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GE Dishwasher thinks it is not able to drain. Get a code C1 then C2. 21 years old.

MikeConoh

Premium Member
Joined
Mar 30, 2016
Messages
8
Location
Ohio
Model Number
GSD4420X66BB
Brand
GE
Age
More than 10 years
My dishwasher is 21 years old, GE profile. I get a code C1 that turns into a C2. This means that it has been trying to drain for more than 7 minutes, and thinks it is not successful. Everything I read talks about how to fix a real problem when there is standing water. But what I have happening is that I can see the water successfully pumping into my disposal. But then the machine just continues to make the pumping sound. First displaying C1, and eventually displaying C2 and then stopping. I have unscrewed the sump filter area, and the drain check valve area and cleaned both. There was a lot of crud. Also removed and cleaned the drain check valve. Also had crud. Rubber porting just slightly deformed. It’s spring still is intact. I removed and cleaned the overflow float area even though it should be irrelevant to this problem.
I have successfully reset the machine, and also killed power to it several times.

I have searched the internet, and cannot find how the dishwasher is supposed to understand when it has successfully pumped out the water, and it is time to continue. If I knew that then maybe I would know what needs replacing. If it is the control module, then it is probably time to buy a new dishwasher, even though I would prefer not to.

I have also watched it when pump was running to drain (by fooling the door interlock). I see that water attempts to push up through the center spray a little bit. Not sure that this is relevant. Maybe it always did that. I think it did it even more before I cleaned out the check valve.
 

jeff1

Appliance Tech - Moderator
Staff member
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Oct 10, 2004
Messages
24,842
Location
Ontario, Canada
Hi,

It has something to do with the microswitch that is under the drain solenoid.....solenoid arm would that switch to tell the control what is happening.....and yes, this switch is NLA.
Also check the float, if it is stuck up or thinks it is in the up posiiton the unit will also drain only.

jeff.
 

jeclose

Premium Member
Joined
Nov 7, 2015
Messages
15
Location
New York
Yes, this all sounds familiar, but it is triggered in my 26 year old GE dishwasher by the addition of rinse agent - that's the key to what is causing the problem. Some theories are that the rinse agent tricks the float valve into staying "up" or in a position that indicates that there is still water in the dishwasher that needs to drain, or that the sticky liquid seeps down into the solenoid and causes that to stick, or that it seeps into the wiring inside the door and causes some kind of short or fault. I still haven't isolated it, but have found that when I run the dishwasher through a dozen or so cycles (to the point where it hangs up), it will eventually clear. So something will eventually cause it to clear whatever ails it - presumably a sufficient amount of water to rinse away the agent from whatever part or mechanism is being impeded by the rinse agent.

Whoever solves this problem will surely win the Nobel Prize for Dishwasher Science.
 

Jake

Appliance Tech - Admin
Staff member
Joined
Aug 24, 2004
Messages
111,875
Location
McMullen Valley, Arizona
When I was a kid I remember seeing a Jet Dry Basket hanging from the upper rack inside the dishwasher on our 1974 Avocado Colored Magic Chef Dishwasher.

I thought they stopped making those, but guess what I found: Finish Jet-Dry Rinse Aid Baskets, 1.34 oz, 2 count - Walmart.com

This should solve the liquid rinse aid in the dispenser of the door problem with these older GE models.:)

Jake
 

jeclose

Premium Member
Joined
Nov 7, 2015
Messages
15
Location
New York
That would only solve the problem if the cause were related to whatever happens to the rinse agent inside the door panel. When I have removed the door panel (exposing the control board, etc), I noticed that the wires and the inside of the door were all sticky from the rinse agent. I think that happened because the screws that tighten the inside door panel to the door were loose and were letting water and/or rinse agent get inside the door panel, perhaps aiding and abetting the problem. It remains a mystery.
 

MikeConoh

Premium Member
Joined
Mar 30, 2016
Messages
8
Location
Ohio
I think what Jeff said makes sense, although perhaps it is not the switch but maybe a spring around the solenoid. So I am not going to buy the microswitch without first examining the area, and the old switch and any nearby floats.

