Dishwasher Sounds Like Gravel [Fixing Guide]

By: Talen Quire

When your dishwasher sounds like gravel, it can be quite alarming. This unsettling noise often points to a problem that needs attention. The most common culprits include a faulty pump, clogged drain, or damaged impeller.

No one wants to hear strange noises from their kitchen appliance, especially one as crucial as a dishwasher. It disrupts the peace of your home and might signal a more serious issue that could lead to costly repairs.

Did you know that dishwashers are among the most frequently used appliances in the home? With such heavy use, wear and tear are inevitable.

I’m here to help you pinpoint the exact cause of that gravel-like noise and provide a clear, actionable solution. Let’s get your dishwasher running smoothly again.

Gravel like noise coming from the dishwasher

What Does Gravel-Like Noise Mean In the Dishwasher?

The gravelly noise is abnormal and means that there’s something off in your dishwasher. The dishwasher makes different types of noises when off or when running. However, some noises are considered normal and some are considered problematic. The gravelly or grinding noise is one of the problematic noises and can be caused by many reasons. 

Read the full article to find out the causes and fixing guide for this issue.

Why Is My Dishwasher Making a Gravelly Noise?

Here are the most common reasons why your dishwasher is making a grinding or gravelly noise:

Issue With the Garbage Disposal

The garbage disposal, located below the drain, has blades designed to chop up large food debris, helping it pass through the drain more easily.

Utensils, small kitchen items, or even chopsticks can sometimes slip through and cause blockages in the garbage disposal. When these items get stuck, they can create that unsettling grinding noise.

Sometimes, the noise is simply the garbage disposal doing its job, breaking down food particles. But if you hear a persistent scraping and rattling sound, it’s a sign that something is obstructing the drain.

How to fix it?

To fix this, you might need to open up the drain and remove the obstructing item. 

Failing Cycle Timer

Dishwasher timer

Another potential source of the grinding noise in your dishwasher is a failing cycle timer. The cycle timer controls the dishwasher’s phases, moving from washing to rinsing to drying. This component uses gears and electrical signals to shift between cycles.

When the gears in the cycle timer malfunction, they can fail to connect properly, resulting in a grinding noise that’s much louder and more alarming than the usual sounds of the dishwasher. This noise often indicates that the dishwasher is struggling to shift phases smoothly.

How to fix it?

To address this issue, you might need to inspect the cycle timer, typically located inside the dishwasher door.  Remove the front panel and open the control panel to reach the timer. If you find its gears are the problem, you should replace the timer with a new one.

Clogged Drainpipe

Drainpipe of the dishwasher

The drainpipe is responsible for carrying away food particles and soapy water after each wash cycle. When this pipe gets clogged, it can create a series of unusual sounds.

A partially blocked drainpipe can produce a variety of noises, including a grinding sound as water struggles to pass through the obstruction. You might also hear gurgling or the eerie noise of water draining long after the cycle has finished.

How to fix it?

To fix this, start by running hot water through the kitchen sink to flush the drain. If the noise persists, clear the dishwasher drain by removing any visible debris and running a drain snake through the pipe. This will help remove the clog and fix the noise coming from your dishwasher.

Faulty Inlet Valve

The water inlet valve controls the flow of water into the dishwasher. When it’s malfunctioning, it can create a distinctive grinding sound.

This grinding noise occurs because the valve is struggling to open or close properly, causing the water flow to be uneven or restricted. This malfunction can lead to the valve’s internal components grinding against each other. You might notice this noise at the beginning of the wash cycle when the dishwasher is filling with water.

How to fix this?

To address this issue, you’ll need to inspect the inlet valve. Start by turning off the water supply and unplugging the dishwasher. Then, check the valve typically located at the bottom of the machine. If you find that the valve is damaged or clogged with debris, it’s best to replace the inlet valve.

Defective Pump Impeller

Dishwasher pump impeller

A defective pump impeller can also cause a gravel-like noise in your dishwasher. The impeller is a crucial component that increases water pressure, helping the spray arms and nozzles clean your dishes efficiently.

When the impeller becomes damaged or obstructed, it can produce a loud grinding noise. This often happens if a piece of food, plastic, or a small utensil gets lodged in the impeller. 

How to fix this?

To fix this issue, you’ll need to inspect the pump impeller. Start by disconnecting the power to the dishwasher and removing the bottom rack. Locate the pump housing, usually found at the bottom of the dishwasher, and check for any obstructions. If you find any debris, carefully remove it. If the impeller itself is damaged, replace it with a new one.

Faulty Pump Motor

The pump motor plays a critical role in circulating water during the wash cycle and draining it afterward. When the pump motor starts to fail, it can cause a grinding or gravel noise from underneath the dishwasher.

This noise often occurs because the drain pump motor’s bearings or internal components are worn out or damaged. If you notice water remaining at the bottom of the dishwasher or irregular wash cycles, a faulty pump motor could be the culprit.

How to fix this?

To diagnose and fix this issue, you will need to call a dishwasher repair technician. They can open up the dishwasher, test the pump motor, and determine if it needs repair or replacement.

Damaged Drain Valve Solenoid

The drain valve solenoid controls the opening and closing of the drain valve, allowing water to exit the dishwasher during the drain cycle. If this component is damaged or malfunctioning, it can produce a grinding noise as it struggles to operate correctly.

How to fix it?

To address this issue, inspect the drain valve solenoid for signs of wear or damage. If it appears faulty, replace the solenoid.

Is a Noisy Dishwasher a Sign Of a Bigger Problem?

Yes, it can be. While occasional noise is normal, persistent or unusual sounds like rain or graveling often indicate underlying issues. Ignoring these noises can lead to more significant problems and costly repairs.

