Whirlpool Dishwasher Not Turning On? How to Easily Fix the Problem

Having your Whirlpool dishwasher suddenly stop turning on can be incredibly frustrating. You load up the dishes after dinner, ready for a nice clean wash, press the start button, and nothing happens. The dishwasher sits there lifeless, no lights, no sound, nothing. Now you’re faced with a sink full of dirty dishes and no easy way to clean them.

But don’t panic or call for an expensive repairman just yet. There are a number of simple things you can check yourself to get your Whirlpool dishwasher working again. In many cases, the fix is something basic like a tripped circuit breaker. Other times, you may need to replace a faulty part like the door latch or control board. With a few troubleshooting tips, you can learn how to diagnose and fix a Whirlpool dishwasher that won’t turn on.

Check Power to the Dishwasher

The first thing to check when your Whirlpool dishwasher won’t start is the power supply. Is electricity getting to the dishwasher at all? Here are some things you can check:

dishwasher not turning on whirlpool
  • Make sure the dishwasher is plugged in securely and the plug is pushed completely into the outlet.
  • Try plugging something else into the outlet like a lamp to verify electricity is flowing to the outlet.
  • Check your home’s circuit breaker or fuse box and reset any tripped breakers related to the kitchen or dishwasher.
  • Test the outlet with a multimeter to check for proper voltage. If not, you may have a faulty outlet that needs replacing.
  • Inspect the power cord for damage or exposed wires which could be interrupting power.
  • Contact an electrician if you confirm issues with the dishwasher’s power supply.

Restoring full power to the dishwasher is the first key step in troubleshooting why it won’t turn on. Electrical issues are one of the most common reasons a Whirlpool dishwasher will just sit there dead when you try to start it.

Inspect the Dishwasher Door Latch

Whirlpool dishwashers have a safety mechanism that prevents the dishwasher from running if the door is not fully latched and closed. So if your dishwasher won’t start, the door latch is another item to inspect.

Try pressing firmly on the door until it clicks and is fully shut. Then try starting the dishwasher again. Sometimes just firmly closing the door allows the latch to align and engage properly to start the dishwasher.

Inspect the door latch inside the dishwasher. Look for any broken or worn out parts of the latch that may be preventing it from working correctly. Spring-loaded latches can weaken over time. Latches with microswitches can fail as well. If the latch seems damaged, replace it with a new one.

You may also need to adjust the door latch mechanism. Refer to your owner’s manual for the proper procedure. Get the latch realigned and restoring proper contact with the door switch.

Why the Door Latch Matters

When the dishwasher door closes, the latch mechanically actuates a plastic stem. This plastic stem presses down on a switch that gives power to the dishwasher controls. If the latch doesn’t fully engage and press down the stem, power is interrupted and the dishwasher won’t turn on.

Issues like a faulty spring, misalignment, or broken latch parts prevent this mechanical trigger from working properly. Fixing or replacing the latch restores the activation switch and allows power to start the dishwasher.

Reset the Dishwasher’s Controls

If the door latch checks out okay, another culprit could be the main control board. The control board is essentially the computer brain of the dishwasher. It could be preventing the dishwasher from turning on due to a fault or glitch.

Most Whirlpool dishwashers have a reset button on the control panel. Locate this button, it may be marked with a symbol like a power switch or have the word “reset”. Press and firmly hold the reset button for 5-7 seconds. This reboots the control board, just like resetting your computer. Several startup cycles may run as the dishwasher resets.

Resetting the control board can clear any software bugs that are blocking normal operation. If the reset is successful, try running a normal wash cycle again to see if the problem is fixed.

Dishwasher Control Panel Troubleshooting

If resetting your Whirlpool dishwasher does not restore normal operation, the next step is troubleshooting the control panel. When the touchpad buttons don’t respond or the display doesn’t work, the underlying electronics could be faulty.

Using a multimeter, you can check for continuity in the membrane switch and ribbon cables that connect the control panel to the main PCB. If a broken circuit is confirmed, the control panel will need replacement.

For touchpad control panels with an LED display, individually test any onboard fuses with a multimeter. A bad fuse must be replaced.

Don’t attempt to disassemble or repair the control panel yourself. For these main control board issues, replacement of the entire touchpad is required.

Check for Obstructions in the Water Supply

For the dishwasher cleaning process to begin, the internal components must fill with water. Issues with the water supply line or clogged filters can prevent this from happening and stop the dishwasher from turning on.

Start by turning off the hot water supply line at the shutoff valve below the sink. Place a bucket under the valve, then disconnect the steel braided supply line. Check the inlet screen on the valve for any debris clogging the opening. Remove any stuck particles or minerals with tweezers or a needle.

Examine the supply line itself for kinks or cracks that could block water flow. Straighten or replace the line if necessary.

Inside the dishwasher, find the water inlet filter, typically in the bottom back corner. Remove and clean this filter of any trapped particles. Reassemble and test the water supply.

