KitchenAid Dishwasher Troubleshooting

KitchenAid Dishwasher Troubleshooting
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Written By Stephen Powers

Appliance repair guy from Washington. I am majorly experienced in dishwashers, water filters and refrigerators, AMA on my twitter account.

KitchenAid has been around for more than 100 years. Its story is nothing less than a century of innovation and inspiration in the kitchen. It was in 1949 that KitchenAid launched its first home use dishwasher.

Since then, KitchenAid dishwashers have come a long way in features and cleaning skills. There is hardly a home in a US neighborhood that doesn’t have a KitchenAid dishwasher in the kitchen. At present, KitchenAid dishwashers are known for reliability, durability, and above all, immaculate cleaning power.

However, as the machine olds and users ignore the maintenance needs, the dishwasher can develop some problems. The most common issues that users start to face after using the machine for 1-2 years include dishwasher not cleaning properly and dishwasher not draining water.

While most functional errors can be resolved by simply resetting your KitchenAid dishwasher, these two problems require a systematic approach and involve checking various parts in your dishwashers.

KitchenAid Dishwasher Troubleshooting

Let’s check how you can get rid of the KitchenAid dishwasher not cleaning properly and the KitchenAid dishwasher not draining properly.

KitchenAid Dishwasher not Cleaning Troubleshooting

Poor cleaning performance does not only make you worry about the decreasing capabilities of your machine; it also creates a more urgent situation to be dealt with; dirty dishes. Therefore, it is very important to take care of it to get clean dishes in one cycle, and you don’t end up washing dishes in the sink and wasting gallons of water.

A KitchenAid dishwasher not cleaning is usually fixed by homeowners without complex repairs or checks. Some instances may need a technical inspection or part repair/replacement. Let’s check out the common reasons why a KitchenAid dishwasher is not cleaning your dishes properly.

Pre-rinsing Dishes

Pre-rinsing dishes in a KitchenAid dishwasher creates cleaning issues. Latest KitchenAid dishwashers come with sensors that judge the soil level on your dishes and adjust the cycle duration, temperature, and water usage accordingly.

If some of the dishes in a full load are pre-rinsed and some are not, your machine will get confused and adopt a cycle that will not wash the dishes as expected. Moreover, pre-rinsing wastes a lot of water.

However, you must remove big particles with a paper towel that can clog the filters in your dishwasher.

Dishwasher Loading Problem

Dishwasher Loading Problem

To get the best cleaning results, you must check the user manual for loading the dishes in the recommended way. Most homeowners load the dishes in a haphazard way that creates restrictions for water and detergent to reach the dishes. Loading the dishes in such a way that blocks spray arms and detergent dispenser means trouble.

Follow the guidelines below for loading your dishwasher in the right way

  • Don’t pre-rinse your dishes.
  • Cups, glasses, small bowls, dishwasher-safe plastics, baby bottles, and feeders go on the top rack. The top rack is away from the dishwasher’s heating element and is the safest to wash sensitive items.
  • Forks and spoons with handles facing down go in the silverware basket of your dishwasher. Just a safety tip: place sharp knives with handles up to avoid cutting yourself.
  • Plates go in the bottom rack in the pre-made slots. Make sure you load only one plate per slot. Oversize items go in the back of the plates so that they don’t block water and detergent.
  • Pots and pans must be loaded head down on the bottom rack. Make sure that they are dishwasher safe.
  • Never load items like large kitchen knives, brass, bronze, wood, China with gold leaf, and nonstick cookware in your dishwasher.
  • Add a detergent tablet and close the detergent dispenser.

Detergent Problems

Most cleaning issues are related to using the wrong detergents. KitchenAid doesn’t specifically recommend a detergent for its dishwasher but mentions only using automatic dishwasher detergent and recommends adding the detergent just before starting the cycle.

Experts recommend using Cascade or Finish in KitchenAid dishwashers. Consider the following tips while selecting a detergent for your dishwasher.

