Why Isn't My Dishwasher Draining All The Way?

Question: Why Isn't My Dishwasher Draining All The Way?

If your dishwasher won’t drain all the way, you may have a problem. Sometimes this problem is easy to fix on your own, but sometimes this means you need a plumber.

If your dishwasher isn’t draining, try the following:

Check the pump seal.

If there’s just a teensy bit of water in the bottom of your dishwasher, you don’t need to worry. You need a little bit of water to remain in the bottom to make sure the pump seal remains moist.

Check the dishwasher door.

If it’s not closed all the way and latched, the dishwasher won’t finish draining. Try closing the door, latching it, and running the dishwasher again.

Check the cycle.

If the cycle was interrupted, the dishwasher might not have drained. Look for a cancel/drain button or a way to reset the dishwasher. If you don't see a button clearly labeled on the dishwasher dash, go online and google your dishwasher's make and model to see if you need to press a combination of buttons to make it drain.

Check the electrical source.

Many dishwashers are plugged into an outlet that is controlled by an electrical switch. Make sure you didn’t accidentally turn off the electrical source mid-cycle. The switch is often next to your garbage disposal switch and can be easily switched off without you realizing you've cut the power to your dishwasher.

Check your dishwasher drain hose.

Your drain hose is probably connected to your garbage disposal, which means you could be experiencing issues with the disposal or the drain hose. Check to see if:

  • The drain hose is kinked, preventing drainage
  • The drain hose is clogged
  • The knockout plug is still in place and needs to be removed
  • The drain hose is hanging down or is too long (it needs to be tacked up to the underside of the counter in order to drain properly)

You may need a new drain hose.

Check the garbage disposal and drain.

If your garbage disposal is clogged or your drain system is blocked, your dishwasher won’t drain properly until you get the drain cleared or the garbage disposal cleared. Likewise, check your sink drain, since many dishwashers drain through the sink drain. Try running hot water down the sink drain or disposal and running the disposal. If this doesn’t work, call us and we’ll come clear your drain for you.

Check to see if you have a clogged air gap in your sink.

If your air gap is blocked, remove the chrome cover, unscrew the cap, and clean any residue or build up with soap and water.

Not sure what an air gap is? It's the unobstructed vertical space between the water outlet and the flood level of your sink fixture. The air gap makes it so water can easily flow from the faucet into the sink, but prevents water from flowing from the sink basin into the faucet, preventing contaminants from the sink from entering into the potable water system through siphonage.

The air gap related to your dishwasher is the backflow prevention device for your dishwasher. You can find the air gap above the sink. It will look like a small cylindrical fixture mounted parallel with your kitchen sink faucet. Under the sink, in the cabinet, the dishwasher drain hose will feed into the top of the air gap so that the bottom of the air gap plumbs into the drain below the basket or into your garbage disposal, if you have one.

You may want to check the manufacturer’s instructions for further cleaning advice. Replace air gap plastic cap and cover when finished.

Perform annual maintenance on your dishwasher.

Each year, you’ll want to do the following:

  • Clean the filter and trap with a stiff brush and hot soapy water (you can find the filter and trap at the bottom of your dishwasher).
  • Clean the spray arm holes with a stiff wire brush (removing debris that has accumulated and clearing all the spray holes).
  • Check the dish racks for cracks or for peeling off of the rubber sealant. You'll find that after a couple years of use, this rubber coating comes off, exposing metal. The metal rusts, and those bits of metal collect in the drain, clogging it. You'll need to order (online) little rubber caps and glue so you can cap off those rusty ends. You can also order liquid rubber that you can paint onto these areas so that they won't rust and add debris to the bottom of your dishwasher.
  • Check the drain hose clamps to ensure they are properly attached and angled for optimal draining.
  • Look for leaks or cracks in the door seal.
  • Make sure the pre-heating mechanism is working properly (use the manufacturer’s directions to do this - dishwashers vary by make and model in this regard).

Need Charlotte Plumbing Services?

Having trouble with your dishwasher and live within 25 miles of Charlotte North Carolina? We're here to help!

E.R. Services is open 24/7, 365 days a year. That means you don’t need to take time off work or wait until the morning because we never charge extra for nights or weekends. Just give us a call at 704-269-1066 or use our online contact form.

Have a different plumbing question? Learn more about our Charlotte residential plumbing services here.

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12 comments on “Why Isn't My Dishwasher Draining All The Way?

  1. pamela denton on

    My dishwasher is a Maytag new and we put in a new garbage despoal the water will not completely drain out of dishwasher what is my problem..

  2. Long Nguyen on

    I have an IKEA/whirlpool dishwasher and I have water at the bottom of my washer but it’s only in the cavity where the mesh filter sits. My question is that how much water that should be there to keep the seals moist?

  3. Long Nguyen on

    I have an IKEA/whirlpool dishwasher and I have water at the bottom of my washer but it’s only in the cavity where the mesh filter sits. My question is that how much water that should be there to keep the seals moist?

  4. Leo on

    Hello there,
    I have a KitchenAid dishwasher
    SER F20101635
    I’ve been dealing with it my not draining / completing cycle for a while now.
    The cycle starts, hot water sprays however it suddenly stops.
    The indicator light turns to the cancel/drain cycle.
    Then it shuts off, and it never drains.
    I have done all troubleshooting that I can find.
    -Drain hose is clear and free of clogging. I’ve used a wet vac at the waste point to suction all possible water and buildup. I was able to pull some at the beginning, but now it’s all clear.
    -filter is clean
    -water basin is clean and free of debris.
    -garbage disposal is clean and free of clogging debris
    -I have changed the motherboard (not all lights were working) in case that was it. Not change.
    -I have replaced the draining pump, however it is all the same.
    The dishwasher is just about three years old so no warranty available.
    Any help is appreciated.

  5. Jamie on

    Some times my dish washer drains then sometimes it doesn’t if I slam the door it sometimes does and if I hit the drain cancel button couple times sometimes it drains and sometimes it doesn’t I have clean out the pump couple times hose going to sink is clear no clog it’s clear what else could it be

    • David Parker on

      Hey Jamie, I would have the appliance checked out at this point it could be something electronic if the waste line and unit is free and clear and the door is closing all the way.


  6. Timothy on

    I have a Bosch wishwasher that will not drain. It stops and throughs a code E-25. Iv cleaned the screen iv pulled the pump all the way off the unit so I know there’s no blockage there. Iv pulled drain hoses off and blew through them good so I know there’s no blockage there. I can take the drain pump off and with it still plugged in I can turn the electricity back on to the dishwasher and the pump will turn on. Not every time but 7 out of 10 times it will. I can put it all back together and power the unit back up and it sounds like u turns on then right back turns off. It will do that 3 times then it won’t do anything. If I tip the dishwasher way way back with the front of the dishwasher about 1 to 2 feet off the ground it sounds like it will turn on but won’t drain the water. Is my pump bad? Or what’s going on???

  7. Fran Hefferan on

    I have a GE dishwasher and I recently replaced the pump on it, and it still don’t drain the water out, can you tell me what else I can do to get it working again
    Thanks for your time
    Fran Hefferan

    • David Parker on

      Hey Fran, I'm sorry for the late reply didn't see your question come through. If the dishwasher has a new pump and the appliance man deems it's working electronically it may just be the drain hose has a clog or it's not looped up high like it should be before terminating in the disposal or sink tailpiece. If you disconnected the drain hose at the bottom of the unit and blew through it with no problem or back pressure the drain is not clogged and if its looped up high correctly this must still be an appliance related issue.


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