Is It Worth It To Call In A Dishwasher Repairman?

Dishwasher sudsing  Pedro Reyna / flickrIs your dishwasher not starting, filling, or draining? Perhaps it's just plain leaking. In any of these cases, friends and family may tell you, “Calling a dishwasher repairman isn’t worth it; better just buy a new one.” Feel free to ignore this not-so-sound advice.

Dishwasher repair – not replacement -- is the solution of choice for a long list of problems with this important appliance. Repair is also faster, easier on your budget, and more eco-friendly. So yes, it's definitely worth it.

Find out practical solutions for common dishwasher malfunctions (some of them are DIY) and learn the cost to hire a dishwasher repairman or to purchase a replacement:

Broken dishwasher handle  Andrew Plumb / flickr

Troubleshoot Dishwasher Malfunctions

  1. Dishwasher not starting. Sorry to state the obvious, but your dishwasher might not be getting a supply of electricity. Make sure that it is securely plugged into a functional outlet. Check for a tripped breaker, too, before you call in a dishwasher repairman. Another cause could be a faulty door latch.

  2. Dishwasher not filling. Once again, a broken door latch (which will send a signal that the machine is not closed) could be the problem. Other potential culprits might be a kinked fill tube or a malfunctioning float assembly or water inlet valve.

  3. Dishwasher not draining. Have you recently installed a new garbage disposal? Technicians occasionally forget to remove the disposal’s knockout plug, which affects your dishwasher drainage. Read more about this and other drainage problems here.

  4. Dishwasher leaking. Look for wear and tear on the door gasket and hoses. Check for faulty seals. Make sure the dishwasher’s not overfilling due to a float or float switch problem.
    The most serious case? A cracked interior, making appliance repair impossible. Time to find a dishwasher installer for a new machine.

  5. Dishwasher not getting dishes clean. When dishes are still crusty or gritty after dishwashing, try clearing the filter. After that, wipe the inside of the appliance well; then run a cleaning cycle without dishes, adding a dishwasher cleaner.
    A whitish film, especially noticeable on glasses, is likely due to hard water. Try a special hard water detergent; if that doesn’t take care of the problem, use a dish detergent booster.

  6. Dishwasher running longer than usual. Make sure you know how long the normal cycle for your model should be (1 ½ to 4 hours, according to Whirlpool ™.) Check that you have selected the correct cycle.
    Make sure water going into the machine will be hot enough (raising water temperature once it's already inside the dishwasher takes an extra 2 minutes for every degree). Have a professional set your water heater to 120 degrees minimum; then run the hot water in your sink right before starting every dishwasher load.

  7. Dishwasher tablet not dissolving. Once again, the problem could be water that is too cool. Check your water heater setting. Ensure the water supply is hot enough by running water in the sink until it is very hot (110-115 degrees F) immediately before turning on your dishwasher. Another fast and easy fix is to break the tablet in two and place both halves in the dispenser.
  1. Dishwasher racks not rolling smoothly. The rollers or wheels may need realignment. If the racks themselves are damaged, you can often order replacements by contacting the manufacturer’s customer service. 
  1. Dishwasher bubbling or sudsing. Make sure you are using the correct type and amount of detergent for your appliance. Never use ordinary dish liquid.

Dishwasher tablet not dissolving  Grey Geezer / public domain

Dishwasher Repair FAQs

Q. Dishwasher repair vs replacement: which is best?

A. Do the math: If the machine is over 7 years old and appliance repair service will cost more than half the original purchase price, you’re better off buying a new energy-efficient unit. Otherwise, hiring a dishwasher repairman is worth it, as long as the necessary parts are readily available.

Another consideration: Speed. Repair technicians often provide same-day service. If you order a new dishwasher, on the other hand, you are likely to wait 2-7 days for shipping, and you’ll need to coordinate your dishwasher installer visit with the delivery schedule.

Q. How long does a dishwasher last?

A. The average service life for this appliance is about 9-10 years, depending on how often you use it and how careful you are about maintenance.

Q. Can I clean my dishwasher with vinegar?

A. Not a smart idea. An experienced dishwasher repairman will tell you vinegar is too acidic and can erode your dishwasher’s rubber parts. Stick with commercial formulas, which are much milder. PS: Vinegar is equally bad for your clothes washer.

Q. Can I clean my dishwasher with bleach?

A. Bleach will deep clean without damaging your dishwasher, unless it has a stainless steel interior. SAFETY TIP: Never, ever mix bleach with vinegar or ammonia for cleaning or any other purpose.

Q. What about baking soda?

A. Now you’re talking! If you want a cheap, green product to clean your dishwasher, baking soda is great. Just fill the detergent cup with baking soda and run the machine on its hottest cycle.

Q. Which is more eco-friendly – dishwasher or washing by hand?

A. Your dishwasher is not just a luxury; a modern energy-efficient model uses less water (and less electricity to heat that water) to clean a full load of dishes than washing by hand.

Q. Why is my dishwasher not working properly?

A. See above for common dishwasher appliance repair scenarios.

Q. Who do I hire for dishwasher repair?

A. Find a trained appliance repairman for dishwasher troubles. Good appliance technicians will have the necessary supplies in their truck and in most cases, will cost you less than a plumber service.

Dishwasher repairman  Edward Nelson / Public domain

Dishwasher Repair or Replacement Cost

Cost of dishwasher repair service: Typical service call costs $100-$200. Cost per hour to hire a repairman for your dishwasher: Averages $70 per hour.

Cost to buy a new dishwasher: $400-$700.

Cost to install a dishwasher: $200-$500. It’s best to hire a professional dishwasher installer who is experienced with both plumbing and electricity for this appliance.

Cost to run an Energy Star certified dishwasher: $35 per year.

Dishwasher  fotorieth / pixabay

Laura Firszt writes for

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