How to Tell If the Heating Element is Bad in Dishwasher

When it comes to household appliances, the dishwasher is a true time-saver. It takes care of the dirty dishes, leaving you with more free time to enjoy life. But what happens when your dishwasher isn’t performing as it should? One common issue is a malfunctioning heating element. In this article, we’ll dive into the telltale signs of a bad heating element in your dishwasher, why it’s important to address this issue promptly, and how you can troubleshoot it. Let’s get started!

Understanding the Dishwasher Heating Element

Before we delve into the signs of a bad heating element, let’s understand what this vital component does. The heating element in your dishwasher is responsible for heating the water to the desired temperature during the wash cycle. It plays a crucial role in ensuring your dishes come out sparkling clean.

Signs of a Faulty Heating Element

Now, let’s take a closer look at the signs that may indicate your dishwasher’s heating element is on the fritz:

1. Incomplete Drying

One of the most common signs is dishes not drying properly, even after a full cycle. If your glasses and plates have water spots and are still wet, it’s a red flag.

2. Cool Interior

After running a cycle, touch the interior of your dishwasher. If it feels cool instead of warm or hot, it’s a clear indication that the heating element isn’t functioning as it should.

3. Extended Wash Cycles

Notice that your dishwasher’s cycles are taking longer than usual? A faulty heating element can prolong the wash cycle as it struggles to heat the water adequately.

Why Is the Heating Element Important?

Understanding the importance of the heating element in your dishwasher is crucial. Here’s why it matters:

  • Effective Cleaning: Properly heated water is essential for removing grease and grime from your dishes.
  • Sanitization: Hot water also helps sanitize your dishes, ensuring they are safe to use.
  • Energy Efficiency: A malfunctioning heating element can lead to longer cycles and increased energy consumption.

How to Check the Heating Element

If you suspect your dishwasher’s heating element is causing issues, you can perform a simple check:

  1. Safety First: Turn off the dishwasher and unplug it to ensure your safety.
  2. Access the Element: Locate the heating element, usually at the bottom of the dishwasher tub.
  3. Visual Inspection: Look for any visible signs of damage, such as burns or breaks in the element.
  4. Use a Multimeter: If no visible damage is present, use a multimeter to test for continuity. A reading of zero indicates a faulty element.

Steps to Replace a Bad Heating Element

If your inspection confirms a bad heating element, it’s time for a replacement. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Gather Tools: You’ll need a screwdriver, pliers, and a replacement heating element.
  2. Disconnect Power: Turn off the dishwasher’s power and water supply.
  3. Remove the Old Element: Carefully detach the old heating element from the dishwasher.
  4. Install the New Element: Attach the new element in its place.
  5. Reassemble: Reconnect any wires and reassemble the dishwasher.
  6. Test: Turn the power and water supply back on, then run a test cycle to ensure the new heating element works correctly.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

When dealing with a bad heating element, avoid these common mistakes:

  • Ignoring the Issue: Don’t ignore signs of a malfunctioning heating element, as it can lead to more significant problems.
  • DIY Without Proper Knowledge: If you’re not confident in your skills, seek professional help for repairs.
  • Neglecting Regular Maintenance: Regularly clean your dishwasher and check for issues to prevent heating element problems.

Preventive Maintenance for Your Dishwasher

To keep your dishwasher running smoothly, consider these maintenance tips:

  • Clean the Filter: Regularly remove and clean the dishwasher’s filter to prevent clogs.
  • Use Quality Detergent: Opt for high-quality dishwasher detergent for better results.
  • Run Hot Water First: Before starting a cycle, run hot water in the sink to ensure the dishwasher starts with hot water.


A malfunctioning heating element in your dishwasher can lead to inefficient cleaning and longer cycles. By recognizing the signs and taking prompt action, you can avoid further issues and ensure your dishes come out spotless. Remember, proper maintenance is key to extending the life of your dishwasher.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. Can I repair the heating element myself?
    • While some experienced individuals can replace a heating element, it’s best to consult a professional for safety and quality assurance.
  2. Is it worth repairing an old dishwasher with a bad heating element?
    • It depends on the overall condition of the dishwasher. If it’s relatively new and in good shape, repairing the heating element is a cost-effective option. However, for older models with multiple issues, it may be better to invest in a new dishwasher.
  3. How often should I clean my dishwasher’s filter?
    • Aim to clean the filter at least once a month to prevent clogs and maintain efficient performance.
  4. Can a bad heating element affect my utility bills?
    • Yes, a malfunctioning heating element can lead to longer cycles, which may result in higher energy bills.
  5. Are there any eco-friendly alternatives to dishwasher detergent?
    • Yes, there are eco-friendly dishwasher detergents available that are biodegradable and free of harsh chemicals. Consider using them for a greener dishwasher experience.

Now that you’re armed with knowledge on how to spot and address a bad heating element in your dishwasher, you can enjoy the convenience of clean, dry dishes once again.