Is Your Dishwasher Not Draining? Don’t Panic, We’ve Got This!

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Has your dishwasher gone haywire? Not to worry! Before you throw in the towel and call up the repairman, let’s take a look at how you can DIY your way out of this.

So, Your Dishwasher’s Got a Bad Case of Indigestion…

Yeah, it’s always a bummer when you notice a once-helpful appliance begin to break down. You’ve noticed that your dishwasher just isn’t draining properly, and you’ve begun to wonder what’s next. 

Are you going to wake up to a giant pool of water in your kitchen? Or something worse? Fortunately, a dishwasher that’s not draining is actually not that technical of a fix, even if you’re not exactly a home improvement guru.

So, there are usually only a few common culprits that can turn your dishwasher into a potential water hazard:

  • Filter Fiasco: Your dishwasher filter might simply be clogged. Instead of the hair you might find stopping a sink drain, this filter’s blocked up with old food bits. It’s kinda gross but totally fixable.
  • Garbage Disposal Grump: It’s possible that your dishwasher shares a drain with the garbage disposal. If there’s a jam there, it could be creating a serious backup.
  • Drain Hose Drama: Once in a while the dishwasher’s drain hose gets bent or knocked out of proper shape. This can lead to all sorts of backup issues.
  • Pump Problems: A pump that’s acting out sounds serious, but you can figure this out before doing anything too drastic.

Safety First, Handyman Hero!

Before starting any dishwasher repair, never skip the very crucial first step: safety!

Turn Off the Power: Don’t rush in and start touching anything. First, head to your home’s breaker box and turn your dishwasher’s power off. Water and electricity are a very dangerous combo, and you certainly don’t want to end up being shocked or sending off any stray sparks.

This is a simple step, but it’ll protect you from danger and also ensure your electrical system doesn’t get screwed up. Remember, safety always comes first!

Let’s Get Down to Business: A Step-by-Step Guide

Thankfully, most dishwasher problems aren’t too difficult to fix. You usually just need a little elbow grease and some troubleshooting steps. This comprehensive guide takes you through the most common problems and shows you how to fix a dishwasher that won’t drain, whether it’s due to clogged filters, bent hoses, or faulty pumps. 

Your dishwasher might even be flashing some weird-looking codes – we can also help you decipher those. Follow these steps and you’ll be running your next load of soon-to-be sparkly dishes in no time flat. And with these handy maintenance tips, you can help your dishwasher continue to run smoothly for years to come.

Filter Check-Up:

  • Usually, your dishwasher has a filter at the bottom that helps catch bits of yucky stuff. Twist your filter off (take a look at your manual if you’re feeling unsure) and thoroughly rinse it under hot water.
  • If it looks really bad, you can soak it for a while in some hot, soapy water. Be sure to inspect it for cracks or other damage. If you notice anything, you should go ahead and replace it with a new filter.

Garbage Disposal Check:

  • If your dishwasher and disposal are linked up, turn on your disposal for a few seconds to and see if things start to clear up.
  • Also, make sure that the little knockout plug in the disposal (it covers the dishwasher drain) has been removed. It’s a common mistake, don’t worry!

Hose Inspection:

  • Beneath your sink, you’ll see a drain hose. Carefully detach it (place a bucket under there to catch runaway water) and make sure it has no kinks or bends. If you notice any, do your best to straighten them out.
  • Try running some water through the hose to ensure it’s not clogged. If it is, a plumber’s snake should do the trick.

Air Gap Exam (If You’ve Got One):

  • Some dishwashers have a small cylinder called an air gap next to the faucet. The air gap’s job is to keep dirty water from making its way back into your dishwasher.
  • Unscrew the air gap cap and check for any clogs. If you notice anything, a quick scrub with a brush and soapy water should clear it right up.

Pump Check:

  • If you’ve gone through everything above and your dishwasher is still not working properly, it could be the pump.
  • This one can be a bit tricky, so unless you’re comfortable with electrical stuff, it’s best to call in a pro.

Extra Tip: If you’ve gone through everything and are feeling unsure about your repair, go ahead and consult this dishwasher repair guide video for a good visual aid.

Error Codes: Your Dishwasher’s Secret Language

You might notice flashing dishwasher error codes if you own a more sophisticated model. Don’t worry, it’s not trying to confuse you – this is just its way of communicating a specific issue. Each code corresponds to a specific problem, from a drainage issue to a faulty sensor.

To decipher these secret messages, consult your dishwasher’s manual. It will typically have a list of error codes along with their meanings and suggested troubleshooting steps. If you can’t find your manual, don’t fret! You can usually find the information online by searching for your dishwasher’s model number and “error codes.”

Understanding these codes can save you time and money by helping you diagnose and address the problem yourself, or at least be better informed when calling in a professional for assistance.

Keep It Running Smooth: Dishwasher TLC

Your dishwasher, like any other appliance, needs a little love to keep it going strong. Here are a few tips to keep it from throwing a tantrum:

  • Regular Filter Cleanings: Once a week is ideal, but even once a month is better than nothing.
  • Garbage Disposal Prep: Run it before starting the dishwasher to make sure things are clear.
  • Don’t Overload: You wouldn’t cram yourself into a crowded elevator, so give your dishes some breathing room too.
  • Use a Dishwasher Cleaner: Run a cycle with a cleaner every month or two to keep things fresh and sparkly.

Being Green with Your Dishwasher Leftovers

After you get through fixing up your dishwasher, you’ll likely be left with some leftover scraps. The good news is that these are usually eco-friendly.

  • Compost-Friendly Scraps: If you happen to have a compost pile, this is good news! A lot fo dishwasher scraps are leftover food particles, which you can easily toss right in. Just be sure to remove any large chunks or non-compostable items first.
  • Not into Composting? No worries! If you don’t have a compost pile, simply scrape the leftovers into the trash before rinsing your filter and dishwasher parts.

DIY or Call a Pro? That Is the Question.

If you’ve tried everything and your dishwasher is still stubbornly holding onto water, it’s probably time to call in the experts. It’s time to look at your budget and start looking into how much a dishwasher repair costs. Don’t worry, it’s usually a quick and painless fix for them, and you’ll be back to clean dishes in no time.

You’ve Got This!

A dishwasher that won’t drain is no fun, but it doesn’t have to be a disaster either. With these troubleshooting tips, you’ll be able to solve the problem and get back to enjoying your clean kitchen. And hey, you’ll have a great story to tell at your next dinner party!

Meet Marco, a lifelong tinkerer and DIY enthusiast, developed a passion for plumbing after fixing a leaky faucet in his own home. Years later, he turned that passion into a thriving business, Amarco Plumbing, where he shares his knowledge and expertise with the community.