Considering handling a dishwasher repair on your own? While you decide if this article is worth your time, let me just say that by the end, no new replacement parts were need and the cost of a replacement motor, or a new dishwasher, was also avoided, keeping enough money in my pocket to take the Missus out to a nice dinner.
Frigidaire dishwashers are a popular choice for many people because they offer pretty good wash results and fairly quite operation at a decent price. That doesn’t mean they won’t give you problems from time to time, like any appliance will. So let’s have a look at some options…
To start with I’m going to check the components that we can get at from the inside of the dishwasher tank. Maybe we’ll get lucky and find something like a toothpick in there.
There are two screens that need to be removed to get at the wash pump impeller. That’s a fancy word for pump paddle wheel. These screens should filter out seeds and small bones that might cause a noise like this, but then again you never know. The lower wash arm has a nifty little tab that needs to be rotated clockwise 90 degrees.
Little side note: removing these screens from time to time for a good cleaning will help your dishwasher work better for the long haul. If you have a heavy soap or mineral deposit you may want to try a good dishwasher cleaner like “Glisten” or “Dishwasher Magic” and cut back on the soap. You may also want to check out the dishwasher trouble shooting tips available at ApplianceAssistant.com. Now we get to the good stuff.
Three screws are all that hold this diverter cover in place which directs the water from the upper pump holder to the lower spray arms. After that’s off we can look for anything that may have worked its way down there and be causing a sound like this. Any time you have a fast ticking-type noise it’s a pretty clear indicator that you should be looking for something that spins like a pump, fan, or motor.
I’m not seeing anything down here in the wash motor and when we run it with all the parts off I’m still getting the sound, so we’re going to need to dig a little deeper and get to the meat and potatoes.
Now let’s stop and think about these dishwasher problem symptoms.
We have this mystery noise that has been increasing over the last several weeks. Last night my wife decided that she had had enough and, as we all know, if mama’s not happy, nobody’s happy. One other thing that I noticed is that the noise is strongest when the dishwasher is washing and not so much during the drain which is important because this style of dishwasher has two pumps. A recirculation pump to push water and detergent through the dishwasher spray arms and clean off your filth, and a drain pump to remove all the nasty water from the tank leaving your dishes sparkling clean.
With the lower panel off it is clear that the sound is coming from the main wash motor and not the drain pump. I could have also just hit the “cancel drain” button twice and shifted the dishwasher from wash to drain and that would have given me a pretty clear indication as to which motor I needed to focus on.
Also, if you’re reaching under a live dishwasher, which I in no way recommend, use extreme caution. If you’re lying in water and your arm brushes a live wire, worrying about dishwasher noises is going to be pretty low on your priority list.
For a more detailed look at removing and reinstalling the dishwasher you may want to look at the “Dishwasher Installation” video at ApplianceAssistant.com.
Here’s a little tip that I acquired from installing a few thousand dishwashers: look very closely at the plumbing connections before you touch anything. Plumbing can go from zero to a bad dream in a hurry. So make sure your valve connections look good or please ask your children to leave the room.
You should also know where your home’s main water shut off valve is before you’re frantically searching for it or a wrench during an emergency. If you’re working with a hard copper water supply connection you may also want to replace it with a flexible reinforced line. This makes reinstallation much easier. Do not use plastic lines.
With the dishwasher out it’s much easier to access the drain pump, wash motor, and other parts. As you can see it’s nothing fancy, not much to it. Let me give you a quick part run down before we move on.
Heater connections: Held in place with two threaded nuts. These brass nuts can sometimes be the source of leaking. If these nuts crack down the side they don’t hold the heater in place and keep pressure on the washers that are just above sealing them in the tank. These hoses are a favorite by the way. Mice and rats can eat up a dishwasher faster than you can say GO. So if you suddenly find yourself with a serious leak, hoses are the first thing you want to look at.
The safety thermostat: This cuts power to the heater in an emergency. These are very rare to fail.
The float switch senses how much water is in the tank and opens, cutting power to the water valve when the tank is full.
The drain pump is mounted to this bracket with two screws. The drain pump can sometimes also be clogged with something that can cause a very similar sound, but during the drain, or lock up the pump completely not allowing the water to drain out at all.
The drain pump housing can be separated after removing three screws. This would allow you to clear anything that may have found its way it there and you can also see if an impeller fin has broken off. This would reduce the drains speed or water volume.
The washer motor is mounted to the sump area with this pressure bracket which is secured in place by two torque screws. Once the clip is out you just pull on the motor. There are two o-ring seals to prevent leaking so it may help to wiggle and twist a little as you pull.
This motor uses spring loaded bars called brushes that transfer electricity to the rotor of the motor causing it to spin in the rotating magnetic field of the motor windings. These brushes grind down over time and eventually will no longer power the motor.
The ends of the motor are suspended in place by bearings allowing for smooth, quiet operation. These bearing can corrode, or break down, causing noisy operation, especially if the motor has been leaked on or become wet at any time.
This is not safe. I do not recommend that you do it, but for your instructional benefit I will hurl myself into harms way and risk life and limb to impart to you a better understanding of the inner-dynamics of this very common appliance problem. Wish me luck and hopefully I’ll be able to complete part 2 of this dishwasher troubleshooting article.