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Dishwasher & Solenoid Valve Failure

Lynn Rademacher

Dishwashers are perhaps the most utilized kitchen appliance and when it fails to work properly it can place a major kink in the day. The solenoid valve is a part of the dishwasher that most people don’t know exists. However, it has a big part in how well the dishwasher performs and how clean the dishes come out.


The solenoid valve in dishwashers regulates the drain valve and only dishwashers that have a single direction motor will have one. This is designed to keep the dishwasher from overfilling with water. If the solenoid valve is malfunctioning it may prevent the dishwasher from filling up with water. Without enough water the dishwasher will not be able to create the required water pressure to properly wash the dishes. If the solenoid valve is malfunctioning it is important to replace it.


It is possible to test the drain solenoid valve before buying a new one. The solenoid is usually accessed through the kick panel at the bottom of the dishwasher. This panel is easily removed by taking out a few screws and pulling the kick panel gently away from the dishwasher. The solenoid can usually be found near the dishwasher motor. A multimeter will be needed to test the solenoid for resistance once it is disconnected from the dishwasher. A reading of approximately 40 ohms indicates a good solenoid.

Avoiding Solenoid Failure

The most common reason for the solenoid to fail is due to the drain becoming clogged with food and debris from the dishes. With a little bit of care it is possible to avoid failure. By rinsing the dishes prior to washing it is possible to prevent from plugging up the drain and burning out the solenoid. Also make sure the dishes are loaded in such a way that the water isn’t completely blocked from other dishes. This can result in the dishwasher soap hardening in the drain and potentially cause solenoid failure.


Replacing a solenoid is relatively inexpensive, especially if the repair is completed by the homeowner. However, if a professional service person is called to fix the problem the costs will go up considerably. When deciding whether or not to hire a professional to do the work it is important to consider the amount of time required to complete the repair and the comfort level of the home owner when dealing with electrical components.

Benefits of Replacement

Once a failing solenoid is replaced in the dishwasher water will be allowed to flow through the dishwashers system correctly. This will allow dishwasher soap to activate, resulting in consistently cleaner dishes.