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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:

36 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

      Joe,

      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. http://forum.partsdr.com/

      • 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.

    Thanks,

    Joel

    • 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.

  5. Chris Posted on April 7, 2018

    I’m not getting enough water in my whirlpool dishwasher. I put a new inlet valve in and I’m getting plenty of pressure coming out of the supply line and still not getting enough water to dissolve the detergent. Any thoughts what could be wrong?

    • Ryan Posted on May 30, 2018

      It could be the circulation pump is clogged or the pump could be bad and it is not spray the water enough to wash the detergent out.

  6. barclay berberian Posted on March 5, 2019

    Hi. My top wash arm is not working. I noticed the water level seems to be a little low. I dumped a quart of water in after filling and it is working properly. I am wondering if the water maybe leaking out after it fills or if it never filled properly to begin with. Any trouble shooting is appreciated. Thanks!

    • Ryan Posted on March 5, 2019

      It isn’t very likely for it to drain out because the drain hose of the dishwasher loops up high to prevent that from happening. It is usually from not filling enough to begin with.

  7. John Posted on March 11, 2019

    I have a kitchenaid dishwasher. For the past month, tabs are only partially dissolving. I’ve even tried powder and even that fails to dissolve completely. I have to run multiple cycles (2-3) to make sure the tabs dissolve and the dishes are clean. Dispenser tray is not the problem. I’ve tried putting tabs at the bottom of the dishwasher and they still fail to dissolve. Where can the issue be?

    • Ryan Posted on March 11, 2019

      I would guess either low water fill or a problem with the circulation pump motor not properly circulating the water.

      • John Posted on March 12, 2019

        Thanks a lot Ryan! Looks like it might be low water fill like you said. Last night I started a cycle and after dishwasher filled water, I opened the dishwasher (water was up to the heating element, which I think should be enough?), I added a pan of water and resumed the cycle. Tab was dissolved completely and dishes were clean. I will try it for a couple more days to be completely sure this is the problem. But how do I narrow down which part has the issue and go about fixing it?

        • Ryan Posted on March 12, 2019

          It depends on the make and model of the dishwasher. Most dishwasher use a timed fill where they fill up for a pre-set amount of time (ie, 30 sec, 60 sec, ect). Some dishwashers have a metered fill that is measured by the dishwasher (most commonly Samsung and Bosch).

  8. John Posted on March 12, 2019

    KitchenAid KDFE104DSS2.

    • John Posted on March 12, 2019

      Sorry, I meant that comment as a reply.

      • Ryan Posted on March 13, 2019

        This looks like a timed fill model dishwasher, so it is most likely a bad water inlet valve or the water supply to the dishwasher is not adequate.

  9. peggy Posted on June 11, 2019

    I have a new Whirlpool dishwasher that was just installed that doesn’t seem to fill with water, any idea what the problem/solution may be? thanks.

    • Ryan Posted on June 11, 2019

      I would check the water supply to the dishwasher and if that is good call the place you purchased the dishwasher from to see if they will exchange it or cover it under warranty.

  10. Rit Posted on November 14, 2019

    I have a Kitchenaid dishwasher model KUDM01TJBT1 . It hasn’t been cleaning the dishes very well. I replaced the water inlet valve. When I looked at the old one there was a lot of sediment in the screen. I have well water which is hard. I ran the dishwasher again and it looks like the upper rack isn’t getting clean. I pulled everything apart. Made sure that the holes were clear in all the circulating fins. When I reassembled everything I put 2 small containers in the upper rack facing up to catch the water. I ran it thru a complete cycle and there is minimal water in the containers.
    What now? A circulating pump? Any suggestions?
    Thanks Rit

    • Ryan Posted on November 14, 2019

      Check first to make sure the food chopper is good. If the food chopper is good then most likely the circulation pump is bad.

  11. Jason Posted on January 12, 2020

    GE dishwasher model GLD4406R00WW
    Doesn’t run long enough till fill with the right amount of water, so my washer doesn’t get enough water. Manual says it should fill for about 60 seconds, but stops at 39 seconds and starts to wash. I’ve checked the water valve switch, water pressure, and door switch. Water doesn’t even reach the float valve, but checked that too and it all works. What am I lookinh at, a bad control board?

