Dishwasher Arms Not Spinning – What To Do?

Have you noticed that your dishwasher has not been cleaning your dishes well over the past few weeks? Are there still pieces of food stuck on them when you pull them out of the dishwasher? If so, it could mean that there is a problem with your dishwasher spray arms. Several reasons could cause this, and we've researched the most common ones to help you troubleshoot and fix the issue.

Oftentimes, when the spray arms in a dishwasher begin to malfunction, it is due to them simply being worn out and needing replacement. Issues with other components or issues surrounding the dishwasher's care and usage could also be the culprits. Here are a few ways to resolve this issue:

  • Check The Water Valve
  • Replace The Spray Arm
  • Check The Overfill Float Switch
  • Clean The Spray Arm
  • Inspect The Circulation Pump
  • Detached Tubes and Connector Hoses

water dispensers and dishwasher arms in a modern dishwasher, Dishwasher Arms Not Spinning - What To Do

Spray arms are essential to the cleaning capability and overall functioning of a dishwasher. When they are inoperable, the dishwasher will not clean the dishes. Sometimes the issue can be fixed by simply replacing a part or changing how you operate the unit. Continue reading to learn how to fix sprayer arms that are not working.

Things To Check When Your Dishwasher's Spray Arms Not Spinning

Things To Check When Your Dishwasher's Spray Arms Not Spinning

Check The Water Valve

One of the most common reasons for spray arms not working is the lack of a proper water level. If there isn't enough water entering the dishwasher, the spray arms will not activate. If you have a dishwasher that's more on the quiet side, try opening the dishwasher after one of the cycles (catch it before the rinse cycle) to see if the bottom of the tub is wet.

Household plumbing connecting water supply hose

If it is not, then the issue is likely a water supply problem--in which case, you may need to check the water inlet valve. This valve controls the flow of water into the dishwasher. It can usually be found on the lower left side of the dishwasher behind the kick plate (you will need to remove the front door panel to access it). You can use a multimeter to test for continuity, and if it is faulty, it will need to be replaced.

Buy a multimeter on Amazon.

Replace The Spray Arm

If the dishwasher is not spraying water at all, it could mean that the spray arm is worn out and in need of replacement. Replacing this part is fairly simple and doesn't require a lot of technical know-how. Spray arms are located at the bottom of the dishwasher and can easily be pulled out by a simple twist and lift.

Spin the spray arm with your hand to see if it rotates freely. If it doesn't, it may be time to replace it. The price of a new spray arm is fairly low and can range anywhere from $20 to $40 per arm. If you have a more expensive dishwasher model, you may end up paying more for the replacement.

Check The Overfill Float Switch

Overfill float switch

The overfill float switch is responsible for limiting the amount of water that fills the dishwasher for each cleaning cycle. Sometimes this component can wear out over time and begin to malfunction. A faulty overfill float switch will turn off the dishwasher before the water fills to the appropriate level.

The relay switch is located beneath the bottom of the dish tub and can be tested by lifting the float (located on the tub's floor near the front of the dishwasher) and listening for a clicking sound. If you lift the float and hear a click, the float switch is good. If you don't hear a click, the switch may be faulty.

Clean The Spray Arm

water dispensers in a modern dishwasher, featured, Dishwasher Arms Not Spinning - What To Do?

Over time, spray arms can become clogged due to mineral and limescale build-up from hard water. They can also become clogged with grease, debris, and leftover food particles from the wash cycle. If the spray arms become clogged for too long, they will lose their ability to function, as water will not exit through the spray holes.

If you had your dishwasher for a few years and frequently used it, this could be the issue. Try removing spray arms from the dishwasher and inspecting them. If the holes are clogged, try soaking them and warm soapy water for 30 minutes to an hour. Also, use a toothpick or fork to clear out any debris that may clog the holes in the spray arms.

Inspect The Circulation Pump

Dishwasher circulation pump

A dishwasher's circulation pump uses a suction mechanism to pump water from a tube to and out of the spray arms. If the pump becomes clogged due to the debris in the dishwasher's soapy water, it will not be able to move water to the spray arms effectively. This is also why it's important to thoroughly clean your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher, as food particles can float through the soapy water and cause clogs in various components of the unit.

You can locate the circulation pump easily, as it lays right beneath the spray arm. To access it, remove the spray arm and filter, then twist the pump counterclockwise and lift it out. Depending on your dishwasher brand and model, you may need to use a screwdriver to access the pump.

Visually inspect the pump to see if there are any blockages around the shaft or inside of the water hose connected to the pump. Remove any debris with your hand and toss it in the trash bin. Replacing a circulation pump can be a rather involved project and will typically require an appliance professional (preferably one familiar with your specific dishwasher brand). These pumps can vary in price, typically ranging between $50 to $150.

Detached Tubes and Connector Hoses

Metal clamp for connection of dishwasher drain hose


The circulation pump powers the spray arms of a dishwasher. However, if the hose connecting the circulation pump or the spray arms becomes disconnected, the arms will not operate at all. It may be best to first refer to your user's manual to determine their exact location and appearance to inspect the hoses. Once you locate all of the tubes and hoses connected to the spray arms and pump, make sure that they are connected and do not contain any kinks or bands that may cause water blockages.

How Does A Dishwasher Spray Arm work?

When the cleaning cycle is initiated, the circulation pump sucks water through the water line and mixes it with detergent from the detergent dispenser. It then forces the water through the holes of the spray arms. The spray arms are operated by the dishwasher's motor and rotate as water shoots out of their holes to clean and rinse the dishes.

Buy dishwasher detergent on Amazon.

Can You Run A Dishwasher Without Its Spray Arms?

Running a dishwasher without the spray arms attached is not recommended by appliance professionals. Not only can it cause problems with your dishwasher, but being that the water will not shoot up at the trajectory needed to clean the dishes, it will simply pool on the tub's bottom.

How Do You Test Your Dishwasher Spray Arms?

water dispensers in a modern dishwasher

Testing your dishwasher spray arms is a fairly simple process. Start by opening your dishwasher and removing the top and bottom racks. Next, reach into the dishwasher and give the spray arm a quick twirl with your hand. A functioning spray arm should move freely and rotate a few times after you turn it.

If the spray arm barely moves or seems restricted in any way, it may be faulty. Next, pull out the spray arm and inspect the holes to see if they are blocked with grime or food particles. Over time, this can also cause malfunctions. If the holes are clogged, soak them in soapy tissue dishwater for half an hour to an hour.

Is It Worth Repairing A Dishwasher?

Deciding whether to replace or repair your dishwasher is a decision best made by weighing a few factors. Here are a few questions that you can ask to determine the best decision for your situation:

  1. How old is the dishwasher?
  2. Is the dishwasher still under warranty?
  3. Will the cost of the repair be more than the cost of the replacement?

The best thing to do is first to take a look at your warranty information and then do a bit of research to determine how much the repair will be. It's also helpful to call around to get quotes on the dishwasher, just in case. Ultimately, if the dishwasher repair will be significantly more than the dishwasher is worth, it may be best to purchase a new dishwasher.

Wrapping Things Up

Hopefully, you have a better understanding of the reasons that may cause a dishwasher's spray arms to stop spinning. If you aren't able to troubleshoot this issue yourself, you may need to call an appliance repair professional to perform a diagnostic test for you.

Before you go, be sure to check out other posts:

How To Clean A Copper Mixing Bowl [4 Effective Ways]

Are Casserole Dishes Dishwasher Safe? [Here’s Which Ones Are]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *