Dishwasher Tripping Breaker: Quick Fixes


It is not uncommon for problems to take place between the dishwasher and the circuit breaker. Certain cycles of the dishwasher can actually trip the breaker. This is often caused by electrical issues, a water leak, a faulty heating element or even an overloaded circuit.

Using a process of elimination, you can usually figure out which one of these issues is causing the problem. Before attempting any of the following tips, it’s good to make note of where in the cycle the dishwasher is most likely to trip the breaker. This can sometimes give you a hint of what is causing the problem. Let’s take a closer look at how to locate and troubleshoot this frustrating and potentially dangerous problem.

Check the Electrical Components

A good place to begin your elimination process is by checking for electrical issues with your dishwasher. Make sure to always unplug the dishwasher before attempting any of the following tests or checks.

Electrical Plug Problems

After unplugging the dishwasher and turning off the breaker, check the plug. This can be damaged inside with loose or broken wires. To test if the plug is the problem, turn the breaker back on and plug in other large appliances to see if they trip the breaker when you run them. If they do, you will know that there is an issue with the plug. If they run without a problem, you will need to investigate further.

If you have a mini fridge, space heater or hair dryer you can plug these appliances in to check if it is the plug. The reason why these appliances are good testers is because they all use a considerable amount of energy.

Loose Wire Connection In The Junction Box

There could be a short in the actual connection between the dishwasher and the main electrical circuit. This is called the junction box, and the following steps will help you determine if this is the problem.

  1. Unplug the dishwasher, turn off the breaker and locate the junction box. This can be found below the dishwasher and is behind the access panel. You see should an electrical warning sticker on it. Although the location can be different depending on your specific unit.
  2. Carefully look in the junction box where the main line comes into the dishwasher. There will be two wire nut connections that could be damaged. These wire connections can be worn out, damaged or loose, and any of those issues can cause low voltage or can cause the breaker to trip. Please wear gloves and use caution during this step because some of the metal pieces can be quite sharp.

Water Leak Issues

A water leak in the system can definitely cause your breaker to trip. Water leaking in an electrical appliance can be disastrous, but most dishwashers will automatically trip the breaker if the leaking water comes in contact with the electricity.

This water leakage can stem from several reasons including a cracked hose, a leaky gasket, faulty hose connections or a broken valve. It’s not always easy to find out where the leak is coming from, but you can look for leaks or damage to the inlet or outlet hose, check for damage to the inlet hose washers, or you can look for rust or discoloration.

In order to check for leaks you will need to remove your dishwasher to look for the signs of a leak. Follow these steps to perform a physical check:

  1. Unplug the dishwasher
  2. Unhook the wiring if your dishwasher is hardwired into the junction box
  3. Unhook the drain hose and water supply line
  4. Pull your dishwasher out from under the counter
  5. Remove the front kick plate
  6. Remove the top cover and back panel
  7. Remove the side panels if you can

If you have completed the following steps you can now flip/turn the dishwasher in which ever way you need to. This will allow complete visibility of the workings of the dishwasher to try to spot which part is leaking.

Faulty Heating Element

The heating element is tasked with the function of keeping the water at elevated temperatures. This ensures that the dishes get washed properly. The heating element also helps dry the dishes at the end of the cycle. It could be that the element is grounding out, and troubleshooting this should not be too difficult.

You should physically look at the element to see if there is any defect. Bubbling of the metal or cracks are signs of a faulty heating element.

Check Heating Elements Continuity

You will need to remove the heating element and test its continuity to verify if this is the reason why your dishwasher is tripping the breaker. In order to remove the element you will need to follow the steps above and unhook your dishwasher to access the bottom of the unit.

In order to check the continuity of your dishwasher heating element follow these steps:

  1. Flip the dishwasher so that the door is facing the ground
  2. Unhook the heating elements from the plug that is power it
  3. Turn the multimeter on and move the dials to ohms
  4. Use one of the probes and touch it one of the terminals on the heating element
  5. Use the other probe and touch it to the other terminal
  6. if the multimeter shows numbers or the dial moves then the element is functional. If there is no reading the heating element is broken

Overloaded Circuit

If you have followed all of the above steps, and you still have not found the cause of the dishwasher-to-breaker issue, then you will want to make sure that you have not overloaded the circuit. This is really easy to do, and many of us have done it. However, overloading a circuit can cause havoc with your breaker, and it can be potentially dangerous.

Check what is on the Circuit

First you will want to check and see what is on the circuit. Unplug everything that you know is on the circuit. Plug the dishwasher back in and run it on the rinse cycle. Does it trip the breaker? If so, you know that the issue is with the dishwasher. If not, unplug it and begin plugging in things one at a time and testing them. This is the way to find out what is tripping the breaker.

Solutions to an Overloaded Circuit

After testing all of the appliances associated with that particular circuit, it may become apparent that you will need to have less items on the circuit. However, if this is not possible you will need to actually need to install a larger circuit breaker to handle everything you want to run. If this is the case, you will need to have a professional electrician install it. Never attempt to do this yourself.

As you can see, there are a variety of situations that could be causing your dishwasher to trip the breaker. By a process of elimination, it’s pretty easy to discover what is causing the problem. However, if the issue appears to be caused by something electrical, it may be wise to enlist the aid of a licensed professional.

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