How to Troubleshoot & Repair a Dishwasher

dishwasher-leaves-spots© Milosz7 | Dreamstime.com

How to troubleshoot and fix common dishwasher problems, including a dishwasher that doesn’t run, fill or drain.

You can handle some types of dishwasher repairs yourself, but if these techniques don't work, call a professional who is certified to handle the make of your appliance.Kzenon / Shutterstock.com

You can handle some types of dishwasher repairs yourself, but if these techniques don’t work, call a professional who is certified to handle the make of your appliance.


If your dishwasher stops working properly, it isn’t the end of the world, but it does put the kibosh on one of the luxuries that adds to your quality of life. Because fixing a dishwasher isn’t usually an emergency, you have the opportunity to troubleshoot problems and try to solve them yourself before calling an appliance repair person.

The following should help you handle repairing a dishwasher that doesn’t run right—or doesn’t run at all. If your dishwasher leaves spots or film, or just does a poor job of cleaning, see Dishwasher Washes Poorly. If it leaks or makes noise, see how to Repair a Dishwasher That Leaks or Makes Noise.

HomeTips Pro Tip: Before you begin troubleshooting, unplug the dishwasher or shut off its electrical circuit, and turn off the its water supply valve. Don’t work inside the dishwasher immediately following a cycle because the dish-drying element at the bottom may still be hot.

Dishwasher Doesn’t Run

If you turn on the dishwasher and absolutely nothing happens, the problem is usually caused by an absence of power:

©HomeTips

Reset the ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI).

1Be sure the power is on, the door is latched, and the control is engaged. If absolutely nothing happens—in other words, nothing on the control panel lights up and there are no other signs of life—the appliance may not be receiving power.

If the dishwasher’s cord is plugged into a receptacle, check to see if it is a GFCI receptacle with a reset button. If it is, push the reset. If it isn’t or if the dishwasher’s cord is wired directly into the electrical box, look for any other receptacles in the kitchen that have a reset and and try resetting them. (This is a long shot, but it’s easy to do and may solve the problem if the dishwasher is on the same circuit.) To test a receptacle for power, you can also just plug a working hand-held appliance into it.

2Check the electrical panel that serves the dishwasher for a tripped circuit breaker or blown fuse. If you find one, switch the breaker to OFF and then back to ON or replace the fuse.

3Check dishwasher switches & timer. If electrical power is available to the dishwasher but the appliance doesn’t run, the problem is likely a defective door switch, timer, or selector switch. To solve a door switch problem, you may be able to adjust the door latch’s strike slightly, using a screwdriver (turn off the power to the dishwasher at the electrical panel first). If the problem is with the timer or selector switch, it’s best to call an appliance service person.

Dishwasher Doesn’t Fill

If your dishwasher runs but doesn’t fill, either something is wrong with the water supply system or it is draining water too soon.

1Make sure the water is turned on. Check the hot water supply stop valve, normally located under the sink. Open it all the way by turning it counterclockwise. If there is no reason this would have been turned off since the last time the dishwasher worked, go on to the next step.

2Turn off the power to the dishwasher. When the dishwasher is cool (in other words, not right after a wash cycle), look for the float inside the dishwasher; this is usually a small plastic dome or cylinder mounted inside at the tub’s base, near the front. When you move most types of floats up and down, you can hear them click because they trip a lever (they are spring-loaded). Lift out the float mechanism, and clean around the float tube. Many floats must be disconnected from below; to do this you’ll have to remove the lower access panel. Rinse off the float, replace it in the tube, and make sure it moves up and down freely.

3Shut off the hot water valve to the appliance. Locate the water intake valve, behind the dishwasher’s bottom front panel. Disassemble the valve to reveal the screen. Clean any debris from the screen and reassemble the valve. If the screen doesn’t appear to be blocked, call an appliance repair person. Any of several parts—including the water inlet valve, pressure switch, and timer or selector switch—may be faulty.

