A burning smell in a GE dishwasher is not normal and may even be alarming the first time you notice the odor, although there is likely no reason to panic. The first thing to do when you detect a burning smell from any electrical appliance, including a dishwasher, is to shut off the unit. Troubleshooting the smell in a GE dishwasher takes less than an hour using basic tools. You may be able to identify and fix common problems yourself without calling a repair technician and incurring a bill.
Unlatch the GE dishwasher door to stop the appliance.
Lower the door and pull out the racks to empty the appliance of all items.
Inspect the looped heating element inside the bottom of the appliance for any signs of damage. This can include cracks in the element itself or melted plastic from an item that may have fallen out of the dish racks, for example, a spoon, cup or baby bottle. Plastic items melting on the heating element give off an oil-like burning smell.
Remove any damaged items from the interior bottom of the dishwasher. Do not touch the heating element until it cools, then peel off melted plastic. If there are no signs of damage to the element, continue troubleshooting.
Turn off the circuit breaker to the dishwasher.
Remove the screws in the left and right sides of the kickplate at the bottom of the GE and remove the plate.
Pull the clips on the ends of the two wires off the terminals on the heating element where the two terminals extend into the bottom of the appliance.
Touch the two testers on the multimeter to the two terminals on the heating element and set the meter to read ohms. If the multimeter does not display any reading or the numbers roll endlessly on the display, the heating element is going bad or has already malfunctioned and must be replaced.