How to Fix a Dishwasher That Won’t Spin

February 2, 2022
Dishwasher Repair

Dishwashers clean by pumping water into the spray arms, which should rotate and clean the dishes. The spray arms rely on receiving enough water from the circulation pump to provide the water pressure needed to spin them. 

If the spray arms do not spin, the dishwasher will struggle to clean the dishes. In most cases, the circulation pump or the spray arms themselves will be responsible for the spray arms not spinning. Read on to troubleshoot and fix the issue.

Make sure to disconnect the power to the dishwasher before accessing any internal components. For safety, it is also recommended to turn the water supply to the dishwasher off before accessing internal components.

1. Check the spray arms are not being blocked

You have likely already checked, but just in case you haven’t, make sure that the spray arms are not being impeded by any dishes, cutlery, or a component of the dishwasher. 

Before starting a cycle, rotate the dishwasher’s spray arms to make sure they spin without hitting anything. Remove or reposition any items that stop the spray arms from spinning.

2. Check the spray arms for blockages

Dishwasher spray arms require a certain amount of water pressure to rotate correctly. If the spray arm is blocked, it can affect the water pressure and cause the spray arm not to spin.

Depending on the type of dishwasher, it likely has a lower and upper spray arm. The lower spray arm can usually be removed by simply lifting it out of the dishwasher. The upper spray arm usually has a nut that needs to be turned counterclockwise to remove it from the dishwasher.

Once you have removed the spray arms, you can visually inspect the spray arm holes for blockages. Needle-nose pliers or tweezers can be used to remove debris that is stuck in a spray arm hole.

You will be able to see where the water enters the spray arm and the holes on the other side that the water comes out of. By applying water from the kitchen faucet, you can test whether water can enter the spray arm and come out of all the spray arm holes. 

If water is not coming out of any of the spray arm holes, and you cannot see a blockage that you can clear, the spray arm most likely has an internal blockage, meaning the spray arm will need to be replaced.

3. Check the circulation pump

Most dishwashers have a circulation pump responsible for circulating water throughout the dishwasher. One of the roles of the circulation pump is to provide water with the correct water pressure to rotate the spray arms. If there is a problem with the circulation pump, the spray arms may not be receiving enough water or water pressure to spin the spray arms.

The circulation pump can fail because of wear-and-tear, a blockage, or a damaged impeller.

Depending on the type of dishwasher, you may be able to access the pump by removing the filter in the middle of the dishwasher sump. Typically, you will be able to remove a small pump cover by pulling the tab that protrudes from it. Removing the cover will give you access to a portion of the pump, which can be checked for blockages. 

If the spray arms still will not rotate, after clearing this area of the dishwasher of debris, the front panel and kick plate of the dishwasher will likely need to be removed to check the entire circulation pump.

The circulation pump is located at the base of the dishwasher, underneath the sump. Accessing the circulation pump can depend on the type of dishwasher that you have. 

In most cases, you will need to remove the dishwasher’s kick plate and the front panel of the dishwasher. The dishwasher will likely need to be pulled out and placed on its back to access the pump underneath the dishwasher.

Once you have accessed the pump, check the pump for debris that is preventing the pump from working correctly. Be careful of sharp objects, like glass, that may be caught in the pump.

Next, check that the pump’s impeller can be turned freely by hand. If the impeller cannot turn freely, it most likely needs to be replaced. If there is any damage to the impeller, it will also likely need to be replaced.

Finally, the circulation pump can be checked with a multimeter to determine if it has failed and needs to be replaced. The pump should be removed from the dishwasher before testing it for continuity with the multimeter. If the pump fails the continuity test, it will need to be replaced.

4. Check internal dishwasher hoses

If the circulation pump does not have any issues, the hoses that connect to it may have a blockage that is preventing the spray arms from receiving enough water pressure.

Checking the hoses for blockages will require opening the dishwasher up like you need to do to access the circulation pump. However, depending on the dishwasher, hoses may be hidden behind panels that can be difficult to remove. If this is the case with your dishwasher, calling a trained technician is likely the best course of action.

If you are able to access the internal dishwasher hoses, check them for blockages. Hopefully, you find the blockage that is preventing the spray arms from spinning.


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