Tip & How-To about Dishwashers

Dishwasher Spray Arms not Spinning

There is a reoccurring question that comes up many times as I flip through the problems to solve on Fixya.com. This problem of course does not have just one answer and the reasons why the spray arms will not spin are many and varied. There are many different configurations of dishwashing machines through out the world. Therefore it is impossible to formulate one tip that will fit every situation. This is an attempt to give insight into what may be going on with your dishwasher and provide you with something’s to look for when trouble shooting your dishwasher.

For many dishwashers the wear and tear of daily use will cause the parts to wear to the point that they just do not work as intended anymore. Dirt and mineral build up on the inside of the spray arms also will cause problems and is extremely difficult to remove.
Often the best course of action is to simply order new parts and replace these very important parts that take the most abuse from the use of the dishwasher.

Okay, so what do you look for if that dishwasher has stopped cleaning effectively and you seem to think that the spray arms are not rotating or spinning anymore….

First, make sure you are right….place the arm in a certain position and then run the machine…open the door and check the position to see if it moved. You should also be able to get the door opened fast enough the see the arms slowly spinning to a stop, if they are working correctly. But really, you should be able to hear from the sound of the machine if the arms are spinning. The problem may be harder to solve if you suspect that just one arm is not working. In this case I would intentionally block one arm at a time and then run the dishwasher to see if the other is working.

The next thing to do is make sure that you are getting enough water into the dishwasher. A couple of inches of water should be in the bottom. The water will need to fully cover the intake screen. Also make sure that the intake is not clogged with food particles or other debris like paper or plastic…. If the water level is low then you may have a float problem.

Then check that the arms rotate freely by giving them a spin…if they stop quickly and do not continue to spin after a gentle push, then you have a problem there. The only propulsion for those spray arms is the force of the water coming out of the holes. This does not give a lot of force to get an arm spinning…so they need to move very easily.

Because of this the proper holes also have to be open and allow the water to spray freely from them. If these holes get clogged then the water does not come out the right holes and the spray arm does not go around.

I also want to give you a heads up about the cleaning of these arms. I recently tried desperately to clean the spray arms on my dishwasher. I took the spray arms right out of the dishwasher and worked to clean them in the kitchen sink. A little wire was used to poke the holes open and try to fish out the dirt and mineral. Progress was made and they would seem very clean, I would reinstall them and run a cycle. Then they would plug again… It became hopeless…seemed the more I cleaned the more **** that came loose and while I could get them to work for a short time, there was no long term happiness, and I broke down and look for the parts online. Come to find out that I had already put more time into fooling with the parts then what they cost to replace! Remember that one little spec of mineral, is enough to stop an upper spray arm….

For some makes of dishwasher you will also have towers that rise up in the center to push water into the top spray arm. Or you could have a model that has a piece on the top rack that needs to fit into a slot at the back to transfer the water from the pump. I either of these situations you can soon have just enough leakage to cause the water pressure to drop enough to not run the spray arm. Make sure that the tower goes up and down freely and it fits into the spot it needs to at the top.

Finally if there seems to be no water being pumped then check the pump out. On some units the washing pump is different from the drain pump. Other dishwashers use one pump instead of two and then use a solenoid diverter to run the water in the desired direction. The pump that pumps the water through the spray arms can fail or sometimes wear to the point that the volume and pressure of the water supplied to the arms will significantly decrease. If there is no clogging of the pump, build up of debris in the pump, or the diverter sticking and allowing some of the water to go to the drain when it should be washing, then the pump and motor may need to be replaced.


My advice is this. Before going to the trouble of trying to clean everything, just spend the few bucks and buy new stuff. You will be surprised at how little it actually costs to purchase a few new parts online and then have your dishwasher working like a brand new machine again! Instructions for the installation of the new parts are often available online as well. The installation usually is very easy if you know how to get the job done the right way.

How to Buy Appliance Parts Online
http://www.fixya.com/support/r3907570-buy_appliance_parts_online
http://www.fixya.com/support/r4589033-dishwasher_problems_heating_element_not

http://www.fixya.com/support/r4225828-dishwasher_repair_problem_detergent_cup

http://www.fixya.com/support/r4078724-dishwasher_problems_water_will_not_drain

http://www.fixya.com/support/r4021363-dishwasher_trouble_no_water_entering

http://www.fixya.com/support/r4319937-dishwasher_maintenance

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