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The Most Common Kitchen Appliance Problems

A few years back, Consumer Reports compiled survey data from thousands of kitchen appliance purchasers from 2008 to 2018, and the most common problems those consumers saw. Below we’ll take a look at some of the most common complaints on 3 major kitchen appliances, and some steps you can take to troubleshoot.

Refrigerators: Most Common Complaints

  1. No water or ice comes out of the dispenser (17% of complaints)
  2. The ice maker doesn’t work (13%)
  3. Ice buildup in the refrigerator (7%)
  4. Water leaking from the unit (6%)
  5. Refrigerator isn’t cooling (5%)

Troubleshooting Your Refrigerator


If your refrigerator’s built-in icemaker has stopped working, the first step you should take is to shut off the home’s water supply valve before you begin troubleshooting. Then, pull the fridge away from the wall and look for any tears in the water supply line. Also, make sure the water inlet valve is open. If that all looks fine, check the water filter for debris and replace if necessary. If none of the above applies, the problem could be with an ice-making mechanism inside the unit. Call a professional to investigate further.

Ice Buildup

Older units are especially prone to ice/frost buildup. If you have this issue, first check for a crack in the door seal; this allows warm air to enter, which contains moisture. If you don’t see any cracks, there is most likely a problem with the unit’s defrost sensor. Time to contact a professional.  

Water Leaking

If your refrigerator is leaking water, it’s most likely 1 of these 3 culprits: a blocked water line, a blocked defrost drain, or an uneven fridge. A broken icemaker is also a good signal that the water line is blocked. First, unplug your refrigerator, then examine the water line for damage. If there is visible damage, contact a technician as it will most likely need to be replaced.

If the defrost drain is blocked, it’s likely that some ice has built up in the drain. The easiest fix for this is to take some warm water in a turkey baster (or anything similar) and pour the warm water down the drain to melt the ice blockage. If this doesn’t help, it’s possible that the clog is too far down the hose. Contact a professional to disconnect the valve and clear the blockage.

Technically, your refrigerator shouldn’t be perfectly even. The front of the refrigerator should be elevated slightly in order for the coolant to flow properly. When the coolant doesn’t flow properly, condensation can form and leak out in puddles underneath the fridge. To troubleshoot, use a level on the floor of the refrigerator (not a shelf or drawer) to determine how even the unit is. If it’s significantly unbalanced, you may need to move the fridge and adjust the legs.   


If the refrigerator hasn’t been getting cold, the most obvious step is to make sure the unit is getting power. If the light doesn’t turn on when you open the door, that’s usually a good indicator (although, this could also mean that the bulb is out). If the unit is receiving power, check the refrigerator thermostat on the inside and adjust if necessary. Check the vents inside the unit to ensure there is no blockage or debris built up. Vacuuming the coils behind or underneath the unit can also help improve cooling performance. If none of these solutions help, it’s possible that the condenser fan or evaporator fan is broken. Contact a professional for more assistance.

Oven Ranges: Most Common Complaints

  1. Oven doesn’t heat up properly (6% of complaints)
  2. Burners not igniting (6%)
  3. Ignition not working properly on gas models (5%)
  4. Broken knobs (2%)
  5. Broken control panel buttons (2%)

Troubleshooting Your Oven Range


If your oven isn’t heating up properly, this is usually due to a faulty igniter or heating element (for gas or electric models, respectively). If this is the case, you may be able to replace them yourself. First, turn off the power to your oven before doing anything else. Second, use a screwdriver to remove the faulty item. On electric models, the heating element will be located inside the oven. This may be hidden on certain ovens; if you can’t locate it, contact a professional to service it further.

On gas models, before you do anything, check if the burners have also stopped working. If so, the problem is likely with the gas line itself, and you will need a professional to repair. If not, make sure the oven is turned off. Then, remove the broiler or storage drawer to get to the igniter underneath and replace it with a new one.


On electric stoves, the burners can often go bad and need replacement. In one of them doesn’t work, your first step should be to unplug the faulty burner from the socket and plug a functioning one in. If the burner works in this location, the problem is with the burner itself and it will need to be replaced. If it still doesn’t heat up, the problem could be with the infinite switch or the socket. If the socket appears damaged or burned, it’s a good sign that you may need to replace it. If you have tried replacing the burner and the socket to no avail, then you will likely need to contact a profession for help replacing the infinite switch.

With gas burners, you can always light them with a match if the ignition isn’t working. If that doesn’t work, however, you will need to troubleshoot further. Remove the burner grate, cap, and base. Clean out any debris (try a toothpick, wire cleaner, or compressed air). Also thoroughly clean all the items that you removed. Additionally, you should check the wires that connect the igniter to the control module. If you see any loose connections, tighten them. If the burner still won’t light, it could indicate a problem with the gas line. Contact a professional for further assistance.

Dishwashers: Most Common Complaints

  1. Not cleaning effectively (11% of complaints)
  2. Not drying properly (9%)
  3. Not draining properly (7%)
  4. Broken control panel (7%)
  5. Water leaking from the unit (6%)

Troubleshooting Your Dishwasher


Make sure that your dishwasher isn’t dirty to begin with, checking the strain screen, sprayer arms, and door gasket for food particles, grease, and other debris. Run a cleaning cycle using dishwasher cleaner and without dishes to see if it helps. You may also have low pressure from spray arms. If you have hard water, you may have buildup that should be cleaned off. Inspect the spray arm and ensure that it can move freely without obstruction. If it is worn, replace it. Another problem could be the upper discharge housing gasket, whether it is loose or needs to be replaced. And of course, you may need a higher quality of detergent, or your detergent is too old from sitting in a cabinet longer than three months.


The most probable explanation for a dishwasher that won’t dry dishes is the heating element. Using a multi-meter, check the heating element to make sure it is working properly. Check your high limit thermostat with a multi-meter for malfunctioning as well.


A dishwasher that is still full of water from not draining can hold your dishes hostage and cause flooding in your kitchen. It’s a big problem. Take a look at the assembly of the check valve in the drain sump. If it is not moving properly, be sure to replace it. You should also consider updating the drain pump or motor, and take a look at obstructions for the drain flapper and solenoid.

Control Panel

If it feels like a button is stuck in place, it’s possible that grime buildup is the culprit. Use an ammonia-based cleaner to clean and get it unstuck. You may want to wear a mask for this, but otherwise be sure not to inhale fumes from this cleaner. Many modern dishwasher models come with a child lock. If the buttons don’t feel stuck but aren’t functioning, it could be that the child lock is engaged. If neither of the above problems apply, it’s likely an electrical wiring issue. Contact a technician to help troubleshoot further.

Water Leaking

First, check the drainage hose for cracks and other damage, as well as the gaskets in the heating element. A leaking dishwasher is another problem that can be caused by a defective pump or pump seal. Consider changing out the seal, or if necessary, replace the pump. But before you do that, take a look at the door gasket. If it has become brittle or looks like it’s not sealing properly, replace it to see if you can get a better fit.

Unfortunately, even well-maintained appliances will break down from normal wear and tear. That’s where Choice Home Warranty comes in. Make sure your home is covered with a Choice Ultimate policy today!

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