Whirlpool Dishwasher Spray Arm Not Spinning? (Fix It Now!)

Ryan Womeldorf
by Ryan Womeldorf

Dishwashers have become a necessity in modern times. Whether cooking a meal alone on a weeknight or entertaining on a weekend, the dishwasher makes cleaning up easier than ever before. No more having to hunch over the kitchen sink to get those dishes clean anymore.

Whirlpool is one of the leading manufacturers when it comes to dishwashers. Their line in particular is one of the most revered and popular on the market. From time to time, though, one of the components like the spray arm may not be working. The most likely causes are a buildup of debris, a dirty filter, or a problem with one of the connectors.

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How Does the Dishwasher Spray Arm Work?

Whether it be a Whirlpool dishwasher or another brand, the spray arm has the same general principle. There may be some subtle differences from one brand to the next, but they all kind of work in the same manner.

The spray arm literally spins around in a circle, shooting pressurized water around the cabinet. The idea is to spray water in an even and complete manner so that the entirety of the dishes is evenly covered. Without the spray arms, water could collect on one surface of a dish without even touching the other surface.

Why is the Whirlpool Dishwasher Spray Arm Not Spinning?

Like any of the other components within a dishwasher, the dishwasher spray arm can wear down over time. Most of the time, this is due to continuous use. Other times, there are issues that can be otherwise corrected.

Here are some of the most common reasons why your Whirlpool dishwasher’s spray arm may not be moving freely.

Debris in the Spray Arm

Without a doubt the most common reason for the spray arm being unable to move is debris. Over time, food and other debris can gather in the various components of your dishwasher. That includes the dishwasher spray arm.

To remedy the situation, you will have to take out the lower rack of the dishwasher to access the spray arm. Try turning the spray arm by hand to see if it moves freely. If it doesn’t, then you will need to fix the issue.

Unbolt or unscrew any of the hardware that holds the arm in place. With the spray arm removed, clean out any of the debris that you can see in both the mounting area and the spray holes. More often than not, rinsing them under the sink will do fine but you may also need to use a screwdriver to get down into the area that you need.

Spray Arm is Damaged or Broken

Though not nearly as common as the previous issue, it is possible that the spray arm has become damaged or broken. There are a number of explanations as to why the spray arm may be broken. The most prominent reason is due to overheating within the cabinet, damaging or partly melting the plastic component.

When the spray arm is damaged or broken, it will need to be replaced. The good news is that they are relatively easy to change out, so you should have your dishwasher back up and running in no time.

Debris in the Spray Tower

Much like the spray arm, the spray tower (depending on your Whirlpool model) can also collect food and other debris throughout consistent use. The difference is that the debris collects underneath the spray tower.

Start by pulling the spray tower up as far as it will go by hand. Let it fall back into place and look to see if it has any difficulty going back down. Should the movement be anything but instant and smooth, then you have to take the spray tower out.

Remove the spray tower entirely and get rid of any debris that may be obstructing it from moving freely. You can use the screwdriver from the previous step to dig out any of the gunk that may be behind the hampered movement.

A Dirty Pump/Filter

The spray arm’s ability to spin is tied to the water pump. When either the filter or the pump are clogged up, then they are not able to deliver the necessary power to allow the machine to operate freely and effectively.

The location of the filter will vary depending on your model. You can safely assume, though, that the pump and filter both need to be clean. Should there be any noticeable debris covering the filter and pump, clean it off. That should allow the necessary pressure to get to the spray arms. A good rule of thumb is to clean your pump and filter at least two times per year.

Circulation Pump Impeller

We know now that the pump and filter are imperative for the other components to get the necessary water pressure. Sometimes, though, the issue is not the entire pump but a component known as the pump impeller.

The impeller is the small plastic blade within the pump that spins fast so that it can drive water through. This is what causes the water to go into the arms, making them spin. The impeller may operate separately from the motor assembly and pump, allowing you to deal with it without having to mess with the other components.

Check the Connectors and Tubes

Though the spray arms derive their power from the water pump, there may be some that have hidden water supplies underneath all the coverings and plastic. These hoses may or may not be visible depending on your model.

Check to ensure that these hoses are not interfering with the spray arm. Additionally, if they are not properly attached, then they can’t provide the proper water pressure for the arms to spin. Check all the connections and make sure that they are tight, secure, and not leaking from any point.

Clogged or Damaged Hoses

In any dishwasher, not just Whirlpool dishwashers, there are a couple of hoses that direct the water to the necessary areas. That includes the dishwasher arm as well. These hoses let water in from the pump and others help to recirculate the water that is already in the dishwasher.

Over time and frequent use, the hose can get clogged up. In the worst cases, the hose either kinks, cracks, or breaks entirely. When the hose malfunctions, then water can’t get to the inlet valve and distribute into the rest of the dishwasher.

Inspect the hoses closely to check out their condition. If need be, disconnect them and verify that water is able to pass through. Should the water not come out, then you have a clog. If you notice that there are any discernable cracks or splits, replace the hose entirely.

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Related Questions

Can You Run the Dishwasher without the Spray Arm?

When the spray arm breaks, it can be a frustrating experience. The sprayer arms, after all, are how the dishwasher does its best cleaning. In a pinch, you may want to run a load in the dishwasher despite the fact that the spray arm is not working.Without the spray arm, the jetting water from your dishwasher would not be able to hit most of the dishes. And when that happens, the dishes will not be cleaned effectively if at all. So, if you want to run a load without the spray arm, don’t bother. You won’t be getting very far anyway.

How Fast Do Dishwasher Arms Spin?

While we know what the dishwasher spray arm does, most of us have never actually seen one in action. So, how fast do they spin when they are in the middle of a cycle? Depending on your model of Whirlpool dishwasher, the spray arm can rotate at up to 60 RPM.The rapid spinning is what allows the water to get total coverage over your dishes, getting a more complete clean.

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Ryan Womeldorf
Ryan Womeldorf

Ryan Womeldorf has more than a decade of experience writing. He loves to blog about construction, plumbing, and other home topics. Ryan also loves hockey and a lifelong Buffalo sports fan.

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