Heating Element on Dishwasher Not Working: Step-by-Step Solutions

Heating element on dishwasher not working? This a frustrating issue that can affect the appliance’s ability to clean your dishes effectively.

It’s a common problem that many homeowners face, but with the right approach, it can typically be resolved without the need for a professional technician.

In this article, we’ll guide you through a systematic troubleshooting process to get your dishwasher back to its optimal heating performance.

Heating Element on Dishwasher Not Working

Understanding Your Dishwasher’s Heating Element

Before we dive into troubleshooting, it’s essential to understand what the heating element does. Located at the bottom of your dishwasher, the heating element’s role is to raise the water temperature for effective cleaning and to aid in the drying process.

When it’s not working, you might notice dishes coming out cold and wet at the end of a cycle.

Checking for Obvious Signs of Malfunction

When you’re faced with the issue of your heating element on dishwasher not working, a good starting point is to check for clear signs of malfunction that you can often spot with a visual inspection. Here are two key things you should examine:

Inspect the Heating Element:

Here’s how to inspect the heating element…

Safety First: Always ensure that your dishwasher is turned off and completely cool before you begin your inspection. This is important to avoid any potential electrical hazards or burns.

Remove Obstacles: Open the dishwasher door and take out the bottom dish rack to get a clear view of the heating element, which is usually a long, thin metallic loop or rod located at the bottom of the dishwasher’s interior. Check your manual for more specific information.

Visual Inspection: Look closely at the heating element for any noticeable damage. Cracks, blisters, or breaks are telltale signs that the heating element is defective and needs replacement.

Feel for Damage: If a visual inspection doesn’t reveal anything, carefully run your fingers around the element (make sure your hands are dry and the dishwasher is off to prevent any electrical shock). Sometimes you can feel small cracks or irregularities that you can’t see.

Check the Wiring:

Here’s how to check the wiring…

Access the Wiring: To examine the wiring, you’ll likely need to access the base of the dishwasher. Ensure the dishwasher is disconnected from the power source before you proceed.

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Look for Signs of Damage: Check the wires that connect to the heating element. You’re looking for any signs of burning, melting, or discolouration. These could be signs of electrical issues that could cause the heating element to fail.

Check the Connections: Make sure the connections are tight. A loose connection can lead to a malfunctioning element.

If you’re comfortable and knowledgeable about electrical work, you can try tightening the connections, but if you’re unsure, it’s best to consult with a professional.

Testing the Heating Element

Ensuring your dishwasher’s heating element is functioning correctly is a crucial step in the troubleshooting process. Here’s how to conduct a thorough test:

Prepare for Testing:

Here’s how to prepare for testing…

Disconnect Power: Safety cannot be overstressed when it comes to electrical appliances. Make sure the dishwasher is completely turned off, and unplug it from the power outlet. If your dishwasher is hardwired into your home’s electrical system, switch off the breaker that controls it.

Set Up Multimeter: A multimeter is an instrument used to measure electrical properties. For this task, it needs to be set to measure resistance in ohms (Ω).

If you’re unfamiliar with how to use a multimeter, take a moment to read the instruction manual, or watch a reliable tutorial online.

Access the Element:

Here’s how to access the heating element…

Remove Obstacles: Open the dishwasher door to its fullest extent. Locate the bottom dish rack and slide it out gently; this will expose the heating element.

Identify Terminals: The heating element has two terminals, usually protruding through the base of the dishwasher, connected by electrical wires. You’ll test each of these terminals.

Test the Element:

Here’s how to test the heating element…

Probe Placement: Touch one probe of the multimeter to one terminal and the other probe to the second terminal. Make sure the probes make good contact with the terminals for an accurate reading.

Read the Multimeter: Observe the reading on the multimeter’s display. A functioning heating element typically has a resistance between 15-30 ohms.

If your multimeter does not show a reading, or the resistance is significantly higher or lower than this range, it suggests there is a problem with the heating element.

Interpret the Results: If the multimeter indicates no continuity (a digital multimeter may show “OL” or “1” to signify “open loop,” or an analog multimeter’s needle won’t move), the heating element is likely defective and will need to be replaced.

Assessing the High-Limit Thermostat

The high-limit thermostat in your dishwasher serves as an essential safety mechanism, designed to cut off the power to the heating element in case the water temperature becomes excessively high. To assess whether it’s functioning correctly, follow these steps:

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Locate the Thermostat:

Here’s what you’ll need to do…

Consult the Manual: The location of the high-limit thermostat can vary depending on your dishwasher’s make and model. To find its precise location, consult the dishwasher’s manual.

