Though dishwasher heating elements last for years, they do break down and they can fail for several reasons.
When this happens, do we buy another dishwasher or replace the heating element? Is it even worth it? These are some of the questions we will be answering in this article.
We will examine some causes of failure in dishwasher heating elements, whether to replace them, and how it can be done. Other related questions that may be bothering you have also been answered.
Is It Worth Replacing the Heating Element in a Dishwasher?
Yes, it is. Depending on the brand and where you buy the heating element, you may not spend more than 50 dollars especially if you plan to replace it yourself.
Later in the article, we will walk you through simple steps of doing this without stress, even if you haven’t done it before. This cost compared to the cost of getting a new dishwasher makes it worth it.
Plus even though you can use your dishwasher without it, its benefits are numerous and critical to the effectiveness of the dishwasher, so replacing it is worth your time and money.
Replacing your dishwasher heating element can also give you an extended life of about 5 years minimum on your dishwasher. It’s more than worth it in my opinion.
What Causes a Dishwasher Heating Element to Fail?
1- Hard Water
Hard water contains mineral salts like calcium and magnesium in high quantities, and this is bad for your dishwasher and dishes.
When you run your dishwasher, the water is heated which makes the minerals in the hard water come out and deposit on your heating element.
When this happens consistently, the minerals build up on your heating element and hinder its work. It can cause it to fail.
2- Oxidization / Age
The heating element in a dishwasher is made of metal and metals are prone to oxidization. Because the heating element gets hot often, it oxidizes faster because of the heat.
This wears it down increasing its resistance. Because of its high resistance, it gets hot faster, therefore breaking down faster and ultimately failing.
Depending on the quality of the heating element, this could take several years.
So the heating element in your dishwasher is likely to fail if you have been using the dishwasher for a long time. It means oxidization would have become extensive and could break down anytime.
If your dishwasher is new however and the heating element fails, it is unlikely that oxidization is the cause.
3- High Voltage
When there’s a continuous high voltage, it will cause an overflow of current to the heating element in your dishwasher which will cause a short circuit.
Why You Should Replace the Dishwasher Heating Element?
One of the wonders of a dishwasher is how it washes dishes efficiently and dries them afterward, without these, dishwashers are just a waste of money.
The heating element in a dishwasher is why it can do these; wash your dishes with hot water with effectiveness and dry them also.
Without the heating element, your dishes won’t be as clean and they will come out wet. So to get the most out of your dishwasher, replace the heating element as soon as it gets damaged.
You should also replace your dishwasher heating element because you can still get the most of it after the repair.
Some people are scared that once something gets replaced in their appliance, it just doesn’t work efficiently anymore no matter what you do.
That’s not true, even after replacing the heating element, you can still get years out of the dishwasher and element. Just ensure you buy a quality heating element.
How Do I Know If My Dishwasher Heating Element Is Bad?
Dishwashers are supposed to clean your dishes in a hot cycle and dry them, if this isn’t happening and there’s no overloading or any other mistake you made, the element is bad.
Apart from the physical evidence of wear, blisters, and a cut, a red glow, your dishwasher heating element could be bad without your knowledge.
To confirm your suspicions, you should check for continuity and resistance. You can do this with a multimeter.
When you check for continuity and there’s none, it means the electrical path is broken and the heating element is bad. You should change it immediately.
To check for continuity, rotate the range selection of your multimeter to the lowest ohms.
Put the mouths/leads of the two probes of the multimeter together and adjust the needle on the multimeter to read 0.
The next thing to do is, test the heating element for continuity. Disconnect the heating element from the dishwasher after turning the power off.
If you can access the terminals of the heating element without pulling your dishwasher apart, then there’s no need. Just ensure the dishwasher is disconnected from the power source.
Put one probe of the multimeter on one end of the heating element (on the terminal), and the other probe on the other end of the heating element.
You should get a reading between 0 and 50 ohms. If the needle doesn’t move or there’s no significant change in the number displayed on the multimeter, then the heating element has no continuity. It is bad.
How Long Do Dishwasher Heating Elements Last?
Well, that depends on several factors, like how often you use your dishwasher, the manufacturer, and how well you treat your dishwasher.
A dishwasher from a reliable manufacturer that you use often, can last for about 10 years with no breakdown whatsoever.
The heating element won’t develop a fault or fail at all in those years. Unless there’s an external cause like high voltage, which clearly isn’t the fault of the heating element.
So I would say you should get at least 5 years from your dishwasher heating element before having to repair or replace it.
How to Replace the Heating Element in a Dishwasher?
Replacing a dishwasher heating element isn’t as difficult as you may think, and to make this process easy even for a first-timer, we have explained it in simple steps. Don’t forget to be careful always.
