Dishwasher Flashing Lights

Are the various lights flashing on your dishwasher? It certainly isn’t a haunted dishwasher, at least you hope. No, chances are it could be a part of the dishwasher’s process or an indication that something is wrong.

Knowing the exact issue is complicated. There are dozens of different dishwasher models spanning dozens of manufacturers. With that said, there are a few reasons for the flashing lights that fit the bill no matter the make and model of your dishwasher.

Why Lights are Flashing on your Dishwasher

Understanding why the lights are flashing on your dishwasher is going to be a lot easier if you use a multimeter tool (View on Amazon). It will be able to test the continuity of the various components that have been known to affect the lights.

Important: As a homeowner, realizing that you need to waste another Saturday waiting for the landlord or handyman to come over to fix another damaged appliance is frustrating. It shouldn't feel like the norm to constantly have damaged appliances and systems in your home since it can come to a huge cost at the end of each year.

The Home Improvement Solutions eBook covers everything you need to do in your home when it comes to maintenance and improvement so you can avoid wasting another weekend waiting for someone to come to your rescue.  

Start the wash cycle

Did you forget to close the dishwasher door? If the door was not properly closed, you’ll notice the light for “Start/Resume” flash until the issue is rectified. If the dishwasher door is indeed closed, open the door and close it again just for good measure. It’s not uncommon for some dishwasher models to blink the “Start/Reset” light after a cycle is complete.

Dishwashers from GE Appliances, for example, beep and flash when the door opens in the middle of a cycle. If that happens to you, you may want to look over the door gasket—that’s the rubber-like lining that spans the edge of the dishwasher door. Is it crusty? Damaged? It could very well prevent the dishwasher from sensing a proper seal, in which case it will refuse to start until further notice.

For starters, you could wipe the door gasket down. A damp washcloth with a scrubby side will work wonders to ensure food and residue is scrubbed away. Afterwards, examine the door gasket for any damage. What you’re looking for is any indentations, cracks, breaks, or a completely missing door gasket. If it’s damaged, replace it with a new one.

Dishwasher needs to be reset

After you’ve examined the door gasket and that it was in fact closed, you can move to resetting the dishwasher if there’s flashing lights still. This does not involve a whole lot of brain power. In fact, all that a dishwasher reset requires is flipping the breaker to the dishwasher itself. Or, alternatively, you can unplug the dishwasher from the nearby electrical outlet. Either way, you wait 30 seconds before flipping the breaker back or plugging in the power cable again.

You’ll find that the lights will flash more often after a power outage. In that case, it’s just an indication that power was lost at some point. Dishwashers manufactured by GE Appliances, for example, flash and beep after a power surge. Pressing the “Start/Reset” button should silence the noise and flashing lights. Either way, resetting your dishwasher is a solid way of fixing it.

Consult error codes

Generally speaking, flashing lights on your dishwasher is not that big of a concern. It usually means you set something wrong. If there are any real problems, modern dishwashers these days actually tell you what the problem is with error codes. Very rarely are flashing lights an indication of any faulty parts.

Unfortunately, dishwasher error codes are pretty vague. An error code displays itself as a combination of numbers and letters, sometimes only one or the other. What they mean could be anything if you are not familiar with their presence. And to complicate things further, dishwasher brands have their own set of error codes. For example, Bosch dishwashers error codes do not apply to Frigidaire dishwashers; error codes are not shared.

If the lights on your dishwasher are blinking but there isn’t an error code being displayed, there isn’t much to worry about. It’s probably the door, however, if it does follow an error code, consult your manual for more information.

Flashing “Clean” Light

Most dishwashers come with a “Clean” light of some sorts, or “End”—an indication that the current load of dishes are done. When the cycles are complete, that LED light shines solid. But if it’s blinking, it means there is a water temperature problem.

It’s nothing to panic over, not yet at least. The first thing you can do is turn hot water on at the nearest sink. Use a thermometer to check the temperature. It should be reading 120 degrees fahrenheit or 49 degrees celsius. If it isn’t, and it’s lower, then you can bump up the heat a degree or two at the water heater.

In the event that does not work out for you, then a plumber needs to be contacted. Something could very well be wrong with the water heater—especially if it’s an old water heater. Water heaters pushing 10 years old are due to be replaced.

Low water temperatures

Some Frigidaire dishwashers have two indicators, one light for “Hi Temp Wash” and another light for “Hi Temp Rinse.” That means your dishwasher won’t immediately start any of the dishwashing cycles until after its reservoir of water is heated to adequate temperatures. When it does heat the water, the current cycle stops and the water is heated. When it stops, and the light appears, it simply means the dishwasher is not in operation at the moment and will continue when the water is hot enough.

A faulty heating element or heating element assembly

Both the heating element and the heating element assembly are integral to the heating of water inside the dishwasher before it’s used to clean and sanitize your load of dishes. The two heat the water up to an adequate temperature, then release it. However, the amount of time it takes is relatively sensitive. If the dishwasher senses a problem—perhaps it took too long—then a light on your dishwasher may start flashing, usually followed by an error code.

To determine if they’re working properly, use a multimeter tool (View on Amazon) to test for continuity. If none exists, the part is faulty or damaged, and needs to be replaced. This goes for both the heating element and the heating element assembly.

Drain pump isn’t working

When water exits through the drain hose, it does so with the help of the drain pump, which is equipped with an impeller that does the work. Naturally, mechanical parts can fail or faulty from the start. In that case, checking the drain pump for continuity is your only option. To do that, you’ll need a multimeter tool (link in the previous section). Unfortunately, this is a component that cannot be fixed. It has to be replaced.

The touchpad is faulty

Since the flashing lights on the dishwasher are linked to a touchpad, they are linked to the circuit board hidden behind the control panel. It’s an electrical component that can fail. The only way to know for sure is to do a bit of testing. Press a few of the buttons on the control panel. If some respond and others don’t, you have a faulty touchpad in need of replacing. Depending on your dishwasher model, either the touchpad needs replaced or the entire control panel does. Some manufacturers do not separate the two.

You Need to Know This About Your Dishwasher!

If you’re noticing problems with your dishwasher, you need to know what’s causing the issue and if you’ll need to get the dishwasher repaired or replaced. Having a working dishwasher is crucial for any home, and fixing it is just one form of home improvement, but there are many more.

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Bottom Line

For the most part, flashing lights on your dishwasher aren’t very worrisome. In some cases, it’s a part of the process, like in the case of GE dishwashers where the light flashes when the door is opened. It isn’t until an error code rears its ugly head that a problem is imminent. That’s when you should worry.