How to Replace a Dishwasher Heating Element

Written by ehow home & garden editor
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As with all appliances, dishwashers break down at times. The heating element burning out is the most common problem with dishwashers. Luckily, replacing the heating element isn't that difficult and you can do it yourself with just a screwdriver.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Screwdriver
  • Flashlight (optional)

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Shut off the main water supply in your home, which is usually in the basement. Remove the bottom rack of the dishwasher by pulling it all the way out and setting it aside.

  2. 2

    Unplug the dishwasher before you attempt to do any repairs. Remove the bottom access panel of the dishwasher and disconnect the wires that lead to the element. You may need a flashlight to see them. These wires are to the left inside of the panel and are white and brown on most dishwashers.

  3. 3

    Loosen all the brackets that hold the heating element in place by taking out the screws and gently pulling the brackets up. Lift out the old element and set aside. Place all the screws and brackets into a plastic bag so they don't get lost. You'll need these to hold down the new element.

  4. 4

    Place the new element in the dishwasher in the same manner that the burned-out element was set.

  5. 5

    Reconnect the power leads by threading them back down through to the front access panel. Wrap the wires around the electrical connectors and tighten the terminal screws. Make sure all the connections are tight.

  6. 6

    Replace the brackets in the dishwasher and screw them down to hold the new element in place. Jiggle the element lightly to make sure it's secure. Replace the bottom access panel.

  7. 7

    Turn the electricity and the water supply back on. Run the dishwasher one time without dishes or soap to make sure everything is working properly.

Tips and warnings

  • Watch carefully, and takes notes or photos if necessary, to remember exactly how the burned out element came out of your dishwasher. Take note of where the electrical wires come out and are attached to the element. The new element goes back in the same way.
  • Always unplug electrical appliances before servicing them, especially dishwashers, since they hold water. Since the electrical connectors can still hold a charge even if the unit is unplugged, it's a good idea to wear rubber-soled shoes and even rubber gloves. Hold all tools by the insulated handle to help protect yourself from electrical shocks.

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