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GE Profile dishwasher with ''SmartDispense'' technology is clogged

How can I unclog the SmartDispense feature of my GE Profile dishwasher? The dishes are not getting clean and the detergent in the dispenser is not being dispensed. I believe I may have used an enzyme detergent after using a bleach detergent which I understand can cause the system to clog.

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  • Anonymous Dec 27, 2008

    Help, I have the same issue.

  • Anonymous Jan 19, 2009

    I have the same problem please help

  • Anonymous Mar 24, 2009

    same as above

  • Anonymous Mar 27, 2009

    I am trying to start the purge cyce and when I hold down the heated dry and down arrow it just locks the controls all the LED's illuminate. I have a cafe collection top control dishwasher

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I had this problem myself and the purge solution listed above did not work for me. There was just so much gelled and hardened junk in the dispenser container, it would have forever to clean out. Additionally, I think it could have had the chance of damaging the pump. Here is what I did instead:
* Remove power to the dishwasher (via circuit breaker or pull plug under sink).
* Take all dishes and bottom rack out of the dishwasher.
* Close dishwasher door.
* Remove bottom 2 screwbolts with a rachet.
* Open dishwasher door.
* Put a small box that is big enough to hold the panel while the door is opened.
* Remove screws holding inner door to outside panel. Don't remove the screws heading into side of door itself. Also, there are 2 screws near the latch that you don't want to take out...just loosen them and you'll see they don't behave like the other screws.
* The panel will separate from the door, BUT there are 2 ribbon cables connecting them. Have someone hold onto the door...so it won't pull up hard on the ribbon cables.
* GENTLY pull back and forth (side to side) on the white ribbon cable on the door. It will come off with a connector.
* Use a small flathead screwdriver to gently press the tab in on the blue connector and gently pull the blue ribbon cable straight out.
* Remove panel completely and put aside.
* Gently close dishwasher door. It will want to fly up since it doesn't weigh as much.
* Look for a red/green cable from the detergent container (detergent level sensor) and disconnect it.
* Open dishwasher door and take off detergent cap.
* Have someone hold onto the detergent container from the other side and un-twist the detergent locking ring (the item you normally screw the cap into). You can use your hands or put a cloth over it and gently remove with channellock pliers. The detergent container will now be free, but connected to a rubber tube that leads to the detergent dispenser pump. It will easily disconnect by pulling the container away from the tube/pump. The container is now free!
* Shake the living hell out of the detergent container over a trashcan. Mine had tons of white and blue gel in it. Once you remove most of the gunk, bring it under the faucet in the sink and rinse with warm/hot water. Shake, rinse, empty, shake, rinse, empty. The hole where the detergent comes out should be 100% cleaned out. Use the handle of a small paintbrush (or something) to push the hardened gunk out of the hole. Be sure the container is totally cleaned. Take your time on this.
* Put everything back in reverse order. The only thing I did differently is putting the door panel back on the door: Close door, reattach container & cable, bring over panel and re-attach ribbon cables, hang panel on the top two white plastic blocks that you loosened the 2 screws by the latch with earlier. Then screw on the bottom 2 door screws (do not tighten until all screws are put back in place). Put all screws back...don't overtighten.
* Re-apply power and you should see the 'Add detergent' light come on. That's a good sign!!!
* Put in fresh detergent and you should be good to go.
* Lesson learned: DON'T mix enzyme and bleach based detergent ever again!

This was easier than I thought it was going to be...and didn't waste electricity, water, or time based on the purging method. After all, if it is clogged, you can't purge it. Enjoy!

Posted on Jun 19, 2009

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  • ace bamboo Feb 25, 2011

    Followed your instructions. Worked like a charm. This is the way to go if you are mechanically inclined. If not, good luck with the other solutions. Thanks.

  • Okolehao Nov 24, 2011

    We followed these instructions and things didn't work quite right. We got a loud clicking and knocking sound from the soap pump when we ran the dishwasher. And we still did not get soap pumping out.

