Any tips for dishwasher repair?
June 25, 2013 1:23 AM   Subscribe

I have a Siemens dishwasher which has suddenly stopped working properly. It doesn't seem to be heating water. I've found plenty of ideas online about what might be wrong. I'm quite handy and would be happy to have a go at fixing it myself, but I'm not sure about the degree of difficulty here. I don't want to risk setting the thing on fire. My question is: have you repaired something like this yourself? Or it is definitely a "call the repairer" situation? I don't like to throw money away on things I can fairly easily do myself (eg in an afternoon), but safety is my first consideration.
posted by rubbish bin night to Home & Garden (7 answers total)
I've repaired my own dishwasher before. I'd say it's at about the same level as most electrical appliances.

Dishwashers are fairly simple and modular. If it's just a heating element that needs swapping out, it should be a straightforward job - not much harder than swapping the element in an oven. Of course, the difficulty kind of depends on how easy the part is to access (how much other stuff you have to remove then reattach correctly).

I think some dishwashers have a heating element that circles the base of the machine, while others have a heating unit through which water circulates. Mine was the latter, but as I was replacing a pump, I didn't really investigate.
posted by pipeski at 2:12 AM on June 25, 2013

As someone once told me when I was first considering fixing my own car about 23 years ago: You can see all the bolts. How hard can it be?

My dishwasher broke a couple of months ago. The fix took about 10 minutes, and the part was $25 delivered. The dishwasher in my last house had problems too, and I generally spent more time identifying the correct part numbers than actually working on the thing. Like pipeski said, they're simple and modular. Fixing them is just a matter of removing and replacing parts, often requiring little more than a screwdriver. If you're generally handy and confident of the diagnosis, it's not a bad idea. Unplug the thing or flip the breaker before touching anything electrical.
posted by jon1270 at 3:30 AM on June 25, 2013

Go for it...go slow and make sure you can get it back together. I've found that new appliances have become less robust over the years - so it's a good skill to have. I've never had a Siemens appliance, but I've found it relatively easy to fix most of the problems - typically they are easy to diagnose once you get it apart.

For your specific case I would look to see if there is a thermal fuse on the heating element - these usually would shut off all of the power to the washer, but in this case might just keep the heating element from working.

Also check to see if it's filling correctly and the float isn't stuck. It won't heat if it doesn't think there is enough water to cover the element.
posted by NoDef at 6:17 AM on June 25, 2013

I have repaired several everyone says, they are modular and simple. I found a book at the hardware store with step by step instructions to help me with accurate diagnoses and some tips on getting to hard to reach bits. Go for it.
posted by txmon at 7:31 AM on June 25, 2013

When I wanted to fix my dishwasher, I was able to find youtube videos to walk me through it. If you can find some videos that address your washer's particular issue, you should be able to judge whether or not it's something you want to tackle.
posted by vignettist at 10:49 AM on June 25, 2013

I'm going to take a slightly different approach and say if you have to ask, maybe this isn't something you should be doing yourself. Your concerns about "not wanting to set it on fire" suggest that you may not have a thorough understanding of the systems involved, and without a good working knowledge of how electricity works, how heating elements, thermostats, thermistors, etc. work, you're going to have a hard time effectively troubleshooting your problem. There's a big difference between systematically diagnosing and troubleshooting an issue, and black boxing parts until the problem goes away. With the latter, you might get lucky, or it might be the 10th part you tried. Some things are fairly obvious, if you're getting no continuity through an element or thermostat, or no resistance change with heat to a thermistor, those are pretty obvious failures. But again, the comment about setting it on fire concerns me.
posted by xedrik at 3:01 PM on June 25, 2013

Only this week I fixed the grinding noise my Siemens dishwasher was making by cleaning out the pump, following the instructions in the service manual. It's all nice and quiet again now. But if that hadn't worked, I'd have called out the engineer because it's still under guarantee. From your user name I'm guessing you're in the UK, and if so, check and see if you have the Siemens 5-year guarantee. You can check on the Siemens website, or (as I found) in my gmail account where the emailed guarantee was lurking.

If it's not under guarantee, I'd suggest going into a local electrical store (not Currys), a small independent, one of the Euronics stores, and asking them to recommend someone. This has worked for me when I needed a repair to my stove, and you'll probably find that under the counter they have a little directory of local people who service and repair appliances.

Not heating water suggests an electrical fault, which needs an expert.
posted by essexjan at 3:19 PM on June 25, 2013

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