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Why Is My Dishwasher Not Draining?

Dishwasher FilterWhen you think about all the food and scraps that are put into dishwashers and drains, it's not surprising that things back up once in awhile. Although there are many reasons why a dishwasher is failing to drain, there are a few steps anyone can take to troubleshoot the problem themselves before calling a professional for assistance.

Step 1 - Run the Disposal
Fixing a clogged dishwasher could be as simple as running the garbage disposal. A full disposal or air gap in the hose may prevent water from properly draining out of the dishwasher.

Step 2 - Clear Out Debris
Check the sump (bottom) area of your dishwasher for food debris, paper, extra soap or other scraps that might be clogging the drain. If you see a small amount of water, it’s not necessarily a sign that your dishwasher isn’t draining. Usually, a small amount of water (up to two cups) is intentionally left there to keep the seal from drying out.

Step 3 - Check the Drain Basket
The drain basket is usually found at the bottom or the side of the dishwasher. See if it’s been clogged by food particles or detergent and wash it out as well. Make sure you are using the right type of dish detergent stated in the owner’s manual to avoid clogging the drain.

Think you have a stubborn drain basket clog? First, pour a solution of baking soda and vinegar down the basket at the bottom of the dishwasher. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes, then pour a pot of boiling water down the basket and see if that clears the clog.

Step 4 - Clean the Filter
The dishwasher filter needs to be cleaned regularly. Check the owner’s manual to see where the filter is located and instructions on how to clean it. On most dishwashers, the filter can be found on the inside bottom of the machine.

Step 5 - Secure the Door Latch
If the door is unlatched, it will keep your dishwasher from draining. If you are having problems with the latch securing the door, you may need to replace it.

Step 6 - Clear the Drain Hose
The drain hose connects the sink and the garbage disposal. Straighten any visible kinks in the line. Remove any clamps and try blowing through the hose or poke a wire hanger through to check for clogs. If there is a problem or the hose doesn’t seal, you may need to replace the hose.

Step 7 - Test the Motor
Finally, listen to dishwasher while it’s running. If your machine is making a humming or clicking noise, the drain pump and motor may need to be replaced. A humming sound just means the motor is receiving power but it’s not turning.

Resources found on our website are provided as general guidelines, and Raby Plumbing does not assume any liability resulting from the provided information.

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