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Kenmore Dishwasher Not Heating or Drying

There’s nothing worse than waiting for an entire dishwashing cycle to finish, only to find all the dishes are still wet. When your dishwasher does not heat or dry properly, this can leave your dishes wet and sometimes dirty. In this article, you will find common causes for these issues so that you can fix your dishwasher and experience the full benefits of automated dishwashing.

A Kenmore dishwasher will not heat up if the heating element or thermistor is defective, which can prevent the dishes from drying. Dishes also need ventilation and rinse aid to dry. If the element, thermistor, fan, vent, rinse aid compartment or main board is broken, they will need to be replaced.

Dishwasher top rack bowls and cups

I will explain in more detail how these components work and how they can prevent your Kenmore dishwasher from heating and drying. Kenmore also has a ‘Heated Dry’ setting that may help, which I will also talk about below.

Kenmore Dishwasher Won’t Heat Dry

Open dishwasher full of bowls and plates

Kenmore dishwashers have a ‘Heated Dry’ setting available to use during a wash cycle. As a minimum, dishwashers will dry the dishes through the residual heat from the rinse cycle. The heated water leaves the dishes very hot once the water has drained.

The hot water will then naturally evaporate from the dishes in the form of steam, which is then released through a vent in the dishwasher. The ‘Heated Dry’ setting will use the element to heat the dishwasher during the drying cycle to keep the air warm as the water evaporates. This is a way of ensuring that the dishes will dry properly and can help with any plastics that take longer to dry.

If this setting is not working, you may notice that the corresponding ‘Heated Dry’ light is flashing. This indicates that there has been an error in the keypad of the control panel. Either the button is stuck or the electronics have failed.

In this instance, you can try unsticking the button while resetting the dishwasher. Unplug the dishwasher and wait five minutes before plugging it back in. While the dishwasher is unplugged, try pressing the ‘Heated Dry’ button several times to help it unstick.

The ‘Heated Dry’ function also may not work if there are underlying issues with the heating element or the thermistor. I will explain these further down in this article.

Kenmore Dishwasher Not Drying Dishes Completely

Bottom dishwasher rack full of plates

One common reason a Kenmore dishwasher might not dry dishes properly is a malfunctioning heating element. If the heating element is faulty, it won’t generate enough heat to dry the dishes. To resolve this, check the heating element for any signs of damage or continuity issues. If it’s damaged, replacing the heating element should restore the dishwasher’s drying function.

Another issue could be related to the use of rinse aid. Rinse aid plays a crucial role in the drying process by reducing water droplets’ formation on dishes. If your dishwasher is not drying dishes, ensure that the rinse aid dispenser is filled and functioning properly. Sometimes, adjusting the dispenser to release more rinse aid can improve drying performance.

Finally, improper loading of dishes can also hinder the drying process. Overloading the dishwasher or placing dishes in a way that blocks the airflow can leave them wet post-cycle. Make sure to load the dishes according to the manufacturer’s guidelines, allowing space between items for air circulation. This ensures that hot air can reach all surfaces of the dishes, aiding in effective drying.


A common reason for the Kenmore dishwasher top rack falling off is worn-out or broken rack adjuster clips. These clips connect the rack to the adjuster mechanism and can break with normal usage. Replace the broken adjuster clips by detaching the old ones from the rack and snapping the new ones into place to secure the rack.

Kenmore Dishwasher Not Heating or Drying

Female putting cups into top dishwasher rack

As I have mentioned, heating the water in the dishwasher is an important process in washing and drying the dishes. There are two main components involved in this process, including the heating element and the thermistor. Any issues with these components will prevent the dishwasher from heating, which I will explain in more detail further down.

If the dishwasher is not drying the dishes, this can also relate to the water temperature. Cold water will take a long time to evaporate and therefore will still be on the dishes by the end of the drying cycle. A lack of rinse aid will also contribute to the dishes being wet, as detailed above.

Another key element in drying the dishes is the ventilation during the drying cycle. Kenmore dishwashers will have a vent and fan assembly that helps remove any steam from the dishwasher.

Copyright protected content owner: and was initially posted on July 7, 2021.

If steam is trapped in the dishwasher as it cools down, this will turn into condensation on the dishes. Therefore, if the heating element and thermistor are working and the rinsing agent is being used in the final rinse cycle, you may have a broken or malfunctioning vent/fan.

Keep in mind that any damage to the circuit board or the electronic controls throughout the dishwasher will also prevent normal functioning. For example, if the small solenoid that opens the vent during the drying cycle is broken, this will cause condensation on the dishes because the steam cannot escape through the vent. Replacing this small electrical component may be all that is needed to fix the problem.

Kenmore Dishwasher Not Heating Water

Top dishwasher rack with bowls

The water in your dishwasher is heated by a heating element, which is a coiled metal rod in the bottom of the dishwasher that radiates heat when in use. This element can also be used to heat the air in the dishwasher during a drying cycle.

The heating element is supplied with electricity, which will heat up as current passes through it. This voltage is supplied periodically by the main control board, turning the element on and off in cycles to maintain adequate heat.

If your water is not heating up, it is likely an issue with the heating element. You can confirm this by feeling the temperature of your dishes immediately after the dishwashing cycle has completed. They should feel very hot because the water is heated to 120-160 degrees (F).

The heating element will not work if it is damaged or if it has no power supply. Either the circuit is broken within the dishwasher, or the connections are broken between the element and the electrical circuit. I have outlined below what to do when you suspect your heating element is not working.

Kenmore Dishwasher Not Heating Up

Female kneeling down next to dishwasher

Another component that contributes to heating up the dishwasher is the thermistor. This measures the water temperature at any given time. Different temperatures within the dishwasher will change the electrical resistance within the thermistor, which allows the main control to monitor the water temperature.

If the temperature is too high, the main control board will turn off the electrical supply to the heating element until the temperature drops. Therefore the thermistor plays an important role in regulating the water temperature.

Sometimes, if the thermistor malfunctions, the temperature will register hotter than it actually is. This means the control board will turn the heating element off while the water is still cold or warm.

To test the thermistor, you will need to turn off the electricity and remove the thermistor from underneath the dishwasher. Then, use a multimeter in resistance mode to test the thermistor as you heat it up. You can do this with a heater or hairdryer.

If the multimeter reading changes smoothly, the thermistor is working normally. If the reading does not change, changes erratically or reads ‘0’ or infinity, the thermistor is faulty and need to be replaced.

Kenmore Dishwasher Heating Element Not Working

Hand opening dishwasher door with steam coming out

If you suspect your heating element is not working, you can test this using a multimeter as well. First, you will need to turn off the electricity supply to the dishwasher and remove the element by undoing the bolts. Once the multimeter is connected to both ends pf the coil, you should get a reading between one and infinity.

If the reading is ‘0’, the element is not working and will need to be replaced. If you do get a reading, but you are confident that the element is not heating up, there is an issue with the electrical supply from the control board, or the control board itself is damaged.

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Copyright article owner is for this article. This post was first published on July 7, 2021.

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ReadyToDIY is the owner of this article. This post was published on July 7, 2021.

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