When your dishwasher goes on the fritz, it’s more than an inconvenience – it’s practically a tragedy, especially if you have a family dirtying up dishes all day long. Without a dishwasher, it is even more annoying when your kids get a brand-new glass every time they want a drink. If you suddenly find that your dishwasher won’t drain completely, there’s good news – this is most likely something you can fix yourself, with a little elbow grease and the right tools.
Usually, a dishwasher that won’t drain has fallen victim to a block in the drain or hose. When you think of all the food debris that can go into a dishwasher, it’s no surprise that they’ll occasionally get clogged. Before you call a plumber, take a look at the machine yourself. You could save yourself some money and get your dishwasher working again sooner.
Get Your Tools
You don’t need a lot of specialized equipment to unclog a dishwasher. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Some towels, or better yet, a wet/dry shop vac;
- Some picture-hanging wire, or some toothpicks;
- An old toothbrush;
- A plumber’s snake or a wire clothes hanger; and
- Some baking soda and vinegar.
Once you’ve gathered your equipment, you’re ready to get started. Remember, safety first, turn off the power to the dishwasher before you start any work. You’ll probably need to turn it off at the breaker.
Clean Up the Standing Water
First things first, you should clean the standing water out of your dishwasher. If there’s a lot, you can scoop it out with a cup and pour it down the sink before sopping up what remains with the towels. Or, you can suck it all out with a shop vac.
Check the Drain Hose for Kinks or Blockages
Before you start taking your dishwasher apart, look under the sink and inspect the drain hose for kinks or blockages. Older drain hoses will get kinks in them over time, and these should be gently straightened out by hand. Can’t find the hose? Check your dishwasher’s manual; if you’ve misplaced or thrown away the manual, you should be able to find a PDF copy online.
Disconnect the hose from the back of the dishwasher, and use the straightened wire hanger or the plumber’s snake to clear any blockage. Then, pour a mixture of a half-cup of water and a half-cup of baking soda into the drain hose. Follow that with a half-cup of vinegar. Wait 15 minutes, and then flush it out with hot water. Finally, unhook the drain hose from the garbage disposal, clear any blockage at the connection, and reconnect the hose, and run the garbage disposal to clear any blockage or air from the drain line. Whatever you do, don’t stick your hands in the garbage disposal at any point.
Inspect the Sprayer Arms, Drain, and Pump
Your problem might be food particles or other debris in the dishwasher drain or pump. To get to them, gently pop out the sprayer arms and, while you’ve got them out, use your toothpicks, wire clothes hanger or picture wire to clean any food debris out of the holes in them. This will help your dishwasher run better, and smell better, after you’ve unclogged it.
Next, remove the dishwasher drain filter and clean it with the toothbrush. Examine the pump for debris and remove any you find. Put the dishwasher back together.
Run a Cycle
Once you have cleared the drain lines and cleaned the pump and filter, you should be good to go. Verify that your dishwasher is back on its feet by running a cycle while it’s empty. Listen for humming or clicking noises while it runs; these could indicate a bad motor or pump. If there is still standing water in your dishwasher after you have cleaned the pump, filter, drain line and garbage disposal, try running the garbage disposal again; air in the drain line could be causing the problem. If that doesn’t work, you may need to call a professional to come in and replace some component of your machine, probably the motor or pump.
Fixing a dishwasher that won’t drain is a job that almost any woman can tackle on her own. It doesn’t require specialized tools or expertise, and it can be accomplished in about an hour. It’s cheaper, faster and easier than calling a plumber, and it will have your dishwasher up and running again before you know it, so you can move on with your life before the dirty dishes start piling up.
This is a collaborative guest post, the ideas expressed do not necessarily represent those of Mommy Ramblings.