Potential Causes For Unclean Dishes On The Lower Dishwasher Rack

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Has your dishwasher started slacking on the job by only washing the dishes on the top rack? Uneven cleaning can indicate a few different problems that range from simple quick fixes you can perform alone to difficult tasks best left to an expert.

If your dishwasher isn't cleaning the dishes on the lower rack, here are a few of the potential causes – and how to fix the issue on your own or with the help of a plumber service or appliance repair technician.

Blocked or Plugged Lower Spray Arm

The water in your dishwasher comes from your home's main plumbing and through a water inlet valve in the dishwasher. The inlet valve then directs the water into the two spray arms, one on the top and one on the bottom, that then turn and spray pressurized water at your dishes. A non-functioning lower spray arm can't spray the dishes on the lower rack to help get the dishes clean.

What causes a spray arm to stop functioning? The problem could be as simple as you putting a pan directly over the operating spray arm and thus blocking its attempts to spray the other dishes. If you always load the dishwasher carefully, then the problem could be the arm has become clogged or plugged with minerals or food debris.

Pull out your lower rack and visually inspect the sprayer arm for any utensils or large food debris that could have become stuck under the arm and impeded its spinning. If everything looks fine, remove the spray arm and check the hole through which the water sprays. Clean out any food debris inside the hole, if necessary.

Low Water Pressure

Does your home have a low water pressure issue throughout the plumbing? That problem is carrying over to your dishwasher where the lower spray arm simply doesn't have enough force to clean the food-caked pans and larger dishes that go on that rack. Call a plumber for assistance with your home's water pressure.

Does the rest of your home have strong water pressure? Check the water inlet valve for your dishwasher. First, check to see if the screen hasn't become clogged and clean accordingly. Second, you want to test the pressure of the inlet valve using a water pressure gauge. Check your user's manual for the exact pressure you want in your valve. If the numbers don't match, replace the valve. And if you had no idea what any of that pressure talk meant, call in an appliance repair person or plumber, such as Bowman's Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning, Inc.