Dishwashers are complicated, finicky beasts, prone to jamming, getting blocked up and otherwise failing. When this happens, and you realize you can't fix it yourself, it's time to call in the experts. Here's how to get an estimate for repairing your dishwasher.
Check the warranty
The first thing to do is to see if you can get someone else to handle the problem. If the dishwasher is new, it might still be covered by the warranty. Check with the dealer or retailer that you got it from first to figure out if you are still covered. It's also worth checking if you bought an extended coverage plan that might cover the repair.
Check for lemons and recalls
Next, make sure that the problem isn't caused by a design flaw or common failure. To do this, first go to the manufacturer site and search for product recalls or repair programs that might apply to the model you have. If you're in the US, it's also worth doing a search on the Consumer Product Safety Commission recall site, which lists products that manufacturers have withdrawn for safety reasons. If your dishwasher is subject to a repair or recall program, it will list who to contact to get the product repaired or replaced. If you're in the UK, the European Commission has a similar site, and in Australia try this Product Safety site.
Write a description of the problem
In the absence of a warranty or recall, it's time to get the problem fixed yourself. The first step here is to write a detailed description of the problem. This should cover how long the problem has been occurring, what happened and the symptoms. It's also worth describing the noises that the dishwasher makes, and when during the washing cycle they occur. This sort of thing can help a technician understand where the problem lies and which part needs to be replaced or repaired.
Get several quotes
Next, send the description to several repair places. A good selection would be the dealer you bought it from, another large dealer and an independent repair store. Each has access to a different sources of parts and equipment and this will bring you a range of solutions. Places like Angies List and HomeAdvisor are good places to find these independent repair stores, as they also offer reviews and ratings that will allow you to see what other people think of their service.
Understand what they do (and don't) cover
When you have a few quotes, it is time to look at each in turn. Make sure that you understand what each quote does and does not cover. Some quotes, for instance, may only cover the first hour of labor, or might not cover additional time needed to order parts and return. The best quotes will give you a good idea of what the total cost is likely to be, how long it will take and which parts are likely to be needed. Bear in mind that no quote is going to cover every possibility; there can always be other problems that can't be diagnosed until the repair person is able to take a look at the dishwasher itself. But a good quote will be able to give you an overall idea of what the repair should cost, and cover most of the eventualities.
Pick a quote
Once you've picked out the quote that works best for you, it's time to call and schedule the work. Make sure that they know where you are and have a couple of ways to get hold of you. A good repair person will be there on time, or at the very least call you if there's a delay. When the repair person arrives, make sure to explain what the problem is and mention anything extra to consider (like, "My kid's taking a shower right now, so please don't turn the water off without warning.")
Once the work is complete, check over it before the repair person leaves and make sure you are happy that the problem has been fixed. With most dishwashers you can step through a wash cycle or use a quick rinse cycle to make sure that the water is coming in and being drained out properly.
Read more: How to order parts for your dishwasher