Why Is My Dishwasher Not Drying? Five Issues to Consider

It’s a frustrating feeling when you open your dishwasher after it’s run through a cycle and you discover that your dishes are still wet. Naturally, you may wonder why your dishwasher is not drying. It’s time to dig into this problem and find out what could be happening.

 Home Warranty of America works with customers all over the United States to protect their appliances, plumbing systems and more. For those who have a home warranty plan with us, a malfunctioning dishwasher is an annoyance, but not something that presents the risk of an enormous repair or replacement bill. Whether you have a warranty or not, below you’ll find five ideas to consider as you explore why your dishwasher is not drying.

The Heating Element

The main function of the heating element on your dishwasher is to raise the water’s temperature during the dishwashing cycle. It’s also supposed to heat the dishwashing tub, which sits at the bottom of the unit, to help dry your dishes.

If your dishwasher is not drying your dishes, check to see if it’s warm inside the unit at the end of the cycle. If it’s not, then take a look at your heating element. It’s usually a long, horseshoe-shaped wire with plugs on either end that can be found at the back of the dishwasher. If it’s damaged or a connection is loose, a faulty heating element could be your problem.

The High-Limit Thermostat

If it appears that your heating element is properly installed and free of damage, the next part to check is your high-limit thermostat. The high-limit thermostat also sits on the back of the dishwashing unit near the top. It has a cylindrical shape with brackets on either side of it for mounting. Its function is to turn the heating element off when the water reaches a certain temperature, which varies by manufacturer. This is necessary to prevent the dishwasher from overheating.

If the high-limit thermostat fails, it could lead to your dishwasher running at cooler temperatures because the heating element shuts down too quickly during a cycle. So, a lack of heating element function caused by a faulty thermostat could be why your dishes are not drying. The only effective way to test a high-limit thermostat is with a multimeter (pictured below). Use it to see if electricity is running through the part. If it’s not, then you’ll need to replace it; if it is, you’ll need to continue looking for a potential cause of your wet dishes.

The Fan and Vent

Another important step of the dish drying process occurs when the vent opens and the fan begins to run. The fan blows the hot air and the moisture out of the dishwasher through the vent, allowing the dishes to dry. If either of these components fail, your dishes will not dry in the dishwasher as they are supposed to.

It can be difficult to check these parts. You may need to watch your dishwasher after the wash cycle stops to see if the vent, usually located on the front of the unit, opens and steam blows out. If not, it could be a ventilation problem. If your dishwasher shuts down after the wash cycle but the vent is open, you might have a faulty fan. Fortunately, if you discover that one or both of these parts are the reason your dishes aren’t drying, you can find replacement parts and install them.

The Detergent Dispenser

If your detergent dispenser is cracked or otherwise damaged, it could be a reason why your dishes are not drying. While it wouldn’t seem that the detergent has anything to do with how dry your dishes get, the fact is that everything needs to function properly for your dishwasher cycle to run as it should.

If the detergent dispenser is leaking or doesn’t open during a cycle, the unit may not get through all of the steps in the dishwashing process before it shuts down. That means your dishes will not get dry. If this is the issue, it should be fairly easy to spot and replace a broken detergent dispenser.

Your Dish Stacking Approach

Finally, a reason why your dishes are not drying in the dishwasher could be your dish stacking approach. You need to leave some space between dishes so the drying fan can blow hot air over their whole surface area. If you don’t leave enough room between dishes, the air may not reach certain surfaces and moisture could be trapped. If you tend to stuff your dishwasher full of dishes, try running a cycle with fewer items to see if that makes a difference.

If you’re not comfortable taking any of these repair steps yourself, you can always call a professional. If you have a dishwasher but you’d like to avoid the potential costs associated with repairs before the need arises, you might consider the cost of a home warranty and sign up. This protection could help cover costs associated with a repair or even a replacement. If you’d like to learn more about home warranties, call us at (888) 492-7359.

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