Dishwasher Smells Like Burning: 9 Easy Ways To Fix It Now

Is your dishwasher emitting a troubling burning smell during its cycles? If so, you’re not alone.

dishwasher that smells like burning can be a cause for concern and might indicate an underlying issue that needs to be addressed promptly.

Fortunately, there are several easy and effective ways to tackle this problem and restore your dishwasher’s optimal performance.

In this article, we will explore nine practical and straightforward methods to help you identify the root causes of the burning smell and resolve them without hassle.

From routine maintenance tips to troubleshooting potential malfunctions, we’ve gathered valuable insights from expert sources to guide you.

By following these steps, you can not only eliminate the unpleasant odor but also extend the lifespan of your dishwasher and ensure its safe and efficient operation. Let’s dive into the solutions and get your dishwasher smelling fresh and functioning flawlessly again.

Why Does Your Dishwasher Smell Like Burning?

burning smell coming from a dishwasher can be a cause for concern.

There are several potential reasons why your dishwasher may emit a burning smell. Understanding these causes can help you diagnose and address the issue effectively. Here are the possible causes of a burning smell in a dishwasher:

1. Clogged Filters

Dishwasher filters are essential for trapping food particles and debris to prevent them from recirculating in the dishwasher.

However, over time, these filters can become clogged and obstructed. This restricts water flow through the dishwasher, leading to inadequate cooling and potential overheating of the pump and other components. The accumulation of trapped debris can emit a burning smell as it gets heated.

2. Blocked Pump Impeller

The pump impeller plays a crucial role in propelling water through the dishwasher’s spray arms. However, it can get obstructed by food debris, broken glass, or other materials.

When the pump impeller is blocked, it disrupts the water flow, causing the dishwasher to work harder and generate excess heat. This increased strain on the dishwasher’s components can result in a burning smell.

3. Faulty Thermostat

The thermostat in a dishwasher regulates the water temperature during different cycles.

If the thermostat malfunctions or becomes faulty, it can cause the water to become excessively hot. This affects the dishwasher’s cleaning performance and leads to a burning smell as the overheated water interacts with food particles or debris.

4. Wiring Problems

Dishwashers contain various electrical components and wiring systems that can be susceptible to problems.

Issues like short circuits or loose connections within the dishwasher’s wiring can cause an electrical overload. This overload can lead to excessive heat generation and a burning smell. Problems with the electrical components can also impact the overall functionality and safety of the dishwasher.

5. Overloaded Dishwasher

Overloading the dishwasher beyond its recommended capacity can adversely affect its performance.

When the dishwasher is packed with dishes, it can obstruct the proper rotation of the spray arm and hinder water circulation. This obstruction forces the motor and pump to work harder, generating additional heat. The increased heat levels can produce a burning smell as the dishwasher struggles to operate efficiently.

6. Hard Water Buildup

Hard water, which contains high mineral content, can harm a dishwasher.

Over time, mineral deposits from hard water can accumulate on the dishwasher’s heating element, insulating it and impeding heat dissipation. This buildup prevents the heating element from efficiently heating the water, leading to inadequate cleaning and drying performance.

Mineral deposits can also clog the spray arm, filters, and hoses. This can restrict water flow, making the dishwasher work harder and increasing the risk of overheating.

7. Melted Plastic or Foreign Objects

If plastic items, such as containers or utensils, accidentally come into contact with the dishwasher’s heating element, they can melt and produce a burning smell.

Similarly, foreign objects like broken glass or other debris that enter the dishwasher can be exposed to the heat source, resulting in a burning odor.

Identifying and removing such items promptly is crucial to eliminate the smell and prevent potential damage.

8. Damaged Heating Element

The heating element in a dishwasher is responsible for heating the water during the wash cycle.

However, if the heating element malfunctions or becomes damaged, it can emit a burning smell. A damaged heating element may not generate sufficient heat, leading to ineffective cleaning and drying performance. Furthermore, a damaged heating element can compromise the overall functioning of the dishwasher.

9. Overheated Motor

The motor in a dishwasher powers the pump, spray arms, and other moving components.

Several factors can contribute to motor overheating, including a blocked pump impeller, thermal fuse failure, wiring problems, hard water buildup, and general wear and tear due to age.

When the motor overheats, it can emit a burning smell and may lead to dishwasher malfunctions or potential damage if not addressed promptly.

How to Fix a Dishwasher that Smells Like Burning?

If your dishwasher smells like burning, it’s essential to address the issue promptly to prevent any potential damage or safety hazards. Here are some steps you can take to fix a dishwasher that smells like burning:

1. Clean the Filters

The filters are located at the bottom of the dishwasher and are responsible for trapping food particles and debris.

To clean them, carefully remove the filters and rinse them under running water. Use your fingers or a soft brush to dislodge any stubborn residue. Pay attention to the fine mesh filter, which may require gentle toothbrushing to remove caked-on debris.

Cleaning the drain filters is crucial as it improves water flow and prevents clogs. When drain filters are clogged, water circulation is compromised, leading to decreased cleaning performance and potentially causing a burning smell.