  • Use a detergent according to the chemistry of water at your home. If you have hard water, go with a detergent made specifically to deal with hard water problems. Use soft water detergents for soft water or reduce the amount of detergent.
  • Too much or too little detergent can cause cleaning issues.
  • Try adding a booster for better results.

Selecting Wrong Wash Cycle

Make sure you select the right cycle on your dishwasher. If you have loaded all stainless steel items and baked-on food particles and run your dishwasher on normal or delicate settings, you won’t get a good clean.

So, go through the user manual and check which cycle is best under what conditions and what type of load. You can read more about washing cycles here.

KitchenAid Dishwasher Water Supply Problems

All dishwashers require a proper amount of water at the right temperature and pressure for optimal cleaning. Most dishwashers operate on water pressure between 20-120 PSI and temperature according to the selected wash cycle. If the heating element in your KitchenAid dishwasher is not performing as it should, the machine will not remove baked-on particles, oil, and grease from dishes.

The water temperature must be a minimum of 120 Fahrenheit. Opening your hot water tap for 2-3 minutes in the kitchen helps the dishwasher perform better as its heating element has to work less for raising the water temperature. Moreover, you can also tweak your water heater settings a bit, but it will raise the hot water temperature for your entire home.

Other water supply problems could be related to the water inlet valve not being opened completely or blockages in the pipes. Minerals from hard water can clog the plumbing system of your home. You must install a water softener in homes with hard water. Cleaning spray arms and inspecting them for any damages also help increase the water pressure.

Dirty Dishwasher

A dirty dishwasher can also be a culprit behind a KitchenAid dishwasher not cleaning properly. Homeowners must clean their dishwashers monthly. The monthly cleaning regime includes cleaning the filters, spray arms, tub, and outer side of the machine. The best household items to use for dishwasher cleaning are vinegar and baking soda.

KitchenAid Dishwasher Not Draining – Troubleshooting

A clogged or not draining dishwasher is another common issue reported by the users. Most of the reasons behind the not draining problem are trivial and can be sorted out by the users themselves. 90% of the KitchenAid dishwasher-not-draining problems are solved by general cleaning and inspecting some parts.

Let’s check how you can troubleshoot the KitchenAid dishwasher not draining problem. The guide given below is generic and can be used for KitchenAid and other dishwashers. We recommend you keep the user manual with you all the time as some details may vary from one model to another.

Cleaning the Filter

Cleaning the Filter

The first step is to clean the filter of your dishwasher. To do this, follow the directions given below.

  • Unplug your dishwasher or turn off the circuit breaker from the electric panel. Turning off the breaker will also power off other appliances running through it.
  • Open the dishwasher door and remove any stagnant water at the bottom. Use a shop vacuum or a suction pump to empty the water. You can also use a small cup to siphon out the water. Place a bucket nearby and pour water into it. Line the kitchen floor with old towels to prevent water spillage.
  • Take off the spray arm by prying its bottom or unscrew with a screwdriver. Some models have a twist lock that can be undone by moving it counterclockwise.
  • Remove the filter at the bottom of the dishwasher by twisting it anticlockwise.
  • Take off the filter screen.
  • Dip the filter screen and water filter in a bowl of white vinegar to loosen out any stuck particles. Wash them with warm soapy water and scrub lightly with a soft brush before inserting them back.
  • Once you have removed the filter and the filter screen, siphon off the water underneath it.
  • You may notice a chuck of food blocking the drain. Remove it or any other debris that you may find there. Insert your finger in the openings and check for any blockings there.
  • Inert everything back in the same way you took it apart.
  • Now test your dishwasher on a short rinse cycle. If it is draining all right, you have done your work. If not, proceed to the next step.

