Why won’t the dish water drain from my dishwasher?


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If the water won’t drain from the dishwasher, first manually remove as much water as possible and then check the sump area for paper or any other large object. Make sure the door is properly latched. The pump will not drain if the door is not latched properly. Check the belt, drain line, air gap, drain valve and solenoid assembly, the motor, and the pump. If your dishwasher uses a belt to drive the pump, and it has broken or come off the pulley, replace it.

A cup or so of water in the sump area of your dishwasher is normal. It is there to prevent the seals from drying out. The dishwasher will pump this old water out before beginning to wash.

If you have recently installed a garbage disposer in your home, make sure that the drain plug on the disposer has been removed. It’s just a little plastic piece that blocks the hole where you hook the dishwasher drain hose. If your dishwasher drains through the garbage disposer, you need to run the garbage disposer before you run the dishwasher to make sure that the drain is clear.

There is a drain hose between the drain valve or pump and the garbage disposal or drain line. If an obstruction has blocked this, then your dishwasher won’t drain. The drain hose is connected by clamps to the drain valve and the disposer or drain pipe. Remove it and visually inspect it for a clog or a kink. Try to remove any debris. If it is in good condition, just put it back on, and if not, purchase a new one to install.

If you don’t have an air gap in the drain line, at least use a high drain loop. Making a large loop about 18″ off the ground with the drain line can prevent any back flow into the dishwasher from the sink.

If you have one, the air gap will be located on top of the sink. The air gap is there to prevent any siphoning of standing water from the sink. When your dishwasher drains, the air gap diaphragm will form a seal and allow the water to drain properly. If the diaphragm in the air gap is faulty, it’s possible that water can leak onto the cabinet and into the sink area. When this happens, then the air gap must be replaced.

Like the inlet valve, there is also a drain valve on most models. When no power goes to the drain valve it remains closed and prevents water from leaving the machine. When the valve receives power during the drain cycle, the solenoid opens and allows the water to leave the machine. If your drain hose is attached directly to the pump, you don’t have a drain valve. The motor simply reverses and the pump sends the water in the opposite direction, which is out of the machine.

If the motor doesn’t turn or work properly, the dishwasher may not drain. Make sure you have power to the unit. If you notice that the motor hums but won’t turn, it could be seized, and you probably need to replace it.

Small objects can sometimes get stuck in the pump. When this occurs, you’ll need to open the pump and remove any debris buildup. The dishwasher pump is usually mounted directly to the motor and runs off the motor as well. The pump is also attached to the bottom of your dishwasher and pushes the water from the dishwasher.

Looking for more dishwasher repair help online? Visit our dishwasher repair section at APWagner.com. Here, you will find answers to such questions as: Why does an error code display? Why doesn’t my dishwasher work at all? Why are the dishes still dirty? Should I pre-wash my dishes? What’s the best way to load the dishwasher?

Why aren’t my dishes dry when the dishwasher finishes?

You can also order any needed dishwasher parts online and get them shipped to you, most often, the same day, so you can make that repair quickly. If you need any help finding the correct part for your dishwasher, call us at 1-888-279-2463, or click on the chat live button at the top of the site.


7 responses to “Why won’t the dish water drain from my dishwasher?

  1. Hello

    I am trying to figure out why my GE Profile Performance dishwasher won’t pump out. I am very familiar with this machine as it has been a pain in the butt since we dumped $500+ dollars for it about 10 years ago. I have had pump out problems in the past and resolved them by removing it from the cabinet and pulling pistachio shells and other debris out of the lines. don’t ask me how a pistachio shell gets past the macerator but it was there.

    For this latest episode I have already pulled it and traced out ALL the lines. There are no blockages. It pumps water and I can here it going down the sink drain. But when we open the machine the water is up to the heating coil. So the way we are dealing with it is to wash the dishes and after the cycle is done we unload them and then do the “manual pumpout” i.e. hit start cycle then hit ist again within 2 seconds and it will stop the cycle and “pump out” the machine. We have to repeat this about 4 times to get the level down and the dirty water at the level of the sump.

    So my question is: is there a water level sensor that tells it when to stop pumping or does it just pump for X seconds and then stop? What am I missing here? Should I just give up and buy a new one.

    Best regards,

    Brian D. Bartlett

  2. Great information….little drain plug giving all the problems…thanks again

    • recently installed a garbage disposer and there was nothing in the installation instructions about removing the hidden plug. Thanks for saving me a lot of time and money. Plug is removed now and all is well.

  3. Pouring Tang, the orange powder, into the bottom of my dishwasher completely clears any drain blockages in my dishwasher. It works every time for me. I use it whenever the dishwasher does not drain. This was passed on to me from an elderly lady, and it works.

  4. As much TANG as you can get your hands on!!!

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