You look inside your dishwasher and you notice that it's not draining. You may be wondering what could be causing the problem. We are going to explain some of the issues that could be causing the problem but we recommend that unless you have extensive plumbing or handyman skills that you contact your local plumber to fix these problems for you.

Why is my dishwasher not draining?

There are 10 things that you can look at to see if either one of them or a combination of them are causing this issue.

  1. Wrong Detergent - you can only use dishwasher detergent in a dishwasher. The suds from a regular detergent can prevent proper draining. So, if you accidentally used the wrong detergent, or just ran out of the right kind to use and thought you could get away with using the other kind - simply remove the water from the bottom of the dishwasher and run the cycle again with the correct type of detergent.
  2. Filter - most of the newer dishwashers come equipped with a grinder but still, it would be quite common for a dishwasher filter to get clogged so removing that and cleaning it would be a good second step to fixing this draining problem.
  3. Garbage Disposal - another easy solution that may correct the problem is to run your garbage disposal. The dishwasher's drain hose empties into the garbage disposal drain so if there is a blockage in the garbage disposal, that could back up into the dishwasher. Read our article on How To Unclog Your Garbage Disposal.
  4. Drain valve - in some dishwasher models the drain valve has to open in order for the water to drain out. The valve normally operates on a timer. So, there could be a mechanical problem with the valve and/or the timer.
  5. Air Gap - if you don't have a garbage disposal installed the problem could be in the sink's air gap. This is a small, barrel shaped object usually sticking up out of the sink and sitting to the right of your kitchen sink's faucet. The dishwasher's drain hose is connected to it and again, there could a be a clog in the air gap and/or the hose.
  6. Drain hose - a very common problem that causes dishwashers to not drain is a clog in the drain hose. This could be caused by food from the dishes or other items that were put in the dishwasher or from the garbage disposer. If you are handy, you can try to remove the drain hose and unclog it. Just don't forget to put it back on before you turn on the dishwasher!
  7. Drive Belt - a not so common issue is the drive belt. It can wear out after time and as a result the pump assembly, which relies on the drive belt will not function properly and the water in the dishwasher will not pump out.
  8. Pump Assembly - this is a unit that includes a pump, a drain impeller and a wash impeller. If any one of these components wears out or becomes compromised in any way, the pump assembly will not work and leave water in the dishwasher.
  9. Motor - like most appliances, there is a motor in your dishwasher and it can, like many electronic components break down, wear out, etc. If the motor isn't working, your dishwasher will not drain.
  10. Timer - the timer works on the drain valve and without the timer, the drain valve won't work and the water will just accumulate at the bottom of your dishwasher.

Once you've gone through this list and you either can't fix the problem or determine that you need help fixing it - call in a professional plumber right away.

Cleaning The Sink's Air Gap

Follow these easy steps below to investigate and clean out your kitchen sink's air gap.

  • Remove the cylinder cover
  • Remove the plastic cap.
  • Remove any clogged up material.
  • Check the hose and if there is a clog in there - clear that out.

Unclogging A Dishwasher Drain

The process of unclogging the dishwasher drain is best explained with a video. There are many steps involved amd we do recommend a professional plumber to do this job but again, if you are very handy, then you can certainly follow the steps in this video to help you out.


If you have any problems with your dishwasher, call Atlantis Plumbing today at 770-505-8570. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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