Opening the Drain with Baking Soda and Vinegar

Opening the Drain with Baking Soda and Vinegar

  • Remove the spray arm, filter, and filter screen.
  • Add 4-5 spoons of baking soda in a glass jar and add tap water to make a paste. Stir it well.
  • Pour the baking soda mixture at the bottom of your dishwasher and pour 1-2 cups of white vinegar over it.
  • Add 1 liter of boiling water.
  • Make sure that you don’t mix baking soda, boiling water, and vinegar in the glass container.
  • Vinegar and baking soda are powerful household cleaners. They are best for cleaning and sanitizing your dishwasher.
  • This step will probably clear any light blockages in the draining system but will not dissolve large particles or big limestone blocks.
  • Install the screen, filter, and spray arms and test your dishwasher again on a short rinse cycle. If your dishwasher starts draining properly now, your work is done. You can skip the next steps.

Drain Hose Inspection

Drain Hose Inspection

Like all other dishwashers, KitchenAid dishwasher’s drain can develop problems that need to be sorted to make the drainage run smoothly. Let’s check how you can see if there is any blocking in the drainage.

  • The drain hose connects your dishwasher and sink’s drainage. Food particles, calcium stones (from hard water), and broken glass pieces can block the hose. Kinks and bends can also block the drain water movement.
  • Check the visible portion of the pipe for any kinks and bends. Straighten out the pipe if you see anything out of order.
  • The drain hose is connected to the sink’s plumbing system with a clamp. Use a screwdriver to remove the clamp and pull the pipe out.
  • Now insert a wire hanger, steel wire, or a pipe cleaner to check for any blockings. If you notice anything hard or blocking in the pipe, try to break it.
  • Add some vinegar to both pipes; dishwasher’s drain hose and plumbing system.
  • Wait for 10-20 minutes to let the vinegar dissolve the blocks.
  • Retest the system by running a short rinse cycle.

Other Reasons Behind your KitchenAid Dishwasher not Draining

Incomplete Wash Cycle: As your machine ages, its sensors get weak, and it leaves the washing cycle in between. This results in a puddle of water underneath your dishwasher. If you notice that your dishwasher quits halfway while washing your dishes, try resetting it. If a reset doesn’t work, the panel may need replacement.

Using Wrong Detergents: People with hard water at home don’t use a hard water-specific detergent in their dishwashers. It results in mineral deposits inside your dishwasher and drainage system. The deposits get larger over time and thus block the drainage system.

Air Gap Problems: The air gap stops dirty water from going back to your dishwasher. Make sure that it is not choked. You can check the air gap by taking off its cover and removing any blocked particles or debris. Pour some water over the air gap opening to ensure that water is moving freely through it.

Garbage Disposal Problems: A newly installed garbage disposal can be the reason why your KitchenAid dishwasher is not draining properly. Check that the valves on the garbage disposal are not in the close position.

Jammed Sink Drain: Done checking everything about your dishwasher? And the problem isn’t solved yet? Try checking the sink drain. Pour an eco-friendly drain cleaner into your sink to remove any possible hurdles that may be stopping dishwasher drainage.

Technical Causes behind a KitchenAid Dishwasher Not Draining

The causes mentioned below usually need replacement or tools to check their working. Not every homeowner can take care of these things. It is best to call a licensed technician if you have tried everything listed above and the problem is still not solved.

The technician will probably check the following components in your dishwasher.

Damaged Drain Pump: The drain pump is responsible for pumping drain water into the drainage system. It uses a motor to force the dirty water out. The motor can go bad after some time or excessive usage. The technician will check the motor’s strength using a continuity meter. If the motor is damaged, it will be replaced.

Faulty Drain Impeller: KitchenAid dishwasher uses a drain impeller to push water in the sink drainage system. It may need a replacement after a few years.

Defective Drain Solenoid Kit: The solenoid kit opens the drain valve to let the water exit and prevent backflow. You would need to get the solenoid kit replaced after 3-4 years.

Broken Drain Valve: Sometimes drain valve may go bad. Replacing it will sort out the drainage issues.

Final Words

Troubleshooting your KitchenAid dishwasher is easy and hassle-free if you know where to start. Our guide will help you save time and money by checking and fixing the common problems first and then moving to more complex issues.

