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How to Fix a Rinse Aid Dispenser on a GE Dishwasher

Ian Kelly

GE dishwashers are designed to rinse dishes off with clean water before automatically adding detergent through the detergent door and rinse aid dispenser. GE dishwashers manufactured prior to 2006 are fitted with a round style detergent dispenser operated by a timed spring-loaded cam; later models are fitted with an oblong dispenser with an electronic wax motor that actuates the inside dispenser door and rinse aid dispenser. Regardless of the model, any competent homeowner can carry out the necessary diagnostics and repairs at home with a few simple tools.

Dishwashers Manufactured Prior to 2006

If your dishwasher detergent dispenser stops working, you can save money by repairing it yourself
  1. Open the dishwasher door. Remove the screws that hold the inner door to the outer door with a Phillips head screwdriver.

  2. Examine the black sound-dampening insulation attached to the inner door; vibrations may have loosened a wad of insulation, causing it to shift and block the detergent dispenser outlet. If so, snip the insulation away from the opening with a pair of scissors and reattach the remaining insulation around the opening to the inner door with contact adhesive.

  3. Locate the spring attached to the cam actuator arm on the inner face of the outside door. If the spring is broken, remove it and install a replacement spring by hooking one end through the lug below the cam actuator arm and the other end over the oval link below the actuator arm.

  4. Reattach the inner door by replacing the screws removed earlier and tightening them with the screwdriver.

Dishwashers Manufactured After 2006

  1. Open and close the dishwasher door. If it does not catch properly, remove the screws that hold the inner door to the outer door with a Phillips head screwdriver.

  2. Check the linkage and mechanical parts on the GE-patented Smart Dispenser assembly to see if anything is loose or broken. Refit any loose parts if you can; if not, install a new dispenser by following the steps in the installation manual supplied with the part

  3. Consult the owner's manual. If the control panel has a service mode, activate the detergent dispenser module. If the relevant light comes on but the wax motor inside the module does not operate the dispenser, the wax motor is faulty. If the control panel does not run a service mode, go to the next step.

  4. Turn the breaker switch on your main electrical panel to the "Off" position before working on any electrical components on your washing machine.

  5. Remove the four screws that hold the oblong cover plate to the wax motor housing on the outer door to access the wax motor.

  6. Set your ohmmeter to a setting above 2,800 ohms. Place the ohmmeter's probes on each of the wires protruding from each side of the small tubular wax motor; the ohmmeter readout should be between 1,200 and 2,800 ohms. If the reading is lower, replace the wax motor by following the directions that came with the part.

  7. Replace the Smart Dispenser assembly, if all else fails, by following the steps in the installation manual supplied with the part. Screw the inner door back on with the screws removed earlier and tighten them securely. Restore power to the dishwasher by resetting the breaker switch then test the machine.