2. Check and Clear the Pump Impeller

The pump impeller is vital for propelling water through the dishwasher’s spray arms.

Over time, the impeller can become obstructed by broken glass, food particles, or other objects. Inspecting and clearing the pump impeller is essential to ensure proper water circulation and prevent excessive heat buildup.

Start by locating the impeller, typically found at the base of the dishwasher. Carefully remove any debris that may hinder its rotation using a pair of tweezers or pliers.

Removing all obstructions is crucial to maintain optimal water flow and prevent the burning smell associated with poor circulation. Regularly checking and clearing the pump impeller helps maintain the dishwasher’s efficiency and performance.

Consult the dishwasher’s user manual or seek professional assistance if needed.

3. Test and Replace the Thermostat

If you suspect a faulty thermostat is causing the burning smell in your dishwasher, it’s important to have it tested and replaced if necessary. The thermostat is responsible for regulating the temperature inside the dishwasher.

To diagnose the thermostat, consult the dishwasher’s user manual for instructions on performing a test. If the test indicates a faulty thermostat, it’s recommended to contact a professional technician who can accurately diagnose the issue and replace the faulty component.

A malfunctioning thermostat can lead to overheating, which may cause a burning smell. Replacing the thermostat ensures proper temperature regulation and eliminates the risk of overheating.

4. Verify the Wiring Connections

Examine the dishwasher’s wiring connections to ensure they are secure and in good condition.

Start by turning off the dishwasher and accessing the wiring connections carefully. Look for any loose or damaged wires, frayed insulation, or signs of burning.

If you notice any issues, it’s crucial to consult a professional technician for repairs or replacement. They have the expertise to handle electrical components safely.

Loose or damaged wiring connections can cause electrical overload, leading to overheating and a burning smell. By verifying and maintaining proper wiring connections, you can prevent potential electrical hazards and ensure the safe operation of your dishwasher.

Remember to prioritize your safety when working with electrical components and consult professionals when necessary.

5. Load the Dishwasher Properly

It’s critical to load your dishwasher correctly and avoid overloading it above its specified capacity to prevent a burning odor.

Distribute the dishes evenly throughout the dishwasher, ensuring they do not obstruct the rotation of the spray arm. Overloading can hinder water circulation, strain the dishwasher’s components, and cause overheating.

Following the manufacturer’s guidelines and ensuring proper loading allows optimal water flow and circulation, reducing the likelihood of a burning odor.

6. Descale the Dishwasher

If hard water buildup is the cause of the burning smell in your dishwasher, descaling is necessary to remove mineral deposits.

Hard water contains minerals that can accumulate inside the dishwasher’s components over time, obstructing water flow and causing odors.

To descale your dishwasher, use a dishwasher-safe descaling agent recommended by the manufacturer or create a mixture of white vinegar and water.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the appropriate descaling procedure, which may involve running a descaling cycle or placing a descaling solution in an empty dishwasher.

Descaling helps remove mineral deposits, improves the dishwasher’s performance, and eliminates odors, ensuring a clean and fresh-smelling dishwasher.

7. Remove Melted Plastic or Foreign Objects

If you detect melted plastic or foreign objects inside your dishwasher, removing them carefully is crucial to eliminate the burning smell and prevent further damage.

Begin by wearing heat-resistant gloves or using tongs to avoid burns. Inspect the dishwasher’s interior thoroughly, paying attention to the heating element, racks, and other components.

Use a soft cloth or sponge to remove any melted plastic, food debris, or foreign objects. Take extra care not to scratch or damage any surfaces. Clearing the dishwasher of these items ensures proper functioning, prevents additional odors, and helps avoid potential damage caused by the melting of foreign objects.

8. Replace the Heating Element

If a damaged heating element is the culprit behind the burning smell in your dishwasher, it may be necessary to replace it.

Refer to the dishwasher’s user manual for guidance, or contact a professional technician to diagnose and replace the faulty heating element. Ensure you purchase a compatible replacement part specific to your dishwasher model.

Replacement procedures may vary depending on the dishwasher’s make and model, so following the instructions is essential. Replacing a damaged heating element restores proper functionality, prevents overheating and burning smells, and allows your dishwasher to operate efficiently.

9. Address Motor Issues

If you notice that the motor of your dishwasher is overheating and emitting a burning smell, it is crucial to address the underlying cause promptly.

Start by inspecting the motor for visible blockages, such as debris or foreign objects, which may hinder its rotation. Clear any obstructions carefully, using tools or techniques recommended by the dishwasher’s manufacturer.

Additionally, check the wiring connections associated with the motor for any loose or damaged wires. If you detect any issues, it is advisable to consult a professional technician for a thorough inspection and appropriate repairs.

In some cases, worn-out motor components may need to be replaced to restore proper functioning and eliminate the burning odor.

Taking these measures will help maintain the longevity of your dishwasher and prevent potential safety hazards. Remember to refer to the dishwasher’s user manual or consult a professional technician for specific instructions and guidance tailored to your dishwasher model and situation.

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