When your dishwasher won’t start, it’s a serious inconvenience.
Here’s how to get it fixed as quickly as possible.
There are several reasons your GE dishwasher may not be starting. The power may be disconnected, or the door may not close properly. You may have accidentally locked the controls, or there could be a hardware failure. The only way to find out is to diagnose the problem methodically.
Table of Contents
1. Your Power is Disconnected
Let’s start with the basics.
Your dishwasher won’t run if it doesn’t have power.
So check behind the machine to make sure it’s plugged in.
You can skip this step if the dishwasher is hardwired.
The next step is to make sure you didn’t trip your breaker.
Check your breaker box and see if anything has tripped; if it has, reset it.
You should also test the power outlet itself.
Unplug your dishwasher and plug something else into it, such as a lamp.
If the lamp lights up, you know the outlet is working.
2. The Door Isn’t Latched
GE dishwashers have a sensor that keeps them from running if the door isn’t all the way closed.
Inspect your dishwasher door and make sure nothing is obstructing it.
For example, a butter knife may have dropped into the door hinge and kept it from closing.
3. Your Dishwasher is Leaking
Some GE dishwashers come with a leak-protection system, which consists of a small pan underneath the appliance.
The pan holds up to 19 ounces, which will evaporate over time.
A large leak will cause the pan to tilt forward and drain onto the kitchen floor.
That way, it doesn’t leak behind the machine and cause hidden damage to your house.
Some more advanced models come with a moisture sensor and alert function.
When the system detects a leak, it automatically stops the washing cycle and drains any remaining water.
In this case, you need to have the dishwasher serviced.
4. Your Dishwasher is in Sleep Mode
Depending on the model, your dishwasher may have a sleep mode.
After a period of inactivity, all the lights will turn off, but you can wake the machine up by pressing one of the buttons.
Consult your owner’s manual if you want to turn this function off.
5. Delay Start Mode is Activated
Delay Start is a special operating mode that allows you to run the dishwasher on a timer.
For example, you can load the dishwasher in the morning, but set it to run in the afternoon.
On newer GE models, the system is called Delay Hours.
When Delay Start is active, the display will show how many hours remain on the timer.
Depending on the model, the maximum timer duration will be either 8 or 12 hours.
There is no “Off” button for the Delay Start function.
On most models, you can press and hold the Start/Reset or Start button for 3 seconds to cancel the cycle. You can then change the Delay Start time by repeatedly pressing the button until the light turns off.
6. The Control Lock is Activated
Many GE dishwashers have a child lock function to prevent accidental operation.
The child lock works differently from model to model, so you should consult your owner’s manual for specific instructions.
Some systems have a dedicated lock button, which usually has an indicator light.
On other systems, the Heated Dry button doubles as a lock button, normally with a small icon and an indicator.
In either case, press and hold the button for 3 seconds and the controls will unlock.
7. Demo Mode is Activated
Dishwasher models starting in ADT, CDT, DDT, GDF, GDT, or PDT have a special Demo Mode.
In Demo Mode, you can press any of the buttons without activating the pump, heater, or other parts.
This is a good thing in an appliance showroom, but not in your kitchen.
To get out of Demo Mode, press and hold the Start and Heated Dry/Power Dry buttons for 5 seconds.
Your controls will unlock and you’ll be able to wash your dishes.
8. Your Flood Float is Stuck
GE models starting with ADT, CDT, DDT, GDF, GDT, PDT, and ZDT have a float in the bottom sump area.
The float will rise with the water level, and shut off the incoming water to prevent flooding.
Unfortunately, the float can sometimes get stuck in the “up” position and prevent your dishwasher from filling.
To access the flood float, you must remove the Ultra Fine and Fine filters.
Turn the Ultra Fine filter counterclockwise, and you can easily lift it out.
There will be two retaining posts underneath, which you need to twist to unlock and remove the Fine filter.
At this point, you can lift the flood float directly upwards.
Inspect the float to make sure it’s straight and undamaged, and inspect the sump area for debris.
Now replace the float and filters, or order a new float if it was damaged.
9. You Haven’t Used Your Dishwasher in a While
Dishwasher pumps contain rubber seals that can dry out or stick after a period of inactivity.
This most often happens if you leave your dishwasher idle for a week or more.
You’ll know there’s a pump issue because the dishwasher will hum but not fill with water.
The solution for GE models starting in ADT, CDT, DDT, GDF, GDT, PDT, or ZDT is simple.
Pour 16 ounces of hot water into the bottom of the dishwasher.
Start a normal wash cycle, and let it run for five minutes.
With other models, the solution is more complicated.
Remove any dishes from the machine and soak up any water in the bottom.
Then dissolve 3-4 ounces of citric acid in 32 ounces of hot water.
You can find citric acid in most grocery stores, or substitute 8 ounces of white vinegar.
Pour the mixture into your dishwasher, and let it sit for 15 to 30 minutes.
Start a normal wash cycle, and it should operate.
Keep in mind that dishwashers make noise during normal operation.
Just because your pump is humming doesn’t mean that it’s not working.
10. Your Thermal Fuse Has Burnt Out
The last step is to examine your dishwasher’s thermal fuse.
This fuse will burn out if it gets too hot, and keeps your machine from overheating.
It sometimes blows for no reason, preventing you from using your dishwasher.
Unplug your machine or shut off the circuit breaker, then find the thermal fuse.
Your owner’s manual will tell you where it’s located.
Use a multimeter to test the fuse for continuity, and replace it if necessary.
At this point, you’re dealing with a more complicated mechanical or electrical issue.
Your best bet is to call a technician or GE customer support.
In Summary – Fixing Your GE Dishwasher
There are many reasons your GE dishwasher could fail to start.
It could be as simple as a tripped circuit breaker or an obstructed door hinge.
It can also involve changing your flood float or thermal fuse.
Start with the easiest fixes first, and work your way up to the most complicated.
Nine times out of ten, the best solution is one of the simplest.
My dishwasher door won’t close. Why?
If your dishwasher door won’t close, check your racks and dishes first.
See if anything is protruding and blocking the door.
Along the same lines, check the back of the lower rack.
Anything sticking out on that side will keep the rack from closing all the way.
Models starting with CDT, DDT, GDF, GDT, PDT, and ZDT come with an adjustable upper rack.
On these models, it’s imperative to adjust both sides to the same height.
If the rack is uneven, the door won’t be able to close.
How do I cancel Delay Start mode?
To cancel Delay Start mode, press and hold the Start or Start/Reset button for three seconds.
This method will cancel any wash cycle on most GE models.
If it doesn’t, you’ll have to consult your owner’s manual for the proper method.