Why The Dishwasher Will Not Drain

In a modern kitchen, the dishwasher has become an indispensable appliance, saving us valuable time and effort in the daily chore of washing dishes. However, there’s nothing more frustrating than discovering that your dishwasher is not draining properly. This article aims to shed light on the common reasons behind this issue and offers practical solutions to get your dishwasher back in working order.

Understanding the Importance of Proper Drainage

Before we delve into the troubleshooting steps, it’s essential to understand why proper drainage is crucial for your dishwasher’s functionality. When the dishwasher doesn’t drain correctly, it can lead to a host of problems, including foul odors, mold growth, and even damage to the appliance itself. Therefore, addressing this issue promptly is essential to maintain the efficiency and hygiene of your kitchen.

Common Reasons Your Dishwasher Won’t Drain

1. Clogged Drain Filter

One of the primary culprits behind a dishwasher’s drainage problems is a clogged drain filter. Over time, food particles, grease, and debris can accumulate in the filter, obstructing the water flow.

2. Blocked Garbage Disposal

If your dishwasher is connected to a garbage disposal unit, a blockage in the disposal system can hinder proper drainage. Ensure the disposal is clear of any obstructions.

3. Faulty Drain Pump

A malfunctioning drain pump can impede the dishwasher’s ability to drain water effectively. Check for unusual noises or signs of wear and tear on the pump.

4. Clogged Drain Hose

A kinked or clogged drain hose can prevent water from flowing out of the dishwasher. Inspect the hose for any obstructions or damage.

5. Improper Installation

In some cases, improper installation can lead to drainage issues. Ensure that the dishwasher is correctly installed, with the drain hose positioned correctly.

6. Air Gap Blockage

An air gap is essential to prevent wastewater from flowing back into the dishwasher. If it’s blocked, drainage problems can occur. Clean the air gap to resolve this issue.

7. Dishwasher Overloading

Overloading the dishwasher with too many dishes can lead to drainage problems. Make sure not to overcrowd it during a cycle.

8. Excessive Detergent Use

Using too much detergent can create excessive suds, which may hinder drainage. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for detergent usage.

9. Damaged Drain Impeller

The drain impeller is responsible for pushing water out of the dishwasher. If it’s damaged or worn out, it can lead to drainage issues.

10. Drain Solenoid Malfunction

The drain solenoid is responsible for controlling the drain valve. If it fails to operate correctly, it can result in poor drainage.

How to Fix a Dishwasher That Won’t Drain

1. Clean the Drain Filter

Start by removing and cleaning the dishwasher’s drain filter. Rinse it thoroughly under running water to remove any debris. Reinstall it securely.

2. Check the Garbage Disposal

Inspect the garbage disposal unit for blockages. Run water through it to ensure it’s clear. If necessary, remove any clogs.

3. Examine the Drain Pump

Inspect the drain pump for signs of damage or blockages. Replace it if needed, following the manufacturer’s instructions.

4. Inspect the Drain Hose

Examine the drain hose for kinks or clogs. Straighten the hose and remove any obstructions to ensure proper drainage.

5. Verify Proper Installation

Review the dishwasher’s installation instructions to ensure it’s correctly set up. Make any necessary adjustments if it’s not installed correctly.

6. Clean the Air Gap

Remove the air gap cover and clean it thoroughly to ensure water can flow freely. Reassemble the air gap once it’s clean.

7. Avoid Overloading

Be mindful of the dishwasher’s capacity and avoid overloading it with dishes. Run multiple cycles if necessary to avoid drainage issues.

8. Reduce Detergent Usage

Use the recommended amount of detergent to prevent excessive suds. Too many suds can hinder drainage.

9. Replace the Drain Impeller

If the drain impeller is damaged, replace it according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

10. Check the Drain Solenoid

Inspect the drain solenoid and replace it if it’s malfunctioning. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for replacement.


A dishwasher that won’t drain can be a frustrating problem, but with the right troubleshooting steps, you can often resolve the issue without the need for professional help. By addressing common causes like clogged filters, blocked hoses, and faulty components, you can enjoy the convenience of a fully functional dishwasher once again.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Can I use a chemical drain cleaner to unclog my dishwasher’s drain?

It’s not recommended, as these chemicals can damage the dishwasher’s components. Stick to manual cleaning methods.

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

Aim to clean it once a month to prevent clogs and drainage issues.

Why does my dishwasher smell even after I’ve cleaned it?

Persistent odors may indicate hidden clogs or mold growth. Follow a thorough cleaning routine and inspect for hidden issues.

Is it normal for the dishwasher to have a little water left at the bottom after a cycle?

Yes, a small amount of water is typically left to keep the seals moist. However, if there’s excessive water, it could be a drainage problem.

What should I do if none of the troubleshooting steps work, and my dishwasher still won’t drain?

In such cases, it’s best to seek professional appliance repair services to diagnose and fix the issue.

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