When dishwashers turn on their incoming water supply, is the length of time
usually determined by a timer, or do some or all machines actually measure
how much water has entered? I'm asking because a friend's house is on well
water. Based on my observations, the variation in pressure points to
something wrong with her pump or pressure tank (not sure - I'm no authority
on this). She thinks dishwashers should be able to compensate, and I think
she should address the pressure question first, or concurrently with the
There's no money riding (yet) on who's right. Just curiosity so far.
That;s what I would think too. However, few days ago that question
came up and a poster from an appliance repair website responded that in
fact time is used to measure the water flow. He said the float was
there just as a safeguard in case of overflowing.
Seems very strange to me, as since the float is already there and can
directly measure what it is you are trying to do, if any reasonable
person was designing these things, you would think the level would be
the primary cut off, with time as the backup.
If there are washers that work that way then they are poorly designed. With
that design the wash cycle would still come on if the water source were turned
off completely. I would guess that running the pump and heater with zero water
in the unit would quickly cause damage (to something).
My experience is limited to KitchenAid and they had the timer give the
water solenoid so many seconds of power. There is a float switch which
will interrupt power to the water solenoid if a certain level is reached
but I never bothered to investigate whether this is normally attained or
just a safety stop.
This differs from, say, a washing machine where the timer actually comes to
a stop when the fill happens and does not resume until the selected level
is reached. So on a dishwasher if water pressure is low or zero or you
have some obstruction things will proceed with inadequate water in the tub.
I'm speaking partly in past tense because ours is 12 years old and has a
electro-mechanical timer so things may have changed. Some years back we
had a situation where it was intermittently filling incompletely. Tech
came out and replaced the timer. It didn't cure it. (I don't fault him--
we may have given him some misleading symptomology based on what we thought
at the time.) I finally was able to catch it in the act--timer sending
power to the solenoid but no water flow) and found that the solenoid was
electrically open (dead) sometimes when it got hot. Fortunately I'd saved
the solenoid off the previous KitchenAid and with slight alterations in the
way the tubing and hose hooked up was able to fix it at minimal further
It depends. Usually the minimum flow rate or pressure is given
in the manuals. IIRC at below about 30 ppsi there may not be
enough water brought into the machine for the washing cycle. As
long as there is -some- water, it isn't likely to result in much
more than improperly cleaned dishes and some noisy cycles if it
draws air into the washing pump. Anything in excess of 40 pounds
should be plenty if the flow is unrestricted by pipe corrosion,
A good way to check, AFTER it's installed is the float. Usually
there is an overflow float near the front, close to the door on
one side or the other, which is supposed to turn off the water if
it gets too full, before it overflows. Open the door during the
wash cycle and see if the level's near the float limit. If not,
it's probbly not washing at top efficiency. Ours lifts about an
extra 1/8" before you feel it trigger the shutoff so ours is
pretty close. More t han a quarter inch or so and the water
pressure's lower than it shoujld be to work well according to
some things I've seen on appliance repair sites.
Also, if you're not getting enough water and the machine
doesn't also heat the water (only some models do that), the wash
water may not get hot enough to work well. It's supposed to get
to 120 degrees with 140 being the "normal" wash temp settings.
All that said, it's really more important to go after the water
pressure if there's a problem with flow rate or pressure, either
one. They might need the money for the dishwasher in order to
get a good shower soon enough.
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