KitchenAid Dishwasher Troubleshooting: Step-By-Step Guide

KitchenAid Dishwashers are very popular appliances thanks to their overall reliability, excellent cleaning capabilities, and a slew of handy features to customize the wash settings to your preferences.

Despite their reputation for quality and consistency, they do run into their share of problems that you, as an owner, might have to contend with at some point.

So in this article, we’re going to help you by taking an in-depth look at all the main problems that might occur on a KitchenAid dishwasher and give you easy-to-follow guides on how to get each of these problems fixed.

Common KitchenAid Dishwasher Problems

A wide range of problems can potentially occur with your dishwasher, even if you’re taking good care of it and keeping up with maintenance. So let’s start by taking a detailed look at each issue so you can properly diagnose what’s causing the problem.

1. There’s a Leak Somewhere

Leaking is a highly common problem that KitchenAid dishwasher users face. There are many areas that can get blocked up and cause water to accumulate inside the machine.

These leak points may include the door gasket, which can become faulty, the spray arms may be clogged, or the filter might be full, preventing the water from draining away. You’ll need to inspect each of these parts and get them cleaned out so the water can properly drain away and not leak out.

2. Poor Dish Cleaning Quality

We expect the quality of cleaning from KitchenAid dishwashers to be very high, so if you notice that the dishes are not as clean as you’d like after the wash cycle has finished, it usually means there’s a problem somewhere that needs addressing.

The spray arms might be clogged up with mineral deposits preventing the dishwasher from getting enough water to clean the dishes properly.

3. The Dishes Aren’t Drying Properly

If you notice that the dishes aren’t fully dry after a wash cycle, it may be because you’ve stacked the dishes and cups improperly, and you should review how you load the dishwasher.

However, if you’re sure the dishwasher’s loaded properly, the heating element may be failing and not producing enough heat to evaporate the water.

4. The Water Isn’t Draining

Pooled water sitting at the bottom of the dishwasher after the wash cycle has finished usually indicates a blockage. 

This may be because the filter’s not been cleaned recently, the drain hose may be clogged, or the drain pump may have become faulty. Make sure to inspect each item and fix it accordingly.

5. Strange Noises or Excess Vibration During Operation

Odd clunking noises, grinding sounds, or strong vibrations during operation are never a good sign.

The pump may be damaged, the spray arm bearing may be wearing down and grinding, or the chopper blade, which helps break down the food debris, may be broken or worn down. These items will need to be inspected and fixed accordingly.

6. The Dishwasher Won’t Start

Before doing anything, you should first check that the control lock is disabled and the delay wash cycle setting hasn’t been turned on. However, if the problem persists, it may be caused by something as simple as the door not latching fully.

This is because the dishwasher is programmed not to start until the door is fully latched so that it doesn’t fill with water while the door is open slightly and ends up flooding your kitchen. So you’ll need to inspect and fix the door latch before the washer starts.

7. The Control Display Isn’t Working

Modern KitchenAid dishwashers rely heavily on the display panel to convey information to the user. If your control display is not functioning or is behaving oddly usually means the panel itself has become defective or the control board has experienced a fault.

In both scenarios, the usual course of action is simply replacing the faulty part with a new one.

8. The Dishwasher Stops Mid Cycle

If your dishwasher keeps stopping mid-cycle, while this can sometimes be due to the float switch being triggered by too much water, most of the time, it’s due to the thermal fuse blowing.

The thermal fuse is a safety device designed to stop the dishwasher from getting too hot and causing damage to the other internal components. When the thermal fuse blows, the only solution is replacing it with a new one, as these are single-use components.

How To Troubleshoot A KitchenAid Dishwasher?

With a better grasp of the most common issues that crop up with KitchenAid dishwashers, let’s now look at how to get each problem fixed up so you can restore your dishwasher to working order.

1. Fix All Leaks

If you are experiencing leaks in your dishwasher, you should first check the door gasket. This creates a protective seal around the door to prevent water from leaking. Inspect it carefully for cracks or damage that might cause it not to be watertight.

