The other day I went to empty out the dishwasher and--lo and behold--the dishes weren't
clean! The horror! Instead what I saw was a bunch of dirty dishes, chocolate stains all
over the inside of dishwasher, and the detergent drooling down the inside of the door. I
was certain the dishwasher had just run too. After some inspection I realized the
dishwasher had simply decided to stop using water. Great.
So today I put on my handyman hat and set out to fix the dishwasher. I actually learned a lot about dishwashers in a very short amount of time. Thanks to the power of the Internet, and in particular the very informative acmehowto.com site, I systematically began troubleshooting the problem. I removed the bottom panels, and verified everything looked "normal" (whatever that was, I'd never looked under a dishwasher before). I verified the water was turned on, and there were no kinks in the hoses. I even got ahead of myself a little and got out an old ohmmeter I had lying around (and had never used, I'm no electrician), and verified the solenoids appeared to be working properly. The site suggested checking the float assembly and float switch, which I did next. As soon as I removed it and took a look, I realized this could definitely be the problem. The little floaty guy is a safety mechanism--if the water gets too high it will rise and break a circuit, preventing any more water from coming in. The thing was all nasty with gunk inside of it, and had probably gotten stuck in a position where the circuit was broken. I have a picture... but this was even a little after I'd started cleaning it. Good thing this became a problem in the "off" position instead of stuck in the "on" position.
I cleaned it out, put it back in place, jiggled the mechanism underneath it to make sure everything was working properly, and then the dishwasher started working again. Yay! I just saved us a lot of money that would have been spent on a new dishwasher. And in hindsight, as far as debacles go, this wasn't so bad--at least there was no flooding.