Samsung WaterWall dishwasher fails Consumer Reports’ wash test

Its new washing technology is problematic, though innovative

Published: September 05, 2014 12:00 PM
Food debris on the filter of the Samsung Chef Collection DW80H9970US.

Update (Oct. 3, 2014): Consumer Reports removed its Do Not Buy designation after testing Samsung's software upgrade. Read the full report.

Original (Sept. 5, 2014): Talk about great expectations. Samsung says its new dishwasher with WaterWall technology “reinvents dishwashing.” But the filter on the Samsung Chef Collection DW80H9970US, $1,450, clogged in Consumer Reports' dishwasher tests, and the dishwasher stopped working until we removed the 9 1/2 by 9 1/2 inch filter and cleaned it. Of the more than 100 models in our current Ratings, this Samsung is the only one unable to handle our demanding soil load without consumer intervention. Because of this fact, we have judged this product a "Don't Buy: Performance Problem."

Instead of conventional spinning wash arms spraying water, the Samsung uses two bars that run the width of the tub. The rear one remains fixed with its jets aimed forward toward the second bar, which runs back and forth on tracks. Because the moving bar is angled upward, water bounces straight up to form, you guessed it, a wall of water.  

To test cleaning, we load 10 place settings of very dirty dishes that we’ve scraped but not rinsed.  About 15 minutes after the Samsung's wash cycle started, we got an error code. This stopped the machine from completing the cycle. We then had to open the machine, remove and clean the manual-clean filter, and restart the machine. Once we did this, the dishwasher completed the wash cycle.

Following our standard practice, we called in an authorized repairperson soon after the dishwasher showed the problem. He was unable to identify the specific cause but told us to call again if the problem reoccurred.  It did. It happened in one of two additional test runs. We then bought a second sample of this dishwasher and its filter also clogged, showed the same error code, and stopped working.

Samsung manufacturer's label

Samsung was made aware of the problem, possibly by the repairperson. In response to our findings, Samsung told us that models manufactured from late September or early October onward will have a software update that continues the cycle even under heavy soil load. These changes will be made to future versions of the Samsung Chef Collection DW80H9970US we tested along with two similar models that offer the WaterWall feature, the $1,100 DW80H9950US and $900 DW80H9930US. (The manufacture date is on a label on the left edge of the door’s interior panel; see photo.) The company has also updated the owners' manuals for all three dishwashers to advise users to check and clean the filter should the error code display.

Samsung said in a statement, “this only seems to appear under Consumer Reports’ testing conditions and not in real world, everyday use.” But we don’t think you should have to stop what you’re doing to help your dishwasher clean your dishes. Nevertheless, the company says that if you have the same trouble, it will update the software of any of the above three dishwashers. Call Samsung’s customer-service line at 1-800-SAMSUNG (1-800-726-7864), 8 a.m. to midnight Monday through Friday or 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. weekends.

Once the dishwashers with the updated software are available at stores, we’ll buy one and report back.

Read our updated report.

—Ed Perratore (@EdPerratore on Twitter)

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