If any damage is located, then the door seal should be replaced. You should also clean out the drain filter and hose in case they are blocked and prevent the water from draining away.

2. Clean the Spray Arms

If you notice your dishwasher’s cleaning performance is decreasing, it may mean that the spray arms have become clogged up with dirt or mineral deposits from hard water.

You can often easily clean the spray arms out by using something like a paperclip which you can poke through the holes to dislodge the buildup.

If the blockage is particularly bad, you’ll need to remove the spray arm completely and let it soak in a bowl full of dish soap to help break down the blockage. Then you can simply rinse it through with warm running water.

3. Load The Dishwasher Properly

If your dishes are not completely dry after the wash cycle has finished, it’s usually because they haven’t been loaded properly. You should be mindful to stack all cups/bowls facing down so the water doesn’t accumulate in men.

Likewise, you should also stack the items using the natural slant of the dish racks to ensure water can naturally drain off the bottom. Finally, consider using a rinse aid which will assist in helping the water to evaporate by reducing the surface tension.

4. Clean The Filter and Unclog The Drain Hose

If you notice a pool of water sitting at the bottom of the washer after the wash cycle has finished, it may be because of a blockage preventing the water from draining away.

First, remove the filter (found at the bottom of the dishwasher), and rinse it under warm water to remove any built-up food debris. If it’s tough to clean, you can also use dish soap and a soft brush.

Additionally, if food has made it through the filter and clogged up the dishwasher drain hose, you will need to unblock that too.

  1. Turn off the power source to the dishwasher.
  2. Disconnect the drain hose from the back.
  3. Try to check visually if you can see through the hose; if you can’t, it may indicate a blockage is lodged somewhere down the hose.
  4. You can use something like a bent coat hanger to try and fish out the blockage. Otherwise, you can try to soak it in water or pour baking soda and vinegar down it to break down the blockage first before rinsing it through with water.
  5. Once it’s all cleaned out, reconnect the drain hose and start the washer.

5. Check The Pump Motor and Spray Arm Bearing

The two primary culprits behind excessive vibration and noise are the pump motor failing or the spray arm bearing wearing down.

You should first test the drain pump motor for continuity using a multimeter, and if it’s defective, you must install a new one in its place. We recommend contacting KitchenAid customer support, who will arrange for a trained technician to help.

Next, remove the spray arm from the bottom of the dishwasher and check the bearing for apparent signs of wear and damage. If it looks worn down, this should also be replaced with a new one.

6. Fix Issues Preventing The Dishwasher From Starting

Most of the time, issues that prevent the dishwasher from starting are relatively minor. Check the control lock feature is disabled; if it’s turned on, you can just hold the padlock button on the dishwasher control panel down for a few seconds to disable it.

You should also check the delay wash cycle hasn’t been selected; turn it back down to 0 minutes delay time, and the wash cycle should begin as soon as you press start.

7. Replace The Defective Control Panel or Board

If either the control panel or control board has developed issues that are preventing you from using the dishwasher correctly, then we recommend replacing them, as these are difficult components to diagnose and fix by yourself.

If you are not confident performing this installation yourself, we again recommend contacting KitchenAid customer support to arrange a technician to help you through this process.

8. Replace The Blown Thermal Fuse

If your dishwasher has gotten too hot, the thermal fuse will blow, immediately stopping the appliance from heating and preventing the other components from becoming damaged.

However, once the fuse has blown, the only option is to replace it, as they are single-use components.

  1. Start by turning the power to the dishwasher off.
  2. Locate the thermal fuse, which is usually placed under the control panel. You’ll need to remove the control board to gain access to it. This step may vary between different models, so we suggest referring to your user manual for specific details.
  3. Remove the old fuse by disconnecting the wires and unscrewing it, then put the new one in its place.
  4. Reconnect the wires and re-insert the control board back in place.
  5. Start the dishwasher up and run a test cycle to check it’s working.
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