Dishwashers are extremely convenient and also use much less water than washing dishes by hand. Still, you often won’t realize just how much easier they make your life until your dishwasher breaks down and you have to start doing your dishes by hand again. One of the most common dishwasher problems you may encounter is when the unit stops draining for some reason. If you ever find yourself in this situation, here are all of the steps that you should take to try to get it to drain again.

Try to Run the Dishwasher Again

The most common reason that you will open up your dishwasher and find it full of water is because it was shut off before it completed its full cycle. If you turn the unit off while it is still full of water, the drain pump won’t run, and the water will remain until the dishwasher is turned back on. This is always the very first thing you should check. All you need to do is turn it on and set it to run. If it is still full of water once it finishes the cycle, then you will need to move on to the next steps.

Turn On the Garbage Disposal

Dishwashers are always installed so that the drain hose connects to the main drain pipe underneath your kitchen sink. If you have a garbage disposal, the dishwasher will drain directly into it instead. When the garbage disposal gets clogged with food and debris, it will prevent the dishwasher from being able to drain. To check if this is the case, turn on the cold water and attempt to run the garbage disposal for 30 seconds or so. You will then need to run your dishwasher again to see if it will drain now that you know the garbage disposal is clear.

Remove Any Standing Water and Check for Obstructions

If the previous two steps weren’t any help, you will now need to remove all of the water. This allows you to inspect for any clogs or obstructions around the drain valve. Before starting, you should always put towels on the ground in front of the dishwasher to catch any water that may spill out. You will then need to use a ladle or cup to scoop out as much water as you can, and then soak up any remaining water with a towel.

Once the dishwasher is no longer full of water, you can then check to make sure the drain valve is clog-free and working properly. The valve should be located near the back corner of the unit. To check that the valve is working properly, gently push down on it. It should move freely when you press on it. If not, then the valve is stuck, and you will likely need to hire a plumber to determine why and see if they can repair it.

Clean the Filter

You should also make sure that your dishwasher’s filter isn’t full of food particles or clogged. Most people are unaware that you are supposed to clean a dishwasher filter regularly, and many people don’t know that their dishwasher even has a filter. The filter works to prevent food particles from potentially clogging the drain line. However, if the filter gets too dirty, it can prevent the dishwasher from draining or cause it to drain much more slowly.

Most dishwashers have a cylindrical, cup-shaped filter at the bottom. Some units also have a screen on the bottom near the filter that can be removed and cleaned. If you’re not sure what the filter looks like or where it is, check your owner’s manual. This will also tell your how to remove and clean it.

After removing the filter, soak it in vinegar for around 30 minutes to soften up any gunk stuck to it. You can then gently scrub it inside and out using soap and either a bristled brush or scouring pad. Once it is fully clean, make sure to rinse it well before you put it back in to ensure it isn’t full of dish soap.

Make Sure the Drain Hose Isn’t Clogged or Kinked

Your dishwasher uses a soft, flexible drain hose that runs from the unit to your sink drain. This hose can easily become kinked and prevent the dishwasher from draining. If the hose is kinked, you should gently straighten it out as best as you can.

You should also unhook the hose from the sink drain so you can make sure it isn’t clogged. You can check for and remove clogs by sticking a wire hanger into the hose. When you reconnect the hose, you also need to make sure that the connection to the drain has an airtight seal. If the seal is even slightly loose, it can also prevent the dishwasher from draining or cause it to leak underneath your sink.

Clean the Dishwasher With Baking Soda and Vinegar

Another effective solution to drainage issues is to use baking soda and vinegar to fully clean the dishwasher. This works by helping to break up any clogs that could be preventing it from draining. If you notice that there is standing water in your dishwasher after it runs, mix together approximately one cup of baking soda and one cup of white vinegar. Pour this mixture into the water inside the dishwasher and wait around 30 minutes.

After letting this mixture sit, the dishwasher will often become clear enough that it will start draining on its own. In this case, you should turn the unit on to the rinse cycle and let it run. The vinegar and baking soda should help to loosen up any clogs enough that the dishwasher can then flush them out and drain properly.

Run the Dishwasher Again and Listen

Another thing you should always do if your dishwasher won’t drain is to run it and listen for anything unusual. If everything sounds as it should, this likely means that it is clogged. However, if you hear any strange clicking or humming noises, then this usually indicates that the drain pump motor is faulty or burnt out. In this case, you are only left with two options: hire a plumber to see if the motor can be replaced or buy a new dishwasher.

This pump is what allows your dishwasher to drain. When water drains out of the bottom of the dishwasher, it has to flow uphill to reach your kitchen sink drain. If the pump stops working, gravity will prevent the water from going up through the drain hose, and the water will remain stuck inside the bottom of the dishwasher.

If your dishwasher won’t drain or has any other issues, Anchor Plumbing Services is ready to help. We service and repair all makes and models, and our team has years of experience fixing most any dishwasher issue. We also install and service water heaters, garbage disposals, water softeners, and most other plumbing appliances and fixtures. Our team can also help you overcome water pressure issues, and we specialize in drain cleaning and sewer services for customers throughout the San Antonio area. If you need any type of dishwasher or plumbing service, give Anchor Plumbing Services a call today.

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