Dishwasher Upper Spray Arm Not Spinning? (Here's How to Fix It!)

Upgraded Home Team
by Upgraded Home Team
Dishwashers are a simple home appliance, but they won’t work optimally if even one component goes bad. The upper spray arm on a dishwasher can malfunction for several reasons, and it won’t spin if there are bits of food stuck in it. Whether it be tangled connectors, a clogged pump, or too many dishes, let’s take a look at why your dishwasher’s upper spray arm isn’t spinning.

The dishwasher is one of the most helpful household appliances. Instead of devoting significant chunks of your day to cleaning, the aforementioned appliance frees you up to focus on other matters. Also, not having to scrub the dishes yourself is a big plus.

Of course, just like any other appliance, the dishwasher is prone to malfunctioning. One particular issue you may encounter involves the upper spray arm not spinning.

Bits of food getting lodged inside the spray arm can cause it to stop working. Other potential explanations for a malfunctioning spray arm include connectors getting tangled, the pump is clogged, and the dishwasher being overloaded. Dirty water flowing into the dishwasher can be problematic as well.

Considering the cost of getting a new dishwasher, you should explore all repair options first whenever problems arise. Let the information included in this article show you how to handle a variety of dishwasher-related issues.

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The Different Reasons Why the Dishwasher’s Upper Spray Arm Is Not Working

The upper spray arm of your dishwasher does not stop working at random. There are different potential explanations for why that could happen. Let’s discuss those possible explanations and the fixes for them in greater detail below.

Food Particles Caught in the Upper Spray Arm

We entrust the task of cleaning completely to our dishwashers partly because no one really likes handling dirty dishes. Having to scrub off the leftover bits of food on the plate is an unpleasant experience for just about everyone.

For the most part, leaving your dishwasher to do all of the work is no problem. Sometimes though, the bits of food left on the plate end up getting trapped in the dishwasher’s components. If enough food particles are trapped in the spray arm, that part of the dishwasher will likely stop moving.

The Fix

To address the problem caused by the stuck food particles, you’ll have to clean the mounting area for the spray arm. Take out the dishwasher’s lower tray by unscrewing it and look for the mounting area there.

Now, use your fingers to reach into the spot and dislodge whatever food particles you encounter. If some of the food particles are really stuck, you may need a brush to remove them. After cleaning the mounting area, return the lower tray to its original position and check if the spray arm is working.

The Hoses Inside the Dishwasher Are Not Positioned Properly

The hoses inside your dishwasher are responsible for keeping the spray arms in motion. However, there are also times when they may be the cause of the spray arms becoming immobile.

Over the course of many cleaning sessions, those hoses may end up in the wrong spots. They can get caught in the spray arms themselves and effectively keep them from moving.

The Fix

Check out how the hoses are lined up inside the dishwasher and see if they’re in contact with the spray arms. Move them out of the way if they are and see if the spray arms start running again.

The Hoses Were Not Attached Properly

After cleaning out your dishwasher, you may have failed to re-attach the hoses properly. If that’s the case, the hoses may not be able to supply enough water to the spray arms. The lack of water will prevent the spray arms from spinning.

The Fix

Simply open up your dishwasher again and tighten the hoses. Make sure that they fit snugly so that they are able to deliver the right amount of water consistently.

The Dishwasher’s Pump Is Clogged

The hoses not being secured properly is not the only possible reason why the spray arms are not receiving enough water. It could also be an issue related to the pump.

A clogged pump is incapable of delivering the amount of pressure the dishwasher needs to operate properly. Similar to the spray arm’s mounting area, food particles are the likely reasons why the pump is clogged.

The Fix

Again, just like with the spray arm’s mounting area, you have to go into the pump and clean it manually. Remove any debris you find there and keep the spot as clear as possible. Moving forward, regularly cleaning the pump at least once every six months is also a good idea.

Overloading the Dishwasher Blocked the Spray Arm’s Path

Following a big family feast, you’ll probably end up with a mountain of dishes to deal with. With a dishwasher available though, you’re probably not worried about the cleaning. The only real problem is that you could overload your dishwasher.

