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Troubleshooting-Dishwasher not Draining


A dishwasher not draining is probably one of the most common problems that homeowners face when it comes to minor appliance repair. If your dishwasher was installed properly and has been working without incident, the issue can be caused by a variety of factors and in most cases is simple to resolve. If your dishwasher was recently installed and not draining, check the manufacturer’s website for troubleshooting tips that are common to installation.

Note: Before working with an appliance, especially one that delivers water, you need to shut off the power source at the circuit box.

Food Blockage

Dishwasher models vary but most work in essentially the same manner. Most come equipped with a removable food trap that collects larger debris that needs to be emptied and cleaned on a regular basis. If your dishwasher is not draining, the first thing that you should check is the food trap. Pull out any debris that has collected then remove the trap and clean it thoroughly. Run the drain cycle.

Installed through the Garbage Disposal

Many dishwashers are installed utilizing the garbage disposal drain system. In these cases when the dishwasher isn’t functioning properly, the garbage disposal should be factored into the troubleshooting equation. Make sure the drainage line is clear by running water down the disposal and running it until it is empty. Run the drain cycle on the dishwasher.

If this didn’t solve the problem, check to see if the garbage disposal is draining. If it has a clog, use the standard methods to remove the clog, and then run the drain cycle on the dishwasher.

Installed through the Sink

If the dishwasher drain is connected to the sink drain, the sink drain must be free of any obstructions for the dishwasher to drain properly. If the sink is not draining efficiently, begin your dishwasher troubleshooting by clearing the sink drain as you would with a clog.

Boiling Water-Boil water and pour it directly into the sink drain.

Plunger-A plunger is generally the most efficient method to remove the majority of drain clogs. If you have a double basin sink, stuff a towel into the second hole to ensure that the majority of the pressure is delivered to the clog.

Auger-More aggressive measures may be necessary if the plunger does not work. In this case, you will need to climb under the sink and remove the trap.

Blockage in the Drain Hose

A dishwasher may become clogged if the small drain hose connected from the pump to the sink or disposal becomes congested. This fix is more difficult on a built in dishwasher as you will need to gain access to the hose, which will require the removal of a panel or pulling the dishwasher out from under the counter. Once you have located the drain hose, remove it. A drain hose clog can easily be removed using a wire coat hanger or by spraying a garden hose full blast through the hose. Reattach the hose and run the drain cycle.

More Complex Problems

A dishwasher not draining can be caused by a dishwasher malfunction. In these cases, it could be a faulty timer, pump assembly, motor malfunction, or drain valve. These issues will require dishwasher parts repair.



“Dishwasher Maintenance Basics : Home Improvement : DIY Network.” DIY Network – Home Improvement How-To & Projects : DIY Network. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Dec. 2010.

“My dishwasher is not draining.” Find Answers. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Dec. 2010.

“Clear Any Clogged Drain | Plumbing | This Old House – 3.” Home Improvement and Remodeling: This Old House. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Dec. 2010.,,193799-3,00.html.

“Dishwasher Repair Guide – Check dishwasher drain hose.” Appliance Parts From PartSelect | Repair Parts For Major Appliances. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Dec. 2010.

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