Dishwasher Not Dispensing Soap? The Problem May Be Your Wax Motor

The purpose of a dishwasher is to save you time by cleaning the dishes for you. However, that can be tough to do if the appliance is not dispensing soap. If your machine is doing everything else but producing the necessary suds to get your dishes clean, then your wax motor may need to be replaced. Here's how to diagnose and repair this issue.

Start with the Simple Fix

The first thing you should do before performing any tests or making repairs is to check the way the dishwasher is being loaded. Improper loading may be causing dishes, pots, or pans to press against the dispenser door and prevent it from opening. This is typically the case if the dishwasher only fails to dispense soap intermittently, when it's full, or after certain people in the home do the dishes. It costs an average of $170 to fix dishwasher-related problems, so checking this simple thing can prevent you from spending money on a non-issue.

Check the Control Panel

The wax motor is what controls the little door to the soap dispenser. If this motor malfunctions or stops working altogether, then the door won't open when prompted by the wash cycle and you basically have a dish rinsing machine, not a dishwashing appliance.

One thing that can go wrong is the control panel may not be prompting it to open. On modern dishwashers, you can test this out by placing the machine into service mode and trying to manually activate it. Each dishwasher is different, so you'll need to consult your owner's manual or call the manufacturer for instructions on how to do this.

If the door opens in service mode but doesn't during a wash cycle, then there is something wrong with the control panel. You'll need to have a professional repair person take a look at the panel to determine if it can be repaired or if the appliance needs to be replaced.

Ensure the Motor's Getting Power

Lack of electrical power is another issue that can affect the operation of the wax motor. You'll need a multimeter to test the motor to determine if this is the case. To avoid being electrocuted, be sure to unplug your dishwasher or turn off the circuit breaker before starting this diagnostic test.

The wax motor is situated near the soap dispenser cup, which means you'll need to remove the door panel to access it. Again, each dishwasher is different, so it's best to consult your owner's manual for information on how to do this for your machine. In general, though, door panels are held in place with screws. So unscrewing the ones connecting the door panel to the door assembly should provide you with access to the wax motor. Be careful not to remove the screws on the hinges, though. These connect the entire door to the machine and you don't need to remove it to perform this test.

Using your owner's manual as a guide, locate the wax motor. There should be two wires connecting the motor to the electrical system. Use string or tiny sticky labels to mark where each wire was connected so you can reattach them correctly. Take your multimeter, set it to 1 ohms, and connect to each terminal. If the reading comes back with an infinity symbol, then the wax motor has died and needs to be replaced.

If the wax motor is getting electricity, then that may mean something else is wrong with the soap dispenser door. The hinges may not be working properly or the rinse aid cap near the dispenser may be malfunctioning. It's a good idea to contact an appliance repair person from a company like ASAP Appliance Repair, Inc. for assistance with diagnosing and repairing the problem.