A how-to guide: Troubleshoot your Frigidaire dishwasher

A how-to guide: Troubleshoot your Frigidaire dishwasher



Your Frigidaire dishwasher makes everyday life a lot easier, freeing up your time and sparing you the bother of labor-intensive cleaning. If your dishwasher isn’t working properly (or at all!), you might be prone to panic. Who wants to wash the dishes by hand these days? The thought may scare you, but don’t sweat it.

Many dishwasher issues are due to minor technical problems, like a small clog, or a user mistake as simple as the dishwasher door not being closed properly. With the right information and a bit of investigation, you should be able to determine the cause of your dishwasher woes. 

Read on for a quick guide to troubleshooting a Frigidaire dishwasher, including all the essential details you need to figure out the problem at hand.


How Frigidaire dishwashers work

When troubleshooting your Frigidaire dishwasher, it helps to have a general understanding of how these handy appliances work in the first place. This will make it easier to identify the various components, their purposes and potential problems that could be impeding their functionality.

In short, a dishwasher cleans and rinses dirty pots, pans, dishes and cutlery — but there’s much more to it than that. When the machine turns on, it first pumps water inside before heating it to the appropriate temperature. The machine is configured to automatically open the detergent dispenser at the appropriate time in the cycle, ramping up the cleansing process.

Jets of water are then shot throughout the interior of the dishwasher to get the dishes clean. These pressurized jets of water come from the helicopter-like upper and lower spray arms that spin above and below the top and bottom dish racks, respectively. It’s similar to the effect you’d get when spraying dirt off something with a pressurized garden hose.

The dirty water in the dishwasher is then drained, more water is sprayed to rinse the dishes and the water is drained again. Finally, a heated dry function is used to dry the dishes. The dishwasher then usually provides a signal like a beep to indicate when it’s completed the job.

Your dishwasher relies on two main home systems to do its job, the electrical system to power the machine and the water supply to provide the water it needs to wash. Note that to achieve sufficiently hot water temperatures for effective washing, the dishwasher also has a metal heating element inside. This is the metal basin located underneath the lower spray arm.

Further, be aware that the dishwasher never fills completely with water. Instead, the small metal basin at the bottom (also the heating element) fills up with water. A pump then pushes that water into the jets, which spray the dishes at high pressure via the spray arms. At the end of the wash cycle, the water drains again via the basin at the bottom.

Dishwashers also have important electrical components to monitor their function. A small computer regulates the programs and includes a timer for various cycle lengths. The appliance has sensors to detect air and water temperature as well as water levels, safeguarding against issues like overheating or overflowing.


Signs/symptoms of dishwasher issues

Some modern Frigidaire dishwashers have an electronic control board with a display that provides error codes when your dishwasher isn’t functioning properly. Frigidaire dishwasher error codes could indicate anything from a clog to insufficient water fill or a leak.

If your dishwasher has an electronic control panel, check your specific model’s manual for the error code key (you can also find these online via the manufacturer’s website if you’re not the type to hang on to paperwork). You can usually find the dishwasher serial model number on the side of the door panel when the dishwasher is open.

However, error codes aren’t foolproof. Further, they generally only offer a general indication of what’s wrong. For example, if you get the error code indicating insufficient water fill, this could be due to your home’s water shutoff not being completely open, a pinch in the hose connecting your dishwasher to your water supply or even a broken pipe in the house.

Additionally, error codes may not provide an alert until it’s too late and serious problems have already occurred, like a dishwasher leak. This is why it’s usually best to keep an eye out for symptoms of dishwasher problems yourself, so you can troubleshoot potential issues before disaster strikes.


Here are some signs that your dishwasher is experiencing difficulties:

  • Dirty dishes at the end of the cycle: If you’re running back-to-back cycles trying to get dishes clean, you’re wasting water (and money). Try switching detergents and not loading your dishwasher as fully. Still dirty? Blame your dishwasher.
  • Dishes don’t feel hot at the end of the cycle: If the water isn’t heating properly, you aren’t getting your dishes truly clean. They may look spotless, but heat is needed to kill bacteria and other microorganisms.
  • Excessive water is sitting in the bottom of the dishwasher at the end of the cycle: Water collecting in the basin of the dishwasher could be a plumbing issue. It’s best to rule out serious plumbing issues ASAP.
  • Door latch doesn’t close properly: An improperly closing dishwasher may fail to start or, worse, leak. Sometimes, the latch can warp over time, and a simple replacement is enough to get your dishwasher in working order again.
  • Water is leaking on the floor: This is probably the most obvious problem that your dishwasher is malfunctioning (and a nightmare scenario). Turn off the main water supply valve to avoid flooding your kitchen until you figure out the solution.
  • Dishwasher overfills or underfills: Overfilling can cause leaks that destroy your kitchen, while underfilling means your dishes won’t get a deep clean. Imbalances in water levels could indicate mechanical problems or a plumbing issue and should be assessed by a professional.

If you notice these symptoms, take a closer look at your dishwasher. It might need repair.


Troubleshooting your Frigidaire dishwasher

Have you concluded that your dishwasher is experiencing difficulties? It’s time to troubleshoot! Here are some common problems to look out for as you check your dishwasher’s various components to see if they’re working correctly.

Frigidaire dishwasher leaking onto the floor

One of the most common causes of dishwasher leaks is the door gasket or the seal that it fits into to properly close the dishwasher. Inspect both the gasket and the seal for gaps, tears or cuts that could let water through.

You can also use the dollar-bill trick to ensure the door is sealing properly. Shut a dollar bill in the door, then try to slip it out. If the door gasket is making good contact, the bill will get stuck. If you can slip it out, the gasket isn’t making good contact and needs replacing.

