Tips from a Service Tech: Dishwasher Cavitation
You should NEVER see this many suds in your dishwasher. What you see here is what we service techs call cavitation. Dishwashers don't like cavitation. What causes it? The primary cause of cavitation is the use of regular dishwashing liquid (Dawn, Joy, Palmolive, etc.) instead of dishwashing detergent. If you have run out of detergent go buy some. Cavitation can also be caused by soaking your dishes in regular dishwater (with dishwashing liquid) and then transferring the soapy dishes to the dishwasher without rinsing the soapy water off.
What happens with cavitation? When you have cavitation going on there's more air than water going through your wash motor and that air (in the form of tiny bubbles) will eventually damage it.
How do you know cavitation is going on? The first sign of cavitation is that you'll hear your dishwasher motor "surge" instead of running steadily. You'll hear it go "uh...uh...uh" repeatedly. Newer dishwashers will shut themselves off if sensors detect cavitation. You'll hear the dishwasher fill with water, you'll hear it surge a few times, then it will stop itself to protect the motor. When you open the dishwasher you'll see lots of suds. Not a little. A lot. See the picture below? That's what I'm talking about.
So, your dishwasher is cavitating. What can you do about it? First, don't panic. Remove all dishes from the dishwasher and put them in clean, clear water to rinse the soap off. Next, pour 3-4 tablespoons (45-60 mL) of vegetable oil into tub of the dishwasher and start a wash cycle. Let it run for a few minutes. Open the door. If you still see suds add a little more oil. Let it run for a few more minutes. Open the door. If you still see suds, add a little more oil. As you go along doing this the suds should diminish. Once you can open the dishwasher an no longer see suds, close the door and let the cycle run to completion. This should resolve the cavitation problem. If it doesn't, repeat the procedure.
When you load the dishwasher again make sure there's no soapy water on them and absolutely, positively, do not use dishwashing liquid (Dawn, Joy, Palmolive, you get the picture) in your dishwasher.
Do you need to call a service tech? No, you don't. You can resolve cavitation on your own and the motor shouldn't be harmed from an occasional cavitation event.
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