Dishwasher fires are not all that commonplace, we rarely see them and even when we do they are generally not all that serious as in, burn the house down serious.
Of course if the worst happens and your dishwasher does have a “fire” incident then it will give most people a proper scare and perhaps cause a bit of panic however it’s usually not that bad and leads to minimal damage other than in very unusual cases. We will explain why it’s not normally a big problem in most cases.
Commonly dishwashers are installed in heated kitchen areas so, normally this is not a problem.
However, like all other appliances, if you put it in an unheated outbuilding or kitchen then you are asking for trouble. Condensation can form on components causing a shock and fire risk as well as causing corrosion than can lead to an early demise of the dishwasher.
On a regular power supply that's good, in a normal heated environment, level and on an RCD there's little to go wrong here.
Common Causes Of Dishwasher Fires
The most common cause of a dishwasher fire is the wiring loom where it passes through the door at the bottom into the working components in the base. As shown in the image, it is a common problem and can lead to all sorts of weird faults.
Over time the wiring can break down or chaff allowing exposed cables. It isn’t hard to figure out that putting together a live, neutral and earth all at once with the possibility of water in there as well is not a good idea.
Any number of people will say that’s a design problem and they are correct, it’d be easy to get around that problem by putting the control on a fixed control panel at the top. But, do that and you lose capacity in the cavity so you would have less interior space and, people want as much space in the dishwasher as they can get. So, from a sales perspective, this is a non-starter although many dishwashers from the 1970’s where like this.
It is a compromise or balance between people’s needs or wants and safety which is largely okay for most people who will never have an issue.
It is also important to realise that this tends to affect machines that are old, as in 8-10 years at least and very often beyond the anticipated life of the dishwasher so it can hardly be regarded as anything other than simple wear and tear. Over time this will happen to almost every dishwasher.
If you do hear crackling or smell burning from your dishwasher don’t be daft, switch it off and have it looked at or inspect it yourself. Repair or replace it as required.
The only other common thing is a control panel or mains switch failing in spectacular fashion that will often lead to a report of a dishwasher going on fire.
The reality is that it’s not really a “fire”, a component blew and cause some smoke. Dramatic, sure but not usually much more than that.
Again this is normally some years down the road for most dishwashers and it’s again normally attributable to good old wear and tear. Components fail, they won’t last forever.
Other than these two prime suspects there is rarely much else on a dishwasher that will go “on fire”.
Common Sense Safety
Have read of our fire safety tips that apply to all appliances here if you have any other concerns.
Most dishwasher safety is simple common sense though.
Put it on a proper supply with a good socket. Make sure the circuit is protected by an RCD or suchlike. Don’t use it in damp conditions and so on. It’s almost all straightforward common sense stuff.
It would surprise many people just how many dishwasher as well as other appliance faults we see being as a direct result of faulty mains supplies. So much so that many manufacturers now have fault codes installed in the electronics to detect over and under voltage conditions along with any other irregularities that can be detected internally. However, this can only take you so far.
Again, like other appliances do not install outdoors in unheated areas such as garages, sheds and so forth as there is a high risk of dampness and this will affect the machine, it’s performance and can be a major safety risk, including a potential shock and fire risk.
Normal dishwashers are not designed for outdoor use.
Neither are they designed for use in other areas subject to or can be subject to high levels of damp, like bathrooms.
Doing either is just asking for trouble.