What to Do When Your Dishwasher Doesn’t Drain

Dishwasher Repair

Does your dishwasher fail to drain completely? If you’ve opened your dishwasher to find an inch of a stinky, sudsy puddle at the bottom, it might be time for a repair.

However, before you call a repair service, here are some effective troubleshooting tips that you should try to address this issue.

Determine the Type of Drain Connection Your Dishwasher Has

The very first step in troubleshooting your dishwasher that doesn’t drain is determining the type of drain connection underneath your sink. Check the cabinet and take note of the configuration of the corrugated dishwasher drain hose and how it’s connected to the sink drain.

These are the most common drain connections:

  • High loop to disposal: In this configuration, the drain hose will enter the cabinet from the dishwasher, where it’s looped to the top of the cabinet and connected to the garbage disposal. The dishwasher drain hose is held in place with a tape, chain, or string.
  • High loop to drain: If the drain hose is not connected to the garbage disposal, it can still have a high loop but it will be connected to the drain pipe. In this configuration, the connection must be above the P-trap on the drain line to avoid stinky sewer gases from entering the dishwasher.
  • Air gap to disposal: If the drain hose runs to the top of the cabinet and is connected to a fitting at the back of the sink instead of being taped or chained, you have an air gap to disposal configuration. You should find a small cylindrical knob on the sink’s top to allow air to enter and prevent dirty water from draining back to the dishwasher.
  • Air gap to drain: This configuration is the same as the one above, except it is connected to the drain pipe before the P-trap instead of the garbage disposal.

Troubleshooting Tips for Your Dishwasher That Doesn’t Drain

Once you’ve determined the type of drain connection you have, you can try the following troubleshooting tips.

  1. Run your garbage disposal.

If your drain hose is connected to the garbage disposal, check if the disposal contains food sludge that accumulates in the drain pipe below the disposal. When you see that it contains unground food, run the disposal and check if the dishwasher will work normally again.

It’s a good practice to leave the water on and allow your disposal to run an extra 15 seconds after the food is gone to make sure that there’s no remaining food in the P-trap drain.

  1. Clean your dishwasher air gap.

While the drain connection with an air gap is least likely to be the culprit, it can also become clogged with debris, preventing the dishwasher from draining properly. You can check the air gap by twisting it counterclockwise to remove it, and then clean the gunk with water and a stiff brush. Finally, run the dishwasher cycle again.

  1. Check the drain hose.

When something large or heavy is shoved under the sink, the ribbed plastic hose connecting the drain pump to the garbage disposal can be kinked and prevent water from draining. Simply straighten it out manually and check if this solves the issue. If this is a recurring problem, you might want to replace the drain hose completely.

Additionally, check for clogs by removing the lower front panel of the dishwasher and finding the spot where the ribbed hose connects to the drain pump. You can try blowing through the hose, and if air doesn’t pass through, it’s clogged. If the clog is near either ends of the hose, you can try to remove it with a screwdriver, but don’t use a plumber’s snake because it can get punctured.

If you find that the clog is lodged deeper, you should replace the entire hose.

  1. Remove gunk from the drain basket.

The drain basket is located below the bottom rack of your dishwasher. You can check for food buildup by removing the cover and degunking any debris. Next, cover it again and run the dishwashing cycle.

Consult a Professional Plumber

When none of the troubleshooting above works, it’s time to leave the problem to the pros. Here at Rebel Refrigeration, we can assist with all your dishwasher or plumbing needs. So if you’re faced with persistent dishwasher problems, give us a call at (702) 766-9436 or contact us here!

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