    It turns out we needed to loosen the soap pump itself. We gently removed the screws and lifted the motor slightly off the housing. But not enough to break the molded plastic mounting. We then put everything back again after cleaning the pump. The pump clicked some more and finally pushed out the clog inside it.

    So Make sure the pump itself is clean!

  • Anonymous1211
    Anonymous1211 Jan 13, 2014

    This worked perfectly! Thanks so much for the detailed instructions!!

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I found these directions on the GE website. After the first purge, my tank is empty and the "low detergent " came on. I am now in the process of running the 2nd purge....hopefully, this will correct the problem


If the wrong type of detergent or soap is used, the bulk dispenser will need to be purged.

How to Purge Incorrect Liquid Detergent from the Bulk Dispenser

The purge routine operates the bulk dispenser pump continuously to drain the bulk dispenser tank when an incorrect liquid was poured in the tank. The process consists of setting up the dishwasher to run the purge mode, running the purge mode and then cleaning up the purged detergent.

Follow these steps carefully to have a successful purge run.

For Top Control Models:

  1. Make sure Pre-wash, Added Heat and Heated Dry LEDs are off.
  2. Press Heated Dry and Down Arrow buttons together for 3 seconds. All LEDs will illuminate.
  3. Press Added Heat and Up Arrow buttons together for 3 seconds. The Anti-bacteria LED will illuminate
  4. Press Start button one time
  5. Select Normal and make sure Pre-wash, Added Heat and Heated Dry LEDs are off.
  6. Press Start button one more time and dishwasher will run a complete cycle without the main motor running. Cycle is complete when the Clean light illuminates. This should take approximately 60 minutes.
  7. Open door and wipe up excess detergent from the door and tub
  8. Flush remaining detergent off by pouring water on the door and tub where there is detergent residue.
  9. Remove SmartDispenser cap and fill tank with water and then replace cap.
  10. Repeat Steps 1 through 9 one time.
  11. Then, repeat Steps 1 through 6. When the Clean LED illuminates, the system is purged and ready to be refilled with the correct detergent.

Front Mount Controls (same as above except for the changes in the two below steps):

2. Press Heated Dry and Cookware together for 3 seconds. All LEDs illuminate.

3. Press Added Heat and Cookware together for 3 seconds. The Anti-bacterial LED illuminates.

Posted on Jan 31, 2009

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I had this problem as well. If you feel a little uneasy about taking apart your dishwasher, give this a shot. You will need a wet/dry shop vac that can be purchased at any home improvement store.
First get as much out as you can with a spoon. Then pour hot water in and swish it around by opening and closing the door. Then try to work some more loose by getting a hanger and sweeping it around in there as well. Then vacuum out the mess with your wet/dry vac. Repeat this about 3 or 4 times and you should be able to work it all loose and get it all out.
Once it seems to all be out (new water poured in stays clear), I ran the purge feature (another post explains that) a couple times and the low detergent light came on and everything was back to normal.
Good luck.

Posted on Oct 27, 2010

  • Dave839dave Jan 02, 2011

    Solution 3 worked perfect. I got one of my wife's portable make-up mirrors and a flashlight to look into the container. I kept rinsing until all visible sludge was gone. Also used a bent coat hangar to dislodge a few clogs.

  • fltonyf May 09, 2011

    Thanks for this suggestion. I didn't have a shop vac handy so I used a turkey baster. Also, rather than a coat hanger, I used one of those nifty plastic tools that will remove hair from your bathtub drain. The little barbs helped grab and retrieve the solidified globs of detergent. It took about an hour all told and then I ran the dishwasher until the low detergent light came on. However, I don't think we'll be using this so-called "SmartDispenser" ever again. I just don't need the aggravation.

