Dishwashers are a great modern invention designed to keep your home clean without any extra effort on your part. So, when it won’t drain and creates MORE of a mess, it can be hugely discouraging.

If your dishwasher is not draining, don’t reach for the sponge and start hand washing quite yet. Dishwashers can have drain problems for a variety or reasons. Some of them you can even fix on your own! Today, we’ll help you learn:

  • All about the different connection types
  • How to fix a dishwasher that won’t drain
  • When to let a plumber step in

Ready to find out more? Keep reading.

First Things First: Connection Types

Before you begin troubleshooting your dishwasher problems, it is important to understand what type of drain connection you have. This will help you clearly determine your next steps. The connection types are as follows:

  • High Loop to Disposal – In this type of connection, your dishwasher’s drain will be connected to the sink’s garbage disposal.
  • High Loop to Drain – If you have a hose that enters your cabinet from your dishwasher but isn’t connected to the garbage disposal, it is likely that this is the type of connection you have. The hose should connect to your sink’s drain pipe.
  • Air Gap to Drain – While a high loop is a more common form of connection, some places may require an air gap. You will still have a drain hose running from your dishwasher, but it should attach to the top of your cabinet.
  • Air Gap to Disposal – This will look the same as air gap to drain, but if you also have a garbage disposal system, this is the set up you will have.

5 Reasons Why Your Dishwasher Won’t Drain

It’s time to put on your investigative cap and figure out what is going on. We’ve compiled five of the most common reasons why a dishwasher won’t drain and what to do about it.

1) Drain Hose Kinked

plumber fixes drain hose on dishwasher

A dishwasher drain hose looks like a thing, ribbed plastic tube that will run from your dishwasher through one of the connections we previously mentioned. If the drain hose is moved or dislodged, a kink can form that can prevent water from passing through smoothly. One of the easiest fixes you can do is to check your drain hose and help it lay flat if it is kinked.

Be aware, though, that once the dishwasher drain hose has been bent one way, it is more likely to become a reoccurring problem and may need replacing.

2) Clogged Dishwasher

If there is no kink in sight, you may be dealing with a clogged drain hose that stops your dishwasher from draining properly. In order to free up the dishwasher hose, you’ll need to cut off the water to your dishwasher and unplug it.

Once you have done that, you can carefully remove the hose. If you have a clog, you can try and get rid of it by inserting a clothes hanger or some other long tool. Occasionally, you’ll find the clog is too deeply lodged and will require you to fully replace the drain hose.

3) Buildup in Drain Basket

The drain basket of your dishwasher often gets filled with food debris and other gunk that can prevent your dishwasher from draining. By cleaning the drain basket, you might solve the underlying problem!

The drain basket is located at the bottom of your dishwasher and has a small cover that looks, well…like a basket! You should be able to quickly remove the cover with a screwdriver and clean out the inside of the basket.

4) Too Much Detergent

Let’s be honest: how many of us really carefully measure our detergent when we put it in the dishwasher? If you don’t, you aren’t alone. However, if you are letting your dishwasher run while it is jam-packed full of detergent, you could be setting yourself up for trouble. Too much dishwasher detergent can cause an excess of bubbles, which often leads to a clogged dishwasher.

By being conscious of the amount of detergent you are putting in, you’ll save money and a headache further down the road.

5) Clogged Air Gap

Once in a while, you might find that the air gap gets clogged with food debris and causes your dishwasher to be unable to drain. Luckily, it is fairly easy to twist the air gap off and check for any clogs. If you find one, you can clean it out with a tool or a wire hanger before reattaching it.

When to Call Your Plumber

homeowner calling plumber to fix dishwasher that wont drain

Is your broken dishwasher leaving you puzzled and not sure where to turn? We’ve been there. The good news is that your experts have too. A professional plumber has the experience to quickly diagnose why your dishwasher won’t drain and can help you come up with a solution.

In general, we advise homeowners to call on a plumber any time they don’t feel 100% confident in their skills. A faulty DIY job could lead to further damage, meaning more money taken directly out of your pocket.

Need a Quality Plumber? We’ve Got You Covered

If you need help repairing your dishwasher, Paladin Plumbing can help. Our team is equipped to tackle any plumbing project that comes our way, no matter how big or small. If you want a quality plumber that you can trust, you want Paladin. Contact us today to set up your free consultation!