How to fix a dishwasher that won’t start

Looking for a solution to the following problems?

  •  My dishwasher won’t start, but the timer keeps flashing? 
  • My dishwasher won’t close all the way; 
  • Why won’t my dishwasher start a wash cycle but has power in the buttons; 
  • The dishwasher won’t start, but the on and off button keeps beeping; 

Dishwashers can be complicated as they have many parts, but troubleshooting them is not as difficult even if you don’t have loads of technical experience. To attempt the fixes in this article, you will at least need some basic tools, including a multimeter, screwdriver set,  needlenose & slip joint pliers, or wrench set.  So here are some common ways to fix a dishwasher that won’t start.

Solution 1: Resetting the dishwasher from the breaker circuit

You can consider this easy dishwasher repair before considering serious fixes that require you to examine different parts for defects. Go to your main circuit board and locate the dishwasher circuit breaker. 

Can’t tell the breaker used by the dishwasher?  Just leave it on with its LED lights blinking.  You can turn off each circuit breaker and have someone confirm the right breaker. Leave it off for up to 1 minute and turn it on again. This will hard reset all the electronics. The dishwasher may start working again without any problems.

You can also confirm that the dishwasher is indeed plugged in as the issue may not lie in the circuit breaker. Another problem could be that the child lock or control lock is on. On most models, you need to press the control lock for up to 3 to 4 seconds. The button may be different, So you can check your manual or search for the solution online. 

Can’t access the breaker switch? You can also reset the dishwasher from the control panel.  You just have to press and hold the start button for 3 to 4 seconds for most models until it beeps. You can also unplug it for up to 1 minute and plug it back in again.

Solution 2: Read and understand the dishwasher error codes 

 Most dishwashers are equipped with a display screen. It displays various error codes when the dishwasher won’t start. The manual will describe various errors and function codes.

For KitchenAid dishwashers, for instance, Code 3-1 signifies that there’s a problem with the thermistor. Code 5-1 may indicate that the door latch has failed. Other error codes may indicate issues with the drain, clogged filter, failed pump,  water supply, high-temperature water supply, buttons, heating element,  temperature sensor, and water level. So before attempting any fix, know what the particular error code means and check the manufacturer’s website for possible fixes.

Solution 3: Check for defective door latch

The dishwasher won’t start even with a fully closed door if the door latch assembly is defective.  The assembly is responsible for keeping the door closed during a wash, minimizing any leakages. Part of the assembly is the door lock switch that tells the dishwasher if the door is closed. Without the signal, the dishwasher will not start a new wash cycle.  

The assembly is located on the top center part of the door. You will need a multimeter to test the door lock micro-switch for continuity of electrical flow. If it tests negative for electrical flow,  it means that it’s defective and needs to be replaced. You don’t need to replace the full assembly in some cases, only the defective micro switch.

Solution 4: Inspect the thermal fuse

The function of the thermal fuse is to cut off power to the dishwasher in case of overheating. When it’s blown, it stops the dishwasher from turning on.  You’ll also need a multimeter to test for continuity, and if it fails the test, you should replace it. An alternative is to bypass the thermal fuse if you don’t have the multimeter to test for continuity. Don’t attempt it as a permanent fix as it can be unsafe and cause irreparable damage to the appliance. 

Solution 5: Check the touchpad buttons

Sometimes the issue could be with some of the touchpads that may be stopping the dishwasher from starting a wash cycle. You may disassemble the control panel and clean the ribbon connectors using a pencil eraser or rubbing alcohol. If the buttons are not responsive, you may need to replace the dishwasher control panel. 

It’s recommended to seek professional help if things become confusing. Contact Plumb-Tech for highly trained and experienced technicians.

Solution 6: Determine if the main control board is faulty

The control board is responsible for powering and regulating every component of the dishwasher, and in case it has any faults, it will not run. You may use a multimeter to test its different components for continuity. However, due to its complexity, it may not be easily tested. 

Sometimes, other issues may point to problems with the control board, such as the control button becoming unresponsive. If the board is shorted, it may produce a burning smell and have visible burn signs. 

Solution 7: Failed timers 

If your dishwasher is a bit older,  it may lack digital controls and a touch panel. The timer will be responsible for sending power to other components. You will also need a multimeter to test for continuity. If it’s defective, it will prevent the dishwasher from starting. 

Solution 8: Motor start relay 

Some dishwashers are equipped with a motor start relay, and you can check your model online if it has one. The part is responsible for supplying the power required by the motor to start running. You will typically find it near the motor, and it can be tested for continuity.  

If it’s operational and sends the required power to the motor, you may check the drive motor for any problems using a multimeter. Before the motor fails, it may also show certain signs. It will produce a humming noise. 

Why won’t my dishwasher start – Other things that could go wrong 

If your dishwasher has a selector switch, you can confirm if it’s stuck between settings. The drain pump and drain sensor may also malfunction, and this will cause water to pool inside the appliance. You can also check for a wiring problem.

If the fixes and solutions described above are beyond your expertise, it’s worthwhile to hire a technician to diagnose and fix the dishwasher.

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