Why Isn’t My Dishwasher Draining?

Dishwashers work hard to remove the bits of food that get stuck to your dishes. Sometimes these bits of food can become lodged in the filters and pipes that carry waste water out of the dishwasher and into the sewer. When this happens, your dishwasher might stop draining. Fortunately, many homeowners can fix this problem on their own without calling a plumber.

Check the Sink for a Clog

The dishwasher drains into the same line that drains the sink, so if the sink is clogged, this can also prevent the dishwasher from draining. Run the water through your sink and watch to see that it runs quickly. If the water drains slowly or not at all, there’s a clog in the pipes that’s probably causing the backup. You’ll need to clear that clog and try the dishwasher again.

To clear a clog from your kitchen sink, start by straightening a clothes hanger into a hook shape and use the hook to scoop food out of the drain. If this doesn’t work, clip the tip off of your plumber’s auger, then unwind the end of the coil so it will fit through the drain basket. Push the auger down into the pipe until it reaches the clog, then crank the auger to pierce the clog. Remove the auger once the clog is cleared. You can read more about this procedure in our old post on the subject.

If your sink drain isn’t clogged, the problem is probably in the dishwasher. Read on to find out more.

Prep the Dishwasher

Before you can fix the dishwasher, it’s important to disconnect the appliance from the power supply and drain the water. The plug for the dishwasher is usually found in the back of the appliance. To reach the plug, you might have to use a few screws to disconnect the dishwasher from the counters and pull the appliance out of its place.

Once the plug has been disconnected, open the dishwasher and use a bucket or a bowl to bail the water out of the bottom of unit. When the level gets low, use a turkey baster or a towel to sop up the last of the moisture.

Check the Filter

The filter will be located in the bottom of the dishwasher tub, sometimes all the way at the very back. The filter is protected by a cage that may or may not have bits of food stuck to the outside. Use a screwdriver to unscrew the cage around the top of the filter, then clean the cage and check the filter itself for bits of food.

If you find large pieces of food on the filter, this could mean you’ve fixed the problem. Put the cage back on the filter and plug the unit back into the power supply. Once the dishwasher is back in position, run it for a cycle, then check for water in the bottom of the unit. If water remains in the dishwasher, you’ll need to bail out the water once again before you can proceed with the next step.

Clear the Drain Hose

If the filter isn’t the problem, try clearing the drain hose. Disconnect the dishwasher from the power supply, then remove the toe kick from the bottom of the dishwasher. You should see a corrugated hose coming out from the bottom of the pump. Disconnect the hose then blow through it to push any debris out of the way.

Contact a Plumber

If you’re having a hard time clearing your plumbing to ensure good drainage for your dishwasher, call an experienced plumber. If you live in Pittsburgh, call Terry’s Plumbing. We can help!