Dishwasher Filling with Water but Not Running: Comprehensive Guide To Fix the Problem

Is your dishwasher filling with water but not running? This common issue can lead to frustration, but with a bit of patience and the right guidance, it’s an issue you can solve. This step-by-step guide will walk you through the process of identifying the problem and finding the right solution.

Dishwasher Filling with Water but Not Running
Steven Pavlov, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Step 1: Safety First

Before you proceed, ensure that your dishwasher is turned off and unplugged from the power source. This is to safeguard against electrical shocks.

Step 2: Check the Door Latch

One of the reasons your dishwasher might be filling with water but not running could be due to a faulty door latch. Check if the door closes properly and the latch is secure. If the door doesn’t close properly, the dishwasher won’t run.

For more articles on dishwashers, click here: Dishwasher Problems and Solutions: Your Ultimate Guide to Hassle-free Dishwashing

Step 3: Inspect the Float Assembly

The float assembly is a safety device that prevents your dishwasher from overfilling. If it’s stuck or broken, it can cause the dishwasher to fill with water but not run. Check the float assembly and ensure it moves freely. If it’s stuck, clean it. If it’s broken, replace it.

  1. Disconnect Power: Safety first. Unplug the dishwasher from the power outlet. If it’s hardwired into your house electricity, switch off the circuit breaker controlling the kitchen.
  2. Remove the Lower Dish Rack: Take out the lower dish rack from the dishwasher. This will give you better access to the float located at the bottom of the dishwasher.
  3. Remove the Float Cover: The float is usually covered by a plastic cap or cover. This should easily lift off or may need to be unscrewed, depending on the model.
  4. Remove the Float: Once the cover is removed, the float should lift right out. Some models may have the float attached with a screw at the top of the stem, in which case you’ll need a screwdriver to remove it.
  5. Check the Float Switch: Beneath the float, there should be a switch that gets triggered when the float rises. This switch prevents the dishwasher from overfilling. While you have the float out, it’s a good idea to check this switch and make sure it’s working properly.
  6. Install the New Float: Place the new float onto the stem. If your model had a screw holding it in place, use your screwdriver to secure the new float.
  7. Replace the Float Cover: Put the float cover back in place.
  8. Replace the Lower Dish Rack: Slide the lower dish rack back into the dishwasher.
  9. Restore Power: Plug the dishwasher back into the power outlet or turn the circuit breaker back on if it’s hardwired.
  10. Test the Dishwasher: Run a short wash cycle to make sure the dishwasher fills and drains properly, and doesn’t overfill.
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Step 4: Examine the Water Inlet Valve

This valve controls the water supply to your dishwasher. If it’s defective, your dishwasher might fill with water but not start the washing cycle. If the valve is faulty, it’s best to replace it.

  1. Disconnect Power: Unplug the dishwasher from the power outlet. If it’s hardwired into the house electricity, switch off the circuit breaker that controls the kitchen.
  2. Shut Off Water Supply: Look for the water supply valve, typically located under your kitchen sink, and turn it off.
  3. Remove the Kick Plate: The kick plate (also known as a toe plate) is located at the bottom front of the dishwasher. It’s usually held in place by screws on each corner. Use a screwdriver to remove these screws and the kick plate.
  4. Remove the Inlet Valve: Look for the inlet valve; it’s typically where the water supply line enters the dishwasher. It’ll be connected with a hose or a tube.
  5. Drain the Water: Place a bucket or towel underneath the valve. Slowly loosen the connection to the valve from the water supply line using your pliers to allow any water to drain out.
  6. Disconnect the Inlet Valve: There will be a few connections to the valve. First, disconnect the water line using adjustable pliers. Next, remove the hose or tube connected to the valve. Lastly, disconnect the wire harness by gently pulling it out.
  7. Remove the Inlet Valve Bracket: The inlet valve is held in place by a bracket, which is attached with screws. Use your screwdriver to remove these screws and the bracket. Now you can fully remove the old inlet valve.
  8. Install the New Inlet Valve: Insert the new inlet valve into place, then secure it using the bracket and screws you removed earlier.
  9. Reconnect the Valve: Reattach the hose or tube to the valve. Then, connect the wire harness, and finally reattach the water supply line. Make sure all connections are secure.
  10. Replace the Kick Plate: Reattach the kick plate using the screws you removed earlier.
  11. Turn On the Water Supply: Turn the water supply valve back on. Check for any leaks around the new inlet valve.
  12. Restore Power: Plug the dishwasher back into the power outlet, or turn the circuit breaker back on if it’s hardwired.
  13. Test the Dishwasher: Run a short wash cycle to confirm the dishwasher fills with water and operates without leaking.
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Step 5: Check the Motor

If all the above checks are fine, your dishwasher’s motor could be the problem. If the motor has seized up or burned out, the dishwasher won’t run even though it’s filling with water. If this is the case, you might need to replace the motor.

Here is a step-by-step guide:

  1. Turn Off Power: Before you start, unplug the dishwasher from the electrical outlet. If you can’t find the plug, you can turn off the power to the dishwasher at the circuit breaker.
  2. Remove the Front Panel: Typically, you can find the screws holding the front panel of the dishwasher along the edge of the door. Once you’ve removed these, the panel should lift off, but be careful – there might be wires still attached to the control panel. You might need to remove these screws with the door partially or fully open.
  3. Remove the Dish Racks: You’ll need to remove both the lower and upper dish racks. They usually just slide out, but you might need to remove some clips or tabs to fully remove them.
  4. Remove the Lower Spray Arm: The spray arm is usually held in place by a nut or a set of screws. Once you remove these, the arm should just lift out.
  5. Access the Motor: Most dishwasher motors are located underneath the dishwasher, so you’ll likely need to pull the dishwasher out from its spot or tilt it to access the bottom.
  6. Disconnect the Motor: Before you remove the motor, take a picture of the wire connections to help you when installing the new one. After that, disconnect the wires. Depending on the model, you may also need to disconnect hoses connected to the motor.
  7. Remove the Motor: Using a wrench, remove the bolts holding the motor in place. Once you’ve removed these, you should be able to pull out the motor.
  8. Check the Motor with a Multimeter: Before you install the new motor, use a multimeter to check the old one. This will help confirm that the motor is the problem. If you get a reading, the motor might still be good, and you’ll need to look for a different problem.
  9. Install the New Motor: Insert the new motor into the place of the old one. Tighten the bolts to hold it in place.
  10. Reconnect the Wires and Hoses: Refer to the picture you took earlier, and reconnect the wires and hoses to the new motor.
  11. Reassemble the Dishwasher: Replace the spray arm and dish racks, then reattach the front panel. Be careful when reattaching the wires to the control panel.
  12. Restore the Power: Plug in the dishwasher or turn the power back on at the circuit breaker.
  13. Test the Dishwasher: Run a quick cycle without dishes to test if the motor is working correctly. Check for leaks and listen for unusual sounds.
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Remember that the above instructions may vary slightly depending on your dishwasher’s model. Always refer to your dishwasher’s manual before performing any repairs.

By systematically following these steps, your dishwasher should be back up and running. If you’re still facing issues, you might need professional help. But remember, many of these issues are common and completely solvable. Good luck!