Thread Number: 79171  /  Tag: Vintage Dishwashers
KDS-18 fire
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Post# 1030903   4/26/2019 at 18:14 by PhilR (Quebec Canada)        

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One of my friends got a scary surprise with his KItchen Aid dishwasher. He went to look at what smelled bad and it started throwing fire through a hole in the door just over my friend's head while my he was bent to smell underneath!

It looks like the detergent dispenser or the wire that goes to it failed badly!

I guess I'll have a parts donor that I'll exchange him with a used Bosch that's now just old enough to be posted in this forum (it's from 1998!).

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Post# 1030908 , Reply# 1   4/26/2019 at 18:51 by Brisnat81 (Brisbane Australia)        

He might need to also check his wiring is ok, the ground is intact and the circuit breaker works.

If his wiring was working correctly an arc that bad shouldve tripped a circuit breaker when it shorted to the door panel.

Post# 1030911 , Reply# 2   4/26/2019 at 19:43 by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        
Burned Detergent Dispenser On A KA DW

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We have seen this many times on KD17-21 DWs, the shaft can leak and the detergent laden water is conductive and since a live bi-metal is below the leaking dispenser shaft it can short and start burning.


The owner of this DW may have a bad circuit breaker or not, You can easily get enough heat out of a 20 amp circuit to cause this type of damage, I even saw one that actually caught fire and burned the entire dispenser up, that DW was totaled.


When WP bought KA they looked over the history of their new product line and saw how many of these DWs had this problem and immediately turned the dispenser upside-down so if the dispenser leaked it would not leak on live parts.


John L.

Post# 1030927 , Reply# 3   4/26/2019 at 22:04 by PhilR (Quebec Canada)        

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I expected this kind of detailed answer from you John!

Post# 1030952 , Reply# 4   4/27/2019 at 09:19 by firedome (Binghamton NY & Lake Champlain VT)        
Have heard of this problem before...

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I've also wondered if you could just put a rubber shield over the wiring to protect it? Also recall something about the KDC-17 not having the problem due to a design or feature difference?

Post# 1030959 , Reply# 5   4/27/2019 at 09:58 by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        

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Hi Roger, You can turn the detergent dispenser up-side-down on any of these machines to prevent this problem,

The KDC-17 can have this problem as well.

John L.

Post# 1031037 , Reply# 6   4/27/2019 at 21:02 by chetlaham (United States)        

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Water has significant electrical impedance (resistance). Things like salt, minerals, detergents, ect lower that resistance- but often not enough to cause a breaker trip a breaker.

Here is a good demonstration:

You get heat but no breaker tripping.

Post# 1031038 , Reply# 7   4/27/2019 at 21:06 by chetlaham (United States)        

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* The resistance is not low enough to cause enough current to flow to open a breaker.

Breakers are just there to prevent the wires in your wall from becoming hot enough to set building material ablaze. Outside of that they offer very little protection.

Post# 1031051 , Reply# 8   4/28/2019 at 00:14 by tolivac (greenville nc)        

At the transmitter plant-water is used to cool tubes,vacuum capacitors and coils-BUT the water has to be distilled or deionized.If you used water from the tap in these components you would trip the water OL circuit immedaitly.The station has 3 water stills that feed to an 800gal water tank.If the water stays in the transmitter system--no problems-HOWEVER-if the water leaks and spills out on HV components its containminated and causes arcs!!So--lots of work!!!!In 5 of our transmitters there is a water conductance monitors-if this gets to low the Tx is tripped off right away and you have to change the water.Usually about 50 gallons of distilled to fill the Tx tank.

Post# 1040685 , Reply# 9   8/4/2019 at 16:45 by PhilR (Quebec Canada)        
I just followed John's advice with another KDS-18

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This is the one that I gave to my parents.

The detergent dispenser also had leaky seals and I acted before they did the same. I couldn't find the exact replacement seals for them, are they available? Anyway, what I did stopped the leak and I also reversed it to make sure that an eventual leak doesn't get water on the no-metals and their connectors.

Here are the before and after pics and some pictures of the timer chart and another sticker inside the door.

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Post# 1040734 , Reply# 10   8/4/2019 at 23:42 by tolivac (greenville nc)        

The little experiment-at the end when the salt was added to the water-then became conductive.At the other end at the transm itter plant we have a test load for the transmitters that use a circulating sodium carbonate solution as the "load"The solution loads the transmitter to the proper load value and carries the heat generated to a glycol heat exchanger-then to a large heat exchanger outside.250-500Kw generates a LOT of heat.And the load solution has to be replaced perodically.The solution is also corrosive.The load chamber had to be replaced as well.Even eats thru the platic load chamber-esp when the solution gets hot from the transmitter and the solution pump stops!7 Hp pump.Same power as the glycol solution pump.The glycol is like what is in the radiator of your car.Since the glycol heat exchanger is exposed to the outside-the glycol is needed to prevent freezing-it can get cold enough here.