Dishwasher Doesn’t Stop Filling

If the water flow to the dishwasher doesn’t automatically shut off, the float switch is faulty, the timer is stuck on Fill, or the water inlet valve is stuck open. To test the float switch, you’ll need an inexpensive multimeter like the one shown here, which costs under $25 online. Less expensive multimeters are available, too.

Multimeter is used for troubleshooting electrical problems. Photo: MastechMastech

Multimeter is used for troubleshooting electrical problems.

1Unplug the dishwasher. Reach into the cabinet and lift up the dome-shaped plastic float switch. If it doesn’t lift up, remove the plastic top from the stem, scrub the stem clean, and then replace the dome. If it moves up and down freely, go on to Step 2.

2Note which wires are attached to the float switch’s terminals, and, using small pieces of tape, label them for future reference should you need to replace the switch.

3Set the volt-ohm meter’s dial to Rx100 and touch the two probes to the terminals. When you lift up the float, the tester’s needle should show an infinity reading, and, when you let the float drop, the needle should show a 0 reading. If it doesn’t, the switch is broken and needs replacing. Unscrew it from the tub, take it to your local hardware store or home improvement center, buy an identical replacement part, and then install it.

Dishwasher Doesn’t Drain

Following a cycle, a small pool of clean water inside the tub is normal. An excessive amount of water means the pump isn’t pumping water out properly, the drain hose isn’t carrying it to the drainpipe, or the house’s drain lines are backed up.

If dirty water spews from the air gap, the drain line is kinked or clogged. (If you’ve recently installed a garbage disposer, be sure the knockout plug for the dishwasher was removed when the connection was made; see your disposer instructions.)

1Remove the cover from the air gap at the top of the sink (usually a short chrome domed cylinder that sits at the back of the sink), and, using a stiff wire, clean it out. Also check the entire length of the drain hose for kinks or blockages, especially at the drain connection to the disposer or drain line.

©HomeTips

Lift out the strainer at the base of the dishwasher.

2Once the dishwasher is cool, shut off the power to it, and—if your dishwasher is made to allow this—remove the strainer (shown at right), located under the bottom spray arm at the base of the cabinet. Unscrew the hubcap, lift the spray arm off, and remove any clips that hold the strainer to get it out. Scrub it clean with a brush and then replace it.

3Determine whether the sink trap or house drain line is clogged. If the sink is backing up, the drain is clogged. If this is the problem, see Sink & Drain Repairs.

4If the dishwasher still doesn’t drain properly, the drain hose may be clogged or the drain valve may need replacement. You can check the drain hose for obstructions, but this usually involves pulling the dishwasher out from under your counter to access the hose, disconnecting the hose at both ends, and flushing it out with a faucet or garden hose, or replacing it with a new hose (see dishwasher hose repair kits).

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NEXT SEE:

Dishwasher Washes Poorly

Dishwasher Leaks

How to Buy the Best Dishwasher

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Join the Conversation

  • Guerry Tanner

    My GE dishwasher fills with water then stops working. Power is getting to the dishwasher, but water spinner fails to function

    • Don Vandervort, HomeTips

      If the pump motor hums instead of running, you may need a new pump. If the pump seems to be running okay, the circuit board may need replacement. Before you start replacing expensive parts, however, I think the various systems need to be tested by a pro. (See Featured Resource above.)

    • abe1000

      did you clean the float mechanism?

  • Don Vandervort, HomeTips

    Tina, please post the make and model of your dishwasher, if possible.

  • Vhon

    hi Don, do you know the sequence for the dishwasher?

