How to Fix a Dishwasher That Won’t Drain? Must Know

If your dishwasher won’t drain, you may need to check and clean the drain hose, the air gap, the filter, the pump, or the garbage disposal. These are the most common causes of a dishwasher not draining properly, and you can fix them yourself with some basic tools and tips. In this article, you’ll learn how to troubleshoot and solve the problem of a dishwasher that won’t drain, and how to prevent it from happening again.

Check and Clean the Drain Hose

The drain hose is the tube that connects the dishwasher to the sink drain or the garbage disposal. If the drain hose is clogged, kinked, or damaged, the water will not be able to flow out of the dishwasher. To check and clean the drain hose, follow these steps:

  • Unplug the dishwasher or turn off the circuit breaker to cut power to the appliance.
  • Remove the toe kick from under the dishwasher door to access the drain hose (it’s usually the one with corrugated ridges).
  • Remove the clamp and disconnect the drain hose from the dishwasher pump.
  • Put the end of the hose in a bucket and start the rinse cycle on the dishwasher. If the water flows out freely, the hose is clear. If not, use a wire coat hanger or a plumber’s snake to clear any blockage from the hose.
  • Reconnect the hose and secure it with the clamp. Run another cycle to test the drainage.

Check and Clean the Air Gap

The air gap is a small device that prevents backflow of water from the sink into the dishwasher. It is usually located near the faucet on the sink. If the air gap is clogged with food debris or mineral deposits, it can prevent the dishwasher from draining properly. To check and clean the air gap, follow these steps:

  • Pull straight up on the silver air gap cover to remove it.
  • Remove the air gap cap by unscrewing it if it’s round, or by gently prying the two plastic tabs holding on the cap with a flat-head screwdriver as you lift it off.
  • Check the small round center tube for any obstruction. Remove it by pinching it with your fingers or using a toothpick.
  • Press the drain or reset button and close the dishwasher door. A three-inch column of water should shoot out of the small central tube. If it does, the air gap is clear. If not, use a wire coat hanger or a plumber’s snake to clear any blockage from the tube.
  • Put the cap and the cover back on the air gap.
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Check and Clean the Filter

The filter is a mesh screen that traps food particles and prevents them from entering the pump and the drain hose. If the filter is dirty or clogged, it can reduce the water pressure and the drainage. To check and clean the filter, follow these steps:

  • Open the dishwasher and remove the bottom rack.
  • Locate the filter at the bottom of the dishwasher. It may be a round or a rectangular shape, depending on the model of your dishwasher.
  • Twist or lift the filter to remove it from the dishwasher. Rinse it under running water and scrub it with a soft brush or a sponge. Remove any food debris or grease from the filter.
  • Put the filter back in place and secure it. Run another cycle to test the drainage.

Check and Clean the Pump

The pump is the part that pumps the water out of the dishwasher and into the drain hose. If the pump is faulty, jammed, or blocked, it can prevent the dishwasher from draining properly. To check and clean the pump, follow these steps:

  • Unplug the dishwasher or turn off the circuit breaker to cut power to the appliance.
  • Remove the toe kick from under the dishwasher door to access the pump.
  • Disconnect the wires and the hoses from the pump. Be careful not to spill any water from the hoses.
  • Remove the screws or clips that hold the pump in place. Lift the pump out of the dishwasher.
  • Check the pump for any signs of damage or wear. If the pump is broken or cracked, you may need to replace it with a new one.
  • Check the impeller, which is the fan-like part that spins and pushes the water out. If the impeller is loose, bent, or broken, you may need to replace it with a new one.
  • Check the pump for any obstruction, such as food debris, glass, or plastic. Remove any foreign objects from the pump with a pair of pliers or tweezers.
  • Reinstall the pump and reconnect the wires and the hoses. Run another cycle to test the drainage.
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Check and Clean the Garbage Disposal

The garbage disposal is the device that grinds up food waste and sends it down the drain. If you have a garbage disposal, your dishwasher may be connected to it through the drain hose. If the garbage disposal is clogged or not working properly, it can affect the drainage of the dishwasher. To check and clean the garbage disposal, follow these steps:

  • Turn on the garbage disposal and run some water through it. If the disposal is making a loud noise or not grinding the food, it may be clogged or jammed.
  • Turn off the disposal and unplug it or turn off the circuit breaker to cut power to it.
  • Use a flashlight to look inside the disposal and see if there is any obstruction, such as food debris, bones, or utensils. Use a pair of pliers or tongs to remove any foreign objects from the disposal. Do not use your hands or fingers to reach into the disposal.
  • Plug in the disposal or turn on the circuit breaker to restore power to it. Run some water and turn on the disposal again. If the disposal is still not working properly, you may need to call a professional plumber to fix it.
  • Run another cycle on the dishwasher to test the drainage.

How to Prevent Dishwasher Drainage Problems

To prevent your dishwasher from having drainage problems in the future, you can follow these tips:

  • Scrape off any large food particles from your dishes before loading them into the dishwasher. Do not overfill the dishwasher or block the spray arms with large items.
  • Clean the filter, the air gap, and the drain hose regularly to prevent any clogs or blockages. You can use a commercial dishwasher cleaner or a homemade solution of vinegar and baking soda to remove any grease or mineral deposits.
  • Run a hot water cycle with vinegar or a dishwasher cleaner once a month to sanitize and deodorize your dishwasher. This will also help to dissolve any food residue or soap scum that may be affecting the drainage.
  • Avoid using too much or the wrong type of detergent for your dishwasher. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and recommendations for the best results. Too much or the wrong detergent can create excess suds and foam that can interfere with the drainage.
  • Check the water pressure and the water temperature in your home. If the water pressure is too low or the water temperature is too cold, it can affect the performance and the drainage of your dishwasher. You may need to adjust the water heater settings or install a water pressure regulator to improve the water quality.
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Conclusion

A dishwasher that won’t drain can be a frustrating and messy problem, but you can fix it yourself with some basic tools and tips. By checking and cleaning the drain hose, the air gap, the filter, the pump, and the garbage disposal, you can troubleshoot and solve the problem of a dishwasher that won’t drain. You can also prevent the problem from happening again by following some simple maintenance tips. By doing so, you can enjoy the convenience and the benefits of a dishwasher that works and drains properly.