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Will A Dishwasher Work Without Hot Water?

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Last updated on August 14th, 2022 at 01:28 pm

Dishwashers are very effective when it comes to keeping plates clean. Nonetheless, you may have worries, especially when it begins to affect your electricity bill. So, after noticing that heating water takes up most of the energy, you may wonder whether the dishwasher can work without the hot water.

Your dishwasher can work without hot water. However, this is not ideal. If you don’t use hot water, tentatively, you will use cold water. Coldwater cannot clean your dishes as well as hot water will. In addition, Coldwater will not remove food particles stuck on the dishes and will not kill microorganisms and hot water.

Do Dishwashers Use Hot Water or Heat Their Own?

This is dependent upon the model of dishwasher you own. Some dishwashers heat their water because they come with an inbuilt electric water heating element that boils the water automatically. Contrarily, some models of dishwashers draw hot water from your water heater to clean and sanitize the dishes.

The Dishwasher models that heat their water come with electric heating elements. These electric heating elements are either found at the basin of the dishwasher or inside the dishwasher.

Furthermore, these heating elements continuously heat the water. They also maintain it at 140 to 145 degrees Fahrenheit during the initial wash and sometimes during the final rinse.

Some special dishwasher machines have a sanitization cycle, whereby water is still heated higher during the final rinse.

In some scenarios, the electric heater of the dishwasher may go wrong, so it can not access hot water, or the dishwasher can not utilize hot water. In such cases, this won’t prevent the dishwasher from working.

It’ll still work fine with cold water, just that the sanitary level of your dishes will be reduced. Thus, you have to fix the problem as promptly as you can to maximize the cleaning potentials of your dishwasher.

Those dishwasher models that lack electric water heating elements feed on hot water from the household line connected to a water heater. In this model, the water entering the dishwasher must be greater than 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

If this water temperature is lesser, the washing ability of the dishwasher is decreased. This may result in the retention of food particles on the dish surfaces and grease in the machine.

How Much Hot Water Does A Dishwasher Use?

The volume of hot water used by dishwashers differs from model to model. However, on average, a dishwasher consumes about 6 to 8 gallons of water during every washing cycle. From this quantity, at least 2 to 3 gallons expended is hot water. Some other models of dishwashers may even consume more.

More developed models consume less water and electricity but are more costly. Nevertheless, almost half of the water is heated for cleaning out of the entire washing cycle.

The user manual may contain this information.

Heating 2 to 3 gallons of water to about 140 degrees Fahrenheit is an arduous task for the dishwasher.

This explains why 80 percent of the energy consumption of dishwashers is for this phase of cleaning.

Therefore, I recommend buying newer advanced models which use less energy, even if they are more expensive. This will help you save up on the cost of electricity in the long run.

Can You Run A Dishwasher With Cold Water?

You can run your dishwasher with cold water, and the dishwasher won’t even complain! But, nevertheless, the dishwasher will clean your dishes at a tremendously reduced ability because of the cold water.

This reduction in efficiency is because cold water doesn’t clean the dishes and destroy harmful microorganisms and hot water.

If you run your dishwasher on cold water, it will not malfunction or develop technical faults. Nevertheless, dishwashers aren’t originally designed to run on cold water, especially those that come with an electric heater fitted into them.

Consequently, you won’t be getting the best out of your dishwasher, and by doing so, you’re exposing your family and yourself to infections.

For dishwashers to function effectively, the water must be heated to a temperature of not less than 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

Therefore, the most common models come fitted with inbuilt temperature enhancers.

This function sustains the water temperature at that recommended temperature set point. This is where most of the electrical energy consumed by your dishwasher is used.

Why Does My Dishwasher Not Have Hot Water?

The presence of hot water in your dishwasher depends on the type of dishwasher you have. However, generally speaking, the most typical causes of not having hot water in your dishwasher include:

  • A Spoilt Basin Heating Element
  • A Spoilt Flow-Through Heating Element
  • A Dysfunctional Hot Water Line
  • An Incorrect Dishwasher Thermostat or Timer

1. A Damaged Basin Heating Element

Most dishwashers are made to have an electric heating element in the basin. This electric heating element heats water and then circulates it throughout the dishwasher. In this way, it washes the dishes.

Because the heating element is left exposed, there is a substantial risk of melting plastic onto itself.

If this is the case, the heating element is coated with plastic and can no longer heat water as efficiently as it should. This prevents the dishwasher from having hot water.

Because electric heating elements are challenging to repair and are relatively inexpensive, you should get a new one and replace the old heating element.

This is the most effective way of solving this problem.

2. A Damaged Flow-Through Heating Element

Unlike the dishwasher model described earlier, which comes with a basin heating element, some other models have a flow-through heating element. These types of electric water heating elements are protected from external exposure.

As the water surges through the channels within the dishwasher, the heating element heats the water. This is in contrast to heating a whole collection of water seen in the basin heating element.

If this flow-through heating element becomes broken by external force or any other means, water doesn’t get heated.

Consequently, your dishwasher is left to function with cold water. You will need to replace the broken heating element by gaining access to it through the lower housing to fix this problem.

3. A Dysfunctional Hot Water Line

A few dishwasher models come without electric heating elements. Therefore, they get their hot water from the hot water line in the house. When the dishwasher needs hot water, hot water is drawn by negative pressure from the water heater into the dishwasher.

The water heater is then refilled with water to be heated for subsequent usage.

Therefore, the dishwasher needs the household hot water line to function. If this line gets blocked by chance or your household water heater gets terrible, your dishwasher can’t access hot water.

Consequently, the dishwasher will clean your dishes with cold water.

To rectify this problem, you have to trace the cause of the situation along the hot water line and fix it. For example, if it is a clog in the hot water line, you should remove it.

If the problem is a faulty household water heater, you should have it repaired.

4. An Incorrect Dishwasher Thermostat or Timer

Another possible reason why your dishwasher doesn’t have hot water may be that it is unaware that the water is supposed to be hot. The internal thermostat indicates where hot water should be provided during each cleaning cycle and when to heat water.

If the thermostat is working incorrectly or is faulty, or the timer is working wrongly, the dishwasher may not have hot water.

It would be best if you invited a professional electrician to check the thermostat and set the timer correctly to fix this problem.

The dishwasher will have to be opened, and the various components will be examined to see the faulty one replaced.

How To Know If Your Dishwasher Isn’t Getting Hot Water?

There are several signs to know when your dishwasher does not have hot water. First, it could be that food is still stuck on the dishes. More so, there could be detergent residues on the dishes.

1. Food is Still Stuck on The Dishes

This can be an essential pointer if you notice that food particles are not thoroughly cleaned off your dish surfaces, especially the corners.

This means that even though the dishwasher sprayers reach the dishes’ center, the water is not hot enough to melt all the food particles.

In the absence of hot water, food particles will be left on the inside rims and surfaces of the dishes. Therefore, once you notice that your utensils are not coming out as clean as they used to, you should suspect that your dishwasher is not having hot water.

2. Detergent Residues on The Dishes

Dishwashers usually clean dishes with hot water and detergent. Usually, the hot water completely dissolves and wash away the detergents.

If you consistently find detergent residues on the surface of your dishes, it’s a sign that the water is not hot enough to dissolve the detergent. Therefore detergent residues remain stuck on the dishes.


As we know, Dishwashers clean dishes using a combination of hot water and detergent. You should use hot water instead of cold water because the heat from the hot water will dissolve food particles and kill germs.

However, if your dishwasher does not have hot water for any of the reasons mentioned above, your dishwasher can still function on cold water. This, however, is to your peril!

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