The 4 Most Likely Reasons Why Your Dishwasher Won’t Start

Appliance Express
April 20, 2020
Dishwasher Repair

When you push that start button on your dishwasher, you’re counting on it to immediately light up and start humming. The dishwasher is an essential part of your routine. Without it, the family would be spending at least an hour a day washing and drying the dishes used for daily meals. No one wants that. So when your dishwasher starts to fail or fails to start at all, it’s time to enact a few quick repairs. Of course, it’s also nearly impossible to know what’s wrong right off the bat. Most of the time with appliance repair, you’ll need to do a little troubleshooting to determine what the problem is and how to fix it. So today, we’re here to talk about why that dishwasher won’t start. Maybe the lights won’t turn on when you press the buttons, maybe the lights come on but the cycle never really starts.

Either way, you can find the source of the problem by checking out each possible step one-by-one.  

1) Power Supply

Check to make sure your dishwasher is getting power. Most dishwasher power plugs are hidden behind the cabinets or under the sink so there’s a pretty low chance that it’s been kicked. But if you can access that plug, take a look at it just in case. Make sure the plug is securely in the wall and there are no signs of damage or fraying on the plug or cord.If you can’t reach or see the cable, or the cable is fine, don’t worry about it. Head over to your household breaker box and check to see if any are flipped to the center or to the wrong side. To reset a breaker and restore power, flip a central(blown) breaker to the “off” position, then back to the “on” position.

Your dishwasher might have power and work again. 

2) Door Latch Switch

The next thing to look at is the door latch switch. This is what tells the dishwasher that the door is sealed shut and it’s safe to start the water works. The latch holds the door shut and the latch switch knows when the door is sealed. There are a few things that can go wrong here.

Jammed Latch

Check to see if there is old soap or food gunk stuck in the door latch itself. If the latch is jammed or clogged with old gunk, then it won’t click shut. Then the switch won’t trigger and the dishwasher can’t start.

Child Latch

You might have a child safety setting that got switched on. Child latches are there to keep children from accessing the dishwasher (a ground-level appliance) or from accidentally trapping themselves inside. Check for child safety latch features, often a small switch on the inside edge of the door itself.

Broken Latch

Your door latch or latch switch might also be broken. If the latch breaks, then the door won’t be able to click and hold itself closed anymore, which means the dishwasher cannot start and run safely. You’ll need to replace the door latch and possibly also the switch. 

3) Control Panel

The control panel for your dishwasher includes the buttons, settings, and the mini-computer inside the door that controls the wash cycles. So if something goes wrong with that little computer, you know your dishwasher is going to start acting up or not acting at all.

Hung Cycle Settings

Is your dishwasher not starting? Are the lights stopped or flashing? You might be dealing with a hung cycle problem. When the dishwasher is stopped partway through the wash cycle and not reset or restarted properly, it can get stuck in that cycle unable to start a new cycle. Try turning your dishwasher all the way off and back on. If there is a reset button, press and hold it for the recommended number of seconds usually printed on the panel.

Start Switch 

Your start switch might be malfunctioning, so that even if the settings are correct and the latch is closed, your dishwasher won’t start. Testing and replacing the start switch will require you to take apart the dishwasher door.

Selector Switches

Selector switches are those used to determine the wash cycle and settings you want for each dishwasher load. If the selector switches or their connection to the control panel are damaged, you may need to disassemble the dishwasher door and replace them.

Electric Timer Control

The timer control is also connected to the control panel and determines when each wash cycle starts and stops. If your timer control or it’s connection to the control panel are broken, your dishwasher might not start because the first timer never starts. 

4) Internal Components

Finally, there are internal component problems to consider. It’s possible that your dishwasher buttons, control panel, and door latch are all fine. Your dishwasher may have power and the timer control may be working fine. But that machine isn’t running if one of the essential internal components is broken

Motor Start Relay

The motor start relay is what tells the dishwasher motor to get going. In other words, it relays the start signal to the motor. If the start relay is not functioning, the rest of your dishwasher won’t get the “Go” signal from the control panel.

Thermal Fuse

The thermal helps prevent overheating of the control board. If the thermal fuse blows, electricity stops making it to the control board which can help to stop fires and burnt electrical equipment in the case of a malfunction. But if the thermal fuse is blown, your dishwasher is hardly going to start until it’s replaced.

Drive Motor

The drive motor is what provides the power to swish the water around inside your dishwasher. If the drive motor goes out, there will be no serious water action which means no clean dishes and, probably, the dishwasher won’t even start. You’ll need a professional repair and replacement if your drive motor is what’s stopping the dishwasher from working.

—Now you have a much more comprehensive understanding of what makes dishwashers fail to start. If your dishwasher troubles aren’t yet solved, contact us today for a consultation and professional repairs you can count on.


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