Thread Number: 72238  /  Tag: Vintage Dishwashers
Kitchenaid Custom 21 repair
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Post# 955075   8/28/2017 at 17:35 by MelissaAnn (yadkinville, NC)        

My dishwasher has been leaving the tops of bowls on the top rack with bits of food on them. Also the filter had a small rip in it and when I attempted to take things a part for the first time I completely ripped the filter apart as can been seen in the photo below. There was a large amount of red fine debris on the filter and around the sump which looked to me like tomato as I've been doing a lot of tomato processing lately and running the dishes through. I may have a back up dishwasher coming that I can swap out a filter from.

The questions are:
What does the filter do and do I need it to run the washer properly?
How do you take the filter off? I took all the screws off but still couldn't get it a part.
Is this likely related to the debris on the upper rack or might that be a separate issue?

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Post# 955082 , Reply# 1   8/28/2017 at 18:10 by cuffs054 (GA)        

Melissa, is a trick of the camera or is your heating element beginning to split on the right side?

Post# 955088 , Reply# 2   8/28/2017 at 18:27 by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        
Filter replacement On A KD-21 Series DW

combo52's profile picture
Take out the 10 smaller screws around the filter and then pry off the plastic frame along with what is left of the filter. This part is NLA and was never available separately anyway, but you can get a new one from another KA DW.

Other reasons why these DWs wash poorly in the top rack are a lack of water entering the machine, 98% of the time you need to replace the inlet valve to solve this.

Also check the rubber feed tube for large holes in the bottom, a small 1/8" hole is normal so it will drain.

Other common problem is a bad drain check valve, it is NLA but you can put a new GE DW CV rubber thing inside by just unscrewing your old one.

John L.

Post# 955363 , Reply# 3   8/30/2017 at 21:48 by MelissaAnn (yadkinville, NC)        

Thanks! You all give me confidence I can keep this beauty going. I just picked up a donor machine today so am eager to swap out the filter and hopefully have it up and going. If that doesn't solve the dirty top rack issue, I may need to ask for clarification on the other parts you mentioned, John L. I need to take a closer look at the heating element, too. I think it's just dirty. Thanks for pointing that out.

Post# 955526 , Reply# 4   8/31/2017 at 22:51 by MelissaAnn (yadkinville, NC)        

I was able to replace the whole filter unit from a $10 ISE dishwasher on Craigslist. I never could get just the filter to come loose on mine even after taking the screws out and trying to pry it off. Things seem to be working good but after about 4 loads, there is debris building up under that filter screen. Is this normal? I'd never paid attention before. I'd regularly taken off the metal screen ring that snaps off easily and cleaned that. Do I need to ever clean the screwed down screen as well?

Also, a question about heat on this machine. We have a outdoor water stove (wood burning stove that heats our house and domestic water). Sometimes the water coming to the house can be pretty hot, hotter than a water heater would heat. Is the heater on the DW by a timer or a thermostat? And if it's a timer, should I be worried that it's heating the already hot water to a point that it might be causing damage to the DW? Is it possible that high heat caused my filter fabric to break down? Is there a way to deactivate the heating element? Sometimes when I notice the red heat light on I just manually advance it. THANKS!

Post# 955554 , Reply# 5   9/1/2017 at 05:45 by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        
KA KD-21 DW Issues

combo52's profile picture

Hi , it is normal to see some small amount of stuff under the filter screen, but do be sure the little back-wash holes on the bottom of the wash-arm are all clear.


Water temps for KD-21 DWs, you generally would not want to go over 160F and 120 -140 is much better. The hotter the water the faster most parts that are in contact with the water will deteriorate and fail.


If the DW pauses for more than about two minutes to heat water the incoming water is not too hot and if you feel that the water is hot enough there is no harm in turning the dial past this point. The delay thromostat can easily be bypassed if you do not want this feature, and you can also disconnect the water heating element if you wish.


John L.

Post# 955655 , Reply# 6   9/1/2017 at 20:11 by cuffs054 (GA)        

Melissa, this is just a WAG, but if the heating element is bad the timer would drag on because the water never gets hotter. Do you use "air dry or no heat dry"? You probably would not notice the lack of drying heat. If the element is bad you might want to disconnect it (under the dw) and be SURE to tape the loose wires to stop shorts. I don't think it's hard to replace an element (never did one). If the element is just dirty 'never mind'!

I wouldn't think that 160+ water would damage anything in a dw but again just a WAG.

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