For instance, grinding or gravel-like sounds may signal a clogged drain, a faulty inlet valve, or a damaged pump motor. These components are crucial for the dishwasher’s proper functioning. If they fail, it can affect the overall performance and efficiency of the machine.

Moreover, a noisy dishwasher can also indicate worn-out or broken parts, such as the drain valve solenoid or the cycle timer. These issues can escalate if left unaddressed, leading to water leaks, improper cleaning, or even complete breakdowns.

When Should I Call a Professional Appliance Technician?

Dishwasher professional technician

If you’ve noticed persistent grinding or gravel sounds and basic troubleshooting hasn’t resolved the issue, it might be time to call in a professional. Here are some specific scenarios where professional help is warranted:

  1. Repeated Noises: If the noise continues despite cleaning the filter and checking for obvious blockages, a professional can diagnose the issue accurately.
  2. Component Failure: When you’ve identified a potential problem with key components such as the pump motor, inlet valve, or drain valve solenoid, a technician can safely replace or repair these parts.
  3. Electrical Issues: If you suspect an electrical problem, like a malfunctioning cycle timer, it’s best to call a technician to avoid any risk of electric shock.
  4. Persistent Leaks: If the noise accompanies water leakage, it could indicate a more serious problem that needs immediate attention.
  5. Complex Repairs: When the problem involves disassembling parts of the dishwasher, such as accessing the pump impeller or replacing a solenoid, a technician has the expertise and tools to handle these repairs without causing further damage.

How Can I Prevent My Dishwasher From Making Grinding Noise In the Future?

To prevent your dishwasher from making grinding noises in the future, follow these maintenance and care tips:

  1. Regular Cleaning: Clean the filter regularly to prevent food particles from clogging the system. Remove and rinse the filter under running water, and use a brush to scrub away any debris.
  2. Inspect Spray Arms: Check the spray arms for blockages or debris. Remove the spray arms and clean the nozzles to ensure water flows freely. Reinstall them securely to avoid any noise caused by loose parts.
  3. Check the Drain Hose: Ensure the drain hose is free of kinks and clogs. A blocked drain hose can cause water to back up and create noise. Run hot water through the hose periodically to clear any buildup.
  4. Maintain the Inlet Valve: Inspect the inlet valve for any signs of wear or damage. If you notice any issues, such as leaks or unusual noises, consider replacing the valve.
  5. Avoid Overloading: Do not overload the dishwasher. Overloading can cause dishes to bang against each other and the dishwasher’s interior, creating noise. Load dishes according to the manufacturer’s guidelines.
  6. Use Proper Detergent: Use the recommended amount of dishwasher detergent. Excessive detergent can lead to residue buildup, which can clog the system and cause noise.
  7. Run Hot Water Before Starting: Run hot water in your kitchen sink before starting the dishwasher. This ensures the dishwasher starts with hot water, improving cleaning efficiency and reducing the strain on the heating element.
  8. Check for Loose Items: Ensure no small items, such as utensils or dish fragments, are loose inside the dishwasher. These can get caught in the spray arms or pump, causing grinding noises.
  9. Professional Maintenance: Schedule regular maintenance with a professional appliance technician. They can inspect and service the dishwasher, identifying potential issues before they become major problems.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a Gravelly Noise In My Dishwasher Normal?

No, a gravelly noise in your dishwasher is not normal. It usually indicates an issue such as a clogged drain, faulty inlet valve, or defective pump motor. Addressing these problems promptly can prevent further damage and maintain your dishwasher’s performance.

Can a Noisy Dishwasher Be Fixed?

Yes, a noisy dishwasher can often be fixed. Identifying the source of the noise, such as a clogged drainpipe or a failing pump motor, and addressing it through cleaning, repair, or replacement can restore your dishwasher to quiet operation.

Can a Gravelly Noise in My Dishwasher Be a Sign of Wear and Tear?

Yes, a gravelly noise in your dishwasher can indicate wear and tear. Components like the pump motor, impeller, or inlet valve may degrade over time, causing unusual sounds. Regular maintenance and timely repairs can help address these issues and extend your dishwasher’s lifespan.

What Noise Should a Dishwasher Make?

A dishwasher should make a low humming or swishing sound during operation. This indicates the water spraying and circulating. Unusual noises like grinding, gravelly sounds, or loud bangs suggest a problem that needs to be investigated and resolved.


In summary, if your dishwasher is making grinding or gravel-like noises, several factors could be at play. Common culprits include a clogged drainpipe, faulty inlet valve, defective pump impeller, failing pump motor, or a damaged drain valve solenoid. Each of these issues can cause significant noise and potentially indicate a larger problem.

Preventing these noises involves regular maintenance and care. Clean the filter and spray arms frequently, inspect the drain hose and inlet valve, and avoid overloading the dishwasher. Use the proper amount of detergent and run hot water before starting a cycle.

For persistent issues, don’t hesitate to call a professional appliance technician. With these preventive measures, you can ensure your dishwasher runs smoothly and quietly, avoiding unnecessary noise and extending its lifespan.

About Talen Quire

Talen Quire is a seasoned mechanical engineer with 20 years of industry experience. He earned his engineering degree from the University of Michigan and holds certifications in research and prototype development. Talen has collaborated with top brands like KitchenAid, GE, and BOSCH. Currently, he works at a leading research and development company. Passionate about technology, Talen actively shares the latest tech updates online, engaging a community of enthusiasts and professionals. Outside of work, he's an amateur astronomer and enjoys woodworking, creating detailed furniture and gadgets in his workshop.

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