Perhaps I will need to buy a drain valve solenoid kit instead based on what I see??? Jeff said "this switch is NLA", which I figure means "no longer available" but perhaps I am wrong about what nla means. It seems that two online companies say the switch is WD21x643 and even though it is out of stock it will be available to ship within about 10 days. Or perhaps I am looking at the wrong switch. Jeff or somebody, please respond about this if you can.

I will probably pull out the dishwasher to look better on Sat. or Sunday. I will have to fight with a rusted trim screw first.
I already cleaned the float that I believe is the "flood float" and easily accessible.
 

jeff1

Appliance Tech - Moderator
Staff member
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Oct 10, 2004
Messages
24,842
Location
Ontario, Canada
Micro-Switch-WD21X643--00619474.jpg Switch, drain valve sensing

Yupper, some places say NLA ( No Longer Available ) and some say back ordered.

jeff.
 

jeclose

Premium Member
Joined
Nov 7, 2015
Messages
15
Location
New York
Toggle that float switch first before investing in a drain valve solenoid kit. You'll have to take off the access panel to the motor, etc in the front. The float switch is in the front and easily accessible. Turn off the power to the dishwasher first, of course. Then remove the cover that hides the switch and then operate it by hand a few times and perhaps spray it with a contact cleaner. See if that works.....
 

MikeConoh

Premium Member
Joined
Mar 30, 2016
Messages
8
Location
Ohio
I am the person who originally posted.
Here is an update:
I took off the front lower panels (was hard due to a rusty screw) and found a message telling me where I would find the tech literature. I found it. I determined that my washer does not have a separate drain pump or drain-line solenoid. The schematic said it was not on all models, and I did not see any such thing on mine. Note that a black plastic thing with wires, in a position to be a drain line check valve, is actually a turbidity sensor.

This is how I figure the draining is meant to happen:
The one and only pump circulates the water around to wash the dishes, but then the control stops it briefly, and the drain solenoid powers on (retracts) for five seconds and causes a diverter in the pump housing to move. The pump turns back on in less than the five seconds, and water pushes on the diverter in a way that allows diverter (and solenoid armature) to stay in that position even though the solenoid is no longer activated. When all the water is pumped out the drain, and there is only air pushing on the diverter, then a spring (it is visible, if you watch) is powerful enough to move the diverter back to the original position and at the same time pulls the armature back out of the solenoid. When it does that, the drain micro switch is contacted, telling the control the draining was completed successfully.

What was happening for me is:
1. Water fills tub.
2. Pump starts intending to circulate water to do the wash, but because the spring could not do its job against a slightly rusty solenoid armature that is remaining constantly partially retracted, the pump instead sent all the water down the drain. Then when there was only air to pump, the pump kept running because the spring was still not strong enough to fully pull out the rusty armature.
3. Thus the limit switch is never contacted, and eventually the Code C1 then C2 comes up.

How I fixed it:
After pushing on and wiping the solenoid armature several times, the washer is back to operating normally for now. However I get dripping water for a bit each time a drain cycle happens and that is causing the rust. My hypothesis is that the water is getting past a shaft seal on the diverter. This is not visible to me without pulling out the washer.

I have put a pan under the leak, and I am debating whether it is worth pulling out the dishwasher and learning the true source of the leak. If I am correct, it might be an expensive pump replacement. Or, I can just continue to leave a big shallow baking pan in there to protect my flooring. That is probably what I will do. Now that I don’t have a rusty screw, it is easy to check the pan in the future. I am wondering if it would be okay to put a little light oil or WD40 on the armature to slow down the rust.

FYI, to get the rusty screw loose so I could get off the lower trim, I bought a manual impact driver from Sears for about 25 dollars. Glad I own it. Wish I had bought one long ago. Thanks to Jeff and all the others who share their knowledge.
 

jeclose

Premium Member
Joined
Nov 7, 2015
Messages
15
Location
New York
Mike,

You are spot-on in what you found, and you've zero'ed in on the very same areas that I have focussed on in trying to determine why the C2 error is thrown. I have been in the motor/pump compartment of my dishwasher more times than I can count every time this has happened (remember, I'm the guy with the dishwasher that throws the code only after Jet-Rinse has been added to the dispenser).

