Thread Number: 45162
Kenmore Ultra Wash not washing well...
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Post# 661790   2/22/2013 at 22:14 (1,946 days old) by dustin92 (Jackson, MI)        

Our Kenmore Ultra Wash is not washing overly well, but I am a bit confused. The dishwasher sounds completely normal, it is filling completely, both spray arms are turning. It is also getting plenty of hot water and the detergent is dispensing when it should (Cascade Complete action pacs). Stuck on food is usually not removed completely, but anything loose is completely gone. I am using either the normal or pots/pans cycle, water heat on, heated dry off. I have looked at the filter a few times and it is always clean, and none of the spray arm holes are plugged. Any help is appreciated! Thanks!

Post# 661817 , Reply# 1   2/23/2013 at 03:42 (1,946 days old) by whirlcool (Just North Of Houston, Texas)        

Are you using the "Hi Temp Wash" option (if your machine has one) and what temp is the imcoming water? (Wster Tank Setting)

Post# 661841 , Reply# 2   2/23/2013 at 08:57 (1,946 days old) by dustin92 (Jackson, MI)        

I always use the water heat option, I dont know exactly what the incoming temp is, but it is well over 120 degres. Probably closer to 160-165.

Post# 661938 , Reply# 3   2/23/2013 at 16:29 (1,945 days old) by washer111 ()        
Pump/Motor Assembly:

Perhaps there is something inhibiting the function of the pump or motor? Or the motor is just tired and requires replacement: How old is your UltraWash?

Post# 661962 , Reply# 4   2/23/2013 at 18:28 (1,945 days old) by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        
KM Ultra-wash DW

combo52's profile picture

How old is your DW? is it a standard tub or tall tub machine?, the problems that these two different DWs can have are quite different when they are not working well.

Post# 661977 , Reply# 5   2/23/2013 at 21:23 (1,945 days old) by dustin92 (Jackson, MI)        

I'm pretty sure it is around 1995-1996ish, and it is a standard tub.

Post# 662139 , Reply# 6   2/24/2013 at 19:02 (1,944 days old) by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        
KM Standard Tub Ultra-Wash DW Thats Not Cleaning Well

combo52's profile picture

Be sure that it really has enough water in it after each fill, you can test by stopping the machine after the fill is completed and add another 1/2 gallon or a little more and see if the sound of the machine changes.


If you are using detergent tablets in the closed cup you should still be putting detergent in the open cup for best cleaning.


These DWs will actually clean better if the incoming water temperature is not over around 120 degrees, this lower temperature allows the machine to wash much longer as the heater heats the water to the 145F in the second and main wash period.


Problems with the pump are rare with these DWs, but possible.

Post# 662153 , Reply# 7   2/24/2013 at 20:04 (1,944 days old) by dustin92 (Jackson, MI)        

It is definitely filling completely, I cleaned out the inlet screen not too long ago. It usually fills to about an inch of water in the front, and to the bottom skirt on the spray arm. When I run it on pots/pans I add either a little cascade institutional powder or another complete pac to the prewash cup. I am a little reluctant to dial the hot water down because I like having screaming hot water on demand for laundry, and it lasts longer in general because usually less is used.

Post# 662224 , Reply# 8   2/25/2013 at 01:29 (1,944 days old) by washer111 ()        
Tempering Valve:

If possible, install a tempering valve on the line from the hot water heater, either:

~ On the water line NOT heading to the laundry (i.e. If the Hot pipe splits in two next to the heater)

~ In the kitchen/at the dishwasher


This will guarantee you get the recommended 120º inlet for the KM, and the 160º water for your washer (and bath etc). If the water is around 160º almost straight away at the kitchen tap, I wouldn't use the "Water Heating" option... Waste of energy/time etc, unless it gives you a longer Main-Wash, which is desirable in this case. Also bad if the dishwasher is just time-heating the water, rather than delaying it till 165... You might be getting close to 170-180! As mentioned here before, anything higher than around 120º shortens the life of the dishwasher considerably. 

Post# 662307 , Reply# 9   2/25/2013 at 10:38 (1,944 days old) by Tomturbomatic (Beltsville, MD)        

The water heating must be thermostatically controlled. If the water is hot enough, it does not even pause to heat.

Post# 662631 , Reply# 10   2/26/2013 at 18:02 (1,942 days old) by dustin92 (Jackson, MI)        

The water takes probably about a minute to get hot at the kitchen, and because the pipe runs along an unheated wall, it is probably less than 160. I will run the hot water and stick a thermometer in it, and see what the temp is exactly.