Normal water pressure should be restored, allowing the dishwasher to fill and commence operation. If not, continue investigating more possible faults.

Test the Dishwasher’s Motor

The dishwasher motor drives the pump impeller to force water through the spray arms. Issues with the motor can therefore prevent the dishwasher from starting. Motors can fail due to age, overuse, or debris ingestion.

Use a multimeter to check the motor windings for continuity. First unplug the dishwasher. Then remove the outer panel to access the motor. Disconnect the motor from the wiring harness. Set your multimeter to the Ohms setting. Touch the probes to the two terminals on the motor. A normal reading indicates continuity. Abnormal readings point to a bad motor that needs replacement.

Visual inspection of the motor can also reveal damage. The pump impeller may be jammed and unable to spin freely. The motor shaft could be corroded. Burn marks on the motor casing or emit a burning odor also indicate replacement is required.

Make sure to reinstall the dishwasher’s lower access panel once motor troubleshooting is complete.

Motor Replacement Tips

When installing a new dishwasher motor:

  • Carefully align the pump impeller on the motor shaft.
  • Tighten the mounting screws evenly to avoid warping.
  • Make all wire harness connections securely.
  • Test run the motor individually before reinstalling panels.

Take care not to bend or pinch the new motor’s wire leads. Match the terminal colors when reconnecting to the dishwasher’s wiring.

Replace Defective Control Board

The control board (also called the PCB or main electronic control board) is essentially the computer of your Whirlpool dishwasher. It regulates and sequences all of the electrical components during the wash cycles.

If your dishwasher won’t start at all, even when pressing the Start button, the control board could be defective. Failure of this part can mimic problems with other components like the touchpad and motor.

Locate the main PCB, usually hidden under a metal cover panel on the bottom or side of the dishwasher interior. Visually inspect for any burnt or damaged spots on the board. Remove all wiring harness connections. Use a multimeter to check input voltage and output voltages of major parts like the motor. If readings are abnormal, replace the control board.

When installing the replacement control board, take care to firmly press all wire harness clips into position. Secure the PCB to the dishwasher frame using mounting screws. Refer to your owner’s manual if the wiring setup is unclear. Reconnect power and test dishwasher operation before reinstalling all panels.

Control Board Diagnostic Modes

Some Whirlpool dishwasher models have a built-in diagnostic mode to aid troubleshooting control board errors. Consult your owner’s manual for how to enter diagnostic mode on your specific model.

In this mode, fault code numbers are displayed on an LED panel. The error codes indicate problems detected by the control board sensors. Common codes point to issues like stuck relays, temperature sensor faults, and water heating errors.

Diagnosing the control board codes can help pinpoint if replacement is needed. Make sure to record any fault codes before resetting the control board.

Contact a Technician for Repairs

If you have worked through all the troubleshooting steps discussed so far, but the dishwasher still does not start, it’s time to call in a professional. There may be an underlying mechanical or electrical issue that requires a trained appliance technician to properly diagnose and fix.

A technician can check the motor windings, control board wiring, and internal connections that are difficult for the average homeowner to access on their own. They have specialized tools and testing equipment to isolate the true failed part.

Be prepared with a full timeline of when the problem started, what troubleshooting has already been done, and any error codes present. This helps the technician start their diagnosis in the correct place and avoid repeating steps.

Ask upfront for a written estimate of their diagnostic fees. This is typically a set hourly rate. If the fix seems more complicated, you want to know the potential price. The technician can then provide a quote for parts and full repair costs.

When Professional Repair is the Best Option

Repairs best left to a trained appliance technician include:

  • Replacing touchpad or control board
  • Motor winding or armature testing
  • Adjusting door balance cables
  • Seal and gasket leak repairs
  • Drain pump and motor assembly

Technicians have specialized tools like torque screwdrivers and diagnostic meters at their disposal to properly complete these more advanced repairs.

Preventative Maintenance

To keep your Whirlpool dishwasher running smoothly for years to come, follow a regular maintenance routine. This helps prevent many minor repairs and breakdowns.

Proper Use

  • Scrape off stuck-on food debris before loading dishes.
  • Use a rinse aid to promote drying and reduce mineral spots.
  • Don’t overcrowd dishes or block spray arms.
  • Check spray arm rotation for smooth movement.

Regular Cleaning

  • Clean around the door gasket with baking soda and a toothbrush.
  • Remove debris from the drain filter monthly.
  • Check and clean spray arm nozzles of any blockages.

Periodic maintenance helps your Whirlpool dishwasher last to its full lifespan. Don’t wait until there is a problem to care for your appliance.

When your Whirlpool dishwasher won’t start, there is likely a simple, DIY fix. Following basic troubleshooting techniques such as checking the power supply, door latch, and internal components will get your dishwasher cleaning dishes again.

Resetting controls, cleaning water lines, testing parts with a multimeter, and inspecting connections can all restore normal operation. For more complex repairs, rely on a trained appliance technician. With persistence and methodical diagnosis, a dead dishwasher will soon be working again.

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