What Is a Dishwasher Motor?

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  • Written By: Cindy Quarters
  • Edited By: S. Pike
  • Last Modified Date: 15 August 2019
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A dishwasher is a handy appliance that many people can’t imagine being without. A person must only load and unload the dishwasher, and the machinery does the rest, handling the soap and hot water efficiently. The dishwasher motor is an integral part of this system, as it provides the means to make the pump move water in and out of the dishwasher.

There are different styles of dishwashers, and the way the motor works differs from one to another. In some older dishwashers, the motor connects to a system of belts. When the motor turns one way, it drives the belts to power the pump and pump water into the dishwasher. The spray comes out through the arms, washing the dishes. After the wash cycle, the motor turns in the opposite direction, reversing the direction of the belts and causing the pump to pump the water down the drain, thus emptying the dishwasher.

Newer dishwashers don’t use belts, but instead are set up so that the motor powers the pump directly. One type of motor commonly used is reversible, and the other type is not. In both cases the pump is mounted onto the motor, but the placement of the motor and pump differs between the two types.


A dishwasher motor that is not reversible is mounted on its side in the bottom of the dishwasher. The pump is attached to the shaft, near the center of the dishwasher. When the motor is turned on, it causes the pump to push water through a tube and out the spray arms. To drain the dishwasher, a mechanical arm is engaged, diverting the water into the drain.

A reversible dishwasher motor is set vertically in the middle of the bottom of the dishwasher. When the motor is running one way, it causes the pump to push water out through the arms, spraying the dishes. After the wash or rinse cycle, the motor runs the other way, causing the pump to reverse directions as well and pump all of the water out of the dishwasher.

Whatever type of motor a dishwasher uses, it essentially has only two functions. First, it causes the pump to force water into the interior of the dishwasher, spraying the dishes and cleaning them. Second, it causes the pump to run in the other direction and empty the water from the interior of the dishwasher. Although there may be slight variations in the way these operations are carried out, the dishwasher motor is what provides the power for all of the washing and draining operations of the dishwasher.


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