How to Force Your Dishwasher to Drain: Step-by-Step Guide

To force your dishwasher to drain, you need to cancel the current cycle, check and clean the filter, and clear any blockages in the drain hose or the air gap. If these steps do not work, you may need to replace some parts or call a professional for help. In this article, we will explain how to perform each step and why it is important to keep your dishwasher drain clean and functional.

Why You Need to Force Your Dishwasher to Drain

A dishwasher that does not drain properly can cause several problems, such as:

  • Water leaks and damage to your floor, cabinets, and walls
  • Bad odors and bacteria growth in your dishwasher and dishes
  • Poor cleaning performance and reduced efficiency of your dishwasher
  • Higher water and energy bills due to longer and more frequent cycles

Therefore, it is essential to fix the drainage issue as soon as possible and prevent it from happening again. The most common causes of a clogged dishwasher drain are food debris, grease, soap residue, and hard water deposits. These can accumulate in the filter, the drain hose, the air gap, or the pump and prevent the water from flowing out of the dishwasher.

How to Force Your Dishwasher to Drain in 4 Easy Steps

Before you start, make sure to turn off the power and water supply to your dishwasher. You will also need some tools and materials, such as a bucket, a sponge, a screwdriver, a wire coat hanger, and a drain auger or snake. Here are the steps to follow:

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Step 1: Cancel the Current Cycle

The first thing you need to do is to cancel the current cycle and activate the force drain function. This will make the dishwasher try to pump out the water for a few minutes. Depending on the model and brand of your dishwasher, you can do this by:

  • Pressing and holding the “Start” or “Cancel” button for about 3 seconds until the indicator light starts flashing
  • Pressing two buttons at the same time, as indicated by small text or symbols on the control panel
  • Turning the dial to the “Off” or “Drain” position

If the water drains out completely, you have solved the problem. If not, move on to the next step.

Step 2: Check and Clean the Filter

The filter is located at the bottom of the dishwasher, usually under the lower spray arm. It is designed to catch large food particles and prevent them from entering the drain system. However, over time, the filter can get clogged with smaller debris and grease, reducing the water flow and causing odors.

To clean the filter, you need to:

  • Remove the lower rack and any dishes from the dishwasher
  • Lift up the filter and twist it to unlock it from the base
  • Rinse the filter under running water and scrub it with a soft-bristled brush or a sponge
  • If the filter has a secondary mesh screen, remove it and clean it as well
  • Reinstall the filter and the lower rack

Step 3: Check and Clear the Drain Hose

The drain hose is the flexible tube that connects the dishwasher to the sink drain or the garbage disposal. It can get kinked, pinched, or blocked by food waste, grease, or mineral deposits, preventing the water from draining out.

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To check and clear the drain hose, you need to:

  • Locate the drain hose under the sink or behind the dishwasher
  • Disconnect the drain hose from the sink drain or the garbage disposal and place it in a bucket
  • Run the force drain function again and see if the water comes out of the hose
  • If the water flows freely, the hose is not the problem. Reconnect it and move on to the next step
  • If the water does not flow or trickles slowly, the hose is clogged. Use a wire coat hanger or a drain auger to push or pull out the obstruction
  • If the hose is damaged, cracked, or worn out, replace it with a new one

Step 4: Check and Clear the Air Gap

The air gap is a small device that is installed on the countertop or the sink, next to the faucet. It is designed to prevent dirty water from the sink or the garbage disposal from flowing back into the dishwasher. However, the air gap can also get clogged with food debris and grease, reducing the water pressure and causing water to overflow.

To check and clear the air gap, you need to:

  • Remove the cap or the cover of the air gap by unscrewing it or prying it off with a screwdriver
  • Check the small tube in the center of the air gap for any blockages
  • Remove any debris with your fingers or a small tool
  • Run the force drain function again and see if the water shoots out of the tube
  • If the water comes out with a strong stream, the air gap is clear. Put the cap or the cover back on
  • If the water does not come out or dribbles weakly, the air gap is still clogged. Use a wire coat hanger or a drain auger to clear the tube
  • If the tube is damaged, cracked, or worn out, replace it with a new one
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How to Prevent Your Dishwasher from Clogging Again

Now that you have forced your dishwasher to drain, you want to keep it that way. Here are some tips to prevent your dishwasher from clogging again:

  • Scrape off large food particles from your dishes before loading them into the dishwasher
  • Run hot water in the sink before starting the dishwasher to help dissolve grease and soap
  • Use the right amount and type of detergent for your dishwasher and water hardness
  • Clean the filter, the drain hose, and the air gap regularly, at least once a month
  • Run a dishwasher cleaning cycle with vinegar, baking soda, or a commercial cleaner every few months
  • Avoid putting items that can damage or clog the dishwasher, such as paper, plastic, glass, metal, or bones

Conclusion

A dishwasher that does not drain can be a frustrating and messy problem, but it does not have to be. By following the steps in this guide, you can force your dishwasher to drain and fix the issue yourself. However, if none of the steps work, or if you are not comfortable with doing them, you may need to call a professional plumber or appliance repair service for help. They can diagnose the problem and replace any faulty parts, such as the pump, the valve, or the control board.

We hope this article has helped you learn how to force your dishwasher to drain and keep it running smoothly. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to share them below. Thank you for reading!