For a dishwasher to do its job correctly, it must spray water everywhere inside the machine. That way, every plate, cup, and utensil that you load into it will be cleaned thoroughly by the end of the dishwashing cycle.
To do that, the dishwasher relies on arms spinning throughout the wash cycle.
These arms spray water at the correct pressure while distributing it to all corners of the dishwasher. If those dishwasher arms fail to spin, that could render the entire appliance useless.
In this article, we’re going to look at a few of the common reasons why dishwasher arms may stop spinning correctly, and what you can do to resolve the issue.
Circulation Pump Or Motor
What it is: Most dishwashers on the market today will rely on two parts, one of them being the circulation pump (and the motor that drives it).
As the name suggests, its primary purpose is to pump and circulate water throughout the appliance’s many hoses, including through the spinning dishwasher arms.
In doing so, other parts of the dishwasher will have the water they need to wash every item loaded into the dishwasher.
The circulation pump is also responsible for recycling or re-circulating water inside the dishwasher.
To cut down on overall water usage, dishwashers today tend to reuse a lot of the water that has already washed the plates and flowed to the bottom.
Why it fails: Just like any other mechanical part, circulation pumps are prone to failure after experiencing lots of wear and tear.
A faulty circulation pump may not generate enough pressure to drive water throughout parts of the appliance, including the dishwasher arms.
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Besides that, there is always the possibility of the pump suffering a blockage.
Remember: dishwashers recirculate water that carries small waste particles that filters can’t catch. In some cases, those particles may form a blockage that prevents the pump from doing its job.
Without a continuous flow of pressurized water, the dishwasher spray arms will not spin.
How to fix: When dealing with the circulation pump, you should first troubleshoot the power supply.
It’s key to ensure that the pump and motor are receiving the power they need to function correctly in the first place.
If they are, then your next step is to ensure that you can physically turn the pump’s impeller and that nothing has caused it to jam.
Suppose the circulation pump is receiving power and nothing is stopping the impeller from moving. Then your next step is to check for blockages.
If there are blockages in any of those parts, you can try your best to clean them out.
However, some blockages are too deep inside the component that a replacement may still be the best option.
Always check the user manual or call the manufacturer to ensure that the replacement parts you want to buy are compatible with your particular model.
Circulation Pump Impeller
What it is: Sometimes, the issue isn’t with the pump as a whole, but just the impeller.
You see, the impeller is a small plastic blade that spins fast enough to drive water through.
In doing so, the impeller will force water to move through the dishwashing arms and make them spin.
Depending on the dishwasher’s make and model, the impeller may function independently from the pump and motor assembly, which allows you to deal with it separately from other parts.
Why it fails: There are two possible ways that a wash impeller can fail.
Firstly, there might be debris somewhere around the impeller that’s stopping it from moving.
Besides that, the impeller itself may have gotten damaged, causing it to break or lose some of its fins.
While those are the two primary ways that the impeller can fail, another related issue is when the seals are broken.
If that’s the case, then that portion of the system will lose pressure and the water won’t be strong enough to spin the dishwasher arms.
In any case, the impeller loses its ability to force water through the system, resulting in a lack of pressure to make the dishwasher arms spin.
How to fix: Depending on the make and model of your dishwasher, the wash impeller may be an independent part, or it may be a part of the pump and motor assembly.
If it’s separate, you could replace just the wash impeller. If not, you may have to replace the pump and motor assembly altogether.
What it is: Inside every dishwasher is a series of hoses that are used to direct water to where it needs to go, including up through the dishwasher arms.
Some hoses let water in from the inlet towards the pump. In contrast, others help recirculate water that’s already inside the machine.
Of course, there are also hoses for draining water out of the dishwasher, though those may not be relevant towards this problem.
Why it fails: From time to time, a dishwasher’s hoses can get clogged. Aside from dirty water entering through the inlet valve, the problem is also made worse because dishwashers tend to recycle the water they use.
So, dishwashers don’t continuously draw in clean water through the inlet. To save on overall water usage, it also reuses some of the water that’s already been sprayed out of the dishwasher’s arms.
Small food bits and dirt can build up and form significant blockages in the hoses and prevent water from circulating with enough pressure to spin the dishwasher arms.
Don’t forget: when it comes to washing dishes, oils from food are also a significant part of the process.
Those oils can build up along the hoses and cause blockages as well.
How to fix: The most challenging aspect of cleaning a clogged hose is pinpointing the blockage itself.
To find it, you may need to remove the hoses and clean them one section at a time.
Sadly, that might mean removing access panels to reach the hoses, requiring a lot of time and effort.
Dishwasher Fine Filter
What it is: Besides hoses, dishwashers also have one or more filters inside. Their purpose is simple: to filter out food bits and other debris that might find its way inside the appliance’s water supply.
By right, these filters need to be cleared from time to time, though it’s normal for some people to forget to do this regularly.
Why it fails: Filters are designed to capture small bits and pieces while allowing water to flow through them unobstructed.
The problem starts when the filter has caught too much, and no one has cleaned it thoroughly.
At one point, the buildup will be so significant that water cannot flow through the filter like it should, resulting in a drop in water flow and pressure.
What does that mean for the dishwasher arms? With a lack of water flow and pressure, the arms will not be able to spin as they should.
How to fix: The fix is pretty straightforward. Firstly, refer to the user manual to identify all of the filters that your dishwasher has inside of it.
Then, remove each filter and wash them thoroughly. You may have to remove any large bits and dirt build-ups that you might find on the filter.
To prevent this issue from repeating itself, be sure to come up with a schedule to clean those filters regularly.
What it is: Sometimes, the problem can be with the dishwasher spray arms themselves.
Most dishwashers will have at least one spray arm at the bottom of the inside.
Still, many models also come with a second spray arm that spins at the top part instead.
Together, dishwasher spray arms will spin when there’s enough water pressure going through them.
As they turn, they’ll spray water evenly throughout the interior of the appliance, washing off any dirt, oil, and food bits off of the plates that you’ve loaded into the machine.
Why it fails: Dishwasher spray arms can only spin if there is enough water flowing through them and at the correct pressure.
The most common problem is when there’s a blockage inside the spray arm that prevents water from flowing correctly.
Besides that, sprayer arms may also suffer from
In rare cases, the arm could be damaged and leaking water where it shouldn’t, which will also undermine its ability to spin and spray as it’s supposed to.
How to fix: If the problem is with the spray arm itself, it’s relatively straightforward to resolve.
You can remove the arm from within the dishwasher, though you may have to remove the screw or bolt that may be holding it in place.
Once you’ve removed the spray arm, you’ll need to flush it out with water to remove any blockages.
It may also help to use an old toothbrush or something similar to free any dirt or food bits that may be trapped inside.
If the arm is damaged, you could purchase a replacement and install it yourself by referring to the user manual.