How to Troubleshoot a Dishwasher Not Draining

Is your dishwasher not draining water properly? Dealing with a dishwasher that fails to drain can be frustrating and inconvenient. However, before you reach for the phone to call a repair technician, there are several troubleshooting steps you can take to resolve the issue yourself. In this article, we will guide you through the process of troubleshooting a dishwasher not draining and provide you with valuable tips to get your dishwasher back in working order.

A dishwasher is an indispensable appliance in modern kitchens, designed to simplify our daily chores and save us precious time. One crucial aspect of a dishwasher’s functionality is its ability to drain water effectively. When a dishwasher fails to drain properly, it can lead to standing water and unclean dishes. Understanding the common causes and troubleshooting steps can help you resolve the issue quickly and efficiently.

Understanding the Causes of a Dishwasher Not Draining

Before diving into the troubleshooting process, let’s explore the potential causes of a dishwasher not draining. By identifying the underlying issue, you can implement the appropriate solution.

Clogged Drain Hose

One of the primary culprits behind a dishwasher not draining is a clogged drain hose. Over time, food particles, debris, and grease can accumulate and obstruct the flow of water through the hose. This blockage prevents the water from draining effectively, resulting in stagnant water at the bottom of the dishwasher.

Blocked Drain Filter

The drain filter is responsible for capturing larger food particles and preventing them from clogging the drain hose or pump. However, if the filter becomes clogged itself, it can hinder the drainage process. An obstructed drain filter will prevent water from flowing out of the dishwasher, leading to standing water inside.

Malfunctioning Drain Pump

The drain pump plays a vital role in expelling water from the dishwasher during the draining cycle. If the drain pump malfunctions or becomes damaged, it won’t be able to remove water effectively, resulting in a dishwasher that doesn’t drain properly.

Faulty Check Valve

The check valve is a small device that prevents water from flowing back into the dishwasher after it has drained. If the check valve becomes faulty or stuck, it can impede the drainage process. As a result, water will remain inside the dishwasher, causing drainage issues.

Improper Installation

Sometimes, a dishwasher not draining can be traced back to incorrect installation. If the drain hose is not installed properly or lacks the necessary height adjustments, it can impede the natural flow of water and lead to drainage problems.

Now that we’ve identified the common causes, let’s move on to the troubleshooting steps that can help you fix a dishwasher not draining.

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Troubleshooting Steps to Fix a Dishwasher Not Draining

Before starting any troubleshooting process, ensure your dishwasher is unplugged and disconnected from the power source for safety.

Step 1 – Check the Drain Hose

Begin by inspecting the drain hose connected to your dishwasher. Ensure it is free from any kinks, bends, or blockages. If you notice any debris or clogs, remove them carefully using a pipe cleaner or a long brush. Additionally, check if the drain hose is properly connected to the sink drain or garbage disposal unit.

Step 2 – Inspect and Clean the Drain Filter

Locate the drain filter in your dishwasher, usually located at the bottom. Remove the filter and inspect it for any accumulated debris or food particles. Rinse the filter under running water to clean it thoroughly. Once cleaned, reinsert the filter back into its position.

Step 3 – Test the Drain Pump

The drain pump is responsible for expelling water from the dishwasher. To check if the drain pump is functioning correctly, you can conduct a simple test. Refer to your dishwasher’s user manual to locate the drain pump. Disconnect the pump and inspect it for any visible signs of damage or blockage. If necessary, clean the pump and ensure it spins freely. Reconnect the drain pump and run a short cycle to verify if the drainage issue has been resolved.

Step 4 – Examine the Check Valve

The check valve prevents water from flowing back into the dishwasher. Locate the check valve and inspect it for any signs of damage or blockage. Gently clean the valve and ensure it moves freely. If the check valve is severely damaged or stuck, it may need to be replaced.

Step 5 – Verify the Installation

Double-check the installation of your dishwasher to ensure it meets the manufacturer’s requirements. Ensure the drain hose is properly connected and that the hose’s height adjustment complies with the guidelines provided in the user manual. Proper installation is crucial for the dishwasher to drain effectively.

Additional Tips and Tricks

In addition to the troubleshooting steps mentioned above, here are some extra tips and tricks to help maintain a well-functioning dishwasher:

Ensure Proper Loading and Arrangement of Dishes

Proper loading and arrangement of dishes can significantly impact the dishwasher’s drainage. Avoid overloading the dishwasher and ensure that large items or utensils do not obstruct the spinning arms or prevent water from reaching the drain.

Use Dishwasher-Safe Cleaning Agents

Using dishwasher-safe cleaning agents, such as detergents and rinse aids, can help prevent residue buildup inside the dishwasher. Regularly adding these products to your dishwasher’s cleaning cycles can improve overall performance and reduce drainage issues.

Regular Maintenance and Cleaning

Perform regular maintenance tasks, such as cleaning the spray arms and removing any debris or scale buildup. Additionally, check the dishwasher’s rubber gasket for any signs of damage and replace it if necessary. Regular cleaning and maintenance can prevent blockages and ensure optimal drainage.

When to Seek Professional Help?

While the troubleshooting steps mentioned above can help resolve most common dishwasher drainage issues, some situations may require professional assistance. If you’ve tried all the troubleshooting steps and your dishwasher still fails to drain properly, it’s advisable to contact a qualified appliance repair technician. They have the expertise and tools to diagnose and fix complex drainage problems effectively.

Why is my dishwasher not draining after I cleaned the filter?

Cleaning the filter is an essential step in troubleshooting a dishwasher not draining. However, if the issue persists even after cleaning the filter, there may be other causes, such as a clogged drain hose, malfunctioning drain pump, or faulty check valve. Follow the remaining troubleshooting steps outlined in this article to address these potential issues.

Can a dishwasher not draining cause damage to the appliance?

Yes, a dishwasher not draining properly can lead to stagnant water sitting at the bottom of the appliance. This can cause unpleasant odors, mold growth, and potential damage to the dishwasher’s internal components. It is important to address drainage issues promptly to avoid any long-term damage.

How often should I clean the dishwasher’s drain filter?

It is recommended to clean the dishwasher’s drain filter at least once a month. However, if you notice an accumulation of debris or decreased drainage performance, more frequent cleaning may be necessary. Regular maintenance, including filter cleaning, can help prevent clogs and ensure optimal dishwasher performance.

Is it normal for a small amount of water to remain at the bottom of the dishwasher after draining?

It is normal for a small amount of water, usually around an inch or so, to remain at the bottom of the dishwasher after the draining cycle. This residual water helps to keep the seals lubricated and prevents odors. However, if the water level is significantly higher or if there is standing water, it indicates a drainage problem that needs to be addressed.

Can I use chemical drain cleaners to unclog a dishwasher drain?

No, it is not recommended to use chemical drain cleaners to unclog a dishwasher drain. These cleaners can be harsh and may damage the dishwasher’s internal components. Instead, follow the troubleshooting steps mentioned in this article or seek professional assistance if the issue persists.


A dishwasher not draining can disrupt your daily routine and leave you with unclean dishes. However, with the troubleshooting steps and tips outlined in this article, you can take proactive measures to address the issue. Remember to check the drain hose, clean the filter, inspect the pump and check valve, and verify the installation. By following these steps and practicing regular maintenance, you can restore your dishwasher’s drainage functionality and enjoy hassle-free dishwashing.

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