A dishwasher cleans dishes by soaking them in soapy water before agitating said water to work off any excess food or waste. It can actually be more resourceful in many newer models to use a dishwasher, as hand washing can use up to 27 gallons (102.21 liters) per load. By contrast, energy-efficient dishwashers can use as little as three gallons (11.36 liters) per load, but what happens if it won’t heat up?
If your GE dishwasher won’t heat up correctly, the heating element or faulty thermometer may be damaged. You can check the working condition of both and replace yourself if you feel confident. Another issue could be a problem with the hot water supply, which you can also test quickly.
This article will look at why your dishwasher is not heating, including water that is not heating, and explore easy fixes that can be done at home.
GE Dishwasher Won’t Heat
The easiest way to check if your dishwasher is producing heat is by opening the door immediately after the cycle has finished. Most models will use a combination of hot water and heated air to dry your dishes, and, as such, you will feel the residual heat on the items inside.
If you open the door after a cycle to find the dishes cold, chances are you either have a damaged heating element or a faulty thermostat. Both of these can be tested at home and replaced if needed.
In most cases, your dishwasher heats itself and the water inside using a heating element. This tube is found at the bottom of the unit, inside and under the bottom rack. Even if you have hot water attached to the dishwasher, the heating element will help bring it up to a higher temperature and maintain a higher temperature. It also heats the unit after the cycle to aid with drying.
Sanitizing Your Dishes
The ideal temperature to ensure not only clean dishes but also sanitized dishes is 120°F to 150°F (48.89°C to 65.56°C). A constant temperature of 145°F (62.78°C) is optimal to quickly and easily kill any bacteria that may have formed on unwashed dishes.
If your unit is connected to the hot water mains, the average temperature will be around 120°F (48.89°C). This means it will need the heating element to make up the difference. It does this by generating heat and heating the water as it is exposed.
A fault in the heating element will prevent the water from reaching optimal temperatures.
The secondary purpose of the heating element is to help with drying your dishes. After the water has cycled from the unit, the heating element will encourage the residual water to evaporate, making the dry time more efficient.
A fault with the heating element or a damaged thermostat can potentially shut the dishwasher down if it thinks it is too hot.
How to Fix
When looking to test and potentially replace faulty parts, the first step is to unplug the unit and pull it free from the wall. Once you have access, you can locate and test the suspected faulty parts and replace them where needed. Follow the steps below to safely remove the unit and check the internal components for damage or faults.
GE Dishwasher Not Heating Up
Always begin any inspection of your dishwasher by unplugging the unit. Once you are sure that it is safe, there are a couple of things to check before calling a repairman for help. In some cases, you may need to pull the unit free from the wall in order to access the back.
To safely uninstall your dishwasher for easier access, follow the steps below:
- Unplug the unit from the power supply and the water supply.
- Remove screws on the lower panel and detach the piece.
- Carefully separate the water supply, being prepared for some water to escape once free.
- Unscrew and remove the junction box cover, taking a picture of the wiring positions for later reinstallation.
- Disconnect the wires from the junction box.
- Disconnect the drain hose, feeding it through the cabinet for easier removal.
- Remove the screws or mounting brackets holding the unit in place (if applicable).
- Gently pull the unit free from the cabinet and remove any insulation.
You may need to place something heavy on top to keep the unit stable.
To reinstall your dishwasher, you will need to:
- Replace the washer arm and lower dish rack.
- Reconnect the wires or elements you have removed.
- Carefully move the unit back into place.
- Replace the mounting screws and brackets.
- Reattach the hose and reconnect the wires and junction box.
- Reattach the water inlet valve and lower front panel.
- Turn the water and power back on.
- Run a test cycle to be sure everything is in working order.
The video below shows detailed instructions on how to uninstall your GE dishwasher for inspection or service safely:
Although it can be done at home, if you are not confident, always call a repairer for help.
GE Dishwasher Not Heating Water
Most dishwashers will heat the water inside using a heating element. Even in the models through which hot water is supplied from the mains, the heating element will increase and maintain that heat.
If you accidentally attach the hose to the cold water, you may find that a cycle is not long enough to heat the water sufficiently. Check that the hose is connected to the right valve and run the hot water at the unit’s closest point. If it runs cold, there is an issue with the water mains and not the dishwasher.
How to Fix
Some dishwashers have two thermostats in place:
- A high-limit thermostat prevents the unit from overheating.
- A temperature sensor stops the unit from functioning until the water is hot enough.
Both of these can be found at the bottom of the unit, under the lower dish rack. They will look to be round discs on the base of the inside. Pull them both free, being careful to disconnect the wires.
In the same way, you would use the multimeter to test for continuity; you will need to attach the probes to each thermostat and test for a continual current. You can see how it is done in the video below:
It is possible to perform a reset on the thermostat by accessing through the lower panel. Remove it as described above and locate the part. You should be able to find a button on the underside, which you should hold down for 10-15 seconds. This will reset the part to factory settings.
GE Dishwasher Heating Element Troubleshooting
To check the heating element, you should always do a visual inspection before attempting to replace it. Check for damage or erosion, in which case you will need to purchase a new element.
Heating Element Replacement
Following the steps above, unplug and remove the dishwasher from the wall. Use the following steps to remove and replace the heating element.
- Pull the wires free from the heating element, which can be found at the back of the unit.
- Remove the element mounts using pliers.
- Take the lower dish rack out of the dishwasher and lift the wash arm free.
- Detach the heating element from the clips at the front and gently lift the piece free.
Once removed, if you cannot see any apparent damage, you can check your heating element using a multimeter tool.
Heating Element Test
In the video below, you will see how to test your heating element:
When testing the unit, you will be performing a continuity test. You will need to attach the probes to either terminal and assess the readings. The ideal reading is between zero and 50 ohms. If you see no reading, the element will need to be replaced.
Heating Element Reset
In some cases, it may be necessary to reset your dishwasher. If you have pulled the unit free using the steps listed above, you should have already unplugged the unit. After being without power for more than 10 minutes, the dishwasher will reboot when next plugged in, hopefully fixing any internal bugs in the program.
If your GE dishwasher is not heating correctly, the two leading causes behind this are issues with the heating element or the thermostat. A fault with one of these will prevent the water from heating properly and will prevent your dishes from drying.
Once you have unplugged the unit, locate the parts, and test them using a multimeter. If you get bad readings, the pieces will need to be replaced. If these parts are working correctly, and you are sure the hot water supply is sufficient, you will need to call for a service.