    • Ryan Posted on January 12, 2020

      The main control board is what would control the water valve fill time.

      • Jason Posted on January 22, 2020

        Replaced control boards. Still only fills for 39 seconds. Dishwasher doesn’t wash as well as it use too and gets mildew and mold build up. The inside turns orange. I’ve cleaned it with vinegar a couple times. Not sure what else to check or replace.

  12. Meri Posted on March 18, 2020

    I have a dishwasher that the arms don’t seem to be turning, and it’s just over a year old. I attempted to check the intake phone, and that does not seem to be the problem. It’s a 60 second timer to fill up, and the water seems to be an OK level. Do you have any idea why the arms wouldn’t be turning and water not swishing around?

  13. Ryan b Posted on April 10, 2020

    Anyone ever find a solution for their dishwasher not filling up enough? Mine was working fine but the fill valve was leaking on the floor. I replaced the water inlet valve and now I don’t get enough water in the tub so top rack doesn’t clean. I put a second water inlet valve in even thinking the first one was faulty. Getting super frustrated. It’s a Frigidaire gallery.

  14. Rudy Yarbrough Posted on May 1, 2020

    I have a Frigidaire dishwasher and have replaced the fill valve and now am replacing the circulation pump because the upper arm does not turn. The lower one will turn but not very fast. I do not believe I am getting enough water in the bottom before the cycle begins. Is there a potentiometer on the control board that can be increased? It seems ridiculous to have to replace the entire board just to increase the water flow time.

  15. RW Posted on May 17, 2020

    I have a Whirlpool DW. The dishes remained soiled at the end of the cycle, regardless of which cycle and extras were selected. I‘ve started to prefill the DW with 3-4 large bottles of hot water before the cycle begins. Now the dishes are clean and sparkling at the end of the cycle. Water is the best solvent. Without adequate water, nothing becomes clean. I guess I could pay $200 or more for a plumber to fix it, but this solution is not a big deal and the dishes are clean.

  16. Ruth Posted on July 15, 2020

    By adding 4, 50oz. empty Poland Spring water bottles of hot water to the Whirlpool DW at the start of the cycle, after almost 5 years of very poor results, I finally have sparkling clean dishes. There must be some sort of design issue with this particular model. My previous residence had an old GE DW that worked like a charm. Water is the best solvent. Without adequate water, dishes will remain dirty. Before I purchase a new DW, the volume of water used, will be a critical factor. The more, the better.

  17. Steve Posted on January 10, 2021

    My daughter has a Fisher & Paykel DW that is not filling with water. It starts out by pumping out the cup of remaining water then the water vale will only energize for 1-2 seconds. It realizes it is low on water because the cycle will not progress but the pump is running trying to wash. I can put the machine in diagnostic mode and energize the water valve just fine. Any ideas? it has already messed up the impeller by trying to run while dry.

  18. Nicholas Posted on March 21, 2021

    So I have a brand new fridgidaire dishwasher. It’s a cheap 24 inch model electric. Pretty basic. But it’s brand new. The water fills in and I can hear the water pouring out of the sprayer arm but it doesn’t spin, neither does the bottom sprayer? I thought it was the circ pump but the circ pump is working fine. Opening up the bottom tray to look at the impeller from the inside I noticed there was two check balls? Idk if that’s normal. When I checked the parts manual it only shows one? Is it possible that’s creating the issue. And as it’s filling every 30 seconds or so it’ll click I’ll hear a hum and then it’ll fill again and then click and it’ll keep repeating that process for several minutes and then eventually it goes into drain cycle? Why is it not spraying though? It’s brand new but it was open box so I got a discount on the dishwasher cause I’m poor lol. And it voided the warranty. So that’s why I can’t take it back and get a new one. Any help would be great. Thanks in advance

    • Ryan Posted on March 22, 2021

      Normally they only have one check ball from the ones we have seen. Maybe try running it with 1 check ball?

  19. Paul Thompson Posted on October 6, 2021

    I have a whirlpool with several cycle choices. Lately the normal cycle stopped the water fill. Other cycles work fine. What could the problem be? Thank you in advance for your guidance.

    Signed,
    High & dry when NORMAL

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