Why Won’t My Dishwasher Drain

Is your dishwasher failing to drain properly, leaving you with a sink full of dirty water and a mess to clean up? Don’t fret. This common issue can be frustrating, but with a little know-how, you can troubleshoot and resolve the problem efficiently. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the various reasons why your dishwasher may not be draining and provide actionable solutions to get it back up and running smoothly.

Why Won’t My Dishwasher Drain?

There could be several reasons why your dishwasher is not draining properly. One common issue is a clogged drain hose or filter, which can prevent water from flowing out of the machine. Make sure to check and clean these components to ensure proper drainage.

Another possible cause could be a malfunctioning drain pump, which may need to be replaced if it is not working correctly. Additionally, a faulty drain valve or a blockage in the plumbing system could also be contributing to the problem. It’s important to troubleshoot and address these issues promptly to prevent further damage to your dishwasher.

Check the Drain Hose

One of the primary culprits behind a dishwasher that won’t drain is a clogged or kinked drain hose. Start by inspecting the hose for any obstructions or bends that may be impeding the flow of water. Disconnect the hose from the sink drain or garbage disposal and ensure that it is free from debris. You can use a pipe cleaner or a long, flexible brush to remove any buildup inside the hose. Additionally, straighten out any kinks that may be restricting water flow.

dishwasher hose

Clear the Air Gap

Another common issue that can lead to drainage problems is a blocked air gap. The air gap is a small device located next to the sink faucet or mounted on the sink or countertop. Its purpose is to prevent wastewater from backing up into the dishwasher. Over time, debris and food particles can accumulate in the air gap, obstructing the flow of water. Remove the cover of the air gap and clean out any debris using a brush or compressed air.

dishwasher air gap

Inspect the Drain Pump

The drain pump plays a crucial role in expelling water from the dishwasher during the drainage cycle. If the pump is malfunctioning or clogged, it can prevent water from being properly expelled, resulting in standing water at the bottom of the dishwasher. To inspect the drain pump, you’ll need to access the bottom of the dishwasher. Refer to your dishwasher’s manual for instructions on how to remove the kick plate or access panel. Once you have access to the drain pump, check for any obstructions such as food particles or broken glass. Clear out any debris and ensure that the pump is functioning correctly.

Clean the Filter

Many dishwashers are equipped with a filter or trap that is designed to catch large food particles and debris to prevent them from clogging the drain. If the filter becomes clogged or dirty, it can impede water flow and cause drainage issues. Locate the filter in your dishwasher typically, it is located at the bottom of the tub and remove it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Rinse the filter under warm water to remove any buildup, and use a soft brush to gently scrub away stubborn debris. Once clean, reinsert the filter into the dishwasher.

Dishwasher Smells Bad

Ensure Proper Installation

Improper installation of the dishwasher can also contribute to drainage problems. Ensure that the dishwasher is level and securely positioned beneath the countertop. If the dishwasher is not level, it can cause water to pool at the bottom of the tub rather than draining properly. Use a level to check the alignment of the dishwasher and adjust the leveling feet as needed.


A dishwasher that won’t drain can be a frustrating inconvenience, but with the right troubleshooting steps, you can quickly identify and resolve the issue. By checking the drain hose, clearing the air gap, inspecting the drain pump, cleaning the filter, and ensuring proper installation, you can effectively tackle drainage problems and get your dishwasher back to optimal performance.

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