Cluttered Dishwasher

How To Fix a Dishwasher That Won’t Drain: Step-by-Step Guide

A common issue most homeowners face is when their dishwater won’t drain. The first thing they often do when this happens is to call in the plumber.

While discovering a pool of standing water at the bottom of the dishwater can be upsetting, you don’t always need to call in the experts.

In most cases, you might be able to fix a dishwasher that won’t drain yourself without professional help. Considering that a clogged drain is often an easy fix, it’s worth attempting.

Indeed, consumer services advisors recommend that you don’t spend more than 50% of what it would cost to install a new appliance on repairs. A DIY fix saves you some extra dollars.

Here, All Dry is pleased to offer you a step-by-step guide on fixing your dishwasher and getting it working again if it isn’t draining correctly.

Step 1: Disconnect the Dishwasher from the Mains

Before you start troubleshooting, turn off the dishwasher and disconnect it from the mains. You don’t want to get electrocuted while trying to get your appliance up and running again. This first step can prevent any possibly fatal accidents.

Step 2: Check the Sump for Blockages

You can find the sump close to the rear of your dishwasher or at the bottom of the tub. Check if it has a blockage due to paper, food particles, or any other debris.

You might also find about three cups of standing water around the area. Remove the debris and use a small cup to remove most of the water.

N.B: Some dishwashers often have a small amount of water at the sump after a washing cycle. Check your dishwasher’s manual if this applies to your appliance.

Step 3: Check if You Loaded the Dishwasher Properly

If you didn’t load your dishwasher correctly, it might not drain properly. To prevent this, check the owner’s manual for directions and tips on loading dishes correctly, so you get the best results.

Empty Stainless Steel Dishwasher

Step 3: Check the Filter for Debris

You can find the dishwasher’s filter underneath the appliance. It is at the back of the tub, or in specific models, at the spray arm’s base. Sometimes, your draining issue might occur due to a clogged filter.

Remove any debris you find in the filter and rinse with water. Most dishwashers will come with in-built grinders to grind any food particles and other debris into fine particles to prevent blockages. However, debris might clog the filter at times.

It’s good practice to clean the filter regularly. If you wash a lot of plates, you can aim to clean them once a month.

Step 4: Clean the Air Gap

The air gap is a tiny cylinder (often made of chrome steel) at the kitchen sink’s back. While operating the dishwasher, check if water comes out of the air gap. If that happens, debris might have clogged the space between the garbage disposer and the air gap.

To remove the debris, turn open the air gap’s cap and pour in a mixture of baking soda and warm water. Run the dishwasher for a while to flush out your cleaning mixture.

Step 5: Check the Garbage Disposer

After checking the air gap cap, the next thing is the garbage disposer. Remove the drain cover and run water through the disposer to ensure it doesn’t have a blockage. Don’t put your hands inside the garbage disposer, and you might suffer from serious injury.

If something has blocked the disposer, repeat the process you used to unclog the air gap section – pour in a mixture of warm water and baking soda.

Step 6: Check the Drain Hose

The drain hose is a corrugated pipe found beneath the sink. You’ll find it between the drain line and drain pump.

This equipment connects the garbage disposal to the sink. If it has become bent or folded in the wrong places, it could affect the draining of water. If that’s the case, gently straighten the hose.

If it has debris clogging it up, you have to remove the hose first before proceeding to unblock it. Loosen the screws that fasten the drain hose to the garbage disposer and blow through the hose to remove the debris.

You can also use a wire hanger to push any debris out on the other side. Run water through it a couple of times for good measure and screw it back on again.

Step 7: Check the Drain Valve

The drain valve lets water drain during and at the end of a wash cycle. It’s an automatically operated piece that runs from the drain solenoid. Test it to see if it works properly by pushing the valve bracket.

If it moves freely, then there is no need to worry. If it seems stuck or frozen in place, you’ll need to replace the drain valve.

Not all dishwashers have drain valves, so confirm if yours has one with the owner’s manual.

Step 8: Clean the Drain Basket

The drain basket – found at the side or the bottom of the dishwasher – can also get clogged. Check for detergent, paper, or food particles. If it is, use warm water to wash out the debris.

Step 9: Check if the Dishwater Door Latches Properly

If the door latch hasn’t latched on properly, the dishwasher won’t drain water. Check if the door latch has spoiled, or it’s just you that didn’t latch it properly.

If the fault is yours, shut the door and run the appliance for a complete wash cycle to confirm the dishwasher drains. If the door latch has broken, you’ll need to replace it with a new one.

Step 10: Check the Dishwasher’s Motor

Check if the motor is running correctly. To do this, turn on the dishwasher and listen to it while it operates.

If you can’t hear the normal washing sounds except for clicking and humming sounds, the motor needs replacement. In this case, you’ll have to replace the motor and drain pump.

How to Drain a Dishwasher Correctly

If you are looking to remove any standing water at the bottom of your dishwasher, here’s how you drain a dishwasher.

  1. Place newspaper or towels underneath the dishwasher. Make sure there’s no spot around or underneath the appliance left uncovered.
  2. Get a large ladle spoon or measuring cup to scoop out water from the bottom into an equally large bowl. You can also scoop the water into the sink.
  3. When the water is too small to scoop out, use paper or cloth towels to soak up the remaining water.

To prevent blockages from happening often, make sure to use the right dish detergent. Most manufacturers will include that information in the owner’s manual. So, make sure you read that thoroughly before operating your appliance.

Also, ensure you clean your filter and drain basket often to avoid drainage issues.

Conclusion – Dishwasher Still Not Working?

If your dishwasher isn’t still draining water after going through these ten steps, it’s time to get a professional technician to check the appliance.

Note that if you purchased the unit within the last twelve months, you might still be eligible for the manufacturer’s warranty—Double-check the warranty agreement to confirm the warranty’s tenure.

If the warranty doesn’t cover it, you can call in a trained service technician to check the issue and advice on the next steps.

Our technicians at All Dry USA are experienced at such issues and would get your appliance fixed in no time. Call All Dry USA for a free quote.

Ben Suiskind
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