I have focussed on the drain solenoid myself as the possible culprit. Interestingly enough, your story matches mine in almost every respect: I have the same dripping problem when the solenoid activates, and I have had a shallow pan underneath it for several years to catch the water. I have also reached in and toggled that solenoid armature to make sure it is working, AND have sprayed the moving parts with WD-40 to ensure that nothing is hung up. I really didn't know what I was doing, however - just hoping that something I did fixed the problem. It looks like you've approached it in a more analytical way, and perhaps that's the key: You theorize the following:

"2. Pump starts intending to circulate water to do the wash, but because the spring could not do its job against a slightly rusty solenoid armature that is remaining constantly partially retracted, the pump instead sent all the water down the drain. Then when there was only air to pump, the pump kept running because the spring was still not strong enough to fully pull out the rusty armature.
3. Thus the limit switch is never contacted, and eventually the Code C1 then C2 comes up."

Now in my case I don't think the pump is sending all the water down the drain; I have no indication that it is doing that, but I'm wondering if the Jet Rinse might be causing the water to be "frothy" and mislead the DW into thinking it had finished/not finished draining, or the Jet Rinse's stickiness is causing the armature to stick and not fully retract. After half-a-dozen cycles or so, the dishwasher will "get past" this C2 error and complete the cycle instead of getting hung up, so I can only postulate that once a sufficient amount of water has leaked through to "clean" the stickiness off the solenoid armature (or whatever), that it can then run normally.

You have to think about what it is about the Jet Rinse that could cause it to throw the C2 code - it's either the stickiness of the product itself, or what it does to the water, as a causative agent. That I have not figured out yet.

So you're saying that lubricating the armature did the trick for you? I thought that that had worked for me a while back, but now am not so sure that it is the permanent solution I have been looking for.
 

jeclose

Premium Member
Joined
Nov 7, 2015
Messages
15
Location
New York
Meant to say in earlier reply, "Now in my case I don't think the pump is NOT sending all the water down the drain;" , not, "Now in my case I don't think the pump is sending all the water down the drain;"
 

MikeConoh

Premium Member
Joined
Mar 30, 2016
Messages
8
Location
Ohio
I did not lubricate the armature, because I thought that oil flowing down into the solenoid housing might be a bad thing. It might collect dirt and get gummy. So all I did was wipe and rub the armature with a wet rag, and pull it and push it. Hopefully it functions for a long time before a piece of rust gets wedged or something like that.

Jeff posted a link for a 134 dollar pump, and I think that is probably what would be necessary to stop the water drip. I don’t plan to do it.

Regarding JEClose problem with the rinse agent, I now have a vague hypothesis: Perhaps froth that occurs early, and even momentarily, during the wash cycle (not drain cycle) reduces pressure on the diverter and then the spring has the power necessary to touch and trigger the microswitch. Maybe it happens several times. One or all of them begins the “clock ticking” when it should not be starting yet. And then the control keeps monitoring the time and declares things have been running too long so it throws the code.

Also regarding JEClose post: when you corrected yourself by adding “NOT” it made what I thought was a clear sentence (although maybe inaccurate) into a sentence I am not sure what it means. Since you never, in any of your original posts on your own thread mention having a standing water problem, I figure that your water is pumped out successfully. For you it might happen when it is appropriate
For me, the draining followed by eventual code happened before any successful washing. The wash water ended up immediately down the drain, instead of through the spray arms. But pump would run thinking it was washing dishes.
 

jeclose

Premium Member
Joined
Nov 7, 2015
Messages
15
Location
New York
Mike,

Interesting theory you have about the rinse agent; I wish there were a way to observe and test this. When you refer to the microswitch, you are referring to the switch located on the drain solenoid? Unfortunately, every time I have to "mess" with this, I have to take that lower panel off (not real easy) to access the innards, and I'm getting increasingly loath to do that without knowing exactly what the problem is or what is causing it. It's somewhat purposeless for me at this point to get in there and mess around without knowing what it is that needs to be fixed. I'm not sure if there is a fix for the possible scenario you outlined with the rinse agent; it would likely just keep happening, unless lubricating something might fix it. I think whatever is monitoring the cycles is not "hearing" that the drain cycle is complete, as it keeps trying to drain until it exceeds some set period of time beyond which the control board assumes there is something wrong and initiates the C2 error code (that's my take on it anyway). I don't know if that jives with your theory, above.