    I have a Blanco dishwasher it drains at first and fills water, spray arms run as I can hear it and it drains the water but after that it does not proceed to the next process which is wash…. and has an alarm of inadequate water…

  • Keith

    My dishwasher is located on an island. It runs it’s cycle but the dishwasher is draining before the water has enough time to heat and steam the dishes. When the cycle is done, everything is soaked…

  • Wayne Hitchens

    My Heller HDW 12 Dishwasher ran its normal cycle and when I went to open the next day the door is locked and have tried everything to open it ie turned off at the wall for 24 hours ran a complete new cycle but nothing any thoughts

    • Don Vandervort, HomeTips

      Just in case this is something you haven’t considered: some models have a child lock feature…does yours? Check your manual (if you still have one).

  • Lorraine meynell

    Hi my dishwasher makes a loud popping noise at the end of the cycle. It is very hot inside when I open the door but I thought that was normal to get that hot to dry the pots?

    • Don Vandervort, HomeTips

      Could be the drying elements or a small object stuck in the sump area of the tub or on top of the motor mounting plate. Try lowering the heat setting on the drying cycle (if you can), to make sure the problem isn’t related to the drying elements. Otherwise, you may have to disassemble the base of the machine and look for a small hard object.

  • Gene Hoelscher

    I have an Amana dishwasher model # ADB1500AWB2, it failed to start last night, this morning I pressed start and it worked,,,,I reloaded, pressed start,,,,nothing happens again…now what?

  • Debbie Durren

    what would cause my dishwasher to trip the breaker? When I turned the breaker back on I ran the dishwasher on the shortest cycle, rinse only, and it worked. I haven’t tried a full cycle yet. Help

  • Bill

    I have a GE dishwasher. It doesnt drain. The sink plumbing is good (not clogged). I have taken the dishwasher out and it wont drain the water from the hose directly into the sink. The hose fills with water but wont empty or pump out. If I lay it flat it comes out faster. If I disconnect the hose from the dishwasher the water pumps out quickly. So it acts like the water gets stuck in the line but there is no blockage. Any advice?

  • chris

    my sink had a clog which lead the dishwasher to not drain, I have removed the clog but now dishwasher wont run, lights come on but nothing.

  • Vivienne Boardman

    i have a beko small dishwasher, and although it washes or seems to wash ok, the red light at the end frequently doesn’t bother coming on… any ideas as to why??

  • abernahi

    My Maytag Quiet series 200 dishwasher will fill with water but then it won’t run the wash cycle. After multiple tries of filling and emptying the machine it will run. Could this be related to the float switch? Could the motor brushes be bad.? Does the motor have brushes.? thanks for any help.

    • Don Vandervort, HomeTips

      Hi Abe, thanks for sharing your wash cycle troubleshooting and repair answer. We really appreciate it when knowledgeable do-it-yourselfers jump in to this forum to help other visitors.

  • Don Vandervort, HomeTips

    If the dishwasher is filling up on its own overnight (and not draining), the problem could be any of several issues: a defective water inlet valve, control board, or timer.

  • tracy clarke

    My dishwasher fills up then empties within 1 minute.why

    • Don Vandervort, HomeTips

      The problem could be the drain solenoid or a flapper drain valve that can’t close all the way because a piece of food is jamming it.

  • renee

    I have a kitchenaid KUDC10IXWH7 and the heat dry button sounds when pushed but wont light up and will not dry the dishes. Any thoughts?

    • Don Vandervort, HomeTips

      In some cases, the heating element assembly at the bottom of the dishwasher cabinet burns out and needs to be replaced. Other problems could be a faulty thermostat or control.

  • Adamschindler

    My dishwasher has a very low flow drain cycle and won’t pump water up any incline in the drain hose. I’ve disconnected every part of the dishwasher to clean and look for obstructions. It’s all clear everywhere. The drain pump runs and pumps water, but only if the drain hose is laid flat. The last thing I can think of is my pump is going bad. Is this possible?

  • Tami

    I have an Amana dishwasher and nothing in the top gets clean. We have ran several cycles of dishwasher cleaner through it but nothing seems to make a difference. It doesn’t seem like water is shooting up to the top rack at all. What should I begin to check first?

