September 29, 2016

Dishwasher not draining video

By Sears PartsDirect staff
Dishwasher not draining.
Dishwasher not draining.

If your dishwasher won’t drain, the problem may be as simple as a clogged sink drain, but there are other places that can get clogged, too. This Sears PartsDirect video shows you how to find and clear a clog to get your dishwasher draining again. 

Check out our DIY Dishwasher Repair help section for symptoms and troubleshooting tips, repair guides, error code charts and more.

Tools needed

  • Plumber's snake

  • Screwdriver

  • Shop vacuum or container to bail water

  • Towel or shallow pan

  • Work gloves

Check sink drain, garbage disposal for clog

Hi, this is Wayne from Sears PartsDirect. Today we're going to talk about a dishwasher that won't drain. Before you blame the dishwasher, check the sink drain or garbage disposal for a clog. The dishwasher can’t drain if the sink is clogged. Run the water to see if the water drains. If not, clear the sink drain and your dishwasher should drain properly. If your sink has a garbage disposal, run the disposal to see if the water drains then. If your disposal is clogged, clear it out.  But if it’s broken, you’ll likely need to replace it or it will clog again.

By the way, if you just installed a new garbage disposal and forgot to remove the knockout plug, do that now. The knockout plug prevents water from leaking through the dishwasher drain opening until you install the drain hose. It's easy to skip this important step when installing a new garbage disposal. Refer to the installation guide for your garbage disposal for more information on removing the knockout plug.

Check for grease clogs

If the sink or garbage disposal drains okay, pull off the dishwasher drain hose from the sink or garbage disposal connection and check the end of the drain hose for a grease clog. Grease often builds up in this area. Clear the grease clog and reinstall the drain hose.

See if the dishwasher drains by running the drain pump. You can run the drain pump on many dishwashers by pressing the cancel button or by starting a cycle and then pressing the cancel button. The drain pump runs for about 3 minutes on most models that have this feature. If you have a dishwasher with a timer, you can find the drain portion of the cycle by turning the timer to the end of the cycle.

Remove air gap blockages

If the dishwasher used an air gap, you’ll need to check that for clogs as well. Not all dishwashers use an air gap, so you may not see this component next to your sink faucet. If you have an air gap, check for water stains or water trails coming from the vent holes in the air gap cap. Water coming out of the air gap vent holes indicates a clogged air gap.

Remove the air gap cap and then the cover. Run a plumber's snake through the drain hose between the air gap and the sink drain or garbage disposal to clear the clog. Or clear the clog by blowing air through the drain hose or by using a wet/dry shop vac to suck out debris.  Reassemble the air gap and run the dishwasher drain pump to see if the dishwasher drains properly.

Check pump drain hose

If the dishwasher still won't drain, you'll need to access the drain hose connection on the drain pump. Disconnect electrical power to the dishwasher by unplugging the power cord or shutting off the house circuit breaker for the dishwasher. Remove the water from the dishwasher tub, either by bailing it out or by sucking it out with a wet/dry vac. Once that’s done, remove the bottom front service panel and toe panel.  Remove the mounting screws from each side and then pull off the panels. On some dishwashers, you can remove the outer door panel and control panel to get better access to the drain pump. Before you remove the drain hose, place a towel or shallow pan under the drain pump to catch any water remaining in the dishwasher sump.

Now, let’s check the drain path between the drain pump and the sink drain for a clog. Place the pump end of the drain hose in a shallow pan and pour some water through the drain hose from the sink end of the hose. If you have an air gap, you'll need to pour water through the dishwasher side of the air gap to check the drain hose. You've already checked or cleared the sink side of the air gap drain hose. If water doesn’t move through the drain hose, then you know there's a clog somewhere in the drain hose.

You have to pull the dishwasher out to check the entire drain hose for clogs. Here’s how. First, shut off the water supply to the dishwasher. If the power cord plugs into an electrical outlet, position the power cord so it moves freely when you pull the dishwasher out from under the counter. If your power cord doesn't plug into an electrical outlet, then it’s hardwired into the junction box. Remove the junction box cover and disconnect the supply wires. Remove the strain relief nut to release the power cable from the junction box. Open the dishwasher door and remove the bottom dishrack to avoid damaging interior parts when you tip the dishwasher over to find the drain hose clog. Remove the screws from the mounting brackets that hold the dishwasher under the counter. Carefully pull the dishwasher out from under the counter.

Check each section of the drain hose until you find the clog. Use a plumber's snake to clear the clog from the drain hose. Reassemble the dishwasher, add some water to the tub and run the drain pump to see if water drains. If it does, then you've fixed the problem. If water flows from the sink or the air gap to the pump end of the drain hose, then you know the drain hose is clear. You also know the drain hose is clear if you found and cleared a clog.

Problems requiring a service technician

If water doesn't drain from the dishwasher and you know the drain hose is clear, then a clog in the drain pump, the sump or a defective drain pump is preventing the dishwasher from draining. The dishwasher could also have a defective electronic control board or timer that isn't sending voltage to the drain pump. If you haven't found the cause of the drain problem by now, we recommend that you have a Sears service technician examine the dishwasher. The technician may need to perform live voltage checks, which only should be done by someone with proper training.

I hope this video helped you out. Check out our other videos here on the Sears PartsDirect YouTube channel. Subscribe and we’ll let you know when we post new ones.

Symptoms common to all dishwashers

Choose a symptom to see related dishwasher repairs.

Main cause: damaged rack height adjuster
Main causes: broken door spring, detergent dispenser failure, cabinet mounting brackets loose or broken
Main causes: damaged or stuck spray arm, leaking door seal, damaged door hinge, leaky heating element water seal, cracked water supply line
Main causes: light switch beside the sink turned off, lack of power, bad dishwasher door switch, control system failure, wiring problem
Main causes: water supply problem, stuck overfill float, clogged water inlet valve screen, water inlet valve failure
Main causes: clogged kitchen sink drain, clogged drain hose, drain check valve damaged, drain pump failure, control system problem
Main causes: broken door latch, tripped circuit breaker, broken heating element, faulty vent fan, sensor failure, control system problem
Main causes: glass or popcorn kernel stuck in the chopper blade, drain line vibrating against the cabinet, debris in wash pump or drain pump
Main causes: improper loading, low water temperature, improper detergent dosage, detergent dispenser failure, spray arm or pump problems

Repair guides common to all dishwashers

These step-by-step repair guides will help you safely fix what’s broken on your dishwasher.

October 1, 2016
By Lyle Weischwill
How to replace a dishwasher vent and fan assembly

If the control panel goes blank, the fan could be to blame. Replace the vent and fan assembly using these steps.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 30 minutes or less
How to replace a dishwasher circulation pump and motor assembly

When the spray arm won’t spray, you might need to replace the circulation pump and motor assembly. Here's how.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 30 minutes or less
October 1, 2016
By Lyle Weischwill
How to replace a dishwasher water inlet valve

If your dishwasher fills constantly or won't fill at all, the water inlet valve has failed. You can replace it in about half an hour.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 30 minutes or less

Articles and videos common to all dishwashers

Use the advice and tips in these articles and videos to get the most out of your dishwasher.

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How to load a dishwasher video

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