How to Reset a Kenmore Dishwasher

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Kenmore dishwashers have built-in reset sequences that should be one of your go-to tricks when the dishwasher suddenly "forgets" how to do its job.
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Did you throw out your Kenmore Elite dishwasher manual during a minimalist de-cluttering session? Of course, it figures that your dishwasher would work just fine for years, only to require a manual once you discard said manual. But don't worry, it's easy to troubleshoot your Kenmore dishwasher especially if you need to reset this kitchen appliance.

Kenmore dishwashers have built-in reset sequences that should be one of your go-to tricks when the dishwasher suddenly "forgets" how to do its job. Because technology works so well most of the time, it's easy to take it for granted, but Kenmore Elite dishwasher parts do wear out and electrical sequences can misfire. Fortunately, a reset can help if there's no major damage in the circuit board. The reset simply returns the dishwasher settings to their default, overriding any problems, such as stuck controls.

For Kenmore dishwashers, there are at least five potential ways you can reset them: a hard reset, heated dry reset, select cycle reset, pots and pans reset, and outer button reset.

How to Do a Hard Reset

The first method you can try applies to all Kenmore models: simply unplug the dishwasher, then wait at least 30 seconds before plugging it back into the outlet. This is called the hard reset. A hard rest should force the circuit board to shut down long enough to make all sequences work correctly once the dishwasher is plugged in again.

How to Do a Heated Dry Reset

Sometimes, a hard reset doesn't quite do the trick, and you have to communicate a little more specifically to the machine that it needs to reset. Your Kenmore dishwasher will have one of two reset sequences: the heated dry reset or the outer button reset.

The heated dry reset works for most Kenmore models that have a heated dry button and a normal wash button. Press the heated dry button, and then the normal wash button. Repeat this step: press heated dry and normal wash again. After this four-push sequence, with no more than a second between each push, close and latch the dishwasher. It should begin to do a short cycle that allows the machine to reset.

How to Do a Select Cycle Reset

If your Kenmore has a heated dry button, but has a select cycle button instead of one for normal wash, then you can do the select cycle reset. The Kenmore 13802 is one model that resets this way. You're going to press a particular series of three buttons in sequence, three times, then press a fourth button to officially begin the reset process.

Press select cycle, options and heated dry. Repeat: select cycle, options, heated dry. And do it one more time: select cycle, options, heated dry. Now, all the lights should be on, and you can press cancel/drain to officially begin the short test cycle.

Make sure you press each button in sequence without pausing for more than a second between each button. Also, check to ensure that the dishwasher is closed and latched in order for the test cycle to begin.

How to Do the Pots and Pans Reset

If you tried the heated dry and normal wash sequence with no luck, the pots and pans reset may work instead. You should see four cycle options. Start by pressing pots and pans, then press normal wash and one-hour wash. Repeat this sequence two more times.

All the lights should light up at this point, and a short cycle will begin once the door is closed and latched.

How to Do an Outer Button Reset

If your Kenmore dishwasher doesn't have a heated dry button, it likely has just three buttons in total.

To reset this type of Kenmore dishwasher, press the two outer buttons simultaneously and hold for three seconds. Then, close and latch the dishwasher, and the short test cycle should begin.

If these methods still don't work for your Kenmore dishwasher, try to push any three buttons in a row three times, just like the pots and pans reset, but with any three buttons side by side. This may trigger a reset.

Viewing Kenmore Elite Diagnostic Codes

If you have a Kenmore Elite dishwasher, pressing any three buttons in sequence three times will do more than just reset your machine. It will also allow you to view diagnostic codes to help you investigate the true cause of the problem.

After performing the three button protocol, close the dishwasher door and open it again. The LED will now show a diagnostic error code. If you close and open the door again, it will display another diagnostic code. You can repeat this process of opening and closing the door until all relevant error codes are displayed.

Kenmore Elite Dishwasher Manual Codes

Common error codes that may be resolved with a reset include 1-1 (or F1E1) and 1-2 (or F1E2). According to the Kenmore Elite dishwasher manual, error 1-1 will display when the problem is a stuck relay, and error 1-2 will signal a problem with the control board's memory. The manual's recommended course of action is to do a hard reset, leaving the machine unplugged for a full five minutes.

Once you've plugged the dishwasher back into the outlet, perform the three-button sequence again in order to display error codes. If the codes don't appear anymore, then the hard reset worked and the problem is solved. On the other hand, if the codes continue to show up, then you'll need a technician's help to fix an electrical problem within the dishwasher's control panel.

Solving Other Dishwasher Problems

Over 20 diagnostic codes exist for the Kenmore Elite dishwasher, and not all of them refer to problems that can be fixed with a simple reset. You can hope for a reset to work to resolve issues that are electrical in nature, but a reset won't do anything for a clogged drain or damaged door seal. Therefore, if you're still experiencing problems with your Kenmore dishwasher after successfully performing a reset, check some other common solutions for the problem.

Unplug the dishwasher before making further investigations as a precaution against electric shock. Then, inspect the equipment and parts that seem to be malfunctioning. For example, if the dishwasher won't drain, check for dirty filters and clogged drains. If the dishes still aren't getting clean, make sure the spraying arms seem mechanically sound. Dishwashers have some relatively easy do-it-yourself repairs, and you can purchase and replace damaged Kenmore Elite dishwasher parts on your own with the help of a little research.

Typically, those replacement parts cost less than buying a completely new dishwasher. Even calling a technician out to your home to investigate and repair your dishwasher represents a cost savings when compared to the price of a new dishwasher. Dishwashers are an investment for your home and lifestyle, and they're worth keeping in top condition. Don't be intimidated by a malfunctioning dishwasher when the solution might be one of the simple resets described above. And if they don't work, help is still just a phone call away.

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Cathy Habas enjoys distilling even the most complicated home improvement tasks into bite-sized pieces. She believes in empowering homeowners one article at a time.

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