If the washer will not cycle past heating, one of the most common reasons is a malfunctioning heating element. The dishwasher is designed with a thermostat that indicates when the heat has reached a high enough temperature to move to the next part of the washing process. If the heating element is not heating, the indicator never reads the correct temperature and the dishwasher does not advance. A broken or damaged heating element can cause serious and even permanent damage to a washer if not repaired quickly. Check the heating element by opening the dishwasher during the heating part of the cycle. If the dishes are still cold, contact a service professional for repair options.
Even a perfectly operating heating element will not affect the thermostat if the thermostat is malfunctioning. This part of the dishwasher is connected to the timer and tells the washer when to continue to the next cycle. If the thermostat is broken, the heater will continue heating indefinitely. This is a potential problem for dishes, since continuous heat can damage both the washer interior and the glasses in the washer. In most cases, the thermostat is a non-repairable part of the dishwasher and requires replacement.
After the rinse cycle, the inside of the dishwasher is dried using a drying fan and the heating element. If the dishwasher will not cycle past this portion of the wash, the problem may stem from the drying fan. While heat will reach the dishes even without the fan, the drying fan speeds up this process and circulates the air, allowing for faster evaporation. Check the drying fan by examining your glasses after the end of the cycle. Frequent water spots or streaks may indicate a drying fan failure.
A timer malfunction may also cause the dishwasher to stick in a particular cycle, or in several different cycles intermittently. The timer is the master control over the dishwasher’s cycle, moving it from one segment to the next. A damaged timer, like a damaged thermostat, is not repairable and requires replacement. Contact the manufacturer or a service professional for replacement options.