Appliance Repair Blog

Dishwasher Not Filling With Enough Water

Posted on July 12, 2011

Most dishwashers use a water inlet valve with a electronic solenoid to allow the dishwasher to fill up with water.  The dishwasher will use either a Timer or Control board to tell the dishwasher when to fill up with water and for how long to fill up with water.  Most dishwashers do not measure how much water is filling up into the dishwasher, instead they fill up with water for a certain amount of time.  60-120 seconds is a common amount of time for a dishwasher to fill up with water, but it will vary depending on the make and model of the dishwasher.

it might only fill up with 50% or 75% of the water it was supposed to

On the inlet side of the water valve there is a screen.  The purpose of this screen is to keep
sediment out of the insides of the valve.  If any small objects get into the valve it can cause it not to work or to leak and flood your house/floor.  Over time the inlet screen on the valve will get hard water deposits and other debri stuck in the screen which clogs up water valve and causes it not to flow as well.  So now when the dishwasher calls to fill up with water for XX seconds, it might only fill up with 50% or 75% of the water it was supposed to.  Symptoms of a clogged water valve can be poor washing, surging sound from the pump, and soap not washing out of the dispenser.

When this happens I always recommend replacing the water valve.  I have seen many people try to “clean” out the screens, and by doing this the valve developed a leak and cause thousands of dollars in damage to their house.  Most water valves are pretty inexpensive ($15-$75), so I recommend to just replace the valve if you see that the screen is clogged up.

To check to see if your valve has a clogged screen, pull it off the dishwasher and look inside the inlet side of the valve.

Here is an example of a clogged screen on a water valve:

Here is a good clean screen on a water valve:

9 Thoughts on "Dishwasher Not Filling With Enough Water"

  1. Joe Tuttle Posted on July 14, 2012

    I just came across your site while googling for solutions to my dishwasher problem. Very well done. Our Whirlpool dishwasher model number DUL200PKQ1 is not filling up so that the water level reaches the heating element. i’ve already replaced the water inlet valve. I’m assuming that this operates off of a timer. There is a float switch in it and the water never reaches a level high enough to trigger the switch. I’m wondering if this indicates a problem with the main control board.

    • Ryan Posted on July 16, 2012


      The water is not supposed to get high enough to touch the heating element, water is supposed to drip down on the element while it is washing to heat the water. The float switch is a safety to shut off the water if it gets too high… so that is also normal that it doesn’t trigger the float switch.

      I am not sure what kind of problem your dishwasher is having, but you might want to start a new thread on our appliance repair forum to ask your questions there.

      • rich ricci Posted on December 1, 2014

        the problem 90% of the time is that someone runs the hot water in the sink while the dishwasher is trying to fill. the timer shuts off the fill cycle and you dont have a hige enough level in the tub.

  2. Ben Posted on March 4, 2013

    It doesn’t look like there is any filter on the first picture, is that correct?

    • Ryan Posted on March 4, 2013

      Yes, there is a filter in the first picture.

  3. Barbara Posted on October 23, 2014

    Where is the water valve?

    • Ryan Posted on November 2, 2014

      It is usually located on the bottom front area of the dishwasher. There is usually a bottom panel that has to be removed first before you can access the water valve.

  4. Joel Posted on January 11, 2016

    The water coming out of my inlet valve has very low pressure, and only runs for about a min. I noticed on the valve it says “3 mins on 8 mins off”. I’ve replaced the inlet valve as well, and still have the same issue. Any thoughts? Pressure coming from supply line is good.



    • Ryan Posted on February 23, 2016

      It sounds like your water inlet valve is most likely bad. The 3 mins on 8 mins off is the duty cycle rating. This is the maximum amount of time the valve could be powered on, if the valve were powered on for longer than 3 minutes it could damage the valve.

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