• FAQ Library
  • How to troubleshoot your Whirlpool dishwasher

How to troubleshoot your Whirlpool dishwasher



A Whirlpool dishwasher makes it significantly easier to keep your kitchen clean and your dishes ready for use. Homeowners can count on Whirlpool dishwashers to last a long time. However, like any appliance, regular wear and tear can mean that parts need to be repaired or replaced over time. 

If you’ve started experiencing issues with your Whirlpool dishwasher, let us walk you through some common problems and what you can do to try to fix the issue.


Most common problems with Whirlpool dishwashers

Many people use their dishwashers every day, which means these appliances see tremendous use. 

Here are the normal wear-and-tear problems you might experience with your dishwasher:

  • The dishwasher does not drain properly.
  • The detergent cup is not working properly.
  • The dishwasher is not filling with water.
  • The dishwasher door is leaking.
  • There’s a bad smell coming from the dishwasher.

If your complaint fits any of these common reasons for the disruption, let’s explore step-by-step troubleshooting to fix the problem.


How can I fix my Whirlpool dishwasher when it’s not draining?

It can be very frustrating to open up your dishwasher after running it and find it didn’t drain properly. A few different situations can cause the dishwasher to have an incomplete drain cycle. Let’s explore each potential scenario so you can examine your appliance and try to discover the source of the problem.

Check whether the wash cycle is complete

To begin, make sure that the dishwasher has completed its cycle. If you accidentally open the dishwasher before it finishes the cycle, you might find it filled with water. 

Before you do anything else, look at the indicators on your dishwasher to see if a light or notch properly indicates the “clean” or “off” option. If you do not see this light, you might have accidentally interrupted the cycle. Simply close the door and press the start button again to tell the appliance to finish its cycle.

Check the drain for clogs

Dishwasher drains can become clogged. Many homes have the dishwasher set up to drain in the same space as the garbage disposal. This overlap means that a clog in the garbage disposal can also impact the dishwasher drain line and cause standing water to accumulate in the appliance.

If you believe there is a clog, you can check the dishwasher drain hose by following these steps: 

  • Carefully disconnect the drain hose from where it connects to the garbage disposal or sink. 
  • Put one end into a bucket to avoid a mess.
  • Once you have one end safely in a bucket, fill the dishwasher and drain it. 
  • Watch the water as it comes out. 
  • In some situations, this will encourage the clog to come out on its own. 
  • Reattach your hose and run the appliance normally. 

If the water trickles out, you might have a clog that’s not easily dislodged. In this situation, carefully pull the dishwasher out from the wall so you can disconnect the drain hose completely. 

Remember that water will likely leak from the appliance when you do this. Put a pan underneath to prevent water from getting on the floor. Once disconnected, you’ll be able to tell if the clog is one you can reach to clean out. You might have to replace the hose if it is damaged. 

Assess the drain hose

If you don’t see any signs of a clog, you might have a problem with the drain hose getting kinks in it, which can also limit drainage. Your drain hose should connect the bottom of your dishwasher to the drainpipe under your sink. Give it a careful visual inspection to check for signs of the hose being pinched or kinked. If it’s damaged, consider a replacement.

Examine the dishwasher and garbage disposal connection

Because the dishwasher connects directly to the garbage disposal, you’ll need to ensure the two systems are connected correctly. One of the most common problems in this area is forgetting to remove the knock-out plug. You'll find this plug near where the dishwasher drain hose attaches to the disposal. If this plug isn’t removed, the water won’t drain out of the dishwasher. 

Review the dishwasher check valve

The check valve prevents dirty water that drains out of the dishwasher from coming back into the appliance. If water did come back into the appliance, it would not be cleaning dishes effectively. If this valve gets stuck, it could disrupt the dishwasher’s drainage altogether. 

You’ll find the check valve underneath the dishwasher, near where the drain hose connects. Remove the drain hose from the dishwasher to see if you have any problems with this valve. Then check if the valve is clean and functions properly (opens or closes when needed).

Consider a repair or replacement part if your check valve is not working as it should. With a Cinch Home Services warranty, you can have peace of mind knowing that appliances like your dishwasher are covered from normal wear-and-tear damage, such as a broken check valve. 

Look into issues with the drain pump

If you have exhausted all of the above options, but your dishwasher still refuses to drain correctly, you may have a problem with your dishwasher drain pump. 

Your pump motor will likely be under the lower spray arm. It has two impellers (an upper impeller and a lower or drain impeller) and several other components that have the potential to get clogged with food. 

