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Ed Michaels, Appliance Technician
Category: Appliance
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Experience:  my company installs and maintains appliances in NYC
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Hi there, my 3-year old GE Profile dishwasher is not cleaning

Customer Question

Hi there, my 3-year old GE Profile dishwasher is not cleaning the dishes well and makes loud humming noises. The dishes are still dirty, and sometimes I have to scrub them when I take them out. The utensils also don't come clean. I use liquid Cascade detergent, and use the pre-fill hole in the door. I also use jet dry. I am not exactly sure what the water temp is as I only have a meat thermometer, which starts at 140 degrees. I tested the kitchen faucet water, and it's probably at or just below 120 degrees. I have always used the Normal cycle, but the last few cycles used Anti-Bacteria. This helped with the noise level a bit, but not the cleaning quality. I tested to see if water was coming out of the sprayers and if the sprayers were turning by opening up the door when it was running. All looked good. I was thinking of letting the detergent run out and try using the manual dispense tray - don't know if this is the problem. Do you have any suggestions?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Appliance
Expert:  Brian replied 5 years ago.

Hello and welcome to Just Answer.


I would check the following:


Water needs to be hot for the dishes to get clean. Manufacturers recommend that you run the hot water in the sink prior to running the dishwasher. The heating element/ booster may not be working correctly and may have to be tested and replaced if necessary. Click here to learn how to test it. Also, turning up the temperature on the hot water heater can help with the dishwashers hot water.


The spray arms tiny holes may be clogged/ dirty. Inspect them and remove and clean them if necessary. This could be the cause, definitely do this step; food can get caught inside them and prevent the spray arms from spinning. The spray arms may also be making the noise. Cleaning them may help. You will also notice if they are wearing prematurely.


Verify that the filter/ drain gate at the bottom of the unit, below the bottom spinner, is clean and not blocked with debris. You can remove the lower spray arm and remove the strainer and a few other parts to inspect the sump area. Any debris in the sump area could be preventing proper water circulation at the spray arms.


Verify that the correct amount of detergent is being used, also the wrong type can effect the wash. Powders dissolve better in hot water. Verify that the detergent cup is clean and working properly. Also, make sure that pans, etc. are not covering or blocking the detergent cup. I would definitely try the cup instead of the hole to see if it helps.


Verify that water from the sink drain is not making it's way back into the dishwasher. I would recommend creating a high loop in the dishwasher drain pipe, which is attached to the sink drain, under the sink. The high loop can be fastened to underneath the countertop. This will prevent any water from entering the dishwasher from the sink; it also prevents the dishwasher drain water from making it's way back into the dishwasher.




If you need further help or clarification on this answer, please do not hesitate to reply to this post.


Thanks for asking your question at Just Answer.

Best of Luck, Brian


Please leave feedback at your convenience.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
1. Spray Arms: I inspected and they are not clogged.
2. Noise: I really don't think the noise is coming from the spray arms. It's a loud humming noise during the drying cycle and is really annoying. It's like a motor sound and lasts for about 1/2 hour.
3. Filter/Drain Gate: I inspected and was not clogged - the area was completely clear.
4. Detergent: I am using Cascade liquid as the manual recommends. Is it typical that the automatic detergent dispense doesn't work as well as the manual tray? I read the manual, and it only goes over how to calibratet the hard water setting before the first use. It doesn't say in the manual how to test the hard water indicator. Also, if I am using the automatic dispenser, how do I test if enough detergent is being used?
5. Water drain: The hose is in a high loop position - no adjustment necessary.
6. Heating element: Is this used to heat the water for all cycles? The manual doesn't discuss this. As stated before, the cycle used mostly is "normal". Also, it seems pretty involved to perform the heating element test indicated.

This problem has been going on for a long time. For the high $1,000 price of this dishwasher, and it being only 3 years old, I would expect a much better performance.

Expert:  Walt-mod replied 5 years ago.



I'm a moderator for this topic. Your Expert has opted out and I wonder whether you're still waiting for an answer. If you are, please let me know and I will do my best to find another Expert to assist you right away. If not, feel free to let me know and I will cancel this question for you. Thank you!

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Yes, I am still waiting for an answer to my reply.
Expert:  Walt-mod replied 5 years ago.
Sometimes, finding the right Expert can take a little longer than expected and we thank you greatly for your understanding. We'll be in touch again shortly.
Expert:  Ed Michaels replied 5 years ago.
Hi, could i have the model # XXXXX also, tell me about the humming. Could it be the drain pump continuing to pump after the water has been pumped out? when does it stop. after dry cycle is complete? are dishes dry at that point? ed
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I included the model number in my original question, but here it is again:
Make: GE Profile 24"
Model: PDW9981N20SS

The noise seems to be only during the drying cycle. And even when the cycle is completed, the noise persists until the door is opened. The manual states the drying fan runs for 2-4 hours after CLEAN light is illuminated, so the drying fan may be the problem. (We never let it run that long as the noise is too annoying). It is not a constant humming. The noise goes up and down and is so loud it can be heard from upstairs in the house.

I wish for you to also address the cleaning issue as noted in my above comments.
Expert:  Ed Michaels replied 5 years ago.

Here's the situation. Based on what you've told me, this is not a simple DIY fix.There are several problems with your machine, some of them electronic, involving the pc board and possibly the timer. Your machine needs to be diagnosed onsite by a qualified technician. I suggest you give GE a call and schedule service. I hope you find this answer helpful if not welcome. ed

Ed Michaels, Appliance Technician
Category: Appliance
Satisfied Customers: 710
Experience: my company installs and maintains appliances in NYC
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