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March 2012 ... I ran Cascade Advanced in the GE Profile dishwasher and it clogged up the smart dispenser so no soap was being dispensed ... It took a while before I clued in that there was a problem since I travel it was plugged for about a month. Here is what I did to fix it in 2 hours . 1 I used a turkey Baster and sucked out everything I could and dumped it in the sink ... Tedious but effective. 2 I then ran the tap to get as hot water as I could and filled up the soap chamber still leaving the water with room to slosh in the chamber. 3 put the cap back on and raise and lowere the door vigorously for 5 minutes ... Or about 25 times 4 now **** all of that out with the turkey Baster 5 repeat steps 3 and 4 a few times until you pretty much just have water in the chamber and **** the last of it out and you will likely see a bunch of chunks as you were sucking out the substance. 6 get some water almost boiling ... REALLY HOT WATER and fill the detergent chamber right to the top with that 7 seal up the detergent tank with the cap and follow the purge instructions. 8 I had to **** the boiling water out once and on the second attempt it started to leak out and once you get a little water trickling out it quickly clears out the clog with the scalding water. 9 the scalding water really helps to speed up the softening process Ok there you go it worked for me and thank you to all of the other contributors that helped give me a starting point as I DID Not want to take the washer apart even though I am ver mechanical.

Posted on Mar 29, 2012

  • oantixo May 27, 2012

    We just got a new profile dishwasher with smartdispencer. I loaded the cascade all in one advanced no phosphate detergent and we have been using it for around a month with no issues. I was wondering you had used other detergents prior to using the cascade advanced? Because I have read that as long as you only use one type of detergent you will not have any issues. Anyone have any experience with this? I really don't want to take the door apart and go through the hassle of cleaning it.

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Here is what I did to fix clogged/light off SmartDispense;

1. Put hot water in it. Sloshed it around, and removed as much as possible with a turkey baster. Repeated at least 10 times, leaving the water in it overnight.

2. Purged the system using the GE purge instructions here (same as on the GE site). It is tricky getting the button pushing sequence down. Keep trying. Note: You may have to reboot the computer by turning the power off for 30 seconds per GE instructions. I had to do it.

3. After the first purge, refilled with water and repeated step 1 above, followed by step 2.

4. When no more debris appeared in the turkey baster, did a semi-final purge and put in half of a glass of water. Low dispense light finally came on.

5. Did a final purge and refilled with Cascade.

Posted on Jan 31, 2011

  • barrettcl Feb 06, 2011

    Be careful with that Cascade .. they switched from phosphate to no phosphate .. and it clogs up the dishwasher .. G.E. said it was "not their problem" waiting for a response from Cascade .. they have instructions on the Cascade website on how to switch over to the detergent that now does NOT get dishes clean (another problem now dishwasher detergent is lousy!). However they have NO WARNING on the new bottles and the "phosphate free" is very small on the bottle. I have cleaned out best I can and on my second purge .. hoping this works I will not pay for a service call (as per G.E. instructions) when it was NOT my FAULT!

  • dogsr Apr 11, 2011

    I am dogsr and posted this solution two months ago. It is still working properly after two months usinng regular Cascade (not Cascade Complete). BTW, the above solution took seven days to execute because it needs to soak a lot before the gunk loosens up. If you want a one day solution, you will need to take it apart.

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Although I am mechanically inclined, I decided not to disassemble the door to access the soap reservoir as other answers have suggested. Here's what worked for me:
1. I purchased a $5 hand transfer pump from Harbor Freight. This is just a hand piston with an intake and discharge hose that is used for motor oil, gasoline, etc. I used it to pump nearly all of the remaining soap out of the reservoir, as much as is possible.
2. I then repeatedly filled the soap reservoir with VERY hot water (microwaved nearly to boiling), placed the cap on the reservoir, raised and lowered the door repeatedly to break down the remaining soap crud that was inside the reservoir. I used the hand transfer pump to remove the hot water and soap crud each time. I repeated this process 3-4 times until I was pumping clean water out of the reservoir.
3. I took a drinking straw, flattened it out, and shoved it into the small soap discharge hole (where the soap is automatically discharged into the dishwasher). Some hardened crud came out of this location too.
4. Finally, I filled the soap reservoir with very hot water once again and ran the purge cycle (see purge instructions below). I ran this cycle twice. Each cycle takes about an hour. You will have to wipe the interior of the dishwasher clean after each purge cycle.
5. I poured a bit of soap and ran a wash cycle with dishes, glasses, etc. and it worked as good as new.

