Why Is My Dishwasher Not Draining? 5 Potential Causes and Fixes

It’s not a good feeling when you open your dishwasher to empty it, only to discover a smelly pool of dirty water sitting at the bottom of it. Why is the dishwasher not draining? Is this just a random occurrence? You rerun the dishwasher, only to discover that yes, there is still water standing at the bottom, so it isn’t there because it stopped mid-run. 

Now the question is, how do you fix a dishwasher that isn’t draining? Should you call a plumber immediately? The answer to that depends on what you may be able to figure out for yourself. Home Warranty of America offers home warranty plans that could make that call to a plumber less expensive. Before you make that call, remove the water from your dishwasher so you can see all the components. Take a look at these five common reasons why there could be water at the bottom of your dishwasher.

1. The Drain Hose

The drain hose is a critical component for any dishwasher, and several things could go wrong with it that can be the cause of your dishwasher not draining. You need the drain hose to be free of kinks and clogs for it to work effectively. First, thoroughly check the entire line to make sure that’s not occurring. Use the following steps:

  1. Put a towel down under the front panel to catch the water that will leak onto the floor when you detach the hose.
  2. Unplug the unit to remove the possibility of electrocution.
  3. Remove the front panel.
  4. Remove the hose from the unit and check for debris.
  5. If it’s clogged, remove that debris and reattach the hose.
  6. If there are kinks, you will likely need to replace it, as that’s not something that you can remove.
  7. If this isn’t the first time you’ve had problems with your drain hose, it may be time to replace it anyway, as there’s no reason to continue to take on this risk.

2. The Drain Basket

Large chunks of food and debris are not supposed to get into your drain hose in the first place. That’s why most units these days come standard with a drain basket. If the drain basket is full and not emptied, that can be why there is water at the bottom of your dishwasher. Remove the water and check to see if the drain basket is clogged. If it is, remove the debris and see if any remaining water starts draining. 

If the water still doesn’t move, then you’ll need to take the next step and grab a plunger. Sometimes, this can dislodge food that’s stuck deeper into the opening that you may not be able to reach, as smaller pieces of debris can combine after passing through the basket. If you still can’t get rid of the standing water, you may need to look elsewhere for the problem or contact a professional for help.

3. The Detergent

You’ve likely noticed that dishwasher detergent looks much different than what you use for washing dishes in the sink. That’s because dishwasher soap is specifically designed to work inside these units, and “traditional” dish soap is not. Dishwasher soap does not create as many suds or bubbles, and it’s important to know that too many bubbles could lead to drainage problems.

When someone uses the wrong detergent, the unit could clog. That could be why your dishwasher isn’t draining. To fix it, empty the water from the tub and rerun it with the proper soap. If that’s what was wrong initially, your dishwasher should work just fine at that point. 

4. The Disposal

The reason why your dishwasher isn’t draining may have nothing to do with your dishwasher components. Some units are hooked up to the disposal drain to grind up the food discarded from the dishwasher. If you forget to run your disposal and food gathers and sits in that drain, it could lead to a blockage. A blockage at your disposal could prevent your dishwasher from running properly, much like a blockage in your drainpipe. Eventually, your system will get clogged, and you’ll find water at the bottom of your dishwasher.

Run the disposal. That could be all you need to get things back in order. 

5. The Filter

Dishwashers come with filters, which are also there to help catch food and debris and keep that out of the system so that it runs smoothly. The filter is usually at or near the bottom of the unit but check your owner’s manual to find yours if you don’t see it. These filters need cleaning regularly, and sometimes they need replacing. 

If you have checked everything else and you’re still unsure of why your dishwasher isn’t draining, pull out your filter, clean it, and rerun it. If that doesn’t help, try replacing the filter. If you still have water at the bottom of your dishwasher, then it may be time to contact a professional. 

Home Warranty of America Can Help

No one ever wants to call a professional repair technician for any appliance. A dishwasher repair may be expensive, and at some point, it may make more sense to replace the unit as opposed to investing more into it. You can help minimize the risk you face with a home warranty. Home Warranty of America provides you with a breakdown of how much a home warranty costs for you to consider. If you’d like to learn more about how we work, feel free to call us at 1 (888) 492-7359 or contact us online at any time. Give yourself the peace of mind you deserve. 

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