Have you ever opened your freshly-run dishwasher only to find a messy pool of dirty or soapy water stuck in the bottom? Then you’ve probably asked the common question: “Why isn’t my dishwasher draining properly,” and wished you had a good answer. Read on to learn a bit about why your dishwasher isn’t draining properly, and some tips that might help you get it draining properly again.
Before you embark on any maintenance, it’s important to go through a few steps. First, make sure that your drain hose connection is secure, and that the hose itself is not broken or cracked. Try unplugging the dishwasher, or resetting its power at the breaker box in your house. Sometimes all that is needed is a “hard” reset by cycling the power. After going through these steps, proceed with the maintenance tips below.
Modern dishwashers are equipped with filters to stop large particles from exiting the unit and entering your home’s drain system. Dishwashers are also equipped with grinders that help break down larger particles, but it’s still possible for some particles to get stuck in the filter. Filters can also become dirty and clogged with grease and soil from regular use, even if you’re careful about what you put in your dishwasher.
The filter is usually located in the bottom of the dishwasher’s basin or tub (under the lower spray arm), or at the back of the basin or tub. Most bottom filters can be removed by hand, but some filters in the rear of the appliance may need to be removed from a filter cage using a screwdriver.
Once you have the bottom or back filter removed, clean it thoroughly. Some filters may have more than one component (screen, cage, etc.), so be sure to clean each part. You can use warm soapy water to clean up most leftover grime and soil. If that’s not getting the job done, you may need to turn to a commercial cleaning product to remove calcium, lime, or stuck-on grime.
The drain hose is a critical component in getting water out of your unit. It can be useful to assess your drain hose from both ends of the drain system, though checking the drain hose where it connects to the pump can be more difficult.
With a bucket handy to catch extra water, disconnect the drain hose (usually a rigged plastic tube) from where it meets your kitchen sink drain or garbage disposal. Check to be sure there are no visible blockages where the drain hose meets the sink or disposal. Garbage disposals, in particular, are prone to corrosion blockages, so use a screwdriver or similar tool to clear out any plugging that has occurred where the drain hose hooks up to the disposal.
Let any extra water drain out of the hose, and watch to see if any debris comes out with it.
You can also check the drain hose where it meets with your dishwasher. Before proceeding, make sure to unplug your washing machine from the wall outlet, or turn off its power source at the breaker box in your home.
Next, you’ll need to open the bottom of the dishwasher by removing what is known as the “toe-kick,” or the metal plate that protects components underneath the dishwasher. The toe-kick is usually held in place by two-four screws. Look for your drain pump (according to your dishwasher manual) and disconnect the drain hose from the pump as directed.
Make sure the hose is clear by blowing through it or using an air compressor. If you can’t get air through, look for solid blockages or kinks/bends in the hose. Straighten the hose out to be sure you’re getting good through-flow.
Consult your manual to see if your dishwasher has a drain bracket and drain valve. A drain valve is used to prevent water from draining back into the dishwasher during normal operation.
To test the valve, push on the valve bracket to make sure that it is moving freely. If the valve is stuck, it could mean that the electrical solenoid that controls the valve has malfunctioned and needs to be replaced. If this is the case, you may need to involve a dishwasher repair professional for help.