Dishwasher Not Spraying Water? (here’s why)

If you own a dishwasher you’ll already know just how useful an appliance it is. At the end of a long day all you need to do is load the dishwasher, add detergent, select the correct cycle and press start.

At the end of the cycle, the dishes are not only clean but dry as well and ready to be stored away. Unfortunately, there are times when this doesn’t go to plan.

This article is all about one of those times, in this article we take a close look at the times when the dishwasher fails to spray water. We look at the causes and offer solutions to this annoying and worrying problem.

Many of the fixes listed in this article can be carried out by anyone, even those with no technical experience.

Why Is The Dishwasher Not Spraying Water?

There are several reasons why your dishwasher might have stopped spraying water which include;

Probable CauseSolution
Overloaded RacksAlways ensure the racks are loaded correctly
Faulty Float SwitchInspect and replace the float switch if necessary
Blocked Chopper BladeInspect, clean or replace the chopper blade as necessary
Blocked Or Damaged Wash ImpellerCheck, clean or replace the wash impeller as necessary
Water Supply IssuesCheck the water supply and repair or replace any bad components
Blocked Spray ArmsInspect and clean the spray arms
Defective Circulation PumpInspect and replace the circulation pump if necessary
Control Board MalfunctionReset the dishwasher, contact a technician
Defective Pump MotorContact a technician

Let’s take a closer look at each of these issues;

Overloaded Racks

Dishes

It’s easy to cram as much as you can into your dishwasher in an effort to save time by getting it all done at once. This is especially true if you’ve held a dinner party and there are more dishes than usual.

However, this is the time when your dishwasher is most likely to cause you problems. This is because overloading the racks of the dishwasher can cause ill placed dishes, pots or utensils to prevent the spray arms from moving freely.

If the spray arms don’t rotate as they are designed to do, all of the water remains aimed at one area. This means the dishes don’t get cleaned and on opening the door at the end of the cycle, it appears that the spray arms haven’t worked.

There ‘s also the possibility of the nozzles of the spray arms becoming clogged with food particles if the dishes are too close. If the nozzles are clogged with food or other debris, the spray arms cannot work as they are intended to and your dishes will remain dirty.

Always ensure that you stack your dishes in the correct way. Paying particular attention to the clearance needed by the spray arms.

Faulty Float Switch

The float switch is located at the bottom of the tub and lifts as the water level rises in the tub. At a predetermined height, the float switch sends a message to the control board to cut the water supply to prevent the dishwasher from leaking and flooding your kitchen.

If the float switch develops a fault and becomes stuck in the full position, it could prevent enough (or any) water from entering the tub which will mean the spray arms won’t spray and the dishes won’t get cleaned.

You can check the float switch by gently lifting it, if it clicks it is working fine. If not it will need to be replaced. This is a relatively easy task and the float switch is an inexpensive part.

If you don’t feel comfortable removing and replacing the float switch, we recommend getting a technician to do it for you.

Blocked Chopper Blade

The chopper blade has many functions including;

  • Helping to wash the dishes
  • Helping to spray the water
  • Cutting food particles and debris into small parts that can be easily transported out of the tub via the drain hose

If the chopper blade gets clogged and stops working, it can prevent the dishwasher from spraying. Accessing the chopper blade involves dismantling parts of the appliance which is why we recommend getting a technician to investigate, clean or replace the chopper blade for you.

Blocked Or Damaged Wash Impeller

Dishwasher

There are 2 impellers in a dishwasher; the drain impeller and the wash impeller. The drain impeller forces wastewater through the drainage system of the dishwasher.

The wash impeller pumps soapy water around the dishwasher through the spray arms to wash the dishes. It then pumps clean water through the spray arms to rinse the dishes after washing.

If the wash impeller is clogged or damaged it will stop working and water will not be sprayed by the spray arms.

To investigate the wash impeller, you will need to remove the spray arm and filters from the bottom of the tub. You can then unthread the pump cover to access the circulation pump.

Close to the pump you will see the wash impeller, check it for any clogs or damage and remove any clogs or replace the wash impeller if it’s damaged.

Water Supply Issues

There are a number of parts involved with supplying water to your dishwasher which could all cause the water to not spray. 

