Dishwasher is Not Draining? How to Fix It!

Dishwasher drain pump

Photo by 5string50

What could be more frustrating than opening the dishwasher to empty the clean dishes and find them wading in a murky pool? Unless reverting back to Pioneer days is a viable option, finding the source of the blockage is the first step in getting the appliance running again. Before working on the dishwasher, it should be unplugged. If it is directly wired without a plug, the breaker switch to that area of the kitchen should be turned off.

Is the dishwasher broken?

In many cases, a dishwasher that won’t drain is fine, and the problem is with the plumbing. Dishwashers are connected to the same drain that empties the kitchen sink. The first step in determining whether or not the problem is with the appliance or the plumbing is to check and see if the sink is draining. Sometimes a quick run of the garbage disposal is enough to clear the drain and return the dishwasher to good working order. If the drain still won’t empty, the garbage disposal’s air gap may be clogged. The air gap is a capped removable tube that connects the disposal to the drain. Removing debris from the air gap may get the drain to empty properly.

What if the sink drain is fine?

If the drain is working and the dishwasher still won’t empty, the appliance’s drain tube may be clogged. The tube is connected to the main drain under the sink and can be disconnected and checked. It is wise to have some old towels and a bucket nearby to catch any water and debris from the pipe. The drain tube can be gently probed with a screwdriver or wire to check for clogs.

The drains are clear. What’s next?

Many times the drain basket under the rotating arm gets clogged. The openings around the basket should be cleaned and the drain checked to see if it is operational. If the basket is still clogged, it should be unscrewed and cleaned. If the drain basket is clean and the dishwasher continues to be clogged, the float assembly may be stuck. Located at the interior base of the appliance, the float assembly should raise and lower freely. If it’s stuck, debris may need to be removed from it to allow the assembly to move.

What if the dishwasher still won’t drain?

Unfortunately, if the drains, basket and float assembly are clean and the dishwasher still won’t drain, the appliance’s pump or motor may need to be repaired or replaced. A professional appliance service should be contacted to safely repair the dishwasher.

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