Help! My Dishwasher Isn’t Draining

Fred's Appliance
July 3, 2014


Have a dishwasher that won’t seem to drain? Normally, dishwashers spray steaming-hot water from all directions to strip off stubborn crumbs and food debris. The remaining water is then pumped out of unit and into the drainage pipe where it ultimately ends up in either the municipal sewer system or the home’s septic tank. In some cases, however, the dishwasher may stop draining, resulting in free-standing stagnant water left at the bottom of the unit.


Something Is Blocking The Drain Basket


The most common cause of a non-draining dishwasher is from something blocking the drainage basket. Dishwashers typically have a plastic screen/basket that’s designed to catch food and debris so it doesn’t enter the drain hose. If there’s hardened food or stray dishes covering it, however, the water will not drain from the dishwasher.


Thankfully, this is a quick and easy fix – the only downside is that you’ll have to get your hands dirty. First and foremost, scoop out the standing water with a large cup, pitcher or bucket. After manually removing the water from your unit, inspect the filter-like basket covering the drain pipe. If there’s any food or debris covering it, scrape it off and pour a cup of water back into your unit to see if the problem is fixed.


Clogged Drain Hose


A clogged drain hose – the long and slender tube that’s commonly found underneath the sink – may also cause a dishwasher to stop draining.. Take a moment to find this tube and inspect it for signs of a blockage. Some tubes are clear, allowing the owner to see blockages from the outside.


Garbage Disposal Is Clogged


If your garbage disposal and dishwasher are connected to the same drainage pipe, a blockage in the garbage disposal could prevent your dishwasher from draining. Far too many people toss things like grease, cooking oil, bones, and other “unfriendly” items down their garbage disposals.


Over time, these items will take its toll on the system, causing the drainage pipe to clog, and subsequently preventing the dishwasher from draining. The only viable solution to this problem is to remove the blockage in the draining pipe.


Broken Pump


Gravity alone typically won’t flush water from a dishwasher. It uses a mechanical pump – similar to those found in clothes washing machines – to drain the water. If the pump is damaged or broken, however, the dishwasher will not be able to effectively drain the water. Dishwasher pumps are relatively inexpensive to replace, with most modern-day models costing about $30-$60 bucks.

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