KDTM384ESS Dishwasher 1/4" of slime

dishgate

Premium Member
Joined
May 15, 2019
Messages
8
Location
MD
Model Number
KDTM384ESS
Brand
KitchenAid
Age
1-5 years
Hello all! I am really hoping someone can help me. I have a chronic problem with my Kitchenaid dishwasher (with the window in it). I don't know if it is the dishwasher or not it might be something else. I can thoroughly clean all this brown disgusting goop off of everything. It comes off in sheets like 1/4" thick. Inside of the rails, in the pipes, everywhere and within 4-6 weeks it is back again. I have used every dishwashing detergent in the book including Cascade with Phosphates. Tried every combination of cycles. We rinse everything, stack correctly, do not block any flow, etc, etc, etc.... The drain is working perfect and the loop is where it is supposed to be. I also do not run the dishwasher through the disposal it goes to the main sink drain. I am at my wits end with this garbage and seriously considering to just not use it anymore at all.

HELP!!!
 

rickgburton

Appliance Tech - Moderator
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Messages
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Location
Murray, Utah 84107, United States
Recheck your model number. Nothing comes up with that number. Read it from the tag on the machine. Click here: Appliance Parts follow the link “How to find a model number”

I suspect the problem is with your water supply or possibly with the rinse aid you're using. With the machine empty, start a normal wash cycle. Do not use any soap. After the machine enters the wash cycle let it wash for about 90 seconds. Then open the door and look for any soap suds on the water. Any further diagnosis I'll need that model number.
 

dishgate

Premium Member
Joined
May 15, 2019
Messages
8
Location
MD
Thanks! How do I tell when it is in the wash cycle? It is very quiet and the top panel is blocked by the countertop when it is running.

I included below what I have from Sears. I have tried without rinse agent and with using just vinegar as well. I still get the buildup. I am open that this is my water but what in the water could cause this? Should I send a water sample out for analysis? I am on public/city water.

KitchenAid Dishwasher KDTM384ESS1 Repair Parts
KDTM384ESS 24" Top Control Built-In Dishwasher - Stainless Steel
Size: 26.5 x 24.5 x 35.65
Sold by SEARS
Sears Return Policy
Mfr# KDTM384ESS
Part# 02214343000
KSN: 6860742
UPC: 883049363660
 

rickgburton

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Thanks! How do I tell when it is in the wash cycle?
Can't you see it spraying water out of the spray arms through the window? Most dishwashers start with a 2 minute drain then the fill cycle and then the wash cycle. Turn off all the extras like heated wash, heated dry, or any sani-cycle.


I have tried without rinse agent..... but what in the water could cause this?
If you're using too much soap, that could cause it. Check if anything melted on the heating element. Water with high mineral content or salt content turns to steam and then condenses on everything. It could be a combination of your water and soap or rinse agent. If you have a soft water system you should cut the soap back to half.
 

dishgate

Premium Member
Joined
May 15, 2019
Messages
8
Location
MD
Thanks - the window is largely useless. But I can shine a flashlight in to get a general idea what is going on. Definitely not using too much soap. I fill the little cup to 1/2 or less of powdered Cascade Industrial (has phosphates). Heating element is clean and no water softener in the house. Rinse agent is just Jet dry but I used straight vinegar for around 6 months and still got the slime buildup.

Interestingly, since the last time I cleaned it earlier in the week, instead of trying to get it to the longest cleaning cycle, I have changed it to the shortest cycle. The long cycle is near 4 hours but the short cycle is around 2 hours. With the short I cannot do a sani rinse or use the "scrubber" jets but I am still able to choose heated wash. With this the dishwasher appears to be cleaning better. I can't say for sure since it will be another 4 weeks until it builds up enough sludge to tell if that is better or not. Also while cleaning it last time I managed to break off the top small water spinner. I ordered a new part but right now that is just water coming out which seems to also be helping to clean better.

This dishwasher just seems to me to be a piss poor design. It is just about the most expensive dishwasher you can buy but cleans so pathetically bad that you are better off washing by hand. I already lost a drain pump for it too after less than 3 years. Kitchenaid was only too happy to tell me all warranties on this POS were over.

I can't believe that I am the only person that gets a 1/4" of slime buildup every 1-2 months.
 

rickgburton

Appliance Tech - Moderator
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Could it be algae? I know dishwasher detergent with phosphates promotes algae growth. I've been working on dishwashers for 33 years and I've never seen slime in a dishwasher.
 

dishgate

Premium Member
Joined
May 15, 2019
Messages
8
Location
MD
Could it be algae? I know dishwasher detergent with phosphates promotes algae growth. I've been working on dishwashers for 33 years and I've never seen slime in a dishwasher.
No, it isn't algae. It happened way before I started using the phosphate Cascade. It is a greyish-off-whiteish 1/8"-1/4" sheet covering most things in the dishwasher especially inside the tubes and within the rails and pockets. I have taken off 2"x2" squares of it. It stinks too. Anyway the problem seems much better now that I am running on the shortest cycle without sani rinse. But your response does let me know that this is a fairly unique issue. And I may take that as a sign that I need to have my water tested.
 

rickgburton

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Anyway the problem seems much better now that I am running on the shortest cycle without sani rinse.
It has something to do with the water. The water is either a carrier bringing it into the machine or there's some sort of chemical reaction with what's in the water and the soap or rinse agent. After you clean it how long before you start noticing the build up? How hot is your water?
 

dishgate

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Joined
May 15, 2019
Messages
8
Location
MD
It has something to do with the water. The water is either a carrier bringing it into the machine or there's some sort of chemical reaction with what's in the water and the soap or rinse agent. After you clean it how long before you start noticing the build up? How hot is your water?
I was thinking about this yesterday. Are you aware of how saltwater aquarium protein skimmers work? A process called "fractionation"? I have a jetted tub that does this while running (same water supply). I get that brown foamy scum similar to what you would see at the ocean beaches as well in the tub while the jets are on. I am suspecting that the long (almost 4 hour) run that this very poorly designed dishwasher makes on it's long cycles creates this "fractionation" in the water which is what I am seeing build up in the dishwasher. Running a shorter cycle either does not froth the water enough or is not long enough for enough of it to build up. The sheets of sludge are very similar in nature to what I clean out of my saltwater protein skimmers. Including the smell.
 

dishgate

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May 15, 2019
Messages
8
Location
MD
Here is a couple pics of the latest load. The right side is close to being clean but the left side still has buildup. I want to see if this comes off by itself but I'll clean it later in the week if it doesn't. What you see was all over everything in the dishwasher and comes off in sheets when I let it go long enough without a FULL rack cleanout. The left side is around 2 wweeks of buildup.
 

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rickgburton

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I showed the pictures to a couple techs that have been in the business as long as I have. They have never seen that before either.
 

dishgate

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Messages
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Location
MD
Thanks all I wanted to do a final report on this. Since running on the shortest cycle, the dishwasher has been very clean no buildup at all and the dishes are also way cleaner. I think I have finally gotten the last of the gunk out of the dishwasher parts as well. I had to thoroughly disassemble everything again to get to the buildup. It literally was covering every single surface in the dishwasher. Every piece of metal and plastic and inside all of the piping.

When I approached Kitchenaid about this they did not care one iota. In my opinion the way this dishwasher cleans is a design flaw. Perhaps an unhealthy one. I am debating whether to file a complaint with any federal agencies.

One more thing if anyone knows; my right side adjustable top rack keeps falling down. Undoubtedly due to me taking it apart several times to clean it. I compared it to the other side which works perfect and I can see no difference. Any tips to fix it so it won't fall into the lower position all the time?
 
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