Dishwashers are the kind of appliance that you can ‘set and forget’. Just load them up with dishes, turn them on, and let them work.
Still, it can be very confusing and frustrating when a dishwasher keeps tripping your home’s circuit breaker.
A dishwasher may be tripping your breaker because of a problem with the heating element, loose or short-circuiting electrical connectors, a shorted transorb, a problematic control circuit board, or even a faulty wash motor. These issues could lead to the dishwasher drawing too much current/power, causing the breaker to trip as a way of avoiding anything bad from happening.
In this article, we’re going to explore the possible reasons this problem keeps happening. By narrowing down the cause, you’ll be able to find a solution and resolve the issue much quicker.
Let’s get started.
Useful Ways To Narrow Down The Cause
When troubleshooting your dishwasher to figure out why it keeps tripping the breaker, it’s essential to ask the right troubleshooting questions. Here are a few to get you started.
Is The Dishwasher Plugged Into A GFCI?
Before anything else, check to see if your dishwasher is plugged into a ground-fault circuit interrupter or GFCI.
The GFCI is also a type of circuit breaker that protects you by tripping whenever it detects an electrical current imbalance.
The difference here is that a GFCI doesn’t serve the whole house. Instead, it’s a wall socket into which you plug an appliance, such as your dishwasher.
Why This Matters
Well, suppose your dishwasher is plugged into a GFCI.
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If the problem lies with the dishwasher, then the GFCI will be the one tripping, not the house’s circuit breaker.
That will help you confirm that the problem is localized to the dishwasher.
However, suppose the house’s circuit breaker trips even though your dishwasher is plugged into a GFCI.
In that case, the problem may be elsewhere, and not with the dishwasher.
Does It Trip The Breaker Mid-Cycle?
To narrow down the problem to its source, it’s also crucial to figure out when the tripping actually happens.
Does it happen before, during, or after a dishwashing cycle? Or perhaps, does it happen randomly each time, with no clear pattern?
Why This Matters
You see, each stage of the dishwashing cycle will activate different components within the machine.
So, if the breaker trips during the same stage each time, then it’ll be much easier to know which part is causing the problem.
Why Does My Dishwasher Keep Tripping The Circuit Breaker?
Now, we’re going to look at the dishwasher components that may be causing the circuit breaker to trip.
We’ll explore the heating element, electrical connectors, the transorb, the control board, and lastly, the motor.
What it is: At the bottom of a dishwasher, you’ll find a heating element.
It’s typically in the shape of a horseshoe, with one electrical connector on both ends.
As the name suggests, the only thing this component does is heat up when the time is right.
In the dishwasher, that means the heating element activates to heat up the water during the wash and rinse cycles.
Towards the end of the dishwashing process, it’ll also heat up the air as part of the drying cycle.
Why it fails: A heating element can suffer damage in many different ways. It could’ve been hit by a plate or something else inside the dishwasher.
It could also have suffered a fault causing it to develop bumps or pits somewhere along the surface of the heating element.
Whatever the case may be, a damaged heating element could end up drawing far too much power or even cause a short circuit, causing the breaker to trip.
How to fix: Heating elements aren’t really meant to be fixed. Instead, it’s much easier to replace the damaged heating element entirely.
Start by referring to your user manual or checking online to find the exact heating element compatible with your dishwasher model.
If you decide to replace it yourself, be sure to disconnect all electrical and water supplies to the unit first.
Then, refer to the user manual to locate and access the existing heating element. The tools you’ll need are minimal, such as a small wrench or screwdriver.
What it is: Every component inside your dishwasher has electrical connectors that allow them to form a circuit together.
These connectors help the part receive power so that they can function.
However, they also connect each component to the control board, coordinating and automating their activities throughout the dishwashing cycle.
Why it fails: Electrical connectors can cause problems in a few different ways.
For example, if they weren’t properly attached in the first place, they could simply come loose after many years.
That’s especially true when the connectors are exposed to the vibrations that the dishwasher generates.
Besides that, some of the wires to those connectors could also end up exposed.
When any of these things happen, it could create a short circuit within the dishwasher.
That’ll cause the breaker to trip as a way of preventing anything terrible from happening as a result.
How to fix: The solution to this problem is to inspect all electrical connectors for issues.
Loose connections must be reapplied and tightened, while exposed wires will need to be replaced.
Typically, this job is best left to qualified professionals who have the right skills, knowledge, and experience.
However, if you decide to do it yourself, always remember to disconnect the power and water supplies to the unit before accessing the dishwasher’s insides.
Transient Voltage Suppression Diode (or ‘Transorb’)
What it is: A critical electrical component inside a dishwasher is the transient voltage suppression diode, commonly known as the ‘transorb’ or ‘TVS diode’.
This component has a straightforward function: to protect the appliance from voltage spikes that might cause damage.
Such spikes usually happen in situations like lightning strikes and more.
Why it fails: The problem here happens when the transorb gets shorted for whatever reason. A shorted transorb can cause damage to the control board while simultaneously tripping your home’s circuit breaker.
How to fix: Thankfully, the transorb is a replaceable part.
First, refer to the user manual for any information on finding a compatible transorb for your particular dishwasher model.
Remember: it’s commonly referred to by other names like ‘TVS diode’ or ‘transient voltage suppression diode’.
Once you have your transorb kit, replacing the damaged one will require access to the electrical components inside the dishwasher itself.
That’s something that’s always best left to professionals. But of course, if you decide to replace it yourself, be sure to disconnect the water and power connectors first.
Control Circuit Board
What it is: Most appliances, especially dishwashers, have a component called the control circuit board.
The simplest way to think of it is as the ‘brain’ of the entire machine.
Once you’ve told it to start the dishwashing process through the control panel, the circuit board will then power and coordinate the whole process.
The right components will activate at the correct times to ensure that your dishes are washed and dried, all under the control board’s guidance.
Why it fails: Over time, control boards can experience damage.
Parts of it could’ve burned, or perhaps it may have inadvertently been exposed to too much moisture and heat from within the machine.
A damaged control board could lead to all sorts of unusual things happening, including the tripping of your circuit breaker.
How to fix: Control boards are a very common part to replace. The key is to find the correct one for your dishwasher model in particular.
So, be sure to refer to your user manual or call the manufacturer to identify the correct model.
A skilled technician could replace it for you, but if you’re feeling adventurous, be sure to disconnect the power and water supplies before you go tinkering inside the machine.
The control board is typically located within the dishwasher door but refer to your user manual to be sure.
What it is: Dishwashers will have a motor inside which powers the pump.
Doing so will help ensure that the pump has enough power to move water to wherever it needs to be.
Clean water will spray all over the dishwasher’s insides, while dirty water is then pumped out of the dishwasher.
Why it fails: Motors are mechanical in nature, and such parts tend to fail after experiencing plenty of wear and tear.
When that happens, the dishwasher motor could be pulling far more amps than usual.
That can cause problems, especially when other components in the machine, like the heating element, for instance, also start to power on at the same time.
All of that can result in a circuit breaker tripping due to the excessive amount of power that the dishwasher is drawing as a whole.
The breaker trips as a way of preventing anything terrible from happening due to what’s going on inside the dishwasher.
How to fix: Faulty motors need to be replaced. While it’s always best to refer to a professional, you could also replace it as a DIY job.
Just be warned; replacing a dishwasher’s motor is probably one of the most challenging parts to work on.
That’s because you will probably access the motor through the bottom of the dishwasher, requiring more time and effort than replacing most other parts.
As usual, disconnect the power and water supplies before starting. Since you’re accessing the bottom of the machine, you’ll also need to drain out all of the water beforehand.