If your dishwasher's lights are blinking oddly, it's probably trying to tell you something is wrong. Blinking red lights are how KitchenAid dishwashers convey error messages. Fortunately, it's not hard to interpret these codes — you'll just need to count the number of blinks, then look up the corresponding code to determine the specific problem.
Error Codes for HE Models
KitchenAid's HE or "high-efficiency" dishwashers signal errors by flashing the light next to the "Clean" label in specific patterns. When the machine displays an error code, the control panel is disabled until the problem is resolved.
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The pattern indicates the error code by first flashing a function code, followed by a two-second pause, then a code specifying the problem. After a five-second pause, the sequence repeats.
Control Panel Codes
Codes in the first two function series indicate various issues with the dishwasher's control panel.
- Code 1-1: The control board senses a stuck relay on the machine's circuit board
- Code 1-2: The memory on the control board has been corrupted or damaged
Try turning off the dishwasher's power for five minutes, then turning on the machine. If that doesn't resolve the error code, you'll need to replace the electronic control panel.
- Code 2-1: The panel has a key that's stuck
- Code 2-2: Lack of communication between the control board and the panel.
If no keys work on the panel, or if the panel itself has been damaged in some way, the issue is probably the control board, which you can replace.
Dishwashers contain an electrical resistor called a "thermistor," which measures and controls the temperature. Codes beginning with "3" indicate a problem with this component or a part that's connected to it. Your model's technical guide should include instructions for testing the thermistor and its related component, the Optical Water Indicator (which detects debris in the dishwasher's water).
- Code 3-1: Either a fault in the wiring or a failure of the thermistor or the OWI
- Code 3-2: Short in the thermistor/OWI circuit
To repair these issues, first disconnect the dishwasher from its power source. Visually inspect the wiring for the thermistor/OWI circuit (consult your owner's manual or a repair guide). If the problem isn't in the wiring, the thermistor and OWI must be replaced.
- Code 6-6: Water from the source is entering the dishwasher at too low a temperature
Check the water temperature with a thermometer first. If the thermometer reads less than 110 degrees Fahrenheit, and it's not a problem with your water heater, you'll need to replace either the thermistor and OWI or the electronic control board.
Circulation Pump Monitor Codes
- Code 4-4: The circulation pump isn't operating or at least isn't registering as operational
To address this, disconnect the machine from its power source, then reconnect any loose wires and replace the wire harness if it's damaged. If these actions don't resolve the issue, replace the circulation pump motor.
Door Switch Codes
Function series five codes indicate problems with the door switch.
- 5-1: Door won't latch properly
- 5-2: Door won't open
For the first problem, try pressing the machine's "start" button then immediately closing the door. Next, disconnect the machine from the power source and visually inspect both the latch and the attached wiring. For code 5-2, start with the visual inspection. As a last resort, replace the door switch.
Water Inlet Valve Codes
Codes with the "six" function prefix (other than 6-6) relate to the water inlet valve (and possibly the detergent dispenser):
- 6-1: No water inflow
- 6-2: Electrical problem with the water inlet valve
- 6-3: Suds or air in the water pump
- 6-4: Float switch in "open" position
Examine the water supply and the referenced components (i.e., check for suds in the bottom of the machine when there shouldn't be any). If these measures don't resolve the problem, you may have to replace the involved component.
Heating Element Codes
Codes with a "7" prefix involve the heating element.
- Code 7-1: Nonfunctioning heating element
- Code 7-2: A heating element that won't turn off.
If resetting the dishwasher doesn't resolve a heating element issue, you may need to replace the heating element or the control board.
Drain Pump Codes
Codes that start with "eight" indicate drain pump issues.
- Code 8-1: Slow drain
- Code 8-2: Electrical issue with the pump
To resolve, disconnect from the power source and inspect the drain pump and connective wiring. If that doesn't work, replace the drain pump.
Diverter and Spray Arm Codes
- Code 9-1: Unknown diverter position
To address this issue, turn off the power supply to the machine and inspect the diverter (the component that directs the water through the spray arms) and its connective wiring. The diverter can be replaced if the wiring is functional.
- Code 9-2: The diverter is stuck in the "on" position
- Code 9-3: The diverter disk is missing
- Code 9-4: Obstruction of the lower spray arm.
You may need to replace the diverter disk or the spray arm.
Codes with the "10" prefix indicate electrical problems:
- 10-1: Dispenser
- 10-2: Vent wax motor
- 10-3: Drying fan
In each case, disconnect the machine from the power source and visually inspect the wiring.
Codes for Other Models
Other models indicate motor problems by a flashing red light next to the "Light/China" label, and electrical issues by flashing the red light next to both the "Rinse" and "Normal" labels. If this happens, your machine has activated the flood switch. Unplug the dishwasher from the power source and schedule a service call.
A red light next to the "Rinse" and "Heavy" labels indicates that the dishwasher isn't filling with water as it should. Inspect the machine visually and remove any blockages.