1- New heating element
4- Nut driver
STEP 1: You need to disconnect the dishwasher first. Turn off the power source of the dishwasher to ensure you work safely.
STEP 2: Turn off the water supply valve and remove the bottom panel of the dishwasher.
To remove the bottom panel, use a nut driver to undo the screws and put them somewhere safe. Then you carefully remove the panel.
STEP 3: Remove the lower dish rack from the dishwasher.
STEP 4: Put a towel under the water supply line and disconnect it from the inlet valve gently. The towel should soak up any spills.
STEP 5: Disconnect the drain line from the garbage disposal.
STEP 6: If your dishwasher is wired to a junction box instead of using a power cord, then disconnect this. Note how the wires are placed so you can fix it back.
STEP 7: Remove the screws in the mounting brackets securing the dishwasher to the cabinet.
STEP 8: Pull out the dishwasher gently and lay it on its back. This is so you can have easy access to the heating element’s wiring.
STEP 9: Now, disconnect the wires from the spades of the heating element. You will see the wires go into the two mounting nuts of the heating element.
STEP 10: After disconnecting those wires, remove the mounting nuts of the heating element with a wrench.
STEP 11: Set the dishwasher upright and open its door. This is to enable you to disconnect the old heating element without stress. Pull the element out, gently releasing it from the brackets/ mounting clip.
STEP 12: Install the new heating element, aligning it with the bracket.
STEP 13: Put the dishwasher on its back again and replace the mounting nuts you removed earlier. Don’t over-tighten and don’t cross-thread.
STEP 14: Reconnect the wires on the heating element inside the mounting nuts. Pour water into the dishwasher tub to check for leaks. If there’s a leak, tighten the mounting nuts more.
Be careful not to overtighten. If there’s no more leak, your work is done. You have successfully replaced your dishwasher heating element. Happy right? Now all that is left is, putting your dishwasher in place.
STEP 15: Put the drain hose back through the hole and slide your dishwasher into its place.
STEP 16: Reconnect the drain hose to the garbage disposal and connect the water supply line back to the water supply valve.
STEP 17: Reconnect your dishwasher to the junction box and put back the terminal plate.
STEP 18: Open the dishwasher and put back the screws on the mounting brackets that secure the dishwasher to the cabinet.
STEP 19: Put back the lower dish rack and the bottom panel of the dishwasher.
STEP 20: Turn on the water supply valve and the power source to ensure the smooth running of your dishwasher.
Cost to Replace the Dishwasher Heating Element!
The amount you’ll spend on replacing your dishwasher element depends on if you’ll be hiring a professional or doing it yourself.
A dishwasher heating element costs between $30 and $90.
If you’ll be doing it yourself, you’ll save the cost of paying a professional. You’ll also need pliers, nuts, and a wrench.
If you have those tools already, you’ll only be spending 90 dollars maximum which is the cost of the heating element. If you don’t have them, then you will need to get them which will put the total cost above 100 dollars.
If you’ll be hiring a professional, get ready to pay between 100 dollars and 150 dollars. Adding that to the cost of the dishwasher heating element, you may spend between 130 dollars to 200 dollars. Maybe even more.
Can You Use a Dishwasher with a Broken Heating Element?
Yes, you can, but you shouldn’t. Your dishwasher will wash your dishes without a functioning heating element, and this won’t damage other parts of the dishwasher.
So you can do this until you have it repaired or replaced. As long as there’s no leak, and you turn off the heating option.
However, there are a few concerns as to why it isn’t worth the trouble.
1- If your dishwasher is connected to cold water, not hot water, and there’s no heating element to heat the water, then your dishes will come out not so clean.
Stuck-on food particles may remain, and the dishes may not be well sanitized.
2- Your dishes will come out wet, so you will still need to hand dry them. This can be a hassle. I mean, why use a dishwasher if you are still going to be doing all the work yourself.
And remember, the dishes won’t even be all that clean. So hand washing your dishes may be the best option until you replace your dishwasher heating element.
Replacing your dishwasher heating element is worth it and we have explained why. We have also explained in simple steps how you can do it yourself. You don’t need to pay a professional or a handyman to do the work for you.
Before replacing your dishwasher element, ensure it is damaged. Sometimes, it’s just hard water deposits coating it. You can clean these deposits off your heating element and turn on your dishwasher to see if it makes a difference.
Also, check your heating element for continuity, to ensure something else isn’t causing the problem. We have explained how you can do this in the article.
If your dishwasher heating element has continuity, then something else is responsible for the heating problem. It could be overloading. So do all necessary checks before buying a new dishwasher heating element.