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What if a Kenmore Dishwasher Makes a Buzzing Noise?

Damarious Page

Mechanical noises are common in home appliances, including Kenmore dishwashers. But if your dishwasher makes a buzzing noise when it hadn't before, there may be cause for concern. Though your dishwasher is a free-standing, autonomous machine, external components can affect its overall operation. Other circumstances that could cause buzzing include how you prepped the dishwasher at the beginning of the cycle. You can examine the buzzing sound and fix the problem or at least attain a better understanding of why your dishwasher generates the sound.

Not Filling With Water

The buzzing may be coming from other kitchen appliances.

The flow of water is constant to the Kenmore dishwasher. The water supply line does have an "On/Off" valve, but it is usually always in the "On" position. However, you might hear a buzzing noise coming from the back of dishwasher if the water valve is not completely open, constricting the flow of water as the appliance tries to fill. To reduce or eliminate this buzzing noise, carefully access the back of the dishwasher where the water supply line is connected. In some cases, you can pull the dishwasher away from the wall, but if it is built-in or integrated, be careful not to damage your kitchen setup, such as the counter. Consult the owner's manual for your particular model for further instruction.

Detergent and Rinse Dispenser Activation

If you hear a buzzing noise near the front door of the dishwasher, the source might be the opening of the dispensers that temporarily hold the detergent and rinse aid. The mechanism that opens these dispensers should only buzz for a brief moment. After you hear this sound, you can pause the dishwashing cycle, open the door and visually confirm that powdery detergent or a colored, liquid rinse aid is in the first stages of dissolving in the water at the bottom of the tub. If you hear prolonged buzzing, the dispensers could be jammed or broken. If soap remains after the cycle is complete, you may need to get the dishwasher serviced.


Many Kenmore dishwashers don't require that you pre-rinse or pre-wash your soiled dishes. That's because there are food grinders at the bottom of the tub that capture large and hard leftover food matter. Sharp blades chop and churn foods, such as fruit seeds and small bones from meat and poultry. There is even a multi-stage filtration system that captures particles by size. However, if food waste is especially tough, the grinder may buzz and vibrate longer than normal in an effort to reduce the matter. Run the dishwasher for three more cycles to give the unit additional time and opportunities to handle tough food matter. If it persists, you may need a service technician to take apart and troubleshoot the grinding system.

Spray Arms

Most Kenmore dishwashers have at least two spray arms, one at the bottom and one at the top of the appliance. In some advanced dishwashers, there is a middle arm. The motor rotates the arms in a full 360-degree motion or agitates them from left to right. However, if there is a tall cup blocking the top arm or a wayward utensil blocking the bottom arm, you might hear a buzzing from a stalled motor trying to work against the obstruction. Open the dishwasher's door during a cycle and inspect the racks to make sure the dishes are not blocking the arms.