PURGE CYCLE INSTRUCTIONS:
1. Fill soap dispenser with very hot water. Make sure Pre-Wash, Added Heat, and Heated Dry LEDs are off;
2. Press Heated Dry and Down Arrow buttons together for 3 seconds. All LEDs will light up.
3. Press Added Heat and Up Arrow buttons together for 3 seconds. The Anti-Bacteria LED will illuminate;
4. Quickly, press Start button once;
5. Select Normal Cycle and make sure Pre-Wash, Added Heat, and Heated Dry LEDs are off;
6. Quickly, press Start button once again;
7. The dishwasher will run a complete cycle without the main motor running. Cycle is complete when the Clean LED illuminates, approximately 60 minutes.
8. Clean inside of the dishwasher thoroughly with a wet towel, removing any evidence of soap crud or a white powdery residue.
9. Repeat the entire purging process.
10. The dishwasher should now be good to go.
Good Luck, you can do this!

Posted on Sep 11, 2015

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I had this same problem but I got it fixed by completely removing the tank and the pump. I had some experts on another blog recommend the purchase a new tank and some special tools for $150 to fix the problem. (None were needed).
I decided that if I was going to spend $150 I wanted to know what condition my tank was in before I purchased a new one. After removing all the screws it took a little work but the total repair only took 2 hours and I saved the $150.
Once I got the tank and pump removed I disassembled the pump first to make sure nothing was clogged inside the tube that runs through the pump; and it was clean. I proved this by blowing air through the tube that runs through the pump. I could still see the sludge filled in the detergent tank so I knew where my problem was located. I ran hot water into the tank and began to dump out all the sludge. There was an extremely large amount of sludge and it probably would have take a long time to get this out without removing the tank. After clearing out all the sludge I could see clearly through the tank and water would run right through without any problems. I then used a small vacuum to blow air through the tank until it was completely dry.
I reinstalled everything and the dishwasher is now working as it should and my wife won't be getting the new dishwasher that she had her eyes on.


GE Profile dishwasher with ''SmartDispense'' techn - ge-profile-dishwasher-smartdispense-fk3qupo0geyr0p54px3t5ehf-2-0.jpg

Posted on Aug 29, 2015

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Thanks everyone for the answers.

I followed each one of the process above. I first purging the system several time but after each purge there was still detergent in the dispenser. After many purges, I took a new gasoline siphon pump ($2.95) that I got from my local car parts store and used it to remove all of the old gunk. This took many tries as well. Each time I would use hot water to refill the tank, shake the door up and down and then siphon out the tank. Initially, I got gunk and blue water and finally only clear water. This cleaned the tanked well but the purge still did not work and I attempted to wash dishes but no soap was in the wash. Finally, I took the door apart as instructed above. NOTE: the ribbon cable has a small TAB on the side of the connect. By pushing in on the tab and gently pulling on the ribbon cable, I was able to remove the ribbon cable from the control board connector. I then removed the tank. There was a small clamp between the tank and the pump that secured the hose between the two to the tank. I loosened the screw on the clamp and the tank came out easily.

I then added warm water to the tank in my sink and nothing came out the bottom. I took a small straw and inserted it into the hole at the bottom of the tank and water began flowing from the tank. the small orifice connector at the bottom of the tank was clogged. This, I believe, was the reason that the purge procedure did not work. I cleaned the tank several more times and then re-assembled the dishwasher.

The dishwasher is running at the moment and there is soap in the bottom. If I have NO leaks, I think it is fixed.

Thanks again for all of the answers, I could not have fixed the dishwasher without them.

Posted on May 26, 2015

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I tried running purge mode, everything seemed to go well, except now it seems stuck in purge mode. How do I get the main motor back on so it will run normally?

Posted on Sep 02, 2014

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