How does a Dishwasher Work?

How does a Dishwasher Work?

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A dishwasher is one of modern technology’s best fix-it and forget-it appliances. You load dirty dishes inside, add some soap, turn it on and ta-da! In about an hour, your dishes are clean again! The dishwasher was actually invented by Josephine Cochrane in 1887 when the servants who were supposed to be washing her dishes kept chipping the china. Josephine came up with a simple hand-powered dishwasher. This idea was taken and improved upon by William Liven in 1924, who added water-propelled spraying arms and heating elements to the design. Thus, the modern dishwasher was born. … But how does it work? Getting to know how your dishwasher operates can help you know how to clean and maintain it, which is especially important if you have a home repair warranty!

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A dishwasher is actually a relatively simple device when it comes to kitchen appliances. It has a few main parts, including the dish racks, spray arms, float valve, fill valve, heating element and the fill dispenser. Here is what a real dishwasher looks like on the inside:

Diagram of dishwasher inside

Although there are a number of different models for heating elements, filters and the location of the spray arms, dishwashers all generally have these same (or similar) parts. These parts (and how they work) haven’t changed much since the 1940’s when the dishwasher first became popular.

A dishwasher has five steps it goes through when getting your dishes cleaned.

  1. Filling

After loading your dirty dishes, putting in soap and selecting the correct cycle, the bottom basin of your dishwasher begins to fill with water. This water is warmed with the heating element to about 130 degrees Fahrenheit. The float in the bottom of the basin makes sure that the basin doesn’t overflow. If your dishwasher does overflow, this float could be malfunctioning, which can be repaired for $60 with a home repair warranty. If the water reaches a certain point, the float will rise to that water level and shut the fill valve off. Once the water reaches the right temperature (hot enough to get stubborn, stuck-on food off of dishes) it will be sprayed onto the dishes. If the water isn’t warm, it could be the heating element malfunctioning, which can be replaced and covered by a home repair warranty.

  1. Pumping and Spraying