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Is It Worth Fixing a Dishwasher?

You may be too young to remember when doing things by hand was the norm for most household chores. Now, thanks to advancement in technology, we have machines to do most of the dirty work around the house. Washing machines, dryers, microwaves, and dishwashers make our life a lot easier by helping us get things done in half the time it used to take. But when one of these machines we rely on breaks down, it can cause problems for the entire household. 

If you have a family your dishwasher, along with your washer and dryer, is one appliance you rely on daily. So, if you have a broken dishwasher, you must quickly decide if you should fix or replace it. In this article we’ll help you estimate how long your current dishwasher should last, the cost to replace it and review some DIY options to help you determine if your broken dishwasher can be fixed.  

DIY Your Dishwasher Problem 

A broken dishwasher is a real bummer, but it’s possible that a little DIY can fix your current dishwasher problem, which will get your hands out of the soapy dish water and save you some money too!  

If you notice that your dishwasher is not cleaning your dishes as well lately there could be several reasons for this: a dirty interior or filter, clogged spray arm, or broken soap dispenser. Here are some dishwasher troubleshooting tips you can try: 

A Dirty Interior: Let’s face it, the inside of your dishwasher can get pretty gross, especially after a big family meal. As a result, things can accumulate inside your dishwasher: grease, food particles, mineral deposits from hard water, soap residue, etc. So, your first DIY step should be to give the inside of your dishwasher a good cleaning. If the buildup isn’t too bad, try running a vinegar cycle to clean it. You can do this by pouring 3 cups of white vinegar into the bottom of your dishwasher, then run it for a complete cycle. If you’re dealing with some stubborn grime, try these additional dishwasher cleaning tips.  

A Dirty Filter: If you have an older dishwasher (one made before 2010) it probably has a self-cleaning filter that grinds down food particles until they are small enough to wash away. Many newer, quieter models have a removable filter that should be taken out and cleaned periodically. The filter is usually located below the racks, and has a twist-off cap. To clean the filter, remove it from the machine (refer to the owner’s manual instructions) and rinse it thoroughly under hot water. If there’s stuck-on gunk, soak it in hot, soapy water for several minutes and gently clean it with a soft brush before rinsing. Replace the filter and see if this fixes the problem. 

Clogged Sprayer Arm: The spray arms are the workhorse of your dishwasher. They spin around below and/or above the dishwasher racks, shooting jets of water that remove the food and grime from your dishes. Sometimes the jets (tiny holes) in spray arms can get clogged. This will reduce the water pressure and effectiveness of the jets to do their job. Cleaning clogged spray arms should improve cleaning. Depending on your model, the arm may snap off easily for cleaning, or you might need to remove a screw to take them out. Once they are removed, scrub them with a soft brush and dish soap, use a toothpick to dislodge any clogs in the holes, and then rinse them well under hot water. 

Dishwasher Detergent Door Broken: If your dishwasher tablet dispenser is broken then detergent may not be reaching your dishes, or it may not be released at the right time during the wash cycle. A common issue is a jammed spring in the dispenser door. Try using a small brush to clean the soap dispenser and springs. A mixture of hot water and vinegar will help dissolve grease and debris. If the spring or the dispenser door is broken, it needs to be replaced. Finally, check the gasket around the dispenser, and replace it if it’s cracked. Rubbing a small dab of petroleum jelly around the gasket occasionally may help extend its life. 

Other Potential Problems 

Hopefully the DIY suggestions above fixed your dishwasher problem, If not, there are some other reasons why your dishwasher may not be working properly. Most dishwasher cycles require a water temperature of at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit to work properly. Some models have a heat-boosting mechanism built in, but if yours doesn’t, make sure that your water heater is set to 120 degrees. (Be careful! Setting a temperature higher than 120 degrees creates a risk of scalding.) You can also run the kitchen faucet for 30 to 60 seconds before starting the dishwasher to ensure that hot water enters the machine at the start. 

Another potential issue can be caused by using low-quality or the wrong detergent for your machine. This can cause those dreaded, spotty dishes. Using too much detergent can also cause problems. Be sure to use the right type of detergent and the proper amount. A final rinse agent should improve results too. If you have hard water, consider installing a water softener to minimize mineral deposit damage. And finally, make sure you load the dishwasher correctly

If you’ve recently noticed a hammering sound coming from your dishwasher as it runs, a faulty inlet valve may be the problem. The inlet valve allows water to flow into the dishwasher. Check your owner’s manual for parts and replacement information. (This is a complex repair that usually requires a technician.) 

How Long Should Your Dishwasher Last? 

Most dishwashers today typically last from nine to sixteen years, with an average life expectancy of around twelve years. The lifespan of a dishwasher is relatively predictable, but your machine is much more likely to reach the maximum expectancy if you take care of it properly. 

Of course, there are several variables that can change how long your dishwasher will last. Here are some of the factors that will impact the lifespan of your dishwasher: 

  • Usage – The average home will use their dishwasher five times per week. If you use yours less frequently, that’s less wear and tear, which means you’ll probably get a few more years out of it. 

  • Quality – If you invested in a high-quality dishwasher from a trusted manufacturer, it may last longer than a model that doesn’t have top-of-the-line parts.  

  • Maintenance – As with any major appliance, periodic maintenance, including cleaning, should help your dishwasher last longer than one that has been neglected.  

  • Repairs – If your dishwasher needs repairs, who you choose to repair it makes a difference. If you hire a repair technician who isn’t trained and experienced, or who uses aftermarket parts instead of OEM, your dishwasher might break down again sooner than you expect. Always use a trained, experienced service technician for any repairs. 

Fix or Replace – What's the Cost? 

If you have tried our DIY suggestions and are still having issues with your machine, you are now faced with the decision to either repair or replace your current dishwasher. One major consideration will be the age of your current machine. If it is over ten years old, it might be time for a new one. When you factor in the energy efficiency of a newer machine, you may be saving yourself some money in the long run. However, if your machine is under six years old, then a repair might be the most cost-effective option. Check with your local appliance professional for advice. 

Keep Your Appliances Running Efficiently 

If you have a family your dishwasher gets a lot of use. If it breaks down, you’re suddenly left to decide if your broken dishwasher is worth fixing. If you’re not sure what you should do, reach out to your local appliance pros at Mr. Appliance. We have the expertise, experience, and tools to quickly diagnose your dishwasher problem and can help you decide the best option. And if you need any advice, repairs, or a maintenance plan for your other appliances, we can help you with that too! To setup a maintenance plan, or to schedule an appointment, give us a call 888.998.2011 or visit us online today!