My Dishwasher Does Not Stop

The dishwasher runs through several settings on its way through an entire wash cycle. When a dishwasher is stuck on a single setting and will not complete the cycle, the homeowner pays in time, money and wasted water and energy. Several problems can lead to a never ending cycle.

A dishwasher that won't stop may stem from several possible issues.


One reason the dishwasher may not stop running through its cycle is the timer. This device regulates all the functions of the dishwasher from the water inlet valve to the drying heater. Normally, the timer would switch the washer from washing to rinsing at the proper time. A malfunctioning timer may lock the dishwasher into a single part of the cycle, continually filling or sudsing or rinsing. A timer malfunction is often, but not always, accompanied by other symptoms, including dirty dishes, leaks and overflows or soap remnants after stopping the wash. Timers are not repairable when they break down so contact a service technician for professional help if you suspect a broken timer.

Heater Malfunction

Even a functioning timer will not activate the next cycle if the previous one isn't completed. Because the dishwashing detergent requires hot water for full dissolution into the wash water, most dishwashers feature heaters that heat the water to an acceptable temperature. If this heating element stops working, the water never gets to the temperature necessary for washing. The timer will continue the initial heating part of the cycle and not move on to the washing phase. Other symptoms of a broken heating element include cold dishes after the washer is stopped and an unreleased detergent cup or un-dissolved detergent. As with the timer, the heating element requires professional repair or replacement.

Thermostat Malfunction

When the heating element completes heating the water, the thermostat reads the temperature and tells the timer that the wash is ready for the next cycle. A broken thermostat means this message never gets to the timer and the wash continues heating the water. Symptoms of a broken thermostat include steam and hot water when stopping the cycle manually after an extended period. This unit can fail during initial heating or during rinse. Contact a service technician for professional replacement of a broken thermostat.

Water Flow Problem

If the dishwasher sticks on the part of the cycle when water initially flows into the washtub, check the water flow of the dishwasher. Low water flow may extend the time it takes to fill the washtub adequately and a broken drain valve may drain the water as fast as it enters the washtub. Either way, the result is a washer that is constantly filling itself and never full. Contact a professional for service.

Sean Russell

Sean Russell has been writing since 1999 and has contributed to several magazines, including "Spin" and "Art Nouveau." When not writing, Sean helps maintain community gardens in Silver Lake and Echo Park, California. Russell also worked extensively on the restoration and rejuvenation of public parks in Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi after damage from 2004-2005 hurricanes.