Repairing Your Dishwasher Sprayer Arms

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The dishwasher is one of the cleverest inventions in the last century. Rather than spending an hour every evening washing and drying at the sink, the dishwasher uses spinning water-sprayer arms, wire racks, and timely soap dispensing to get your dishes just about spotless every time. Those spinning sprayer arms are the key to everything. They ensure the dishes are hit with hot, soapy water from nearly every angle and they simulate the agitation of hand-scrubbing.

Why Sprayer Arms Fail

So when your sprayer arms begin to fail, there can be some real problems. Dishwasher sprayer arms will stop working in a few different ways. The tracks they spin on can become jammed. The holes they spray out of can become clogged. The supply hose may be misaligned, or the signal may not be sent from the control board. If the part is completely broken, it will need replacing.

Most often, your sprayers will be hindered by a temporary problem relating to the spinning track or the sprayer holes. These can be easily fixed with a little at-home handiwork if you know how to tackle the problem.  

Rinse Sprayer Arms with Vinegar

The single most common dishwasher problem is clogged sprayer holes caused by hard water. What makes water “hard” is a combination of harmless minerals like calcium and magnesium. They’re basically a nuisance. Hard water minerals prevent soap from sudsing and build up as chalky “scale” on sinks and tubs, on the skin, in hair, and in the laundry. It also slowly clogs pipes, faucets, and nozzles. Fortunately, the hard-water buildup is easy to get rid of with simple white vinegar. Pour white vinegar over your clogged sprayer arms to melt away the scale-caps. 

Poke Clear the Sprayer Arm Holes

Another way to clear those little scale-caps in your sprayer arms quickly is with the straightened end of a paper clip. Get a pin or wire and insert the end into each sprayer hole that is clogged. This will push the small hardened scale-cap away and allow water to flow again. Clearing these holes manually is not a complete solution, as there will still be build-up inside the arm water line, but it can temporarily get your sprayer arm back in commission. 

Remove the Sprayer Arms and Soak them in Vinegar

However, if it seems like your sprayer arms are clogging regularly or the flow is restricted, it can help to fully submerge them in vinegar. Loosen the locking ring or bolt that secures each sprayer arm. Your dishwasher model may also have a clip that needs to be squeezed to release before the sprayer arm comes away.

Once you have the sprayer arm loose, soak it in white vinegar. Also try holding it upside-down and pouring in white vinegar to run the vinegar through its tubing and let it flow out the clearing holes. You can use pure vinegar or mix vinegar with hot water, no weaker than a 1:1 ratio. By allowing the sprayer arm to soak, you can completely clear any old hard water buildup. 

Clean Sprayer Arm Connection

Another possible malfunction occurs where the sprayer arm connects and spins. Repairing the motor is deeper than most home DIY repairs go, but you can make sure the track is clear and spinning freely. While you’ve got the sprayer arm off the socket, take a close look at the two pieces and where they meet. Wipe down the inside and outside of the socket and use vinegar to clear any scale that may have built up there. Ensure there is no food buildup or grime in the area as well.

Wipe down the outside of the sprayer arm side of the connection as well with a warm sponge and vinegar. 

Align The Water Line

Inside the socket in the base of the dishwasher, there is a plastic tube. When the sprayer arm is attached, that water line must be aligned and connected properly for water to flow. It that line is misaligned, the water pressure may be weak and the dishwasher may leak. Check inside the socket to see if the water line is properly aligned and in place when you reattach the sprayer arms. 

Reconnect and Test the Sprayer Arms

Once you have cleaned the connectors and ensured the water line is in place, reconnect your dishwasher sprayer arms. Turn the connecting bolt or locking ring until it clicks into place. If there are clips or clasps, ensure they are secure as well.

With your sprayer arms reconnected, it’s time to run a test. Put a few visibly dirty dishes into your dishwasher with soap and attempt to run a cycle. Listen carefully during the washing sequence, as malfunctions are often audible. When the dishwasher is done, check to see if the dishes are clean and if the sprayer arms appear to have performed correctly. 

Replace Faulty Sprayer Arms with Identical Parts

If your sprayer arms are still broken after a thorough cleaning and reattachment, then they may actually be broken. Don’t worry, this is an easy problem to solve. Look up the make and model of your dishwasher and the correct part number for the sprayer arms. Order a replacement part. If you are replacing both sprayer arms, top and bottom, they will likely be two different replacement parts.Remove the old sprayer arms by twisting off the locking ring or bolt. Attach the replacement sprayer arms with a simple reversal of the same process. 

Test Your Dishwasher

That concludes all the sprayer arm repair steps that can be made safely without technical training. Test your dishwasher once more to find out if your repairs were sufficient. If you were correct about the sprayer arms needing replacement (or if cleaning worked) then your sprayer arms should now be functioning correctly and washing your dishes to satisfaction.

If the sprayer arms appear fine but your dishwasher still isn’t functioning, it’s time to consult with a technician. We can help you troubleshoot the wiring, electrical components, and deeper plumbing concerns that might be causing your dishwasher to fail. It might be the motor that spins the arms, the electrical switches or boards that send a signal to the arms to spin, or a break in the plumbing line behind or beneath the dishwasher. For more information or to schedule a dishwasher consultation, contact us today.

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