It’s a Wash

I have a Maytag Steam Clean Dishwasher.  It has been leaving my dishes smelling soapy (husband’s description, not mine) for several weeks now.

We tried the vinegar (pour 1/2 cup of white vinegar into the dishwasher and run through a cycle).  We tried the baking soda (same as vinegar). Neither helped. I did some internet research and couldn’t find anything on my particular dishwasher.  We bought this at Home Depot.  How obscure could it be?

It’s model number, which is not listed on the product literature, is mdbh980aww. The model number isn’t listed on the dishwasher on the two places that the Maytag website suggests.  We had to go to our Home Depot receipt to find the model number.  That’s just messed up.  As an aside, I couldn’t find a serial number on the dishwasher either.  Unless these numbers are on the back, which is stupid as this is a built-in dishwasher, this is a completely unidentified dishwasher.

I looked through our manual and it was completely useless.  I called Maytag and there’s not customer support.  You can order parts or place a service call.  I don’t want to place a service call, the dishwasher isn’t that old.  I’ve only lived in this house for 11 years and this is not the dishwasher that was here when I moved in.

So, I decided, with or without instructions, we (me and my husband, not the royal we), were going to take a crack at fixing our problem. My husband wouldn’t let me take pictures of the disassembly process.  He was embarrassed as there was just a ton of crap in the bottom of the dishwasher.  We have 3 kids.  It is their job to handle dishwasher dishes.  Also, our dishwasher has a garbage disposal.  The manual encourages one to put dishes in without rinsing well.  We weren’t doing anything wrong.  It’s poor product performance that had the inside of our dishwasher filled with murky, nasty water.  It has nothing to do with household hygiene practices.

So, I have pictures of the reassembly process.  Hopefully this will give you an idea of how far you are willing to take apart your own dishwasher.  My thought process in going as far as we did was thus: the dishwasher isn’t working properly, if we can’t fix it it will require a service call, if we get lost in our DIY project to fix it,  it will still only require a service call.  So, the worst case scenario is that we have to place a service call.  Best case scenario is that we fix it and save that money.  The decision made itself.

That being said, we weren’t really sure what we were looking for. My husband thought the dishes smelled soapy, which would indicate that the dishes weren’t being rinsed properly.  I thought the dishes just smelled gross which would indicate a clog or something.

Many Maytag dishwashers have a filter, according to my internet research.  Some tell you there is a filter you must clean periodically.  Some say there is no filter but that’s only because the filter isn’t easily accessible.  I have no idea, even after removing the dishwasher innards, if I have a filter.  I have a mesh screen, but you the way it’s in there, you can’t access it at all, without breaking the plastic assembly it’s in.  It looks like a filter to me, but I could only clean so much.

Another potential thing to check was the drain.  Which I believe was ultimately our problem.  When we took out the stuff at the bottom of the dishwasher, we found standing water and just some indescribable organic slime nastiness.  So foul.  I wore gloves.  We put a little hair clog remover thingie down the drain to get everything we could out of it.  It was so gross I kept gagging. Also, on the inside of the dishwasher door, between the door and the seal, I found copious amounts of some black sludge.  Really, sludge is not an exaggeration.  I do not know what it was but I cleaned it.  I bleached the hell out of the inside of the dishwasher.

We soaked all the parts of our dishwasher as we removed them.  Especially being careful to clean the sprayer holes.  I cleaned the standing water.  We removed any obstruction in the drain that we could reach.  We ran boiling water down the drain.  After all the cleaning and soaking of the sprayers and every other part we could remove, we reassembled the dishwasher and overrode the safety mechanism so we could watch if water seemed to be flowing properly.  Judging by how wet I got, everything seemed to be running fine.

Then, just for good measure, we poured an entire bottle of lemon juice and a box of baking soda in the dishwasher and ran it with no dishes.  The next wash of dishes left us with clean smelling dishes.  We will see if this is a permanent or temporary fix.  As I said, worst case scenario is we didn’t fix it and have to place a service call.

I am so angry that Maytag makes the dishwasher parts so hard to get to and then doesn’t provide any technical drawings.  That’s complete BS.  I pay a premium for a Maytag appliance and then it’s made in such a way that I can’t do basic maintenance and repair on my own.

Anyway, here are my reassembly pictures.  At least you’ll have an idea of what you’re getting into, should you choose to attempt your own repair.

As stripped down to the bottom as we could achieve

With the plastic piece back in the drain and the garbage disposal blade back on

This has a mesh screen which looks like a filter to me. However, there is no way to detach the top piece from the fan blade looking piece without breaking it. I tried very hard to clean it, but there was still some stuff (mineral deposits?) stuck to the screen.

upclose picture of mesh screen.

It is important to line this up well as once you start putting the rest of the pieces on, the screw holes won’t line up. Also, don’t bother to reattach the PVC pipe at this point because more pieces need to go under the connection.

Sorry for the blurry picture. Put the black “thingie” back in the center and screw it down. Sorry for all the technical jargon (thingie) I have no idea what these things are called.

Slide this piece between the PVC hose and the fan blade looking part. At this point, line up the top piece with the fan blade looking part. If you don’t line it up, the sharp screws from the top piece will pierce the mesh screen on the fan blade looking thing. The screen the fan blade-y thing into place.

This gray center piece goes in next. There are loads of screws in this stupid assembly.

Now it’s time to put the sprayer back on. Hooray! No extra parts.

Good luck.  This sucks.  Maytag design engineers should be forced into working as repair personnel for a year.  Then those jerks won’t design things so flipping convoluted and dumb.

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One thought on “It’s a Wash

  1. Pingback: It’s a Wash, Part 2 | The Incredibly Enthusiastic Girl

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