KitchenAid dishwashers have control panels with indicator lights for various cycle selections and status information. If an indicator light is illuminated, the corresponding cycle has usually been selected or the cycle is currently at the indicated point, such as "Washing" or "Clean."
However, if your KitchenAid dishwasher's "Heavy Duty" and "Normal" lights are flashing alternately, an error has occurred that requires some attention. Sometimes, overloading the dishwasher can activate error codes, so be sure you are maintaining a moderate load.
Reset Your KitchenAid Dishwasher
Sometimes the "Heavy Duty" and "Normal" lights flash when an error has been detected, but a simple reset is all that is needed. Unplug the KitchenAid dishwasher, wait two minutes and then return power to the machine. Open and close the dishwasher door firmly and select a new wash cycle, followed by "Start."
If the dishwasher is hard-wired to a power supply, as is common, you might need to turn off the breaker at your electrical panel.
Diagnose a Control Panel Error
The lights on the dishwasher may blink alternately if there is an error with the control panel. Try wiping the control keypad with a clean, damp cloth to remove residue that might be causing the key pads to stick. Follow by drying the keypad. Sometimes a reset, as described, can also resolve problems with a control panel communication error.
Sometimes, the appliance's control lock is activated, which would disable any operation. Each model has a control lock button. To find it, check the documentation for your model. Press and hold the button for three seconds until the lights turns off. Note that Sleep Mode might be enabled, in which case, press either the Start/Resume or Cancel buttons to re-enable the machine, or close the door. This should allow you to turn off the control lock.
Try Basic Troubleshooting Techniques
Although the reason that the "Heavy Duty" and "Normal" lights are both flashing is likely a control panel issue, there are some basic troubleshooting methods that may resolve the problem without service assistance. Try running hot water at the kitchen sink to warm up the water before it enters the dishwasher and run a "Rinse Only" cycle.
If the error code persists, a water pressure gauge can be attached to the water valve attached to the dishwasher to verify if the water pressure is 120 psi or greater. If the water pressure is less than 120 psi, a plumber can be contacted for assistance. Look inside the bottom of the dishwasher and clean off the overfill protection float, which looks like a small cone, and push on the float to make sure it moves easily. If none of the troubleshooting methods clear the blinking lights, additional service is needed.
Get Professional Help
If performing a reset does not stop the "Heavy Duty" and "Normal" lights from flashing, troubleshooting efforts did not fix the problem and you are not comfortable with testing the water pressure with a gauge, do not attempt to check the water pressure on your own. Contact KitchenAid for assistance and let them know that the control panel is likely in need of replacement.
Meredith Jameson writes early childhood parenting and family health articles for various online publications. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in history from San Francisco State University.