    • Don Vandervort, HomeTips

      Tami, usually this means something is blocking the spray arm from turning. But it could also indicate that there isn’t enough water pressure due to a kinked hose, other water-using appliances running at the same time, etc.

  • Becky Ibbotson

    I have the same issue as Tami. Top water sprayer isn’t working. What do I do?

    • Don Vandervort, HomeTips

      Becky, see my reply to Tami.

  • Patty Rushing

    I have an Amana ABD1100AWB3 and it wont wash. It fills humms and then drains the water out. What could be the problem

  • Anthony

    Hello,
    I have a Jann Air
    Model # JDB1100AWS
    My float melted in half so we took it out of the dish washer and when we go to used the dish washer, it seems like the heat works but the water doesn’t come out.. is this because we just need a new float? If you can give me a quick answer that would be great.
    Thank you sir!

  • Shawn

    Hi,
    I have a KitchenAid KUDC09 model, stainless steel tub that won’t start. when I do the reset, all the buttons light properly and dishwasher runs for ca one minute and stops again. Do I need to get a technician?

  • misa jstmisa

    My dishwasher wasn’t draining til I found this website and now were up and running again!! Thanks, home tips.com!!

    • Don Vandervort, HomeTips

      Great! Glad to hear we were helpful.

  • misa jstmisa

    My dishwasher wasn’t draining properly so I turned to hometips.com for some troubleshooting advice and now I’m using my dishwasher again. Thanks for the advice!!

    • Don Vandervort, HomeTips

      Thanks for the positive feedback, Misa.

  • jessiejoseph

    Good blog, That helps to know valuable information to repair my dishwasher, thanks for your post.

    • Don Vandervort, HomeTips

      Jessie, thanks for visiting HomeTips!

  • Chauntelle Hope

    Hi. I have a countertop dishwasher. Its keeps overfilling. I think its the float fill mechanism but i cant find it there is nothing in the basin of the dishwasher only the rotary sprayer. I have a picture of the dishwasher but dont know how to post it here.

    • Don Vandervort, HomeTips

      If you post the make and model, maybe one of our visitors can help.

      • Chauntelle Hope

        Hi. I dont know the model. Says Carlton but I cant find anything relating to it. I have found a picture on google that looks exactly like mine but it says that its a Proline. Again no model number :( so im stuck.

        • Don Vandervort, HomeTips

          Chauntelle, hopefully you’re not stuck…but the float probably is. Turn off the appliance and unplug it. Remove the 15-or-so screws from the lid of the gray plastic container on the right side of the appliance. Unclip two plastic catches to release the float. Clean the float and interior of the container so the float can move up and down freely. Then put it all back together.

          • Chauntelle Hope

            Im very stuck. Thank u for emailing me. I’ve attached what my dishwasher looks like inside.  There is nothing in the bin . . . Im not sure if my attachments will reach u. .

            Sent from Samsung Mobile

            ——– Original message ——–

          • Chauntelle Hope

            Sent from Samsung Mobile

            ——– Original message ——–

          • Chauntelle Hope

            I dont think I can attach the pictures :( there is nothing in my bin. Only the rotating sprayer thingie.  Ive googled it I cant find or see that float in the bin. Could it be somewhere else?

            Sent from Samsung Mobile

            ——– Original message ——–

          • Don Vandervort, HomeTips

            Chauntelle, the attachment didn’t work. I’m not familiar with your appliance so, unfortunately, there isn’t much more I can do for you. I hope one of our readers jumps in on this conversation. Otherwise, I think you’ll need to have an appliance repair person look at it.

  • Daniel Thomas

    hey Don, I have a Kenmore dishwasher. It won’t fill with water. I have checked the float valve and the inlet valve. What should I check next?

    • Don Vandervort, HomeTips

      Daniel, you’ve checked the right things first. I’m sure you’ve also made sure the water supply valve is fully open. Other problems could be the door switch or the timer / electronic controls.

