Thursday, February 11, 2016

Fixing a Leaking Frigidaire Dishwasher

Dishwasher Model: FFBD2411NQ0A

Several months ago I broke a glass in the dishwasher. This was no ordinary glass breakage - the glass shattered like a car windshield, and there were literally dozens of tiny bits of glass all over the dishwasher. I cleaned up as best I could and forgot about the matter until three weeks ago.

That's when water started coming through the basement ceiling. I isolated the leak to the dishwasher in the kitchen above and started testing.

Honestly, I didn't need to do much testing: after pouring a pint or two of water into the washer, I could clearly see it coming out the bottom!

Most dishwasher leaks are from the door, but this one wasn't. The water was coming out from the area of the motor.

A hunt around on the internet confirmed that most motor leaks are caused by the gasket around the motor's spindle becoming damaged. It's rarely the O-Rings.

So here's where I had to do a bit of thinking. Should I simply junk the dishwasher and buy a new one, should I fix the motor, or should I replace the motor?

An internet search showed me that many Frigidaire dishwashers take the same motor, and it was available new from several sources on the internet for $75-$100. Replacing the motor seemed the best option.

Yes, I could have tried to fix the motor, but once I looked at it, I concluded that the work involved would be very difficult and the repair uncertain, since there might be more glass in there.

The motor arrived in good time, and I got to work.

Here's where I need to tell you something very important: CUT OFF ALL ELECTRICITY TO THE DISHWASHER. This isn't just a safety issue; if you don't cut off the electricity you will scramble the circuitry and possibly be left with a non-functioning dishwasher. You'll fix the leak and kill the electronics. So cut off the electricity.

Replacing the motor was surprisingly easy.
1) Take everything out from inside the dishwasher, including the glass catcher, rotating arm, and the plastic thing beneath the rotating arm and glass catcher that is secured with three screws.
2) Shopvac everything out of the space in the bottom of the dishwasher. I actually found several pieces of broken glass, proving that I did a bad job the previous time.
 3) Tip the dishwasher over, unplug the motor from the circuitry (a little plastic clip), remove the retainer bracket (two? three? screws - can't remember) on the motor, and pull out the motor from its housing.
4) Follow the instructions that came with the new motor. Soap up the new O-Rings and insert the new motor into the space for it. Reattach the bracket and plug the wire clip back into the motor.
5) Stand the dishwasher back upright and turn the electricity back on. Turn on a wash cycle (or maybe just the rinse cycle), and watch for water beneath the dishwasher. If there's no water, you've done your job right.
6) Replace the dishwasher in the space for it.
7) You're done.

In my case, I wasn't done. I stupidly didn't turn off the electricity in the beginning, and between moving the darn thing around, opening and closing the door, accidentally starting and stopping the cycles, I had completely scrambled the circuitry. Luckily there is a master reset/test cycle. I can't fully remember the button combination, but I'm pretty sure you'll find it here:

This reset the dishwasher, and I now have a functioning dishwasher again. The motor cost me $80 (or so), which is a big savings on the $350-$400 I'd have had to pay for a new dishwasher.

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