Inlet Tap

The first part to check is the inlet tap connected to the home’s water supply. This needs to be fully open to allow sufficient water into the tub to operate the spray arms and wash the dishes.

Inlet Hose

Check that the inlet hose isn’t twisted or kinked as this could restrict the flow of water into the appliance. Straighten any twists or kinks in the hose and then, after turning the inlet tap to the off position, remove the inlet hose from the dishwasher.

You can then check the inlet screen which is a small mesh filter that is designed to prevent any grit or other debris entering the dishwasher via the water supply and clogging any internal components.

Handle the screen gently as it is made from fine plastic and is delicate. If the screen is clogged, you can try to clean it or replace it with a new screen. They are easy to obtain and fairly inexpensive.

Faulty Water Inlet Valve

All of the water from the inlet hose has its entry controlled by the inlet valve. This works under orders from the control board and only allows water in when needed.

Once enough water has entered the dishwasher, the control board sends a message to the inlet valve to shut down. If it develops a fault, there’s a possibility that no water will enter the appliance at any time.

This means there will be no water to feed the spray arms or wash the dishes. The inlet valve is awkward to access which is why we recommend getting a technician to investigate and replace it for you.

Blocked Spray Arms

loading a dishwasher

We mentioned the spray arms earlier in connection with overloading the dishwasher’s racks. But that’s not the only way the spray arms can become clogged.

Food particles and other debris can settle on or in the nozzles of the spray arms and eventually cause the water not to flow. Sometimes, this can be caused by limescale buildup due to the mineral content in the water.

 You should remove the spray arms and wash them in warm soapy water to remove any debris or buildup. If the nozzles are clogged, they can be cleared using a toothpick. But take care to prise the clogs out and not force them further into the nozzles.

Defective Circulation Pump

The circulation pump is responsible for forcing water around the dishwasher. Along with help from the pump motor and impeller, the circulation pump spreads water through to the spray arms.

If it develops a fault, the water will not reach the spray arms and cannot therefore, spray the dishes. In some cases, the circulation pump becomes clogged with food particles and other debris which prevents it from working.

Or the circulation pump breaks down due to wear and tear and old age. You can check for blockages by removing the lower spray arm and the filter and locate the circulation pump.

You can then check it for any blockages and see if the pump’s blades turn freely. If there are no blockages or the blades don’t turn easily, the pump will need to be replaced.

Control Board Malfunction

As with all electrical components, the control board is prone to malfunction. It controls every component and function of the dishwasher and if it develops a fault, it could stop the water from spraying.

Sometimes this is just a software error or electrical glitch that can be solved by resetting the appliance.

Resetting The Dishwasher

Consult your user manual for the correct way to reset your dishwasher as different makes and models are reset in different ways. In the absence of any instructions, you can try disconnecting the power supply for 10 to 15 minutes to allow any residual power to dissipate.

Once the power has been restored the dishwasher should have been reset and should function properly again.

If the problem remains, or returns shortly after, you will need to get the control board replaced. This can be tricky which is why we recommend getting a technician to do this for you.

Defective Pump Motor

If you’ve checked everything else and the dishwasher still won’t spray water, all that’s left is the pump motor. Everything on the dishwasher runs with the assistance of the pump motor.

If the pump motor develops a fault, the dishwasher will not spray water. Accessing the pump involves dismantling various parts of the dishwasher. Which is why we recommend getting a technician to investigate this part for you.

If it proves to be faulty, it will need to be replaced.

SEE ALSO: What Is Rinse Aid (and is it worth using)?

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does my dishwasher fill but not spray water?

If your dishwasher fills and drains but does not spray water it is most likely due to a faulty circulation pump. In most cases, the circulation pump will need to be replaced.

Why is my dishwasher humming but not spraying?

If your dishwasher is making a humming noise but not filling with water or not spraying water, it is most likely due to a defective pump motor. This will almost certainly need to be replaced.

How do you unclog a dishwasher sprayer?

If the nozzle on your dishwasher’s “sprayer” (spray arm) is clogged, you can remove the blockage using a toothpick or cocktail stick. Be careful to prise the blockage out and not force it further into the nozzle. You could also soak the spray arm in a white vinegar/warm water solution to remove limescale.

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