  • Lulu

    Hi, I have Maytag dishwasher that works well but the setting lights do not appear anymore. When I use it I just press start and it starts. Does it mean that there are bulbs that need to be replaced? Thank you.

  • Chuck Kay

    I have a GE Nautilus portable dishwasher. It’s probably 15 years old. It worked fine then suddenly started filling and draining at the same time. So when the dishwasher runs, its on an empty cycle. Do you think it could be the drain solenoid?

  • Justin

    We recently purchased an LG dishwasher. It’s has power to it and starts just fine but after its ran for a while it’ll shut itself off and the start button will flash and ring for us to push start again to continue the cycle. It makes us restart it at least 5 or 6 times. Do you know what the issue might be?

  • Mark

    I have a Kitchenaid dishwasher. There was a burning smell (the dishwasher was still running) so I opened the door and found that there was a label on top of a container that had fallen on to the bracket holding the heating element. I removed the label, but now the dishwasher will not run. I can press the button to start the dishwasher, and it sounds as though it’s starting, but within a minute, it turns itself off and all the lights on the dishwasher go out. I’ve turned off the main circuit to cut all electricity to the dishwasher, but that has no resolved the issue.

  • Debbie

    We have a dishwasher that is full of grease or it’s extremely slick everywhere. It’s not washing the dishes like it used to either. I know nothing about a dishwasher. Is there a filter or something that may be clogged?

  • Karyn

    I have a GE Adora Potscrubber, purchased about 5-6 years ago. The past two washes, Near the end of the cycle, it blows the circuit breaker fuse. (Nothing is stuck in it; and I thought I had smelled a burning smell one of the two times.) I checked the recall list, and didn’t see the model listed: starting with GHDT, and serial: TZ. I’m afraid to run the dishwasher until I know what’s tripping the circuit breaker. What recommendations can you offer? Thank you!

  • Rupert Allison

    i have a GE Profile it started making a continuous beep yesterday i have checked to see if the motor is stuck and it is not and it will not turn on but there is power to the unit i checked the power connections on the dishwasher. so, why is it making the high pitched continuous beep.

  • Debbie Luke

    My dishwasher does not do hot washes.it’s an omega dishwasher and only about 2 yrs old.Does anyone familiar with the omega panel on front to set washes? I’m sure it’s a simple answer to fix.
    I also have a blocked drain but I’m hoping after watching the home tips I can sort this.The blocked drain is probably due to fat deposits unable to clear due to no hot water washes.
    Any tips out there?

  • Harilal Halai

    My dishwasher runs okay but after few seconds it trips the power off. It is Diplomat Model ADP 8132, Type 12043

    • Claire Rafferty

      Mines does the same too, it is fixed into the kitchen units so I’m not quite sure how to fix it!

  • Deborah French Godfrey

    My dishwasher has started leaking around the handles. It leaks constantly, even when it’s not running. And how does a detergent and rinse agent dispenser work? Could this be part of the problem?

  • Deborah French Godfrey

    I have the Kitchenaide Professional Model PLD 285ORDC3

  • Fanie Nienaber

    Kelvinator kd12mm1: the unit fills with water, and then empties all the water before the cycle stops. I tried to check for a float inside, but cant find it. Should I open it at the bottom or look for something on the side?

  • Peggy

    I have a Euro dishwasher. It was not draining but have cleared that but now it’s stuck at drain cycle. Is there a reset button? I have unplug and switch on again but did not work either.

    • Michelle Ingram

      Each manufacturer has a different reset “code”. Easiest to call the manufacturer or look online for the code to reset your specific model. Many of them simply say to press any button 5 times then start while door is closed but some have specific order….. for instance mine I have to press heated dry 3-5 times and then start within an 8 second window.

