6 Ways to Repair Your Dishwasher Racks

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Dishwashers are pretty reliable appliances. With the water lines installed correctly, a dishwasher can serve you sometimes for a decade or more without needing many repairs.  Dishwasher racks are another story. Depending on the make and model of your dishwasher, those racks could be equally sturdy, sturdier than the dishwasher, or barely last a few years before you’re doing your first rack repairs.

Dishwasher racks range widely in design quality and some are more easily damaged or rusted than others. Your household uses may also determine how well your dishwasher racks hold up. Rambunctious dishwasher loading or regularly washing very heavy things can both lead to accidentally bending or breaking the racks. Dishwasher racks can fall out of their tracks, get damaged from accidental impacts, or you might not even know why your dishwasher racks seem to need repairs.

The exact cause of your dishwasher rack troubles doesn’t matter. All you need is a solution. Today, we’re highlighting six different common fixes for dishwasher racks depending on the problems you’re looking to repair. 

1) Close the Track Latches

Problem: Dishwasher racks keep falling out of the tracks.

For most people using a good-quality dishwasher in a non-extreme way, the leading problem with dishwasher racks is that they fall out. When you pull your dishwasher racks all the way forward, do they fall right out of the tracks? This is very common and can, in fact, happen to all or most dishwashers without anything being broken at all. Chances are that your tracks and racks aren’t broken, the track latches are open.

At the end of each track should be a small cap on a hinge. The cap can flip forward to act as a bumper or stopper. Alternately, the cap can flip backward, opening the ends of the tracks. This is so you can intentionally remove the racks for cleaning or maintenance. Unfortunately, those little caps flip pretty easily and you can definitely bump one (or both) open while loading the dishwasher.

So just slide your dishwasher rack back into place and flip those caps forward. Consider some plumber’s tape to keep them locked in the future. 

2) Bend the Rack Back Into Shape

Problem: Dishwasher racks or tines are bent.

Dishwasher racks are made of thick metal wire and vinyl coating. The metal wire is so thick that it acts more like bendable bars than like normal wire. But it is wire and that means that it bends surprisingly well when subjected to force. Needless to say, dishwasher racks get bent often. Heavy dishes and a heavy hand at loading the dishwasher can bend a few of your tines. An impact or out-of-dishwasher time could even warp an entire rack out of shape.

Before you give up and get a new rack, try bending the old one back into shape. Apply knowledge of physics and twist or push until the rack is straightened and its tines are at a useful angle to you. 

3)  Use Vinyl Paint to Glue Broken Tines

Problem: One or more tines broke off the dishwasher rack.

Tines sometimes break off when put under enough stress for long enough, or a sudden impact that bends and snaps them. You can also remove a tine with heavy-duty wire cutters or a Dremel cutting tool and replace it with a new, undamaged tine.

Interestingly, this is not done with glue. A new tine is installed using vinyl paint, the type specifically made for dishwashers. Cut and sand the connection on the dishwasher rack, then use a dollop of latex paint to glue on the new tine. Apply any additional latex paint when the tine dries to ensure a rust-free seal. 

4) Scrub Off the Rust and Re-Apply Vinyl Paint

Problem: Dishwasher rack is rusting or has exposed metal pieces.

Perhaps your dishwasher rack is already experiencing some serious rust. Not all racks were built to last and a certain amount of damage to the latex finish could account for rust patches. Rust often appears at the tips of tines and in the corners (joins) of the structure. Rust is what happens when water from the dishwashing process touches the metal inside, a process calls oxidation begins. Oxidation is rust for iron, oxide for silver, and so on. It is a process of corrosion that eats away at metal layer by layer.

So if you’ve got rust, you can remove it and keep it from coming back. First, sand all the rusted areas until they are sparkling clean with no paint at all. Then apply a layer of your dishwasher latex paint to all now-exposed metal areas. The latex paint will bond with the previous coating for an easy-to-do repair. 

Replacing the entire rack may be the best option though, it just depends on the amount of rust.

5) Level the Dishwasher Feet

Problem: Dishwasher racks keep rolling forward when the door is open.

If your dishwasher racks keep rolling forward (outward) no matter what you do or how you load them, then you’ve got a misunderstanding with physics. If the racks keep rolling out, it might be because of gravity.

Check the level of your dishwasher, both front-to-back and side-to-side. If your dishwasher’s back feet are longer than its front feet, then it will lean forward. Leaning forward gives a gravity boost to things that slide. Therefore the solution is to level the dishwasher’s front legs until the two synced up. 

6) Clean the Track and Wheels

Problem: Dishwasher racks are stiff or crunchy in the tracks

What if your real problem is crunchy, often-stuck dishwasher racks instead? We have you covered. When your dishwasher racks don’t seem to fit or roll right anymore, there are two options. The first is that the wheels and track need some maintenance. The second is that the rack is bent out of shape. Since we’ve already covered bending, let’s talk about wheel cleanliness. Enough food particles or residue soap in the tracks would cause any rack wheel to stick or crunch. Pull your racks out and clean the wheels. Then get into the dishwasher and clean the tracks as well, inside the metal lip. Then try sliding your racks back in. The glide is probably much smoother already.

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