How Do I Fix a Dishwasher That Won’t Drain?

If you’re reading this, we’re sorry your dishwasher is being difficult. Don’t worry, though. A clogged dishwasher is a common and, in most cases, an easily fixed problem. It’s also a problem most people want to take care of as quickly as possible. Nobody likes the stink and bacteria-spreading mess of standing water in their dishwasher.

We’ll walk you through the most common causes and fixes of this kitchen plumbing issue. That way, if it ever happens again, you can go, “Aha! I know exactly what to do.” 

Why is my dishwasher clogged?

If your dishwasher isn’t draining, there are a number of potential causes. The most common ones are: 

Clogged filters 

The very first place to look if your dishwasher won’t drain are the lower filters. They’ll be near the sump, the lowest point within the dishwasher. The sump collects and drains water… or at least it should. There are two filters down here. A fine mesh one and a larger basket. If the filters collect too much residue, you’ll need to remove and change them. You can clean them easily with soapy water.

Clogged hoses

Close to the filter baskets is another area that can become clogged: the drain hose. This is the hose your dishwasher drains through. The hose typically connects to your garbage disposal or sink. If you’re washing some pretty gnarly dishes, the residue coming off of them can build up in this hose. Check to see if something’s blocking your hose. If you see a blockage, you should take the time to clear it out.

Air gap

Connected to your drain hose is an air gap. Your air gap helps prevent backflow during the drainage process. Just like any other part of the dishwasher, debris can build up within this cap. It’s easy to miss and easier to forget about. Luckily, all you have to do to clean it is remove the cover (usually they can be screwed on and off) and clear any debris below it.

Something is wrong further along in your plumbing

Sometimes there is a blockage in a pipe or line not immediately connected to your dishwasher. If the back-up is severe enough it can begin affecting all other water-using areas of your home. That includes your dishwasher. Unfortunately, if a problem is this severe, it likely won’t be able to be pinpointed without a professional pipe inspection.

How can I fix it?

With every common cause above, we’ve told you about their easy fixes. If, despite everything listed, you’re still having a problem, then it’s time to call in the big guns. They’ll be able to use advanced inspection techniques to figure out what’s going on. Then they’ll be able to clear the clog and clean your drain. After that, your dishwasher can get back to doing what it does best: washing dishes.

A clogged dishwasher is a fairly easy fix, but it doesn’t have to be one you tackle all alone. The trained plumbing experts at Ben Franklin Plumbing are always happy to help. Whether it’s a call looking for expert advice or a late night emergency fix, we’ve got your back.