My dishwasher freezes up during these bitter cold (-25 degree nights, -5 degree highs in the day) spells. I have a heater in the empty space beside it where a cupboard goes but there is none. But even after 3 days it still won't allow the water in. Can I manually put water (if so, how many gallons???) in it & press start? I do not want to destroy my dishwasher.

I put in only clean dishes, I use it for sanitizing them essentially (my drain is fine, I did check it to see if it needed cleaning just as a precaution). I cannot pull out the dishwasher nor have a professional come in. I need a cheap easy fix until the weather warms up. (Besides take them all out & wash by hand-which is what I plan to do the rest of winter. Electric heater costs too much.) It has done this each Winter during extreme cold spells since I moved here to Wyoming so I'm certain it is a frozen water line, not the dishwasher itself.

  • 4
    Personally, I'd try to thaw that water line before expanding ice bursts it. I've had to clean up after that kind of flood twice (once in a place I was renting, once helping a friend), and it isn't as much fun as it sounds. And before you say it doesn't sound like fun at all, let me assure you it's even less fun than that.
    – keshlam
    Jan 1, 2015 at 6:30

6 Answers 6


I am the original person who wrote this. My dishwasher is in the corner of the kitchen. Someone once remodeled the kitchen & took out the door that use to be there. Unfortunately they didn't insulate the wall they replaced it with. As a result that corner of this house gets really cold. I have tried using a small heater in the enclosed space next to the dishwasher but that didn't resolve the problem. I've also used a hairdryer under it; still no luck. It doesn't leak anywhere which always amazes me. For 8 years now the dishwasher doesn't work once it gets bitter cold here in Wyoming, but works fine starting in late Spring.

So I wanted to know if I could just put in hot water when the proper cycle arose? My dishwasher is now 10 years olds so I decided, "What the heck? Worse outcome: buy a new dishwasher". No one had an answer so I decided this year to just do it. I put in 1 1/2 gallons for the pre-wash, wash & rinse cycles. This required being in the kitchen the entire time so I didn't miss a cycle. WORKED FINE in my Kenmore dishwasher. Hope others have the same luck.

I don't use my dishwasher but once every 3 weeks or so (I hand wash a lot) & I was recently told I should use it every week. Something about them sitting isn't good. So I'll try that also & see if that prevents it from 'freezing up' (I'm still keeping the little heater next to it on too.)

  • The supply line probably in the wall or under the floor has frozen, opening any cabinet doors next to it may help and running with a pan of hot water shoulder hurt anything and may help to thaw the plumbing. The dishwasher should be cycled so nothing starts growing , the heating element usually heats the water hot enough to kill any bacteria but a little dishwasher soap will help to sanitize if not regularly using it. I would be checking to see if you can access the supply line and add some insulation to the pipe because you have been lucky so far that it has not burst after freezing.
    – Ed Beal
    Jan 29, 2018 at 15:22
  • I do this too. Running it with manually added water for the detergent cycle usually thaws things out enough for it to run properly for the rinse. Works fine. I suspect that the problem may be in the valve itself (being stuck by the cold), not the supply line, because repeated freezing has not caused any water leaks.
    – aaron
    Jan 22, 2019 at 19:59

Many dishwashers allow you to specify the dry-cycle without going through the wash cycle. This enables the heating element but just heats the air inside of the machine. On my dishwasher this produces a lot of heat. I would try running the dry-cycle ONLY and the heat may be enough to radiate into and thaw the pipe.


No this won't work. You'll probably end up burning out the pump since the dishwasher will still try to pump water into it. Also, if your water line is frozen, your drain might also be frozen.

  • I would expect that if the drain is frozen, that hot water sitting on top of the blockage would melt the ice into water which would then drain away.
    – JimmyJames
    Jan 29, 2018 at 14:43

Your best bet is to get your hair drier out and try to thaw the lines. Chances are that if the drain is frozen, so are other lines that water would flow through. If you have a little space heater you could put that near it to help warm that area up too. I suggest you take off the bottom panel of the washer and put some heat under the dishwasher. It is time consuming depending on how frozen it is, but way cheaper than replacing the pump motor. Good luck.


If you can manage it, I would try to either submerge the line in warm water or pour hot water over it. A hair-dryer isn't going to transfer enough heat to the line. Another option that might work is to take heating pad (the used to make these, not sure if they still do due to the fire risk) and wrap it around the line.

You should have the insulation fixed as soon as you can. You've been lucky so far that this hasn't flooded your house.


Old thread, but a solution.

I actually have a similar issue, but for different reasons (the flexible portion of waterline touches the wall which is an exterior wall). Putting hot water in the pan does not help if the water line is frozen. I have to remove the plastic panel at the very bottom of the dishwasher covering the motor (easy) and open up the dishwasher door to keep it from becoming a fridge. I also open the cabinet door next to it where the main water line feeds it. It freezes only during the overnight when the house temp drops and outside is less than 10.

heat, to the water line, is what helps (the flexible part of the water line is hard to get to and actually touches the wall. I keep on meaning to pull it out and put a piece of foam or something but always forget until it happens again). Blow dryer helps or an electric heater pointing towards the freeze point. Warm air flow.

When this happened my heater element did trigger in the dishwasher itself (referring to another post in this thread) but the heat was in the wrong place.

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