Whirlpool Dishwasher Lights On But Won't Start? (We Have The Answer)

Ryan Womeldorf
by Ryan Womeldorf
Whirlpool dishwashers are extremely reliable and easy to use, but errors can still occur for any homeowner. It is common for the lights to turn on without the dishwasher working, and that’s usually caused by the control lock being on. Whether it be an ajar dishwasher door or control locks, let’s take a look at the causes and solutions to a Whirlpool dishwasher with lights on that won’t run.

Whirlpool is known the world over for its line of kitchen appliances. The dishwasher in particular is one of the favored products in the Whirlpool line, with millions sold throughout North America.

Unfortunately, like any other appliance or piece of equipment, the dishwasher can break down. You may notice that the light remains on, but it still won’t start.

If your Whirlpool dishwasher lights on but won’t start, it could be as simple as the control lock being on, the dishwasher being in sleep mode, the door not being completely closed, and a series of other issues. The only way to find the issue for sure is to troubleshoot the problem.

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The Control Lock

The purpose of the control lock on a Whirlpool dishwasher is to avoid potential unintended use of the dishwasher. It is also to avoid option or cycle changes as well. Some models may even come with a sleep mode that will turn the dishwasher off when it is not in use.

The control lock light can and will stay on for a short time. This is to indicate that it is active and that all of the other buttons have since been disabled. Should any of the buttons be pressed while the control lock is on and locked, the light will then flash three times. The doors, meanwhile, can still be opened and closed while the control lock function is enabled.

Disabling the Control Lock

You might have to disable the sleep mode by pressing either the start or resume button or the cancel button separately. You can also disable sleep mode by opening and then closing the door prior to hitting the cancel button.

When you press and hold the lock button for four seconds, it should turn the control lock feature off. You should notice that the light indicating the lock light will turn off. For more information about this feature, consult the user manual.

Door Latching and Delay Wash

Another reason that your Whirlpool dishwasher has the light on but is not working could be due to the door not being completely closed. When the dishwasher door is even slightly ajar or not properly latched, the dishwasher is unable to start.

Fixing the Door Latch Issue

1. Open and close. The quickest remedy for this issue is to simply open the dishwasher and then securely closes it. This should solve the issue more often than not and will at least give you a better idea of where the problem isn’t.

2. Delay wash. It could also come down to the delay wash option being selected. The delay wash option tells the dishwasher to run, but not for some time. Generally speaking, it will run during off-peak hours for your electricity.

3. Press cancel or drain. When the delay wash option has been selected, the dishwasher won’t run until that delay time is reached. You can press either cancel or drain to turn the delay off or start/resume to just start that cycle.

Water Supply Issue

If, after checking all of the aforementioned issues, your dishwasher still isn’t working properly, you may want to check the water supply. The water supply could have been turned off; check the installation instructions for your specific model to see how to check this issue.

Most of the time, it is as simple as flipping a valve. It could also be that a connection or hose has become compromised and needs to be replaced. When the water supply has been compromised, the dishwasher won’t work at all.

The Main Control Board

The purpose of the main control board on your dishwasher is to provide power to just about all of the components within the entire dishwasher. When the control board goes bad or stops functioning properly, those components can’t get the power that they need, and they stop working properly.

One of the major issues when the control board goes bad is that it might not be able to send the proper voltage to the components that will start the dishwasher. More often than not, the main control board tends to get misdiagnosed. If you think that there may be issues with your dishwasher, check with one of the more commonly defective parts before moving to replace the control board.

A Faulty Touchpad

On most modern Whirlpool models, there are touchpads that the user can push to dictate the specific operations. If you are trying to check to see whether or not the touchpad is faulty, try pressing a wide variety of buttons.

If some or all of the buttons are not responding, it could be an indication that the touchpad is bad. When the touchpad is faulty, you should replace it and proceed as normal. Check with your user guide before replacing it; your model may require the purchase of a touchpad that is separate from the control pad.

It is probably a good idea to replace the control panel as a whole if you can’t simply replace the touchpad.

The Timer

The purpose of the timer is to allow for the proper flow of power to each of the dishwasher components at the right times. Much like the main control board, the timer is essential in delivering power to the components within the dishwasher so that they can do their jobs.

When the timer isn’t working right, it may not be able to deliver the necessary voltage to each of the components. And much like the main control board, the timer can be misdiagnosed quite a bit.

Check through the other trouble components first; changing out the timer is a bit difficult to do and you might have to replace the main control board entirely.

Check the Thermal Fuse

Now we’re getting into the nitty-gritty of potential problems. The thermal fuse is responsible for shutting off the power when the dishwasher overheats. Should the thermal fuse blow, the dishwasher won’t start at all.

Testing the Continuity

To test the continuity of the thermal fuse, you will need a multimeter (these will come in handy for a lot of household troubleshooting). Should the thermal fuse lack continuity, you will need to replace it in order to get the dishwasher working properly once again.

How Do I Reset My Dishwasher?

When all else fails, you can try to reset the dishwasher. In some instances, simply resetting the dishwasher can be enough to get the job done. Just make sure that the dishwasher control panel is disconnected from the local power source for about a minute.

1. Unplug and plug back in. If the dishwasher is plugged into a local outlet, just unplug it for that minute before plugging it back in.

2. If hardwired Should it be hardwired, kill the breaker to that outlet at the main electrical panel for that same minute before turning it back on.

This should work to reset the dishwasher controls, hopefully setting it back to standard settings so that you can operate it once again.

How Do I Run a Diagnostic on my Whirlpool Dishwasher?

When in doubt, you can always run a diagnostic on your dishwasher to see what the issue is. When the diagnostic finishes, it should display an error code that will tell you precisely what the issue is. If you can’t get power to your dishwasher at all, it could be a problem with one of the electrical components or the breaker in your home.

1. Press the rinse cycle. To run the diagnostic, start by turning the dishwasher on and pressing the rinse cycle button.

2. Turn the dishwasher off. As soon as you do that, turn the dishwasher off again. Hold the start button down while turning the dishwasher back on again.

3. Flashing lights. You should notice flashing lights. When this happens, let go of the start button immediately.

4. Press the start button. Then, press the start button a single time and shut the door to the dishwasher. You should hear a test cycle begin shortly thereafter. If there are any errors found, the cycle will stop immediately, and you will see the corresponding error code displayed.

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What are Some of the Whirlpool Dishwasher Error Codes?

Understanding some of the Whirlpool error codes will help you to quickly diagnose the issue and institute a fast correction. The first one is error code 1-1. This is to indicate that there is a stuck electrical relay somewhere on the circuit board.

To correct this, you would need to cut the power off for at least five minutes in an effort to reset the dishwasher. Should the error code come back on when you start the dishwasher up again, check the individual components and wiring. If those are fine, the error is in the electronic control board.

Error Code 1-2. This is to indicate that the user interface control isn’t compatible with the electronic control board. Much like error code 1-1, it will require the electronic control board to be replaced entirely.

Error Code 2-1. This error indicates that there is a stuck button somewhere on the control panel. If you can’t get any of the keys to work, replace the entire electronic control panel. If the control panel is working, it could be the electronic control board that is at fault.

Error Code 3-1. The purpose of this error code is to indicate that there is a break in the thermistor or the electrical wiring. You will need to remove the power and check out the appropriate wiring, potentially replacing the thermistor if needed.

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Ryan Womeldorf
Ryan Womeldorf

Ryan Womeldorf has more than a decade of experience writing. He loves to blog about construction, plumbing, and other home topics. Ryan also loves hockey and a lifelong Buffalo sports fan.

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