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Repair & Maintenance

8 Steps to Take When Your Dishwasher is Not Draining

Is your dishwasher not draining properly? Before you call a plumber, follow these steps to see if the problem can be solved without the help of a professional.
Loaded Dishwasher

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One of the most common problems reported to plumbers by homeowners is that the dishwasher is not draining. While it can be scary to open the dishwasher door and see standing water in the bottom, it isn’t always a plumbing emergency. In fact, you may be able to correct the problem yourself without professional assistance.

What to Do When Your Dishwasher Won't Drain

If draining your dishwasher is an issue, here are 8 things you can try:

1.  Run the Disposal 

A full disposal or an air gap in a connecting hose may prevent water from properly draining out of the machine.

2. Check for Blockages 

Check the bottom of the dishwasher to make sure that an item or pieces of food haven't fallen from the rack to block the water flow.

3. Carefully Load the Dishwasher

Make sure you’re loading the dishwasher correctly. Read the manufacturers’ instructions or owner’s manual for tips and directions on how to load dishes for best results.

4. Clean or Change the Filter

You may have a clogged filter. Many homeowners don’t realize that dishwasher filters need to be cleaned regularly. Check your owner’s manual to see where the filter is located on your dishwasher, and for instructions on how and when to clean it. For many dishwashers, the filter can be found on the inside bottom of the appliance.

5. Inspect the Drain Hose

Check the drain hose connecting to the sink and garbage disposal. Straighten any kinks that you may see which could be causing the problem. Blow through the hose or poke a wire hanger through to check for clogs. Make sure the hose seal is tight.

6. Double-Check the Drain Valve

Inspect the drain valve found on the valve bracket, often located at the bottom of the machine. Push on the valve to make sure it moves freely and isn’t frozen.

7. Unclog or Clean the Drain Basket

Look at the drain basket, usually found on the bottom or the side of the appliance, to see if it’s been clogged by food particles or detergent. Wash out the basket to clear any debris.

8. Listen to Your Machine While it's Running

Listen to your machine while it’s running. If the machine doesn’t make the usual operating sounds, particularly if it’s making a humming or clicking noise, the drain pump and motor may need replacing.

How to Drain a Dishwasher Properly

If you need to clear the water standing at the bottom, here’s how to drain a dishwasher. Line the floor under the dishwasher with towels or newspaper. With a measuring cup or a large ladle, scoop the water from the bottom into a bowl or the sink. When the water becomes too shallow to scoop, soak up the remaining moisture with cloth or paper towels.

Always make sure that you’re using the right type of dish detergent per manufacturer’s directions, to avoid clogging the drain. And taking some preventative steps to keep your dishwasher running smoothly can also help you avoid some drainage issues.

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