with some experimenting and trying out new techniques inspired by French, Italian, and Asian cuisine. Since then, she has become a full-blown “little chef”, making dinner parties for her friends and expanding her knowledge with cooking classes.