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Why is the dishwasher tripping a breaker?

It's been nine months since we moved into our new (to us) house. Lately, our dishwasher has been constantly tripping the breaker. It's a Samsung and the internet doesn't view their appliances favorably, but what's going on?

Debugging this took a few steps. It doesn't always happen, but it's regular enough to not trust that the dishes will get clean.

  • Is the filter on the dishwasher full of gunk? Cleaned it and the issue persists.
  • Side note: If you're surprised that your dishwasher has a filter, I strongly suggest figuring out how to find and clean yours.
  • Is water running to the dishwasher? Yes! Can it drain properly? Yes, sort of – it appears to trip the breaker when the pump runs to drain the dishwasher.
  • Is anything else on the circuit or is the breaker bad? Nope, tried another and the issue still occurs.
  • Are both outlets somehow going bad? Negative, the circuit tester shows a clean bill of health.
  • Is the pump going out on the dishwasher like the internet suggests? Maybe! It doesn't sound any different compared to when we moved in, but we should check that out.

With full intentions of taking things apart and testing the pump, I started by removing the kickplate on the front of the dishwasher. Immediately after doing that, something looked off with the wiring box. What once was a complete box made of metal (I assume!) now has a suspicious hole in the bottom of it.

Removing the cover revealed the culprit:

As it turns out, the wires in that nut weren't making proper contact. This seems to have caused some arcing between them inside the nut, especially under load, which produced significant heat. And our overall problem.

Trimming back the damaged wires and replacing the burnt out nut was all it took to resume normal operation. You should be able to trust that appliances were installed properly, but sometimes it doesn't hurt to check before throwing out the dishwasher with the dish water.

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home diy