How to Remove the Rotating Member at the Bottom of the Dishwasher

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You must pull out the bottom dish rack to access the lower spray arm.

The rotating member that sits in the bottom of your dishwasher, called the spray arm, or the lower spray arm, sprays both soapy and clean water on the dishes during a wash cycle. Removing the lower spray arm allows you to clean out hard water deposits or food debris, which decreases the flow of water through the spray arm and as such the dishwasher’s cleaning ability.

  1. Electrical Flow

    • Before you remove any parts from your dishwasher, including the rotating spray arm, you must shut off electricity to the dishwasher. Failure to do so could lead to serious injury if you contact any live electricity inside the machine or if any of the parts began moving or heating while you are working to remove the spray arm. Shut off the dishwasher's electricity by flipping the breaker switch that corresponds to the dishwasher’s circuit on the house’s electrical panel. If your dishwasher is plugged into an electrical outlet under the counter, you may simply unplug the dishwasher’s cord to cut off the flow of electricity.

    Removing Other Parts

    • Before you can access your dishwasher’s spray arm, you must remove some other parts inside the dishwasher. You must completely remove the lower dish rack from the dishwasher, since it normally sits over the spray arm. Removing the rack involves simply pulling it out of the machine until it comes off its track. Whether you dishwasher’s spray arm has a cone-shaped tower that extends up while the dishwasher is running or a flat plastic cap in the middle of the spray arm, you must remove the tower or cap by turning it clockwise instead of the usual counterclockwise.

    Spray Arm Removal

    • Once you have removed the center cap or tower from the spray arm, you are ready to remove the actual spray arm. On some dishwasher models, the spray arm is held in place with a single bolt, which you must remove with a socket wrench. Other spray arms do not have anything else holding them in place; you must pull the spray arm directly up to remove it from the dishwasher. Rocking the spray arm from side to side slightly while pulling up on it can help loosen the spray arm. If you see that the spray arm has a series of washers on its underside, you need to take note of the order in which the washers sit so you can place them in the same order when you replace the spray arm.

    Cleaning

    • Once you have removed the spray arm, you may choose to either throw it away and install a replacement or keep it. Unless the spray arm has obvious damage such as cracks, cleaning the spray arm will restore it to its original operating condition. You may clean out the spray arm’s small openings with a piece of wire. Soaking the spray arm in hot, soapy water or vinegar helps loosen up food or hard water deposits inside it. After soaking the spray arm, rinse it with a strong stream of water, including the inside of the spray arm.

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  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images

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