Burnt Smell in a Whirlpool Dishwasher

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If there is a burning smell in the Whirlpool dishwasher, then you may have to do some investigating to get to the bottom of the foul odor emitting from the appliance. From an issue with the heating element to the electrical system, there could be a few reasons that there is a whiff of acrid burning smell coming from the appliance. The dishwasher may seem like a complicated appliance with many moving parts to consider. However, it is a fairly simple operating machine when broken down into manageable components.

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Unless the appliance is new, a burnt smell coming from the dishwasher is more than likely coming from an electrical part that isn't performing at its best. New dishwashers and parts can emit a whiff of burning smell, but that should go away after the first or second cycle is complete.

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When working on any electrical issue with a dishwasher, always unplug the appliance or turn off the power at the breaker for safety.

Staying Safe While Fixing a Dishwasher

No matter what the issue is with a dishwasher that emits a burning smell when in the process of its cleaning cycles, there are a few things to take into consideration before you begin to fix whatever the problem may be. Fixing stuck water jets, arms or other moving parts of the dishwasher may not require the appliance to be unplugged, but there can be a risk of shock if the appliance is left plugged into the electrical source while you are bent over the interior.

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To be safe, make sure that the power is turned off to the appliance when removing large parts or whole fixtures from the interior. Either shut off the breaker to cut power from the source or unplug the appliance. If the burning smell is coming from a problem with the electrical system, then the power needs to be off so that it is safe to work around the wet environment of a dishwasher.

The water supply should also be disconnected. This is typically located underneath the sink next to the outlet where the appliance is plugged into. If the plug is behind the appliance and hard to reach, the dishwasher can be safely unplugged by shimmying it out of its cavity.

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Burnt Smell From a New Appliance

A new appliance may leave a chemical smell in the nose when first turned on. This is typical and should not cause any alarm.

The manufacturing processes can leave a distinct chemical or burning smell when the machine is first turned on. Run the appliance a few times with a dose of detergent in the dispenser. It's safe to run the dishwasher empty for these first few cycles to remove any unwanted odors left over from the factory.

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In general, a dishwasher should be a fairly odor-free area. Any odors that linger for more than a cycle or two should be investigated, from sour food scents to a persistent burning smell. These could mean that there is a bigger problem that should be addressed sooner than later to ensure the good working order of the machine.

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Heating Element Troubleshooting

One of the first places to look for the origin of a burnt smell coming from the dishwasher is the heating element. The narrow round metal component at the bottom of the dishwasher is often the source, although not the culprit. More than likely it's a foreign object that has made its way from its original source and onto the heating element.

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Small items often get overlooked and can create a burning smell in the appliance. Used food jars with unnoticed paper label stowaways clinging to the rims, small bits of plastic from coated utensils or old plastic storage containers and other detritus can fall onto the hot curved rod below.

If you can't locate anything on the heating element at first glance, you may need to do a more thorough inspection. Remove the lower dishwasher basket that hovers over the heating element and fish around under the raised rod for bits of paper or plastic that have stuck to the machine's part. Use a toothbrush or other narrow scrub brush to give the underside of the heating element a good scrubbing and remove any built-up soap scum or other unseen product that may be contributing to the burning smell.

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Dishwasher Motor Burned Out

Motors burn out. It happens, particularly for a dishwasher in a busy kitchen or household. If the motor begins to hum and that sound is paired with a burning smell, and you've done the troubleshooting to no avail, then you may need to replace the noisy part.

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GE Appliances notes that a low hum in a dishwasher that lasts 60 to 90 seconds a few times during a washing cycle is a normal sound. This can be confused with the hum of a primary motor but isn't a sign of a failing appliance. A burnt-out motor can contribute to a burnt smell coming from the dishwasher. A dishwasher that isn't draining or leaks can also mean that the motor needs replacing.

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Replacing the Dishwasher Motor

If the burnt smell in the dishwasher is coming from an old motor running down, then it is best to replace the entire part. Most dishwasher motors can be replaced with the proper tools and methods in place, according to Repair Clinic. Always turn off all power and wear gloves to protect hands from the sharp angles of the motor.

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Remove all of the baskets from the interior to easily access the motor that is under the heating element and bottom water arm. Remove all of the screws and seals from the motor located in the bottom of the dishwasher tub. Lift the old motor out and clean the housing before settling the new motor into the space. Tighten all of the screws and make sure that any seals are flush with the housing before plugging the dishwasher in and testing the new motor.

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Wipe down all of the baskets and water arms before returning them to the interior of the dishwasher and starting the machine up to run a cycle.

Maintaining a Clean Dishwasher

After all that work to repair the appliance, you can avoid repeating the troubleshooting process by keeping the interior as clean as possible. A monthly schedule of cleaning out the spinning arms, filters and tub with inexpensive commercial or homemade dishwasher detergents can keep food and other detritus from collecting on the inside of the hardworking machine.

An empty dishwasher offers the most effective cleaning environment. Dishes can have bits of food and grease clinging to the surface and affect the success of your efforts.

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