Why Won't My Dishwasher Drain?

inside the rinse cycle of a dishwasher

It’s not pleasant to discover that your dishwasher is not draining. A flooded kitchen is usually the first and worst symptom of draining problems. There are several possible causes, some of which can be easily fixed or avoided. In order to troubleshoot problems, you will need to know how your dishwasher’s motor operates. Direct drive motors continue in the same direction throughout all of the cycles. Forward-reversing motors stop and then spin in the opposite direction to help drain the water out of the dishwasher.

Why Won’t It Drain?

    Many things, some simple and some complicated, can cause your dishwasher to have drainage problems. If your machine has a forward-reversing motor that is malfunctioning, that can cause the problem. This is one of the more complicated issues to resolve.

    If the problem started shortly after installing a new garbage disposal, then the solution can be simple. For the disposal to operate, it’s necessary to remove what’s called the knockout plug. If the plug wasn’t removed, it will prevent the dishwasher from draining. The removal of the knockout plug should solve the issue.

    A clogged drain could be the culprit it the dishwasher uses the same drain as the sink. A telltale sign of this problem is bubbling in the sink while the dishwasher is running. Try using a drain cleaner or disassembling the pipes beneath the sink and cleaning them out manually.

    If the dishwasher uses a hose to connect to the sink, the hose could be plugged or damaged. It’s not a bad idea to check this hose while you are under the sink repairing other things.

    If the dishwasher basket is clogged with food or hard water deposits. It’s not difficult to remove the basket, but it does require a gentle touch and some patience. After you’ve carefully lifted the basket, you will be able to tell if that is the problem. You will be able to see and smell the materials that are blocking the drain. You can remove the debris by wiping down the parts, taking care not to bend or break them. Once the material has been removed and the basket reassembled, the dishwasher should drain properly. On the other hand, if the basket assembly looks and smells fairly clean, then this it is probably not the cause.

      What's Next?

      If you have explored all of these possibilities and still have not located the source of the problem; it might be time to call in an expert. This will cost more money, but it may save you from higher expenses later on, such as repairing the water damage done to your house or buying a new dishwasher.

      Prevent Drainage Problems

      There are some preventative maintenance tasks you can perform to help keep this from happening in the first place:

        • Run hot water through the garbage disposal for a minute or two before you start the dishwasher. This will help remove food debris and grease that may have accumulated in the pipes.
        • If you know you have hard water, you might want to use a drain cleaner periodically to keep the pipes clear.
        • Run vinegar through the dishwasher once per month to keep the basket clean.
        • Occasionally inspect the basket for buildup of clogging materials.

          Getting to know your dishwasher and performing routine maintenance can save you a lot of money in the long run and prevent a common household disaster.