If the door gasket and seal appear fine, examine the dishwasher’s hinges to ensure they aren’t bent. Damaged hinges can likewise impede the door’s closing and let water seep through. They will need to be replaced.

In some cases, faulty wash arms can cause leaks. If damaged, they may spray water directly at the door seal instead of onto the dishes. Check all wash arms for signs of cracks or loose screws.

Finally, survey the water inlet valve that lets water into the dishwasher. If the valve gets stuck open, the dishwasher will fill with water endlessly until it overflows or leaks. A faulty valve will have to be replaced by a professional.

Frigidaire dishwasher won’t start (no power)

If your Frigidaire dishwasher doesn’t start at all, first check your power supply. Locate the plug for your dishwasher and ensure that it’s properly plugged in. Note that you shouldn’t use extension cords when connecting dishwashers to a power source because they can’t handle the voltage needed to run this heavy home appliance.

To ensure the dishwasher’s plug is active and providing power, unplug the dishwasher and plug in another device. A simple lamp is sufficient. If that device also doesn’t work when connected to the outlet, you know the plug is to blame.

If the above points are in order, make sure you haven’t blown a fuse by confirming the circuit breaker is in the right position.

Frigidaire dishwasher has power but won’t start

If your dishwasher has power but still won’t turn on, there are a few other points you can troubleshoot. First, make sure you haven’t activated a child lock or a “delay start” setting. Also, keep in mind that after selecting the cycle, you may need to press the start button, depending on the make and model of your dishwasher.

Do all those points check out? Go on to confirm that the door is latching properly. Most dishwashers have a safety mechanism to prevent them from turning on unless they’re fully shut and sealed. If the latch doesn’t catch properly, it may need to be replaced.

Dishwasher not cleaning dishes properly

There are many reasons your Frigidaire dishwasher may fail to clean dishes properly. First, make sure the dishwasher’s water supply line is intact. Next, ensure there aren’t any leaks, as evidenced by water on the floor after use. Also, confirm that you’re using the correct wash cycle.

With these basic points ticked off your troubleshooting list, check the water pressure and supply. The water inlet valve should be clear of blockages so water can get into the appliance. The wash arms should rotate freely and not have signs of damage, like cracks. 

Further, make sure the spray arms aren’t clogged with tiny bits of food or other debris. You can remove them completely and clean them using soap, warm water, white vinegar and a scrub brush. Use a cotton swab to get into the small holes as needed.

The wash impeller is another point worth examining. This is the tiny plastic blade that pumps water up through the spray arms. If it’s missing a blade or otherwise damaged, it won’t be able to generate the force needed to pump the water up. Check your manufacturer’s manual to see if the impeller can be replaced separately from the pump and motor or if it’s all connected.

If none of these issues are to blame, a more serious mechanical issue, like a malfunctioning circulation pump or drain pump motor, might be to blame. As these are more complicated problems requiring a professional replacement or repair, it’s usually best to call an expert at this point.

Dishwasher not drying dishes properly

If your dishes are coming out damp when using a drying function, check the heating element at the bottom of the dishwasher. You can use a multimeter to test it for consistent heating. This is a small handheld device that measures current in electrical systems. If there isn’t a constant current to the heating element, it needs replacing.

If you have an evaporator dishwasher, check that the vent is working properly and free of blockages. If the vent is clogged, it can’t let out hot air and steam, allowing moisture droplets to remain on the dishes.

If your vent also has a fan motor, check this for continuity as well using a multimeter. If there isn’t a continuity issue, check that the fan spins freely by spinning it manually. If these points check out, the fan motor may need replacing.

Frigidaire dishwasher not draining

An improperly draining dishwasher is inconvenient and unsanitary. The moisture buildup can allow microorganisms to breed, creating a foul order and an unhygienic appliance. Lack of drainage can also indicate a mechanical problem.

One cause might be as simple as cleaning the dishwasher drain filter. This can get clogged with debris over time, creating blockages. To clean the filter, remove the bottom rack and press on the lower spray arm while rotating it counterclockwise.

This should loosen the spray arm so you can lift it up and out, along with the filter. Remove the filter from the wash arm, rinsing it under running water to remove debris. You can then restore the filter and the spray arm by pressing each part into place while rotating clockwise.

If that’s fine, another cause might be the drain hose, which loops from behind the dishwasher under the sink. Visually inspect the hose to make sure it doesn’t have a kink or anything heavy on it that could block it. If that’s fine, disconnect the hose from the pump and check for blockages. You may need to remove the hose completely to reach clogs that are further down.

If none of these troubleshooting tips have solved the issue, the drain pump might be to blame. Some pump issues, like food particles causing a blockage, are an easy fix. Others, like a failing motor, are more complex. At this point, you may want to call a professional.


Protect your Frigidaire dishwasher with Cinch

The above troubleshooting guide covers some common issues you may experience with your Frigidaire dishwasher. Hopefully, the problem is a small one and a quick fix!. If not, a home protection plan from Cinch Home Services can help.

Cinch’s Appliance plan can help cover major appliance repair costs, including dishwasher repair, ensuring you always have access to clean and sanitary dishes. Check out Cinch’s home protection plans to find out more and request a free quote today.

Notice to the Reader

The content within this article is meant to provide potential solutions but aren’t guaranteed to fix the problem. To avoid further issues, though, please seek an expert opinion similar to one offered by a Cinch service provider.


If your Frigidaire dishwasher is not working, you can trust our troubleshooting guide to identify common problems and find a solution.

Your home protection is ready and waiting!