Anyway, it's been three rinse cycles now with the C2 error code thrown since I added rinse agent earlier this week. Each time it happens at 8 minutes into the 12 minute rinse and hold cycle, and then at 7 minutes it throws the code and I have to throw the breaker in order to stop it - the "clear and reset" button doesn't stop it (perhaps that's a clue in itself). I'll keep track of how long it takes for it to start acting normally again.

Any ideas on how to defeat the rinse agent problem you described?
 

MikeConoh

Premium Member
Joined
Mar 30, 2016
Messages
8
Location
Ohio
An update: After 2 or 3 successful washes with no codes, I found that my dishwasher finished with displaying C1. And it did it a 2nd time. C1 means drain was slow. C2 would mean it was totally blocked and the cycle would have not completed.

So this evening I accessed the area again and saw the armature had rust, as I already knew. It was more visible since the washer was off and it was not wet. I moved the armature up and down some. I took some pictures and video with my phone. I will see if I can post it soon. And then I added a very small amount of oil on the outside of the armature. I did it by coating a thin strip of metal I have from a windshield wiper blade. Round metal like a coat hanger could also work but is more messy. Then touching the metal to the armature, and letting gravity transfer some oil. I again moved the armature up and down. I always do this by pushing down on the plastic cam, and letting the spring pull it back up when I release the cam.

Regarding JEClose situation: I don’t use rinse agent. I live in Cincinnati and our water is from the Ohio River so it is surface water and is not hard. It is well treated (Cincinnati has to be leaders in water treatment since we live down stream of Wheeling and Pittsburgh and other places. Go Bengals!)

I don’t know anything about how rinse agent dispenses. I use Cascade Complete packs. Even though it is “complete” it does not say anything about there being a rinse agent as part of it.

FYI, my access panels come off easily (after I did it the first time). Four phillips screws.

To understand more, I suggest you lay down and watch the washer drain solenoid operate. Perhaps you will see extra movements when it fails (after rinse agent) verses when it works okay.

You could also carefully reach in with one hand first when the breaker is off. And then if you feel comfortable, do it when the breaker is back on during a cycle.
 

MikeConoh

Premium Member
Joined
Mar 30, 2016
Messages
8
Location
Ohio
A video , no it is just a still photo, of drain solenoid

The thin metal horizontal bar is not the problem. It was not my intent to push on it. It is part of the limit switch. It is the rusty armature cylinder ( that has a bar going up into the white plastic piece) that is my problem. It is my intent to push down on the armature to demonstrate it how it pulls down the plastic piece and expands the spring. And then release it, to demonstrate PhotoDrainSolenoid.jpg how the spring is supposed to pull the armature back up. After typing this, i found I was unable to upload my .mov file so I am attaching a still photo instead.
 

jeclose

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Nov 7, 2015
Messages
15
Location
New York
Mike, Thanks for the picture (worth a thousand words, as always). Mine is similar in appearance but perhaps not exactly the same (I would have to take off access panel (always laborious) to verify that, but close enough for now. I don't think my own solenoid armature cylinder is rusty, but as part of my blind efforts to fix the C2 problem, I had sprayed all the moving parts in there with WD-40, thinking that might help. No definitive sign that it did.

I note also that my DW goes right to the C2 error, and does not first flash C1. That is probably a substantive difference. I'm almost certain that the rinse agent here is causative, but what exactly it is doing to what, I'm not sure.

So after adding rinse agent a little over a week ago to the dispenser, I have run the 12 minute rinse cycle about half-a-dozen times, with each cycle locking up at the 7 minute (5 minutes elapsed) point and throwing the C2 error. Finally, last night, it broke through the 7 minute barrier and finished the cycle. This is typical; it seems to suggest that after a number of cycles, the effect of the rinse agent is washed or rinsed away from whatever it is gooping up. It's what it is gooping up that is the mystery (I know that's not a technical term). It could still very well be that armature and the moving parts there, or the overfill switch that is in the left front of the DW - I really don't know. I DO know that there is no actual drain blockage, as I have laboriously opened up, reamed out, and otherwise ensured that everything is open and clear. So the mystery remains.

I have thought about going to one of those "complete" products such as you use, as they do indeed contain rinse agents. That might be the solution for me.
 
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