If you don’t have the manual handy, you can often find a digital copy online on the manufacturer’s website by searching with your dishwasher’s model number.

Visual Identification: Typically, the high-limit thermostat is a small, round device, often located near the bottom of the dishwasher, close to the heating element. It will have wires connected to it, and it may be secured with a mounting screw or clip.

Test the Thermostat:

Here’s what you’ll need to do…

Safety Precautions: As with any repair involving electrical components, ensure the dishwasher is disconnected from the power source before you begin.

Access the Thermostat: Depending on your dishwasher, you may need to remove the lower kickplate or access panel. This is usually done by removing a few screws with a screwdriver. Once the panel is off, locate the thermostat.

Remove the Wires: Before testing, carefully disconnect the wires from the thermostat. Make sure you remember or note down which wire goes where to reconnect them correctly after testing.

Use the Multimeter: Set your multimeter to test for continuity, which will tell you whether electrical current can flow through the thermostat or not. Place each of the multimeter’s probes on the thermostat’s terminals.

Evaluate the Reading: If the multimeter shows a reading (usually zero ohms), it means the thermostat has continuity and is likely working properly.

If the multimeter does not show a reading or indicates no continuity, the high-limit thermostat is not functioning correctly and will need to be replaced.

If the high-limit thermostat needs replacing, it is often a straightforward process of removing the faulty one and installing a new one in its place, ensuring the wires are reconnected correctly.

However, if you are not confident in performing this task or if handling electrical components makes you uncomfortable, it’s advisable to contact a professional technician to do it safely.

When to Call a Professional

Sometimes, despite your best efforts and following all the steps to diagnose your dishwasher’s heating problems, the heater in the dishwasher may still not work.

This can be a sign that there are more complex issues at play, which could be difficult to resolve without the proper training and tools. Here’s when it might be time to call a professional:

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If You’ve Ruled Out Simple Fixes: If the heating element and high-limit thermostat have both passed your tests, and you’ve ensured that all connections are secure, but the problem persists, a deeper electrical or mechanical issue could be the culprit.

When Multimeter Readings Are Inconclusive: Multimeters can give various readings depending on the component being tested.

If you get readings that don’t fall within the expected range and you’re unsure how to interpret them, professional insight will be needed.

Complex Electrical Issues: If there are signs of complex electrical problems, such as issues with the dishwasher’s control board, timers, or other intricate components, these typically require the expertise of a technician.

Safety Concerns: If at any point during your troubleshooting you feel out of your depth, especially when it comes to electrical components, it’s best to stop and seek professional help. Safety should always come first.

Warranty Considerations: If your dishwasher is still under warranty, attempting repairs yourself could void it. In this case, it’s best to contact a certified repair technician who can provide service without risking your warranty coverage.

Recurring Problems: If the dishwasher has had repeated issues or the same issue keeps reoccurring, a professional can provide a more thorough diagnosis to address the root of the problem, rather than just its symptoms.

Remember, professional appliance technicians have the experience, tools, and knowledge to safely and effectively fix your dishwasher.

By calling a professional, you also benefit from their expertise in identifying issues quickly, which can save you time and prevent further damage to your dishwasher.

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

Conclusion: Heating Element on Dishwasher Not Working

In conclusion, troubleshooting a non-functioning heating element in your dishwasher can often be accomplished with some careful observation and the use of a multimeter.

By checking for obvious signs of damage, testing the heating element, and assessing the high-limit thermostat, you’ve taken critical steps towards diagnosing the problem. These procedures are generally straightforward and can be performed by most handy homeowners.

However, if these steps do not resolve the issue, or you encounter complex electrical readings, continuous problems, or simply feel uncomfortable handling such repairs, it is prudent to call a professional.

Certified technicians have the expertise to safely diagnose and fix intricate issues that go beyond basic troubleshooting.

Moreover, for those with dishwashers under warranty or with recurring problems, professional assistance ensures you do not inadvertently void warranty terms or overlook a potentially larger issue.

Addressing your dishwasher’s heating issues promptly and effectively is essential. It’s not just about repairing a convenient household appliance; it’s about restoring an essential tool in your daily routine that ensures your dishes are cleaned and sanitized properly.

So whether you successfully fix the problem yourself or enlist the aid of a professional, taking action is key to getting your dishwasher back in top condition.