14 thoughts on “KitchenAid Dishwasher Troubleshooting”

  1. My dishwasher door squeeks loudly when opening or closing the door. I tried spraying the hinge with WD-40 but that didn’t help. Any ideas?
    Thanks

    Reply
    • If applying WD-40 on the door hinge didn’t help, the problem is with the door cable and pulley.

      One way to fix this problem is to apply petroleum jelly to the cable. You will need to pull out the dishwasher by unhooking it. Once you have unveiled the door cable, apply some petroleum jelly to the cable near the pulley. It will grease the cable and reduce friction that causes squeaking sounds.

      Apply jelly on both sides of the door. Close and open the door a few times to see if the problem has been resolved.

      If this doesn’t work, you might need to replace the door cable and pulley if this doesn’t work.

      Reply
  2. The detergent dispenser will not open during the cycle. Can we just put the detergent pod in the silverware rack until we get the dispenser fixed?

    Reply
    • Yes. You can put the detergent pod in the dishwasher rack but only do so if you select a cycle that uses no pre-rinse. You can refer to the sequence chart in the instruction manual to see which cycle doesn’t use a pre-rinse.

      However, throwing the detergent pod in the rack is not suggested because most automatic dishwashers have an automatic pre-rinse sequence.

      You must put the pod in the rack before the main wash cycle starts. By putting the detergent in a pre-rinse cycle, you are exposing the detergent to water immediately.

      Will you get clean dishes? Yes. Most of the time!

      Reply
  3. I just had a new unit installed. it continues to rundifferent cycles 24/7 we have tried canceling and it will just start up again.

    Reply
    • This can happen due to various reasons. One way to solve this problem is to restart your dishwasher.

      If this doesn’t fix it, contact customer service to get the problem solved.

      Reply
  4. My dishwasher randomly fills with water and can get to the point of leaking out onto the floor. I had the water inlet valve replaced but it did not fix the problem. Does anyone have any idea what could be causing this?

    Reply
    • Dishwasher randomly filling with water problem usually happens due to a faulty inlet valve.

      If you have replaced the inlet valve and this didn’t fix the problem, check float switch.

      Float Switch tells the dishwasher control board to stop taking water when it has enough water. If the float switch is not working, your dishwasher might overflow when it is not supposed to. The float switch is usually located at the bottom of the dishwasher, and it gets stuck due to debris and hard water deposits. A simple cleaning can help solve the problem. Refer to the user manual if you can’t find where the float switch is located for your model.

      If the problem is related to drain water, you need to check the following components.
      • Water Filter
      • Drain Impeller
      • Drain Pump Motor
      • Drain Solenoid
      • Drain Valve
      • Check Valve
      • Drain Hose

      Reply
    • The following could be why your KitchenAid Dishwasher is not drying dishes at the end of a wash cycle.
      • Overloading your dishes
      • Not loading dishes as per the manufacturer’s directions.
      • Unloading clean dishes from the top rack first; start unloading from the bottom rack.
      • Plastic items don’t dry well because they don’t retain heat.
      • Not adding rinse aid
      • Not selecting heated dry option or extra drying option. (Option name may vary from one model to another).

      Faulty Parts
      If you are doing all of the above, the following parts can be the reason why dishes are not being dried.
      • Broken/leaking air vent
      • Damaged fan motor
      • Faulty heating element

      Reply
  5. Our dishwasher is not cleaning. The cycles don’t sound right. I just started it tonight. Just as the water sounds like its spraying it stop. Then sounds like it pressures back up .. to only stop again once it starts to spray. I’ve cleaned it several times before this. It goes right back to not functioning correctly. Any suggestions? Thank you in advance.

    Reply
  6. The display in my dishwasher is “off”. The colors are correct, but the words are not. it seems like the plastic piece covering the external display lights slipped out of place so now it shows the wrong words at the wrong times. Any way to repair this?

    Reply
  7. our one year old dishwasher is ejecting the detergent gel from its slot and therefore no soap is being used in the cycle. Any suggestions on trouble shooting? Thx,

    Reply

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