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There’s nothing worse than running the dishwasher, only to find out it didn’t complete the cycle or clean the dishes properly. Finding a pool of water when you go to empty the dishwasher may leave you scratching your head. Can you fix the problem, or is it time to replace the unit altogether?
The dishwasher is one of the most used appliances in a home. It’s also the most likely tool to be taken for granted until something goes wrong. Luckily, most home warranty companies cover dishwasher repairs. As long as you have coverage, it won’t be long before your appliance is up and running again. Homeowners who are a bit handy may even be able to fix the problem themselves. If your dishwasher stops draining, be sure to try one of these proven solutions before your next load.
Dishwasher problems… problem solving
Run the Cycle Again
Opening the dishwasher only to find it full of dirty water is unnerving. However, a non-draining dishwasher is a common problem, and in some instances, it’s just a one-time occurrence. Maybe someone accidentally cancelled the cycle, or perhaps the unit lost power. Both of these scenarios will prevent your dishwasher from completing the drain cycle, but it doesn’t mean you need to rush out and buy a new one.
The first thing you should do if the dishwasher fails to drain is rerun the cycle. Often, this is all it takes to fix the situation. If you have a newer model, look for a “cancel” button. Pushing it should trigger the drain to open. If the water disappears after a second cycle, the problem is most likely resolved and won’t happen in the future. Running the cycle again will also ensure your dishes are sparkling clean when it comes time to empty the dishwasher.
Clean the Filter
Did you know there is a filter inside your dishwasher? Its job is to keep food, garbage, and hard water deposits out of the plumbing system. Keeping the filter clean and free of debris is the best way to keep your dishwasher running. If the filter gets clogged, however, it may prevent your dishwasher from draining. You may even notice leftover food particles on your dishes after running the cleaning cycle.
If your dishwasher stops draining, be sure to inspect the filter. You’ll find it at the bottom of the unit, often in the back corner. Use a shop vac to remove any standing water or large pieces of debris. Next, you’ll want to remove the filter. Simply turn the filter counter-clockwise to unlock the mechanism and pull it out. Wash the filter with warm, soapy water. You can even use an old toothbrush to remove any stuck-on grime. Repeat the process if your dishwasher has a secondary filter. Let both filters dry before putting them back into the dishwasher.
Clean Inside the Drain
Even though the filter stops most debris from entering the drain, it’s not a fool-proof system. After years of use, leftover food, grease, and other gunk can clog the drain. This is more likely to happen if you haven’t cleaned the filter in a long time. Too much debris in the drain will prevent the dishwasher from draining all the way. The next time you remove the filter, be sure to clean inside the drain as well.
Cleaning the drain is a pretty simple task. Simply use a wet sponge to wipe away any particles or grime. Shine a flashlight into the drain to make sure it’s clear. Once the drain looks clean, try rerunning the dishwasher. However, some clogs are too deep to reach without special tools. If your dishwasher still doesn’t drain properly, it may be best to hire a professional to service it for you.
Check the Hose
All dishwashers drain through a hose. A blockage in the hose will prevent the appliance from completing the drain cycle. If your dishwasher still doesn’t drain after trying the previous steps, inspecting the hose is a must. Depending on your dishwasher, the hose will either have a high loop or an air gap. A high loop elevates the hose right before it connects to the sink. This setup relies on gravity to prevent sink water from flowing back into the dishwasher. An air gap is a fixture that also stops dirty water from getting inside the dishwasher.
A tangled hose may prevent these mechanisms from working properly. Look for any knots or kinks in the hose. If it’s not tangled, a clog may be to blame. Disconnect the hose from the air gap or sink drain. Run water through the hose, and use a wire hanger or auger to remove any debris. Continue flushing the hose until water flows freely. You may also use a gentle detergent to loosen any grease buildup. Reattach the hose, and run another cycle to see if this resolved the problem.
Turn on the Garbage Disposal
Did you know that a clog in the garbage disposal can prevent your dishwasher from draining? The dishwasher’s drain hose also connects to the garbage disposal. That’s why most plumbers don’t recommend running the dishwasher and disposal at the same time. If food, trash, or foreign objects get stuck in the disposal, both appliances may act up. Running the garbage disposal should clear the drain.
Always turn on the water faucet when running the garbage disposal. This will prevent the unit from overheating. Let the system run for a full 30 seconds to ensure it has enough time to chop up any waste particles. After turning off the disposal, run hot water down the drain to ensure the sink isn’t clogged. Rerun the dishwasher, and if it finally drains, you know the garbage disposal was the culprit.
Prevent Problems Before They Happen
Hopefully, one of these solutions made your dishwasher drain again. Now it’s time to prevent problems down the road. Be sure to clean the filter regularly and always clean out the kitchen sink drain before turning on the dishwasher. Regular maintenance is the best way to increase your dishwasher’s lifespan and help you save money in the long run.