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Troubleshooting Tips for a Dishwasher Not Draining

In a world where customer service often falls short, Texas Reliable Services stood out from the crowd. We believe in treating our clients with the utmost respect and honesty, just like we would our family members. It was this commitment to exceptional customer service that set us apart. When faced with a dishwasher not draining completely, it can be frustrating and inconvenient. However, before you call a plumber, there are several troubleshooting tips you can try yourself. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the steps on how to fix a dishwasher that won’t drain.

Determine the Type of Dishwasher Drain Connection

The first step in troubleshooting a dishwasher that’s not draining is determining the type of drain connection you have. There are several common drain connections that you should be aware of, including the dishwasher garbage disposal connection.

  1. High loop to disposal: In this configuration, the dishwasher drain hose enters the cabinet from the dishwasher and loops to the top of the cabinet, where it’s held in place with tape, a string, or a chain. It then connects to the garbage disposal.
  2. High loop to drain: If you don’t have a garbage disposal, the dishwasher drain hose should still have a high loop. After looping to the top of the cabinet, it connects to the drain pipe. The connection must be above the P-trap on the drain line to prevent sewer gases from entering the dishwasher.
  3. Air gap to disposal: In this configuration, the hose runs to the top of the cabinet, similar to the high loop, but instead of being held in place with tape or a chain, it connects to a fitting at the back of the sink. The air gap, a small cylindrical knob on the sink’s top, allows air to enter and prevents dirty sink water from draining back into the dishwasher.
  4. Air gap to drain: This configuration is the same as the air gap to disposal, but without a garbage disposal. The hose runs to the air gap and then connects to the drainpipe before the P-trap.

Run Your Garbage Disposal

If your dishwasher empties into the garbage disposal dishwasher drain, it’s essential to ensure that there are no obstructions in the disposal unit. Food sludge or unground food can prevent proper draining. To clear any potential clogs, run the garbage disposal with dishwasher drain and let it grind up any remaining food particles. It’s also a good practice to leave the water running and let the garbage disposal run for an additional 15 seconds after the food is gone. This helps clear out any remaining food that may have settled in the P-trap drain beneath the disposal, addressing the dishwasher not draining garbage disposal issue.

Remove Standing Water in the Dishwasher

If running the garbage disposal doesn’t resolve the issue, it’s time to remove the standing water in the dishwasher. Start by placing absorbent towels around the base of the dishwasher to catch any spills. Then, remove the bottom dish basket by sliding it out. With the basket out of the way, you can use a plastic cup to scoop out the dirty, foul-smelling water into a bucket for disposal. If the water level is too low to scoop, use towels to sop up the remaining water in the bottom of the machine. This is a crucial step in the dishwasher drain clean process.

Clean the Dishwasher Air Gap

If your dishwasher has an air gap, it’s essential to ensure that it’s not clogged with debris. The air gap is a small device located next to your kitchen faucet that prevents dirty sink water from draining back into the dishwasher. To clean the air gap, twist it counterclockwise to remove it and check the inside for any debris or gunk. Clean the air gap with water and a stiff brush, then replace it and run the dishwasher cycle again to maintain a clean kitchen sink drain.

Clear Up Detergent Mishaps

Dishwashers are designed to be used with automatic dishwasher detergents that clean without producing suds. However, it’s easy to accidentally use regular dishwashing liquid or substitute laundry detergent when you run out of automatic dishwasher detergent. These substitutions can create excessive suds, leading to dishwasher problems and improper draining. If you’ve made this mistake, bail out the tub as described earlier and run the cycle again, this time using the correct dishwasher detergent to repair dishwasher drain.

De-gunk the Drain Basket

The drain basket, located at the base of your dishwasher clogged drain below the bottom rack, is often the source of clogs and unpleasant odors. If your dishwasher is experiencing issues with draining water, it’s essential to inspect and clean the drain basket regularly. The drain basket, situated beneath the bottom rack of the dishwasher, is a common area for clogs and odors to develop. If you find that your “dishwasher not draining water” properly, accessing the drain basket is the first step. Start by removing the cover, which is typically secured with screws or snaps, and check for any food or debris accumulation. After cleaning out any buildup, reassemble the cover and run a dishwashing cycle to see if the issue has been resolved. Regular maintenance of the drain basket can help prevent future drainage problems.

Check the Dishwasher Drain Hose for Kinks

A kinked dishwasher drain hose can prevent water from draining properly. If you suspect a kink in the hose, locate it and try straightening it out manually. Unfortunately, once a drain hose kinks, it is prone to kinking again in the same spot. If you find that the hose continues to kink, it’s best to replace it to ensure proper drainage and unclog dishwasher drain. This is a simple DIY task that can save you money on a plumber’s visit and address a clogged dishwasher drain.

Examine the Drain Hose for Clogs

If the dishwasher drain hose is not kinked, it may be clogged with food sludge or debris, leading to a dishwasher drain clog. To check for a clog, you’ll need to remove the lower front panel of the dishwasher and locate the spot where the hose attaches to the drain pump. Unplug the dishwasher and place old towels under the unit before removing the panel. Disconnect the hose from the pump and blow through it. If air doesn’t pass through, there is likely a clog. If the clog is near the end of the hose, you can try removing it with a thin implement, like a straightened wire coat hanger. However, if the clog is deeper or cannot be cleared, it’s best to replace the entire hose.

Replace the Drain Hose

If you’ve tried all the troubleshooting tips and continue to experience a slow draining dishwasher, it may be time to replace the drain hose to address the dishwasher drainage issue. While this task can be done yourself, if you’re not comfortable with it, it’s best to call a professional plumber. They can replace the hose and ensure proper installation, saving you time and potential frustration.

When to Call a Plumber

In most cases, following the troubleshooting tips mentioned above will resolve the issue of a dishwasher not draining. However, if you’ve tried all the tips and the problem persists, it may be time to call a licensed plumber. They have the expertise to diagnose and fix more complex plumbing issues, such as a faulty dishwasher pump, problems with the dishwasher’s timer or motherboard, or other specialized parts that may require professional attention, all of which can affect plumbing service cost.


A dishwasher not draining can be a frustrating problem, but with the right troubleshooting steps, you can often resolve the issue yourself. By determining the type of drain connection, running the garbage disposal, removing standing water, cleaning the air gap, checking for detergent mishaps, de-gunking the drain basket, examining the drain hose, and replacing it if necessary, you can potentially fix the problem without the need for a plumber. However, if these steps don’t solve the issue, don’t hesitate to call a professional plumber who can provide expert assistance. Remember, Texas Reliable Services is here to help with all your plumbing repair needs, whether you’re puzzled about why your dishwasher won’t drain or dealing with a new dishwasher not draining. Contact us today at (512) 609-8103 for reliable and efficient plumbing services in the Austin, Texas area.

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