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Dishwasher Not Working (Causes & Fixes)

Dishwasher Not Working (Causes & Fixes)

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Dishwashers are a great tool to have. They simplify cleaning so you don’t have to stand over the sink washing dishes by hand. Unfortunately, when your dishwasher is not working, it can be very frustrating.

If your dishwasher is not working, there are several different things that could be wrong. It could be a setting on the dishwasher, the electrical connection, or something more serious like the motor, the start relay, or the thermal fuse.

It’s never fun when your dishwasher isn’t working. Whether it simply won’t turn on or it isn’t getting water, you may have solutions available to you. Check out these possible causes and fixes for your dishwasher not working.

How Dishwashers Works?

You have to remember that a dishwasher is a machine. It’s an appliance that has been programmed to complete a specific action based on your commands to do so.

You have to load it and unload it. You have to latch it and you have to power it on. If it’s a portable dishwasher, then you will also have to connect it to water.

From there, the dishwasher takes over. It fills and spreads the water and heats up the water to a temperature meant to sanitize and cleanse the dishes within. Most dishwashers will open the detergent bin when needed and cycle rinses and even drying functions as well.

The process of the dishwasher basically works like this.

  1. Provide water
  2. Heat water
  3. Open or dispense detergent
  4. Spray water for cleaning
  5. Drain all dirty water
  6. Spray more water to rinse
  7. Drain again
  8. Dry with heat

Typically, you may notice a timer or some sort of indicator that shows you where the dishwasher is in the cycle and how long or what steps are remaining.

Dishwashers are created with sensors that know how hot to make the water and the air temperature and some have sensors that can tell if the dishes are actually clean as well.

Dishwasher Not Working Troubleshooting

When it seems like you’re doing everything right, it can be extremely inconvenient to deal with a dishwasher that isn’t working. There could be several things causing the dishwasher not to work.

Here are the most common reasons your dishwasher might not be working.

  1. Dishwasher door isn’t latching
  2. Dishwasher isn’t draining
  3. Dishwasher isn’t filling with water
  4. Dishwasher isn’t starting
  5. Dishwasher has a faulty motor

Now, let’s look at each of these potential causes and discuss possible fixes for the issue as well.

Dishwasher Door Isn’t Latching

If the dishwasher door does not close all of the ways or does not latch properly, this will cause your dishwasher not to start.

Most dishwashers have a mechanism that recognizes if they are not closed or locked and this will prevent the dishwasher from running as it could get messy if the door just popped open during a wash cycle.

Your latch may be something you manually press with a lever or it may just be an internal latch. An indicator that your door isn’t latching is if you close it and can just easily pull it back open.

With some dishwashers, it may just pop back open if it doesn’t latch.

The Fix

If your dishwasher isn’t latching, it might be something super simple. Have you checked to be sure nothing is impeding the latch?

Take a quick look and make sure nothing is sticking out or stopping the door from really being able to close and latch. Maybe you have a stirring spoon hanging off the rack or something in the way of the latch.

This is the easiest fix. You might also check and just make sure no food or particles are stuck in the latch piece itself.

If that doesn’t solve your issue, your latch may just be worn and need to be replaced. Check for wear and replace the latch if necessary.

Dishwasher Isn’t Draining

If you thought your dishwasher was finished running only to open it up and find water still inside, it isn’t draining. You might also notice issues during the draining cycle.

If it’s just a little bit of water sitting in the bottom of the dishwasher, this is often the sign of a bigger issue so don’t wait until your dishwasher is totally full of water and won’t drain at all to figure it out.

If the dishwasher isn’t draining, you not only face the issue of water being held inside but your dishes are in there with it. If you open it, you could have a huge mess of water on your hands.

This could have two causes. Your dishwasher may not be draining simply because of a clog or a blockage. The other possible issue is that your drain pump or drain mechanism needs to be replaced.

The Fix

The downside is you will need to access your dishwasher internally to figure it out or make repairs so you may need some way to get the water out in order to do so.

Let’s start with the blockage. If you have a drain blockage, you will need to clear the obstruction for your water to drain. This may be as simple as clearing the lines or clearing out the flapper.

If you find no obstruction, check the valve of the drain mump to see if it is moving. If it is not moving and nothing is impeding it, you most likely need to replace the valve or replace the drain pump mechanism.

Dishwasher Isn’t Filling with Water

If your dishwasher is not working, it may be because it is not getting water. Obviously, the dishwasher heavily relies on water to function. If it doesn’t get water, it simply doesn’t work and won’t do anything.

It might even try to cycle but nothing will actually happen or it will shut off because it doesn’t get water.

This could be related to three things.

  • Water inlet valve
  • Float and float switch
  • Water supply stop valve

The Fix – Water Inlet Valve

If your dishwasher is not filling because of the water inlet valve, you will need to replace that valve. Check your manual to know where the valve is for sure but it’s typically attached to the drain hose.

Your owner’s manual may have troubleshooting tips for this valve but you should be able to replace it pretty easily.

The Fix – Float and Float Switch

Check your owner’s manual to find the float switch. This is a sensor inside of the dishwasher that tells it when your dishwasher is full or has the right amount of water. If something is interfering with your switch, it communicates the wrong thing to the dishwasher.

Check for debris and replace if it seems faulty.

The Fix – Water Supply Stop Valve

Finally, take a look at your hot water supply stop valve. If this valve is malfunctioning, your dishwasher may think it’s getting water or it simply may not be able to get water because it’s stopped.

The valve may need to be replaced or dislodged.

Dishwasher Isn’t Starting

If your dishwasher isn’t starting at all, it is most likely related to a fuse or even a circuit breaker. First, check the latch and that your controls are working properly. Make sure you have water and that it is plugged in or hooked up as it should be.

If these things seem fine, you most likely have a fuse that needs to be replaced. In most cases, this is the thermal fuse. To find out, you can open your access door panel to locate the fuse.

The Fix

In this case, you will need a replacement thermal fuse and you will need to follow the instructions of your owner’s manual to replace it.

Most of the time, you can simply disconnect the bad fuse and then connect a new one. Be sure to reattach your access panel covering when finished.

Dishwasher Has a Faulty Motor

If all else fails and nothing seems to be working, it’s quite possible that your dishwasher has a faulty motor.

If the motor start relay is faulty, your dishwasher won’t receive the relay to function.

If the dishwasher is powering and your relay seems to be working, then it is most likely the drive motor.

The Fix

In this case, it’s a costlier repair. You will have to most likely replace your motor. It could be defective or it could just be worn out. Check with your manual and your manufacturer for a warranty before you replace it.

Related Questions

How Do You Reset Your Dishwasher?

Sometimes your dishwasher just needs a simple reset. To do this, unplug the dishwasher from the power source and leave it for at least 5 minutes. When you plug it back in, that is considered a reset.

What is the Most Common Problem with a Dishwasher?

The most common issue people face with dishwashers is a water inlet valve that is faulty or defective. This stops water from flowing in and can be replaced.

How Long Should a Dishwasher Last?

It really depends but in general, dishwashers are designed to last approximately 6-10 years.


Dishwashers are very helpful appliances when they work properly. If you’re having troubles with your dishwasher, give these troubleshooting tips a try and see if they work for you.

If nothing seems to help, give your manufacturer a call to see if they can help. If all else fails, it may be time to replace your dishwasher.

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