  • Nancy Nelson

    I manage an apartment where the heating element on several of the dishwashers has warped, and touches the bottom of the tub and has burned a hole in several dishwashers. I would like to know if there is a standing clip, or a new element to fix the remaining 100+ dishwashers so we don’t have to replace them as well. I have searched and searched online, and have not been successful in finding a solution.- I found some brackets, but only the ones that attach to a part that is already existing in the tub of the dishwasher. Any advice would be great!!

  • Luca Brasi

    Hi All, funny problem with my dishwasher that it stops after few minutes sending error message:”the appliance does not fill with water “. after opening the door it is filled up with water…

    at the beginning of the washing program I can hear strange noise probably from the main pump. I reckon it fills with water properly but once the washing program comes to stage of pumping water to the shower heads the program fails and comes back with the error message above.
    any help/idea/advice is more than welcome!
    PS:
    I have tested the drain pump and it works ok.

  • Maria

    I have a KitchenAid dishwasher which is maybe five/six years old, I ran it a few days ago and the dishes were clean. I just tried to load it and noticed a considerable amount of dirty water in the tub and now it doesn’t power up at all, nothing. Any suggestions? Thanks!

    • Michelle Ingram

      This could be as simple as a blockage either due to food,glass,dirt etc being stuck in one of a few places such as drain hose,food disposal if you have one, propeller or filter (cheapest to check and clean). If it still doesnt work it could be the motor in which case youll be better off buying a new dishwasher.

  • Kelly McMahan Vance

    I have a GE Profile dishwasher. It pulls water into it then after a few minutes it just stops and does nothing. The Normal Clean light and the Start light are still on but it does nothing. After several minutes I push the start/reset button and the water drains out like it is finished with its cycle. So it pulls water and it drains water out….what is stopping it from doing all the steps in between?

    • Christina

      I have a GE doing the same. Did you ever figure out what was causing it?

    • Michelle Ingram

      The control panel most likely needs to be reset to do this look online,call manufacturer or see if your manual instructs you on how to do this on your specific model.

    • Pam chorak

      I have a older model ge dishwasher, the dishwasher fills with water, the motor has sound, the cycle has sound when you turn the knob. But it will not run its cycle. It fills and nothing else.

  • Sindy Brant

    I have a kenmore portable dishwasher and the hose has started to come off of the faucet adapter every time I turn the water on. I don’t know if the problem is the white couplings inside the unicouple or if it’s the adapter on the faucet. If it’s the white clip things inside the unicouple, is there a way to replace the hose?

  • jordan

    Hi everyone i have a whirlpool portable dishwasher that just doesnt let water in, the lights show that it should be washing but nothin happens. Can anyonehelp me out here im a car mechanic this is not my feild, thanks !

  • Michelle Ingram

    My first problem started with having to press the start button VERY hard and then it would work but then it started the wash but would fill with water and just stop working at all leaving water in the bottom (to drain I just pressed start again then cancel). For a Maytag Performa sometimes its simply that the control panel needs to be rebooted/reset. For other dishwashers you will need to find out how to do this but for mine it was:close dishwasher then press “heated dry” 3-5 times fast followed by pressing “start” all must be done quickly in less than 8 seconds. Now that my control panel has been reset it works fine again. YAY ME!

  • Timothy Tanner

    When i turn my dishwasher to Normal wash an push start it wants to drain water (nothing in there) so it just hums , i tried taking the knob of an seeing if it was on wrong but it only goes on one way

  • Jim

    Whirlpool WDF510PAYSA Tripped the breaker and when i reset it would not start.

  • Rodney Swanson

    water sprays from the manufactured openings at the top of the inlet during initial wash and rinse cycle. inlet is not cracked or damaged. compared part w/ replacement part at supply warehouse, nothings missing. anyone else experience this? any solutions? KitchenAid Mod#KUDKO1ILBS3 PART#8531325

  • Scott Husband

    I have a 6 year old Whirlpool dishwasher, all the cycles run, water is hot, the door for the dish detergent doesn’t open

    • Frangi

      Mine did the same I just throw the detergent block in the bottom and that works fine.

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