Monday, March 8, 2010

I Fixed My Dishwasher!

Maggie let me know that our dishwasher was leaking by licking the floor in front of it.  She might not ever save me from a burning building, but she'll lick up any liquid she can find.

I knew the sink had been filling while the dishwasher ran, but I usually solved that by running the garbage disposer. I should have known better.

When I stopped the cycle and opened the door, there was water everywhere. I removed all the dishes and the bottom rack. It took three beach towels to mop up the water from the floor.


 Sundance and I gathered our supplies:

  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Measuring cups
  • Screwdriver (although I ended up needed pliers isntead)
  • Towels
  • Extra strength Excedrin (I know myself too well)
I took a bucket and started baling water from the dishwasher's interior. As the bucket filled I dumped it into the yard. I started with the 1 cup measure and went all the way down until even the 1/8 cup was too small. At that point I started using the turkey baster. It was a SLOW process, but I gathered an entire half-gallon using the turkey baster alone!

Looked pretty scrungy!  Next step was to remove the basket behind the spinning arm and the screen all the way in the back. Depending upon the dishwasher you'll either need a screwdriver or pliers. My pliers worked fine.

I removed the parts and can we all say "EWWWWW!" How clean were my dishes actually getting when the water was going through this muck?

I filled a bucket with vinegar water and dumped these parts in to soak. Vinegar is a natural, inexpensive and eco-friendly disinfectant. The acid in it helps break down grease, soap and other yukky stuff. I knew that half my work on these parts would be done just from a 1/2 hour soak, followed by a scrubbing with a baking soda paste using an old toothbrush.

While the parts soaked it was time to clean the rest of the interior with vinegar as well. I cleaned the base, sides and door frame using straight vinegar on a clean, damp sponge.

Your dishwasher has a tube connected to the garbage disposer.  In this picture, it's the white bendable plastic pipe.

When the dishwasher overflows, the problem may actually be the disposer, so I knew I had to disconnect that pipe and make sure there were no obstructions. This time my screwdriver came in handy.  Using a flashlight I was able to see that the tube was clear.

Next I disconnected the trap leading from the sink and garbage disposer.  Make sure to have a bucket or dishpan to catch anything that comes out.  The trap actually looked pretty good, but I put it into the vinegar solution just to make sure. 

With that all clear I next used an auger to go through the horizontal pipe under the sink, just to make sure there wasn't a clog further down the line.

Time to reconnect everything and give it a try.  You can see how clean the basket and strainer is after its vinegar soak and baking soda scrubbing.

Before trying it with dishes I wanted to give everything another shot of vinegar. Instead of detergent in the dispenser, I poured some vinegar in the bottom of the basket. That would help clear any remaining detritus throughout the plumbing system, including the garbage disposal.

It worked like a charm!

In order to prevent future clogs and build-ups I've put it on my calendar to do a baking soda/vinegar cleaning in the sink monthly.  

  1. Take 1/2 cup baking soda and pour into the sink's drain.
  2. Add 1/2 cup vinegar. You'll see the solution bubble.
  3. Let sit in drain for 1/2 hour - 2 hours.
  4. Flush out with a tea kettle full of boiling water.
  5. Run hot water from sink for a few seconds.
  6. Put stopper in sink and fill with hot water.
  7. When sink is full, take stopper out.
  8. This combination is cheap and effective.  If you DO end up having a clog anyway, this solution is non-toxic. It will not endanger you or your friendly neighborhood plumber.
I am so proud of myself!

May all your water be clear,


Judy said...

That was certainly an awesome adventure. I just need to get a dishwasher. The vineager and baking soda I use in my bath tub drain. Works like a charm

Linda said...

Congratulations! Aren't you proud of yourself???? Look at what you are able to accomplish!

Laura said...

Great job! You are an inspiration! Our dishwasher hasn't worked since they drained the hot water heater and I'm certain that there's just some hard water deposit that clogged something up. I may just try your instructions for fixing it myself. We haven't been able to use it for a number of years, so what do I have to lose, right?