Post# 1040773 , Reply# 11   8/5/2019 at 11:25 by stevet (palm coast florida)        
Contact Kitchenaid Customer Service.

I know how troubling this little "fire" can be and believe me and the others who have posted, but this could have become a real horror story.
Years ago, my cousin had a KDC18 that had a fire in the dispenser and it not only took out the whole dispenser, but also the racks inside when the plastic melted the lower rack and made a great deal of smoke damage. Luckily, he shut off the breaker right away and had no external damage to his kitchen or the cabinets.

I contacted Kitchenaid at the time and they could not do enough to make it right as they sent a new dispenser as well as a set of racks at no charge.

I could not help get the impression that if I pushed them, they would have replaced the whole machine if I asked them to. But that was not necessary at the time and the machine went on to perform for many more years.

I would not be surprised if you asked them, they may do the same and replace the machine for you. They did that once for me when I had a 23 series tank get a small leak at the heating element that would trip the breaker as soon as the heat came on. As they had a 25 year warranty on the tanks at that time, they wound up replacing the whole machine which I still have and use often. I got a tall tub unit in place of the 23 machine.
I say that you should give it a shot and see where it goes. And whatever you do, do not accept a new machine if they ask for a payment for the exchange. Just tell them that had you not been there, the whole kitchen could have gone up and replacing the machine would be a better deal than having them replace the kitchen or worse, the house.

Since they can't replace the individual parts anymore, what choice would they have?
Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Post# 1041641 , Reply# 12   8/13/2019 at 19:58 by PhilR (Quebec Canada)        

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Steve, do you know if the seals for the dispensers are still available?

Post# 1041651 , Reply# 13   8/13/2019 at 20:49 by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        
KA Detergent Dispensers

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Were never considered serviceable, Hobart-Kitchenaid only sold complete dispensers, but several clever folks have taken them apart and tried to fix them.


I have never tried as we have enough extra complete dispensers to last the rest of my lifetime, 


John L.

Post# 1041659 , Reply# 14   8/13/2019 at 21:43 by qsd-dan (West)        

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The soap cup dispensers use a common seal (o-ring, if I remember correctly) that rides on the pivoting shaft. Upon testing, I found that the new seals were a bit tighter than the originals and the doors wouldn't fully open which required another round of disassembly and a coat of Vaseline.

There's two ways to replace the seals. If you have to do it by yourself, it's best remove the entire dispenser from the door. If you have an extra hand, you can have someone hold the spring loaded detergent doors in place while lining up and re-inserting the pin during the assembly phase. The pin is jammed tightly into the pivoting shaft. The trick I found for removal was using angle cutters and getting a good grip on the pin (but not tight enough to shear it), then take a hammer to smack the cutters upwards to get it out. The soap doors are spring loaded so once the pin is removed, they'll shoot into the tub.

Post# 1041707 , Reply# 15   8/14/2019 at 10:45 by PhilR (Quebec Canada)        

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I have disassembled the dispenser but I couldn't get correct seals for it. I managed to cut larger seals to fit above the existing ones and that stopped the leaks but I'd like to get correct ones!

Or the whole dispenser! John, would you sell one?!

Post# 1041933 , Reply# 16   8/16/2019 at 21:13 by barcoboy (Canada)        

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Phil, I posted back in 2013 a procedure on how I changed the o-rings in the detergent dispenser of my KDS-58C. In fact, YOU replied to it and said, "I should do that on a friend's KDS 18 as one of the dispensers leaks a bit..." Is this the same friend?

Link is below, and includes the correct size o-rings that you need.


Post# 1041950 , Reply# 17   8/17/2019 at 02:05 by PhilR (Quebec Canada)        

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It is! I guess I waited too long for that one!

You found the "O" rings at Canadian Tire? In the plumbing department? I have a few assortments but none are the correct size!

Post# 1042110 , Reply# 18   8/18/2019 at 14:17 by americana4 (East Greenwich RI)        

Did this machine become a parts donor?
I've recently installed a remarkable KDS18, said to be unused. Sure runs and looks like it, except for the chrome control panel, handle and pushbuttons. After 40 years in storage, they've become badly corroded.
If the chrome parts become available, I'd be very interested.

Post# 1042156 , Reply# 19   8/18/2019 at 22:55 by barcoboy (Canada)        

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Phil, yes and yes. I brought the old ones with me, and asked someone working in the department to match them. She showed me that on the back of all the boxes of different sizes, there is an actual scaled circle of the size o-ring contained in the box (I believe they come two per package if I remember), so it was easy to match them up. The size she ended up selecting for me was 1/4" inside diameter x 3.8" outside diameter x 1/16" thickness. I don't use my KDS-58C as often as I did before I got my KUDS23, but I still run it every now and then. The next time I do a load in the 58, I will take off the front panel to see if any drips have returned. At the same time, I need to check the rinse agent dispenser, as I've noticed the last few times I've run a cycle, there is no "clunk" at the beginning of the last rinse fill.

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