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Kenny the Dishwasher

Published Friday, July 21, 2023 @ 12:02 PM EDT
Jul 21 2023

I've lived in this house since 1991, and in those 30+ years I've replaced the roof, two furnaces/air conditioners and four dishwashers.

It's not that we're especially hard on dishwashers. I just don't think they're particularly well designed or constructed, and the cost of parts and labor makes repairing them a waste of money. The electronic control board for our $600 dishwasher costs anywhere between $100-$250.

Ah, microprocessor control boards. Back when I was a young'un, appliances like washers and dryers and dishwashers relied on mechanical switches to control their functions. The dial on the washer won't detent to the cycle you want? You could probably force the unit to work by jiggling the dial or standing there and holding the button in until the cycle completed. Or you could whack it a few times. Maybe pull out the mechanical dial/timer/switch, clean it off, dry it out and put it back in. Worst case, go to the local appliance store where you bought the machine and their repair person- usually a guy in dark green named Ralph or Steve- would root around the back room and come up with a used but functional replacement for about $25 or so. Slap that baby back in, and you're in business. (Here's a YouTube video that deals with current appliance quality).

Today, of course, everything is controlled by microprocessors on inaccessible circuit boards. When the machine goes brain dead, you're out of luck.

We've had our current machine for about four years. It's a GE Appliances Adora DDT595 24" top control dishwasher. (It's also not the General Electric you think it is.) It has a habit of going totally brain dead whenever there's a power failure, a condition West Penn Power and Mother Nature provide on a regular, if unscheduled, basis.

The official method of resuscitating the thing is to turn off power to it at the fuse box, wait ten minutes, then turn it back on, which supposedly resets the controller.

This seemed counterintuitive to me, especially since the cause of the problem in the first place was a power outage from which the thing didn't magically reset itself. Scanning Google and YouTube provided a number of suggestions: pressing various buttons on the top controls in arcane sequences, watching for flashing LED patterns. Nope. Still dead.

So I got the repair guy from the store where we purchased it. He did the ritual- power off, control button mambo, etc. - no effect.

He got down on the floor, removed the kick panel from the front of the machine, and pointed out a small wiring harness from the control panel, which exited at the bottom of the dishwasher's door and led to a Molex connector. He pulled out the connector, waited a few seconds, plugged it back in- and the dishwasher control panel immediately lit up. So far, this has fixed all our dead dishwasher problems, although the repair guy thinks the control board itself will give up the ghost at some point. This isn't surprising, since its poor design is obvious. At that point, he recommended we replace the machine with something other than GE. I'm not specifying a brand because market volatility and model year changes can directly affect quality and reliability.

Dishwasher repair

(Use this information at your own risk. Bear in mind you're getting it from a total stranger on the Internet who has no type of certification whatsoever, aside from being a card-carrying member of The O'Brien and Garry Pre-Dawn Puppy Club.)

I suspect this method works for the reason removing the battery from an unresponsive laptop computer often fixes it. The power button on most modern electronic devices isn't a switch that closes a contact to the incoming power line. Rather, it sends a signal to a controller, which takes different actions depending upon the state of the device. When I press "START" on the dishwasher, I'm really telling the controller to check various sensors, determine what state the machine is in, and to proceed appropriately. Power surges, static electricity- for all I know, sunspots- can often put a machine's sensors and logic circuits in weird states for which the controller was not programmed. When the power came back on after the outage and the controller tried to reset itself, some parts of the circuit didn't respond correctly. To be safe, the controller just stopped doing anything and completely shut the machine down. Physically unplugging the control board wiring harness does something- removes static charges, causes a capacitor to discharge, calms a disturbance in the Force, who knows. But, for the last three power failure cycles, unplugging and reattaching the connector solves the problem. I've started calling this accursed appliance Kenny after the character in South Park who frequently dies yet repeatedly recovers for no rational reason.

You can stop reading here. Everything below is for search engines to find so I can save others the frustration I experienced:

GE Disherwasher dead after power failure.

GE Dishwasher DDT595 dead display

GE Dishwasher dead user interface

GE Dishwasher no power

GE Dishwasher dead no lights

GE Dishwasher reset

Categories: GE Dishwasher repair, General Electric Appliances, Kenny McCormick, South Park (TV Show)


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