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A Smoke Smell From My Kenmore Dishwasher

Kirk Maltbee

Kenmore, a brand name appliance division of Sears, Inc, offers customers several appliance options for their home, including a line of automated dishwashers. While convenient, these machines aren’t without defective issues, one of which includes the presence of a strong smoke or burning smell. This is a serious issue that stands to have dire consequences if not addressed in an appropriate manner.

Insulation Issue

First and foremost, unplug the dishwashing unit and pull it away from the wall. Don’t use the washer or you’ll risk exacerbating the smell, and when you detect a burning smell that generally means something is heating up and ready to catching fire. In this case, there’s a small bit of insulation that’s overheating and close to burning, which will ruin the washer and create a fire hazard. Pop open the dishwasher’s door and look at the control panel where the wires congregate; there will more than likely be a black insulation type material meant to keep the wires secure.

A Quick Fix

Touch the material – it isn’t made of a dangerous material, but you’re looking to see how warm it is. If it’s cool, chances are that isn’t the culprit that’s creating the smell. If it is warm, especially if you’ve recently run the washer through a cycle, then – provided the material isn’t overly hot – use your fingers to pull away and remove all the insulation material. The wires are heating up and burning the material. Wrap the wires with electrical tape that will contain the electrical heat from the wiring and potentially solve the problem.

Trapped Food

In some cases, dishes that weren’t pre-washed leave food particles and deposits that are trapped in the washer’s filter. As these particles collect, they become harder for the washer to drain, thus stagnant water mixed with food can create a smoky smell, especially following the washer’s cycle using hot water. To clean, you need to remove the filter cover – it’s a rectangular panel that rests in the back of the washbasin, underneath the spray arm – and manually dig out built up crud. After removing as much as you can, run the washer through a cycle on the highest setting to wash away remaining particles. If the smell remains, fill the detergent reservoir with vinegar, run a cycle and then run another with hot water.

A Word of Caution

There are some instances where the problem is much more severe and is related to a manufacturing fault. In these cases, the control panel itself may catch fire due to faulty or improperly sealed wiring. If the above doesn’t remedy the situation, contact a repairperson or Kenmore concerning warranty issues rather than attempt to fix the problem yourself.