Dishwasher Float Switch: Beginners Guide 101

Dishwashers have become indispensable appliances in our kitchens, making our lives more convenient. However, like any other machine, they can encounter issues over time.

One common component that may require attention is the float switch.

In this article, we will explore what a float switch is, why it might fail, whether it can be replaced, its lifespan, and the cost associated with replacing it.

What is a Dishwasher Float Switch?

A dishwasher float switch is a crucial part of the dishwasher’s safety and water management system. It is typically a small, plastic or metal device located inside the dishwasher’s tub, usually near the front or side.

Its primary function is to monitor the water level inside the dishwasher during a wash cycle.

How Does a Dishwasher Float Switch Work?

When you start a dishwasher cycle, water is pumped into the tub to clean the dishes. The float switch’s job is to ensure that the water level doesn’t exceed a certain point. It does this by floating on the surface of the water.

As the water level rises, the float switch rises with it. When the water reaches the desired level, the float switch triggers a signal to the dishwasher’s control board to stop adding water.

This prevents overfilling, which could lead to leaks or flooding in your kitchen.

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Why Do Dishwasher Float Switches Fail?

Like any mechanical component, dishwasher float switches can fail over time.

Here are some common reasons for their failure:

  • Wear and Tear: Float switches can wear out due to constant use and exposure to moisture. The internal components, such as the contacts, can degrade over time.
  • Corrosion: Water and moisture can cause corrosion, especially if the dishwasher is not properly maintained. Corrosion can prevent the switch from making proper contact.
  • Debris Buildup: Dirt, food particles, and detergent residue can accumulate around the float switch, interfering with its movement and functionality.
  • Manufacturing Defects: In some cases, a float switch might have a manufacturing defect that leads to premature failure.

How to tell Float Swich Failed

A malfunctioning float switch in your dishwasher can lead to issues like overfilling, underfilling, or improper water drainage.

Here are some common signs that can help you identify if the float switch has failed:

Water Overfill: If your dishwasher consistently fills with more water than it should, causing it to overflow or leak, this is a clear indication of a float switch failure. The float switch should have signaled the dishwasher to stop adding water, but it didn’t.

No Water Filling: On the flip side, if your dishwasher doesn’t fill with water at all during a cycle, it could be due to a float switch problem. The float switch may erroneously detect a full tank even when it’s empty, preventing water from entering the dishwasher.

Stalled Cycle: If your dishwasher cycle seems to stall or not progress beyond the initial filling stage, the float switch might be falsely indicating that the water level is too high, even if it’s not.

Water Not Draining: Sometimes, a malfunctioning float switch can also affect the drainage process. If the dishwasher doesn’t drain properly after a cycle, it could be because the float switch is not allowing it to pump out the water.

Visible Damage or Debris: Inspect the float switch itself, which is usually located at the base of the dishwasher’s tub. If you notice visible damage to the float switch, such as cracks, or if there is debris obstructing its movement, this can also be a sign of a problem.

Error Codes: Some modern dishwashers are equipped with error code displays. If your dishwasher has such a feature and a float switch failure occurs, it may trigger an error code that specifically indicates a problem with the float switch.

Strange Noises: Occasionally, you might hear unusual noises coming from your dishwasher, particularly during the filling or draining process. These noises could be a result of the float switch repeatedly trying to control the water level.

Inconsistent Performance: If you notice that your dishwasher’s performance has become erratic, with water levels varying from cycle to cycle or the dishwasher behaving unpredictably, the float switch could be a contributing factor.

It’s important to note that while these signs can strongly suggest a float switch failure, they may also be associated with other dishwasher issues.

To confirm that the float switch is the problem, you may need to consult a professional technician or refer to your dishwasher’s user manual for troubleshooting guidance.

In some cases, a visual inspection of the float switch for damage or debris can provide a clear indication of the issue.

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Can Dishwasher Float Switches be Replaced?

Yes, dishwasher float switches can be replaced. In fact, it’s a common repair for dishwasher technicians. However, it’s important to note that not all dishwasher models have easily accessible float switches.

Some may require more extensive disassembly, which could increase the cost of replacement.

Lifespan of a Dishwasher Float Switch

The lifespan of a dishwasher float switch can vary depending on factors such as usage, water quality, and maintenance.

On average, you can expect a float switch to last anywhere from 5 to 15 years. Regular cleaning and maintenance can help extend its lifespan.

Worth Replacing a Faulty Dishwasher Float Switch?

Whether or not it’s worth replacing a faulty dishwasher float switch depends on several factors, including the age and overall condition of your dishwasher. Here are some considerations:

Age of the Dishwasher: If your dishwasher is relatively new and in good condition, replacing the float switch is a cost-effective repair that can prolong its lifespan.

Cost of Replacement: The cost of a float switch replacement is usually reasonable, especially when compared to the price of a new dishwasher.

Severity of the Issue: If the float switch failure has caused significant water damage or poses a safety risk, it’s essential to replace it promptly.

DIY vs. Professional Repair: You can attempt to replace the float switch yourself if you have the necessary skills and tools. However, for those less experienced with appliance repair, it’s advisable to hire a professional technician.

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How Much Does it Cost to Replace a Dishwasher Float Switch?

The cost of replacing a dishwasher float switch can vary depending on several factors, including the make and model of your dishwasher and whether you choose to hire a professional technician.

On average, you can expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $150 for the part itself, plus labor costs if you hire a technician. Keep in mind that labor costs may vary based on your location and the service provider.

Final Thoughts

Dishwasher float switches play a vital role in preventing overfilling and potential water damage. While they can fail over time, they are replaceable components that can extend the life of your dishwasher.

Whether it’s worth replacing a faulty float switch depends on factors such as the age and condition of your dishwasher, the severity of the issue, and the associated costs.

If you’re experiencing problems with your dishwasher, consider consulting a professional technician to assess the situation and recommend the most cost-effective solution.

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