You fill your dishracks with dirty dishes then close the dishwasher door—expecting to set the cycle, but the control panel is dead. You’re thinking to yourself, this has got to be one of the most frustrating appliance failures ever. It seems to always happen at the worst time—on the weekend or when you have company over.
Most Common Reasons a Dishwasher Stops Working
Door Latch Issues
A faulty door latch can prevent some dishwasher models from working. The dishwasher won’t start unless the latch detects that the dishwasher door is closed.
Several different problems can prevent the dishwasher from getting electrical power. A tripped circuit breaker, bad electrical outlet or faulty wiring can prevent the dishwasher control panel from lighting up.
Control Panel Issues
Sometimes, the control power is getting power but faulty internal wiring or a failed control panel prevents the dishwasher from working. A service technician typically needs to check and repair the control panel when the dishwasher is getting power but the controls won’t light up.
Broken Internal Components
Dishwashers have internal components such as electronic control boards, switches, motors and wiring that can break. A short circuit in an internal component can prevent the controls from getting power.
Troubleshooting Your Dishwasher Issues
Sometimes, the dishwasher power problem can be resolved with the flick of a light switch.
You may be surprised to learn that many dishwashers have a light switch beside the garbage disposal light switch. The dishwasher light switch shuts off power to the dishwasher when the switch is in the “off” position.
So, the first step in troubleshooting a dishwasher that won’t power up is to check that light switch. Turning on that switch may fix the problem right away and you can start the dishwasher.
Some dishwashers don’t have that light switch installed beside the sink. If you don’t find such a switch or if the switch is there but it’s already turned on, then you’ll need to troubleshoot your dishwasher issues as described in the steps below.
Reset the House Circuit Breaker
A tripped circuit breaker is often found to be the cause of your dishwasher not getting power. Because you often can’t tell whether the breaker has tripped, reset the breaker for the dishwasher by shutting it off and turning it back on. Check the dishwasher now to see if it powers up.
Check the Dishwasher Power Cord
Some dishwashers have a power cord that plugs into an electrical outlet under the sink, while other dishwasher power cords are wired directly from the wall to the wires in the dishwasher’s junction box. If your dishwasher power cord plugs into an electrical outlet, make sure the power cord is plugged in.
If the power cord is plugged in, it’s possible the electrical outlet doesn’t work. Check the electrical outlet for power by plugging in a small lamp. If it doesn’t light up, have an electrician repair the bad outlet.
Here’s a helpful troubleshooting video that shows this step and additional troubleshooting steps to take when your dishwasher has now power.
Examine Junction Box Wiring
If your dishwasher’s power cord doesn’t plug into an electrical outlet under the sink, then the power supply is hardwired into the junction box. Check the power cord connections in the junction box. The above video shows how to follow these steps to check junction box wiring.
Note: If you’re not completely confident that you can safely complete this troubleshooting procedure, then it’s time to schedule a service technician to diagnose and repair your dishwasher.
- Shut off the house circuit breaker for the dishwasher to disconnect electrical power—you don’t want electricity flowing to the junction box.
- Remove the dishwasher’s bottom front access panel and toe panel. On most dishwashers, you’ll need to take out the mounting screws from each side and then pull off the panels.
- Remove the screw from the junction box cover and pull off the cover.
- Check the black wire connection and the white wire connection.
Reconnect any loose or disconnected wires. Reinstall the junction box cover and then reinstall the bottom front access panel and toe panel. Restore electrical power to the dishwasher and see if the dishwasher works.
Check the User Interface Control Wiring
Many dishwashers have a user interface control in the control panel that connects to the electronic control board.
If the dishwasher still isn’t getting power, check the user interface control wire harness. The control panel won’t light up if the wire harness is disconnected.
(The above video shows how to check the user interface control wiring in a common type of dishwasher using this procedure:)
- Shut off power to the dishwasher.
- Open the dishwasher door and remove the Torx screws from the outer edges of the inner door panel. So the outer door panel doesn’t fall off, support it with one hand as you remove the final screws.
- Separate the outer door panel and the control panel and rest the outer panel on the floor.
- Check the wire harness connection between the user interface control and the electronic control board.
If the user interface control wire harness is unplugged, reconnect it. Reassemble the dishwasher and restore power.
Schedule a Service Technician to Repair the Dishwasher
If the dishwasher still doesn’t power up, then a blown fuse, defective user interface control, a failed electronic control board, a broken wire or other dishwasher issues could be preventing the dishwasher from getting power. Have a Sears service technician examine and repair the dishwasher.
You’ll likely see the technician perform the initial troubleshooting steps described above. Additional diagnosis requires live voltage checks, which only should be performed by a service technician with the proper training.