Overloading the dishwasher could lead to its internal components being moved around. Those internal components could then effectively block the spray arm and prevent it from working.

The Fix

Of all the issues that could cause the spray arm to stop working, this is probably the easiest one to fix. You just have to be more careful when loading up the dishwasher. Abide by any manufacturer instructions if they are provided to steer clear of overloading.

The Water Flowing Through the Spray Arm Is Unclean

This is not as common as the other issues listed, but unclean water can also give the spray arm troubles. Bits and pieces of food floating around in the water can gunk up the insides of the spray arm. Yet again, the result of that will be the spray arm becoming immobile.

The Fix

This problem is harder to fix because it is likely related to your plumbing. Since dishwashers are often connected to garbage disposals, there’s a chance that dirty water may seep into the wrong places.

To address this problem, you will have to change your plumbing connections. You may have to call on a plumber to secure a lasting fix for this particular problem.

The Spray Arm’s Nozzle Is Clogged

The upper spray arm’s usefulness may also be compromised by hard water. As you may already know, hard water contains a variety of dissolved minerals.

You don’t need to worry about those dissolved minerals ending up on your dinnerware. The real problem is if they accumulate over the nozzle of the spray arm. The accumulated minerals can gradually block the nozzle and stop the spray arm from working altogether.

The Fix

You have to go directly to the spray arm to resolve this matter. Take a look at the spray arm’s nozzle and see if it’s clogged up.

If you do find the nozzle clogged, take a toothpick or needle and use that to puncture the blockage. Piercing through that blockage will enable to spray arm to work like normal again.

The Dishwasher’s Water Valve Is Busted

It’s entirely possible that the troubles plaguing the spray arm have nothing to do with anything else inside the dishwasher. The problem could be external, with the water valve being a possible culprit.

The water valve leading to the dishwasher could itself be clogged or leaking. There’s no way for the dishwasher to work as intended if it’s dealing with that kind of external problem.

The Fix

You’ll have to go to the water valve to fix what’s ailing your dishwasher this time. It’s also a good idea to check on the condition of the water valve. If it’s been hard at work for years, you may need to replace it.

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Related Questions

Can Your Dishwasher Run Like Normal Without the Spray Arm?

At the end of a long day, you may not have enough energy to fix whatever issue’s affecting the dishwasher. You may be thinking about putting the dishes in there even if you know the spray arm isn’t working. Refrain from doing that.Loading up the dishwasher when the upper spray arm isn’t working will lead to nothing getting accomplished. You’re just wasting water and electricity at that point. Leave the cleaning to the following day when you can fix the spray arm.

How Do You Maintain the Dishwasher’s Spray Arm?

Maintaining the dishwasher’s spray arm is pretty easy. Whenever you’re cleaning the dishwasher, soak a rag in soapy water and use that to wipe the spray arm. You can also detach the spray arm and soak it in hot soapy water to clean it more thoroughly.In addition to washing the spray arm, you also want to regularly clear the nozzle. As noted earlier, using a toothpick or needle to clear the nozzle will work. You can also spritz the toothpick or needle with some vinegar to make it a more effective cleaning instrument.Remember to clean the mounting area for the spray arm too during routine maintenance. Regular cleaning should prevent this spot from getting covered in muck.

How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Sprayer Arm?

Taking the time to properly maintain your dishwasher’s spray arm is essential not just for the sake of convenience. Your bank account will be thankful too.Replacing a dishwasher spray arm can cost somewhere in the range of $150 to $220. It’s far from a negligible amount and you don’t want to pay for that if at all possible. Follow routine maintenance steps for your dishwasher to ensure you get numerous years of service out of it.

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Upgraded Home Team
Upgraded Home Team

We are a team of passionate homeowners, home improvement pros, and DIY enthusiasts who enjoy sharing home improvement, housekeeping, decorating, and more with other homeowners! Whether you're looking for a step-by-step guide on fixing an appliance or the cost of installing a fence, we've here to help.

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