Contemporary Kenmore dishwashers come equipped with a Lock mode, which is a safety feature that prevents the unit from operating between cycles. You can use this feature to prevent children from inadvertently turning on the dishwasher when you aren't around. When the unit gets stuck in Lock mode, it's often because one or more of the control buttons is stuck. There's a simple strategy for resolving this problem, but if it doesn't work, you may have to replace the control panel.
Setting and Releasing Lock Mode
Press the "Heated Dry" or "Air Dry" button on the control panel for four seconds until the Lock button lights up with a solid light. The word "Locked" will appear in the display.
Note that any button that you press while the machine is in Lock mode flashes four times. None of the buttons should be operative.
Release the Lock mode by pressing the "Heated Dry" or "Air Dry" button for four seconds. The light should go off.
Even though none of the controls works in Lock mode, you can still open the dishwasher door.
Troubleshooting Lock Mode
When you press one of the control buttons while the dishwasher is in Lock mode, the button should flash only four times. If it continues flashing, the button is likely stuck. You can't release the Lock mode until that button gets unstuck. If you're having trouble releasing the Lock mode, it may be still be because one of the control buttons is stuck, even if the light isn't flashing.
To release a stuck button, try turning off the breaker in the main panel and leaving it off for five minutes. That should allow the control panel to reset, and when you turn the power back on, the unit should be out of Lock mode. If not, press the "Heated Dry" button for four seconds.
If the machine won't reset after several attempts to reset the control panel by turning off the power, the control panel is probably damaged and needs to be replaced. Call an authorized Kenmore service representative.
Chris Deziel is a contractor, builder and general fix-it pro who has been active in the construction trades for 40 years. He has degrees in science and humanities and years of teaching experience. An avid craftsman and musician, Deziel began writing on home improvement topics in 2010. He worked as an expert consultant with eHow Now and Pro Referral -- a Home Depot site. A DIYer by nature, Deziel regularly shares tips and tricks for a better home and garden at Hunker.com.