How to test the heating element on a dishwasher

The dishwasher in your home dries your dishes using the heating element. Just like the heating element in your stove, the dishwasher heating element can become faulty. If your dishes are not drying, test the heating element to determine if there's a problem. The heating element terminals are underneath the dishwasher. You can remove the heating element quickly for testing, although you can test the element without removing it.

Turn the electrical power off to the dishwasher. The circuit breaker for the dishwasher is in the home electrical panel. Turn the circuit breaker off to disconnect the power to the dishwasher.

Open the dishwasher door and pull the bottom dish rack out of the dishwasher. Most dish racks will pull straight out of the dishwasher. Some models use tracks on the lower dish rack. Pull the dish rack out and then lift the back of the dish rack out of the track to remove the rack from the dishwasher.

Look between the bottom of the dishwasher door and the dishwasher to locate any screws that secure the top of the toe panel to the dishwasher. The toe panel is the access strip directly below the dishwasher door. Some models use two screws at the top edge of the toe panel that is only visible with the door open. If yours has these two screws, remove the screws with a Phillips head screwdriver.

Close the dishwasher door and remove the two screws on each side of the toe panel with the Phillips head screwdriver. Pull the toe panel away from the dishwasher.

Shine a flashlight under the dishwasher and locate the ends of the heating element. A wire connects to each end of the heating element. Use needle-nose pliers to pull the ends of the wires off the heating element terminals.

Remove the retaining nut securing the heating element to the bottom of the dishwasher with a wrench. A rubber washer may be between the nut and the bottom of the dishwasher; pull this off the terminal ends as well.

Open the dishwasher door and pull the rear of the heating element out of the bottom of the dishwasher. Carefully manoeuvre the heating element out of the retaining clips in the bottom of the dishwasher. Do not remove the retaining clips from the dishwasher. Pull the heating element out of the dishwasher and set the element on a flat surface.

Set the scale on the volt-ohm meter to RX1 to measure the resistance of the heating element. Place one probe of the volt-ohm meter to each of the heating element terminals. The reading should be somewhere between zero and infinity. The readings will vary between manufacturers and models. If the reading is zero or infinity, replace the heating element.


Always disconnect power to appliances before attempting repairs.

Things You'll Need

  • Phillips head screwdriver
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Flashlight
  • Volt-ohm meter
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About the Author

Kenneth Crawford is a freelance writer with more than 10 years of experience. His work has appeared in both print and online publications, including "The American Chronicle." Crawford holds an associate degree in business administration from Commonwealth College.