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What Should I Do When My Dishwasher Won’t Shut Off or Cancel?

It can be really frustrating when household appliances don’t work properly. You expect to be able to use your dishwasher without an extra hassle, for example. This is why you would benefit from the knowledge of how to handle a dishwasher that won’t shut off or cancel. 

If your dishwasher won’t shut off and gets stuck in one part of the cycle, you can troubleshoot the problem, which is likely with the timer motor, heating element, or thermostat. If it won’t cancel, you can first do a hard reset, and then go through the internal diagnostic process if necessary.

showing inside of dishwasher with caption saying dishwasher won't shut off or cancel

If you’re having problems getting your dishwasher to work, the best thing you can do is educate yourself. Read on to learn more about how you can tackle these issues.

What’s the Difference Between Shutting Off and Canceling?

What's the Difference Between Shutting Off and Canceling?

When the dishwasher is having problems shutting off, this generally means that it continues to run without moving through the cycles on its own. Most commonly, this will mean that a dishwasher gets stuck in one part of the process and won’t continue to the next part of the process or stop until you manually stop it.

On the other hand, if you’re trying to cancel the cycle, it will stop and reset the cycle entirely. In this situation, when you turn the dishwasher back on, it will resume at the beginning of the cycle rather than just picking up where it left off. There are situations where this function can stop working as well.

What Should I Do When My Dishwasher Won’t Shut Off?

What Should I Do When My Dishwasher Won't Shut Off?

If your dishwasher won’t stop, it’s possible that it’ll run continuously until you forcibly shut it off rather than going through the cycles automatically as it should. Here, the first thing you need to do is turn off your dishwasher, either by unplugging it or switching off the power at the circuit breaker.

Once it’s off, you can troubleshoot. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, you can hire a professional to look at your dishwasher. There are a few different potential causes, meaning a few things that you need to check. If you are uncomfortable with any of these or don’t feel that you are able to do them, you can seek the help of a professional technician.

Check the Timer Motor

The first thing you should check is the timer motor. In order to do this:

  1. Remove the control panel face from the unit, and take all of the screws out of the control panel and latch. 
  2. Open the door of the dishwasher and take the screws out of the door panel as well.
  3. Find the timer motor, and remove the two wires from the terminal connectors that are located at the top. 
  4. Label these wires with tape, so that you will be able to put them back into the right terminals.
  5. Turn your multitester to the X1000 setting, and make contact with each terminal using one probe.

The reading should be between 2,000 and 3,000 ohms; if this is not the case, you will need to replace your timer motor.

Take Out the Heating Element

The heating element is a metal rod that is located at the bottom of your dishwasher. In order to do this:

  1. If there is a covering over it, you can take out the screws that are holding down the cover and remove the metal rod.
  2. Take out the lower panel at the front of the dishwasher and find where the heating element comes into the lower access area. 
  3. Then, find and remove the wires that are connected to the heating element, labeling them so that you know where to put them back.
  4. Set your multitester to X1, and make contact between the probes of the tester and the terminals. You should observe a reading that is between zero and infinity.
  5. If the heating element is broken, remove it and replace it.

Remove the Thermostat

The thermostat can have an effect on the dishwasher’s ability to move through the cycles. It needs to signal the timer to proceed to the next cycle, or else the dishwasher won’t stop running, and it won’t drain. In order to do this:

  1. Remove the outer panel of the dishwasher that is on the door, as well as the control panel. 
  2. Then, take out the screws that connect the thermostat panels to the dishwasher. 
  3. Disconnect the wires, and remove both of the thermostats and the metal mounting bracket. If it turns out that the thermostat is the problem, replace it with a new one, and reassemble all of the components.

What Should I Do When My Dishwasher Won’t Cancel?

What Should I Do When My Dishwasher Won't Cancel?

If you want to reset your dishwasher to the beginning of the cycle, typically, all you need to do is press the cancel button. However, there are cases where this won’t work, and you will need to resort to other measures.


This is something that you should only do if you can’t get your dishwasher to cancel just by pressing the button. It’s also not something that you should do too often since this will be a hard reset of the entire machine.

This is actually pretty simple most of the time. All you really need to do is unplug the unit to cut the power off to the dishwasher. Most of the time, this will reboot the machine and should fix any problems. However, there are some cases where this may not be an option.

If you can’t easily access the point where the machine is plugged into the wall, you can turn off the power to the unit using the fuse box or circuit breaker in your home. It would be best if you only cut off the power to that particular outlet, rather than affecting other areas of your home.

Once you have cut the power off, wait for a few minutes before you turn the power back on. It’s advised that you wait up to 10 minutes if you can. It’s good to give your machine a complete break so that you know that it’s completely powered off before you restore power. Most of the time, after you do this, your dishwasher will be back to normal.

Run Diagnostics

In some cases, performing a complete reset won’t fix the problem. In this situation, you might want to run diagnostics on your dishwasher if it allows you to do this. Many dishwashers have buttons and displays on their control panels that will show you error codes when something is wrong.

After you do a hard reset and turn your dishwasher back on, if the problem persists, you might want to run internal diagnostics on your dishwasher. The specific instructions on how to do this will depend on your specific make and model of dishwasher. Generally, this process will involve your dishwasher self-testing to make sure that various aspects of its operation are in order.

If the self-testing does not reveal any problems, your dishwasher will reset itself, and you can see again if any error codes pop up. If they don’t, you should be able to use your dishwasher normally.

However, if the error codes persist, there is likely some issue with the mechanical or electrical functions. In this situation, you will probably have to either consult with customer service or a third-party repair company.

Final Thoughts

If you’re finding that your dishwasher has problems either shutting off or canceling, of course, you want to figure out how to resolve the situation. Having an appliance fail to work properly can be a major inconvenience, especially if you are already very busy and rely on the proper operation of said appliance.

Generally speaking, you can try all of the troubleshooting tips presented, to the extent where you are comfortable. Anything that you don’t feel comfortable doing, you can refer to a professional who should be able to assist you further.

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