What to Do When the Dishwasher Stops Draining

One of the most common household problems we run into is when the dishwasher is not draining. Whether you’re cleaning up after a big meal or cleaning the kitchen before a holiday gathering, a dishwasher not draining can turn into a serious headache.

Below are some steps to take and things to look for when the dishwasher is not draining. If you find you aren’t able to perform a quick fix, you may want to call a plumber to inspect the dishwasher and determine what needs to be done. 

Check the pump seal for excess water: If you notice a tiny bit of water at the bottom of the dishwasher, it’s okay. A little bit of water is necessary to keep the pump seal moist.

Check the dishwasher door: The dishwasher will not finish draining if the dishwasher door isn’t completely closed and latched. If your dishwasher isn’t training, close the door, latch it, and rerun the dishwasher. 

Check the cycle: If a cycle gets interrupted, the dishwasher may not finish its job and drain. Look for a button that says “cancel or drain” or another way to reset the dishwasher.

Check the electrical source: Some dishwashers are plugged into an outlet controlled by an electric switch. Check to see that someone didn’t accidentally turn off the electric source mid-cycle.

Check your dishwasher drain hose: Drain hoses are commonly connected to garbage disposals, meaning when your issues could stem from the disposal or drain hose. Check for the following:

  • The drain hose is kinked, which prevents drainage
  • The drain hose is clogged
  • The knockout plug is still in place and needs to be removed
  • The drain hose is hanging down or is too long

Check the garbage disposal and drain: If your garbage disposal is clogged or your drain system is blocked, your dishwasher won’t drain properly until you clean and clear the drain and garbage disposal. You should also check your sink drain since many dishwashers drain through the sink drain. Try running hot water down the sink drain or disposal and running the disposal. If this doesn’t work, you may need to call a professional.

Perform annual maintenance on your dishwasher: Every year, you or a professional should do the following:

  • Clean the filter and trap (located at the bottom of the dishwasher) with a stiff brush and hot soapy water.
  • Clean the spray armholes with a stiff wire brush (to remove debris that has accumulated and clear all the spray holes).
  • Check the dish racks for cracks or for peeling off of the rubber sealant. You’ll find that this rubber coating comes off after a couple of years of use, exposing the metal. The metal rusts and those bits of metal collect in the drain, clogging it. 
  • Check the drain hose clamps to ensure they are correctly attached and angled for optimal draining.
  • Look for leaks or cracks in the door seal.
  • Ensure the pre-heating mechanism is working correctly (use the manufacturer’s directions to do this – dishwashers vary by make and model).

If your dishwasher isn’t draining, don’t hesitate to call a plumber to help you resolve the issue fast. 

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