You can use your manufacturer’s manual to see how to take the pump apart to check for blockages. It might be better to call a professional if you do not have experience with this type of task. Consider Cinch for your home protection needs to be prepared for a moment like this.


Why is my Whirlpool dishwasher detergent cup not working?

Your dishwasher detergent cup has to open at the correct point in the cleaning cycle to make sure soap properly releases to wash the dishes. 

If your detergent cup is not working, you might see signs like:

  • The soap cup is still closed at the end of the cycle.
  • Soap is still lodged inside the open drawer when the cycle is over.
  • The soap is in a clump on the bottom of the dishwasher.

To fix this problem, check these features:

  • Make sure that nothing prevents the cup from opening. For example, see if you have residue on the lid that makes it hard to open.
  • Look at the placement of your dishes. Verify that no large pots or pans block the lid from opening.
  • Arrange your dishes so the sprayer arm can reach the soap dispenser. The spraying arm cannot spray the soap to dissolve into the water if it does not reach correctly.
  • Check the spring on the dishwasher lid. Make sure it clicks closed and will not open on its own prematurely. 
  • Verify that you did not overload the detergent cup. Filling it with too much soap can cause soap to leach around the clasp and make the top stick shut.
  • Make sure your dishwasher gets hot enough. The dishwasher can’t dissolve the soap as expected if it doesn’t have hot water. 

Follow your manufacturer’s guidelines to keep the detergent cup working long term.


Why is my Whirlpool dishwasher not filling with water?

There are a few common causes that would result in your dishwasher not filling with water correctly. One of the most frequent is a malfunctioning inlet valve. You can experience a variety of problems (e.g., water failing to fill the dishwasher) if the inlet valve does not properly control how much clean water gets into the unit. If your inlet valve is the source of the problem, then you’ll likely need to replace it.

If your inlet valve is not the issue, you might want to try the following ideas:

  • Check your float. The float tells the dishwasher when to stop filling with water so it doesn’t overflow. A stuck or blocked float can keep water out of the dishwasher. You’ll typically see the float in the bottom right of your dishwasher. Adjust the float so it moves up and down correctly.
  • Assess that your disposal inlet is in the right place. The disposal inlet should be at least 20 inches up. If your hose was not installed correctly, you probably want to get it adjusted by a plumber or related expert.
  • See if you have a clog in the water supply line. You can also experience a clog due to food debris in the water supply line. To check for this, turn off the water supply and remove the valve on the back of the machine to look for signs of obstructions. Keep the valve clean by scrubbing it with baking powder and water.


Why is my Whirlpool dishwasher door leaking?

There is a rubber seal around your dishwasher door. This seal creates a watertight environment that keeps the water inside the appliance.

Over time, this seal can begin to break down from normal wear and tear and start to leak. If you notice water leaking from your dishwasher door, you’ll want to inspect this seal carefully. Replace the seal to keep water from leaking out if you find evidence of cracking or damage.


Why does my Whirlpool dishwasher smell bad?

Dishwashers do an excellent job of cleaning dishes. However, the food particles stuck to the plates, bowls, pots and pans still end up somewhere. These little pieces of food can get lodged inside the dishwasher if you don’t clean out your appliance regularly. Over time, this food can begin to rot and grow bacteria, leading to a bad smell coming from your dishwasher.

The best way to solve this problem is to give your dishwasher a good cleaning. Remove the bottom dish rack and clean out any food buildup trapped along the bottom or sides. 

You can also look at your manufacturer’s instructions to see how to use a screwdriver to uncover the dishwasher filters and clean them. Before taking the filters out, ensure you understand the filter assembly so you can put them back together. Getting rid of this grime can help eliminate foul odors.


How much do dishwasher repairs cost?

If you go through these steps and find that your dishwasher still needs repair by a professional, you can expect the cost to run between $200 and $300. A professional can address issues that would be too complicated for a standard DIY appliance repair project and help you keep your Whirlpool dishwasher working for years to come.


Consider a Cinch Appliances plan for your dishwasher

We know how important your dishwasher is in your daily life and how disruptive it can be if the appliance does not work correctly. If something goes wrong with your Whirlpool dishwasher, ensure you can quickly access a professional to repair or replace it.

In addition to familiarizing yourself with important information about fixing routine problems that can happen with your dishwasher, you can also turn to the security of a home warranty. A Cinch Appliances plan can cover dishwasher repairs required due to normal wear and tear. If something goes wrong with your dishwasher, a vetted technician can help you solve the problem quickly. 

Experience the relief that comes with knowing your important appliances are protected. Reach out for an instant quote!


Your Whirlpool dishwasher may experience problems or malfunctioning parts because of wear and tear. Here is what you need to know.