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  • Jun 24, 2021
  • By NextEra Home

8 Steps to Take When Your Dishwasher is Not Draining

If your dishwasher isn't draining properly, most likely, it's a clog, and you might be able to fix it easily yourself. Here are a few simple things you can try without involving a professional and the big bills they tend to leave behind.

1. Run the disposal for at least 30 seconds

When your disposal fills up or an air gap forms in one of the hoses, water is prevented from draining from the machine. Turn on your disposal while running water from the sink. Let it run at least 30 seconds.  Often, this step alone -may clear up any blockage.

2. Drain the dishwasher

If standing water has formed at the bottom of your dishwasher, place towels on the floor around the appliance. A large cup or ladle can be used to scoop as much of the water as possible into your sink or a large bowl. Use paper towels or a cloth to soak up remaining water when you get to the bottom.

3. Clear the drain basket

Before you do anything here, unplug the dishwasher or switch off the circuit breaker. This may require removing a fuse from the fuse box or flipping a breaker in the circuit breaker panel to the "Off" position. After this, make sure the power is cut off by trying to turn the dishwasher on. Fuse boxes and breakers are often incorrectly labeled.

The drain basket can usually be located at the bottom or side of the dishwasher. If it’s clogged with food or detergent, simply wash it under the sink until clear. If you can't find or remove the basket, pour one tablespoon of baking soda, then two tablespoons of vinegar down the drain. Let it sit for 15 minutes. After that, just run hot water down the drain to clear the clog.

4. Clear blockages & check the drain basket

First, check the bottom where water drains to clear any blockage. Sometimes food particles can gather under the dish racks at the bottom.

If you haven't cleaned it in a long time, your filter is a likely culprit. These filters need  cleaning every 6 – 23 months, depending on how often you use the machine and how clean the dishes are when loaded. Your owner's manual will help you find the filter. Usually, it’s found at the bottom, under the dish rack. If it has an upper and lower filter assembly, disassemble the parts and run water over both filter assemblies. Wire brushes or scouring pads could damage your filter, so use a soft-bristled brush (even an old toothbrush) and soap to remove calcium deposits and debris.

5. Check the drain hose

Older drain hoses can form kinks, which create blockages. Inspect the hose to make sure there are no kinks or clogs. To check the drain hose, you must first pull out the unit and unscrew the mounts.  If kinks have formed in the drain hose, simply straighten them out. For clogs, poke through the hose with a wire hanger, removing any debris. Also, make sure the seal of the hose is securely connected on both ends.

6. Check your drain valve

Consult your owner's manual to locate the drain valve, which is usually at the bottom of the dishwasher. You should be able to move the drain valve easily with your fingers. If the valve doesn't move freely when you push on it, most likely its electrical components are burnt out and it needs replacement.

7. Check the air gap

Often, kitchens will have an air gap that's installed next to the faucet. The air gap is designed to prevent your sink water from backing up into the dishwasher. When the air gap gets clogged, it can back up your dishwasher's draining process. If water is flooding onto your counter, this is most likely the cause. Clear the air gap by simply taking off the cap and cleaning it out with a bottle or pipe brush, or by flushing it with a funnel and hot water.

8. Listen to your machine

Now that you've tried all of the steps above to locate and fix the problem, run your dishwasher and listen. If it's making noises it doesn't typically make — especially if it's a humming or clicking noise — you may need to replace your drain pump and motor. If this is the case, it may be time to call in a professional.

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