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what to do if your dishwasher does not drain

What to Do If Your Dishwasher Does Not Drain

A dishwasher is a simple appliance, but it does have its quirks. If your dishwasher does not drain, you must troubleshoot the issue as soon as possible.

There can be several potential causes for this problem. Each one will need slightly different troubleshooting techniques.

Check for a blockage 

The first thing you’ll want to do is check the drain hose. Often, a clog will occur in this area and it’s easy to overlook when checking for other blockages. 

If there’s no blockage and waste water drains properly, then the block in the drain pipe is due to another reason.

It’s also important that you regularly clean out any filters at the bottom of your sink.  These can become clogged with food particles and grease over time. 

If there are no visible debris in these areas and they are clear, then proceed to these steps:

Remove debris from the filter

If your dishwasher doesn’t drain, the problem may be a clogged filter. To access the filter and remove any debris, follow these steps:

Turn off the power to the dishwasher at the circuit breaker or fuse panel. Unscrew the lower kick plate and remove it. You can remove the screws holding the kick plate down with a screwdriver.

Remove the kick plate and lift it up to release it from its mounting brackets inside of the cabinet. Remove debris from around or beneath the pump using a towel and pliers. Be careful not to sever any hoses or electrical wires in the process.

Make sure there are no traces of food around or beneath the pump before proceeding with this step. Remove any clogs from the inside of the dishwasher by hand if possible. Otherwise, use a pair of pliers to pull out larger objects, such as a plastic wrap or foil container.

Assess the drain hose 

If your dishwasher does not drain, it’s important to understand how a dishwasher works. Dishwashers have a drain hose that connects to the garbage disposal or sink. The water goes through this hose, which connects to another part called an air gap (a small device).

This air gap prevents any debris from getting into your pipes and causing clogs. If there is a leak in the hose, you will need to replace it immediately. It can cause damage to your kitchen flooring or cabinets if left unchecked for too long.

To determine if there is an issue with your drain hose:

  • Check for clogs at the end of the drain hoses attached on either side of the appliance. Do so by pulling them out slightly.  Once out, you can look inside them. If there are clogs inside the tubes, remove them before continuing with the other steps below. 

You may need tweezers or pliers depending on how much effort you will need to dislodge them.

Check the garbage disposal

If you can take a peek into the dishwasher, check the garbage disposal. If it is running, that could be why your dishes are not draining. This can happen if you’ve added something that got caught and stopped up the drain. This can be a piece of food or another object.

If it is not operating, try resetting or unplugging it by shutting off the electricity at the breaker box. Next, check for any loose parts like screws or leaking pipes. Issues with these components may clog up drains (especially if they’re stainless steel).

Suppose none of this fixes your problem. Your dishwasher still won’t drain water even after resetting and unplugging the garbage disposal. You also did a full check for any clogs/leaks/jams etc.

In this case, chances are that something else might be wrong with them, such as broken gears. You will likely need the help of an appliance repair specialist. Best get an expert opinion before you go on and replace it altogether!

Clean the Air Gap

The air gap is a small opening in the drain hose that prevents food waste from backing up into your sink. You should clean this bit often, as it can often become clogged with debris like hair or soap scum. The best way to clean the air gap is by using a paper clip or pen cap.


It is usually a simple fix when your dishwasher does not drain. The most common cause is a blockage caused by food debris that you need to remove. 

After removing the blockage, you can try cleaning the hose and air gap. Do so to make sure they are free of any debris which may be the cause of the problem.

If you have tried the above steps and it still does not work, call a professional. Do not force the drain hose off.

Plumbing Repair With True Service Plumbing 

If you’re currently experiencing a plumbing issue or require expert advice, call our professionals at True Service Plumbing.

We are available 24/7 to take your call and respond to emergencies as quickly as possible.

Our licensed plumbers will assess your home’s plumbing system and determine the root cause of your issue, and perform the services necessary to get your plumbing up and running again. 

From burst pipes, leaky faucets, to drain rooting and more – True Service Plumbing has your back when it comes to all things plumbing.

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