Post# 662650 , Reply# 11   2/26/2013 at 20:40 (1,942 days old) by johnmk ()        

I've never seen a hot water heater/tank in the U.S. that allows temperatures up to 165F. Quite likely yours is much lower. Keep in mind just going up to 130F will feel a lot hoter than 120F, because the scalding time is much lower.

See the URL that contains time-to-scald info.

You're probably in for a surprise when you finally get some real measurements. Not that it should matter, most modern dishwashers insist on the temperature they're programmed for via the built-in internal heating element. I really don't see the incoming water temperature as being a likely culprit here. More likely the problem exists elsewhere -- perhaps with the washer or detergent.


Post# 662659 , Reply# 12   2/26/2013 at 21:49 (1,942 days old) by dustin92 (Jackson, MI)        

Our hot water heater has not functioned properly since we moved into the house in august. It boiled the water on several occasions, one time I went into the utility room and it was whistling like a tea kettle. After flushing/draining, the thermostat is still very inaccurate. It doesnt heat until the water temp drops considerably, and then heats until the water is scalding. The temperature is set just over "warm" on the dial. If it was turned up to "hot" it could probably be classified as a steam generator. Yes, the pressure release is working properly.

Post# 662660 , Reply# 13   2/26/2013 at 21:53 (1,942 days old) by dustin92 (Jackson, MI)        

I checked the temp. at the kitchen faucet, and I got about 140 degrees. I started the dishwaaher just before checking it, so the dishwasher likely got mostly cold water, because it takes about a minute for hot water to reach the kitchen.

Post# 662680 , Reply# 14   2/26/2013 at 23:36 (1,942 days old) by cfz2882 (Belle Fourche,SD)        
hot recirc pump

a hot water recirculation pump could be installed-this is a small low power pump that recirculates the hot water so instant hot water is avalible some distance from the heater.Pipes recirculated should be insulated.

Post# 662723 , Reply# 15   2/27/2013 at 07:10 (1,942 days old) by mrb627 (Buford, GA)        
Hot Water...

mrb627's profile picture
I came to the conclusion that most dishwashers perform better when the initial fill contains mostly cold water. The machine generally discards that first bath in a short period of time anyway. If you have the hi-temp wash selected, it will heat the water to where it needs to be.

You may want to use the delay start, if applicable, to be sure it starts with cooler water.


Post# 662813 , Reply# 16   2/27/2013 at 14:35 (1,941 days old) by kqkenmore (memphis tn)        

kqkenmore's profile picture
I have the tall tub version and it sucks I have nothing but trouble with it.I had a service policy on it for a long time and Sears was out here all of the time the pump and motor had been replaced 3 times I was using the Cascade Action Packs and was told that you need to put it in the bottom of the tub so that the dishes get the initial soaping and it would cut the grease.One of the repairmen told me to rinse the dishes and I said hell would freeze over not going to wash the dishes before I wash the dishes.They also said use a dishwasher cleaner once every 2 months to get rid of the accumulated grease.Never again will i buy one of these DW.

Post# 662882 , Reply# 17   2/27/2013 at 17:16 (1,941 days old) by jerrod6 (United States of America)        

Malcolm what do you think the benefits of the initial cold fill are?

Post# 662885 , Reply# 18   2/27/2013 at 17:33 (1,941 days old) by mrb627 (Buford, GA)        
Wash time

mrb627's profile picture
The wash time would be extended while the water was heating.


Post# 662916 , Reply# 19   2/27/2013 at 20:07 (1,941 days old) by appnut (TX)        

appnut's profile picture
I believe Jerrod and Malcolm may be addressing two different issues. Yes, the initial prewash should be not full-on tank temp water. A case in point is with the Youngstown Jet Tower dishwashers which had their own heater inside the cabginetry. It kept the water 180 degrees. Tomturbomatic has commented numerous times with regards to that wash (the only one on that machine) pretty much ended up "cooking" on food soils. Now, by the time the Kenmore marches through a prewash and maybe a rinse, then on to main wash, the temperature inside the machine may have increased some. But the high-temp option will make sure the water is heated to 140 or 145 degrees and occurs while doing a thermostatic temp hold on the timer. Now, if Pots/Pans cycle is used, that initial prewash will also have a thermostatic temp hold to heat that water to 140 or 145 degrees before the timer advances. It will also heat the water, if needed, during the main wash phase.

Post# 662919 , Reply# 20   2/27/2013 at 20:29 (1,941 days old) by dustin92 (Jackson, MI)        

I have been running the dishwasher on the "water miser" cycle, which has no prewash, and goes directly into the main wash. I am starting it without running the hot water first, keeping the initial wash temp down, and it heats the water up gradually as it washes. The dishes seem to be getting cleaner, and I am actually saving a little water. (kqkenmore- Our dishwasher is a standard tub, and was built in 1998. As far as I know it has never had a repair, and I never pre rinse the dishes.)

