Drains

Help! Why Is My Dishwasher Not Draining?

Close-up of someone pulling a dish out of a dishwasher. The dishes are still wet.

A dishwasher that won’t drain is extremely frustrating and can be a mess to deal with. If you’ve already tried the old “turn it off and back on again” trick and it just isn’t working, don’t worry. There are a few more troubleshooting tips you can try!

Follow these tips to learn why your dishwasher isn’t draining and how to resolve the issue.

What Causes a Dishwasher Not to Drain?

Just like any drain connected to your plumbing system, your dishwasher drain can become blocked, clogged, or damaged. This can happen due to food buildup, wear, or issues with the dishwasher itself. Some of the most common reasons a dishwasher won’t drain water include:

  • Improper dishwashing liquid or detergent. Yes, using the incorrect soap or detergent can damage or clog your dishwasher. This would likely only happen if you use one designed for a different appliance, like a laundry detergent. However, you can still damage or clog your dishwasher over time if you use a detergent not recommended for that specific dishwasher. Always refer to the owner’s manual for the recommended detergent.
  • Buildup in the drain basket. Usually, the bottom of your dishwasher is where the drain basket is located. Over time, this basket can get clogged with food and debris, which can prevent your dishwasher from draining properly.
  • Kinked drain hose. As with any hose, a kink will prevent water from flowing properly.
  • Clogged drain hose. This can happen if food, grease, or debris builds up inside your drain hose and blocks water from draining out.
  • Clogged garbage disposal. If you have a garbage disposal, it’s likely that your dishwasher drain hose empties into the garbage disposal drain. So, if your garbage disposal drain is clogged, then it can also prevent your dishwasher from draining.
  • Damaged or worn-out plumbing. Though it’s less likely, it’s possible that your connected plumbing could be damaged and causing the issue. Whether it’s due to damage from freezing and thawing or just old age, you may need a replacement to resolve the issue.
  • Faulty or damaged dishwasher. The dishwasher itself may be causing improper drainage. If you’re experiencing frequent drain issues or noticing other malfunctioning parts of your dishwasher, you may need dishwasher repair or replacement.
  • Electrical connection issues. It’s possible that the dishwasher itself is malfunctioning electrically and needs repair.

Related Content: Troubleshooting Dishwasher Leaks and Water Flow Problems

What to Do When Your Dishwasher Isn’t Draining

Here are some tips for how to fix a dishwasher not draining:

  • Reset it. If you haven’t already tried, reset your dishwasher by unplugging and then plugging it back in. If that doesn’t work, try resetting the circuit breaker.
  • Check your detergent. If you used the incorrect type of detergent, check the bottom of your dishwasher for soap that didn’t dissolve properly. Scoop out the remaining soap and water, and try running your dishwasher again with the correct detergent.
  • Inspect your drain hose for damage. If, like most people, you store cleaning supplies or various items below your kitchen sink, they could have bumped or damaged your drain hose. Check that there are no kinks, leaks, or items pushing up against the hose.
  • Empty your drain basket. Locate the drain basket inside your dishwasher, and remove it by unscrewing or unclipping it. Remove any food or debris, and give it a good rinse. Then, check below where the drain basket sits for any debris that may have collected inside. Clean that out, refasten the basket, and try running the dishwasher again.
  • Clear your drain hose. If there was food and debris inside the drain basket, it’s possible there’s also a clog inside the drain hose. Unplug your dishwasher first. Then grab a bucket, place it below the hose connection under the sink, and disconnect it to check for any clogs. If you don’t find any food or debris in this part of the hose, check the front end. To do so, remove the panel on the lower part of the dishwasher. Locate the hose and disconnect it. Check for any clogs and remove them with a screwdriver or bent wire coat hanger.

Related Content: Why You Should Replace Rubber Hoses with Braided Steel Hoses on Your Plumbing Appliances

How to Prevent Dishwasher Drainage Issues

Dishwasher drainage issues shouldn’t be frequent. However, there are a few helpful tips to follow if your dishwasher occasionally has issues with clogs or slow draining.

  • Rinse your dishes thoroughly before placing them in the dishwasher (unless the manual advises not to).
  • Never put these foods down your drain or disposal.
  • Always run the dishwasher on the hot water cycle.
  • Regularly inspect the drain basket for buildup or clogs.

If, despite these tips, you’re still dealing with dishwasher drainage problems, it may be time to consider a new dishwasher or a plumbing inspection.

Who to Call if Your Dishwasher Won’t Drain

If you’ve tried all the tips listed above and your dishwasher still won’t drain, it’s time to call a pro! Count on your local Benjamin Franklin Plumbing for drain services. Whether it’s an issue with your dishwasher drain hose or garbage disposal, or you’re just not sure how to unclog your dishwasher drain, our licensed plumbers can fix it.

If the issue is with the dishwasher itself, you’ll need to call your local appliance repair professional. They’ll be able to determine whether the issue requires repair or full replacement.

Clear Your Dishwasher Drain with the Pros

Don’t get stuck doing the dishes by hand! Count on the licensed plumbers at Benjamin Franklin Plumbing to diagnose your dishwasher drain or connected plumbing issues. Call us at 1-877-BEN-1776 or book an appointment online.

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