Post# 662937 , Reply# 21   2/27/2013 at 22:00 (1,941 days old) by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        
KM Standard Tub Ultra-Wash DW Thats Not Cleaning Well

combo52's profile picture

Now you tell us, The Water miser Cycle, is not designed to clean really dirty dishes, it was designed for people who pre-rinse their dishes and want to cut down on additional water use since they have already wasted so much water rinsing the dishes, LOL. If you want to clean really dirty dishes use a cycle that has TWO wash periods and has at least 4 or 5 full water changes, do you also wash your clothing in cold water?.

Post# 662957 , Reply# 22   2/28/2013 at 00:41 (1,941 days old) by dustin92 (Jackson, MI)        

No no no no no! I WAS using the pots/pans or normal cycle, pots/ pans adds a long heated prewash, and normal adds a short, non heated prewash, but that also purges the cold water out of the line, giving the machine full 140 degree water by the main wash, causing the dishwasher (as someone else posted above), to skip the heating cycle, shortening the wash. I have only been running the water miser cycle the last couple days, and it seems to be doing actially a little better, believe it or not. It is pausing to heat the water, starting at a cooler temp, and lengthening the wash. Will it work on heavily soiled pots or burned on anything? Probably not. And for the record, Yes, I do wash clothes in cold water, and use bargain detergent, but I also use warm and hot water depending on soil level. Mostly warm though :)

Post# 662960 , Reply# 23   2/28/2013 at 01:18 (1,941 days old) by washer111 ()        
Light Cycle:

Perhaps then turning the water heater down a tad would be prudent, esp. if you find it "bakes on" the soils by any degree. Perhaps that's why the High-Temeperature cycle on our machine sometimes left food baked on... And that's why we don't use it anymore (LOL!)


Is there some way you could set the timer so you get the "Water Miser" cycle, but you are actually using the "Pots/Pans" button? E.g. Pots button, but turn the dial to "Water-Mise" ? 

That way, you'd get the LONG (Hot) wash you desire...

OR: Figure out where the final pre-rinse starts, and use the Pots/Pans mode from there? Then you'd have a cool pre-rinse, getting rid of major food-soils, but not enough to draw hot water right to the machine and heat the tub, giving you the full benefit of the heating period. Like this: Cool Pre-Rinse -> Cool/Lukewarm Start of MW...


Please give this a shot, having a pre-rinse is WAY better for cleaning results. I can say that myself (Having used our machine on "Rinse," letting that run before starting the "Fast" cycle). Doing the same before a "Normal" cycle helps a lot too with dirty pans and stuff

Post# 662962 , Reply# 24   2/28/2013 at 01:31 (1,941 days old) by johnmk ()        
Aside on laundry pre-wash

In similar manner, I do a short prewash before I wash whites in my clothes washer. Prewash (the settable option, that is) in most modern clothes washing machines is cold fill, I believe, and it certainly is in mine. When in doubt as to the nature of some soiling, I just do a prewash with Tide Coldwater, and then follow that up with the warm (Tide Ultra) or hot water (Tide Ultra + sodium percarbonate) that I would otherwise use. Preventive maintenance keeps my clothes looking as new as the day I bought them.

Immediate hot water on anything soiled is just too risky.

Post# 662966 , Reply# 25   2/28/2013 at 01:41 (1,941 days old) by dustin92 (Jackson, MI)        

Yes, I definitely can use the pots/pans button and set the timer on water miser. I will try that on the next load.

Post# 662988 , Reply# 26   2/28/2013 at 05:46 (1,941 days old) by appnut (TX)        

appnut's profile picture

setting the timer on water miser and selecting the pots/pans button is no different than setting the time on the same setting and using normal wash with water heat option.  Pots/Pans give  longer cycle sequence with heated prewash and heated main wash.

Post# 663018 , Reply# 27   2/28/2013 at 09:13 (1,941 days old) by dustin92 (Jackson, MI)        

Ok thanks. I kind of had a feeling somebody would say something to that effect.

Post# 802426 , Reply# 28   1/5/2015 at 14:30 (1,264 days old) by GELaundry4ever (Killeen tx USA)        
Kenmore dishwasher

I've noticed that my mom's dishwasher hasn't cleaned dishes well. I have to use the high-temp wash option to get everything clean or they will get dirty again! It doesn't matter how dirty the dishes are! I then use the normal cycle or smart wash with cascade or finish on the high-temp wash which again, I am forced to use all the time under any circumstances!

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