Why Your Dishwasher Won’t Drain: Troubleshooting & Testing Drain Pump Tips

Ever had that sinking feeling when your dishwasher simply won’t drain? Picture this: you’ve just loaded it up, hit start, and eagerly await sparkling clean dishes. But as you open the door post-cycle, you’re met with a pool of standing water. Frustrating, right? So, what’s the deal when your dishwasher decides to play a game of “let’s not drain today”? Don’t worry, you’re not alone in this dishwashing dilemma.

Common Reasons for a Dishwasher Not Draining

When your dishwasher won’t drain, several factors could be causing this frustrating issue. Here are some common reasons to consider:

  • Clogged Drain Hose: Over time, food debris or mineral buildup can clog the drain hose, preventing proper water flow.
  • Dirty Filter: A clogged filter can obstruct water drainage, leading to standing water in your dishwasher.
  • Faulty Drain Pump: If the drain pump is defective or not working correctly, it won’t be able to remove water from the appliance.
  • Garbage Disposal Clog: A clogged garbage disposal can impact the dishwasher’s drainage process, causing water to remain in the appliance.
  • Air Gap Issues: Problems with the air gap device can lead to drainage issues, hindering the proper flow of water out of the dishwasher.
  • Faulty Drain Solenoid: A malfunctioning drain solenoid may prevent the dishwasher from draining water effectively after a wash cycle.
  • Improper Installation: Incorrect dishwasher installation can result in drainage problems due to issues with the unit’s positioning or connections.
  • High Loop or Drain Loop Issues: An inadequately positioned high loop or drain loop can impede water drainage, causing it to collect in the appliance.

For additional insights on how to tackle these drainage issues, keep reading.

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How to Troubleshoot a Dishwasher That Won’t Drain

If you’re dealing with a dishwasher that won’t drain, here are some practical steps you can take to troubleshoot the issue:

  • Check the drain hose: Ensure it’s not kinked or clogged.
  • Inspect the dishwasher filter: Clean it thoroughly to remove any debris.
  • Test the drain pump: Listen for any unusual noises that may indicate a problem.
  • Clear the garbage disposal: Ensuring it’s not blocked can improve drainage.
  • Verify the air gap: Clean and ensure it’s not obstructed.
  • Examine the drain solenoid: Look for any signs of damage or malfunction.

Remember to consult your dishwasher manual for specific instructions on troubleshooting and maintenance.

Steps to Clear a Clogged Dishwasher Drain

Clogged dishwasher drains can be frustrating, but don’t worry – you can solve this issue with a few simple steps:

  • Start by unplugging the dishwasher or turning off its power source to ensure safety.
  • Inspect the drain for any visible debris or food particles that may be causing the clog.
  • If you can see a clog, carefully remove it using a wire hanger or a plumbers’ snake.
  • Run hot water down the drain to help break up any remaining blockages.
  • Try using a mixture of baking soda and vinegar to help dissolve stubborn clogs.
  • Afterward, run a hot water cycle in your dishwasher to flush out the remaining debris.
  • For maintenance, consider using a dishwasher cleaner periodically to prevent future clogs.

By following these steps, you can effectively clear a clogged dishwasher drain and get your appliance back to its optimal performance.

When to Call a Professional for Dishwasher Drainage Issues

If you’ve tried troubleshooting your dishwasher drainage problem and it still won’t drain properly, it might be time to seek the help of a professional. Here are some situations where it’s best to call in a dishwasher repair expert:

  • Persistent Clogs: If you’ve repeatedly cleared the drain and the issue keeps coming back, a professional can identify underlying causes.
  • Faulty Pump: When the pump is not working efficiently, it can lead to drainage problems that are best handled by a trained technician.
  • Complex Repairs: For issues involving electrical components or mechanical malfunctions, it’s safer to have a professional assess and fix the problem.
  • Warranty Concerns: If your dishwasher is still under warranty, attempting repairs yourself can void the warranty. Professional repairs ensure your warranty remains intact.

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Remember, safety should always come first when dealing with appliance repairs. Don’t hesitate to contact a professional if you’re unsure about handling the issue on your own.

Testing Your Dishwasher’s Drain Pump

When your dishwasher won’t drain, testing the drain pump is an essential troubleshooting step. This pump plays a crucial role in expelling water from the dishwasher after each cycle. Here’s how to test it:

  • Locate the Drain Pump: It’s typically found at the bottom of the dishwasher near the back.
  • Unplug the Dishwasher: Safety first! Always disconnect the power before proceeding.
  • Inspect the Pump: Look for any clogs, debris, or signs of damage.
  • Check for Power: Using a multimeter, test if the pump is receiving power.
  • Listen for Noise: A humming sound when the dishwasher should be draining could indicate a faulty pump.
  • Run a Test Cycle: Start a short cycle and observe if the pump is working correctly.

In some cases, issues with the drain pump may cause water to accumulate at the bottom of the dishwasher, leading to draining problems. Addressing these pump-related issues can often resolve drainage problems in your dishwasher.

Important Notice
If you are uncomfortable or unsure about testing the drain pump on your own, it’s best to contact a professional technician to avoid potential damage to your dishwasher or risk of injury.

By performing these simple tests, you can determine if the drain pump is causing your dishwasher drainage issues and take appropriate steps to resolve them.


Now that you’ve learned about troubleshooting a dishwasher that won’t drain, remember to check the drain hose, clean the filter, and test the drain pump. The drain pump plays a crucial role in expelling water, so it’s essential to ensure it’s working correctly. By inspecting for clogs, verifying power supply, and running a test cycle, you can determine if the pump is the culprit. Remember, addressing pump-related issues promptly is key to resolving drainage problems. If you’re unsure about testing the drain pump, it’s best to seek help from a professional technician to avoid any potential damage or injury.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the common steps for troubleshooting a clogged dishwasher drain?

To troubleshoot a clogged dishwasher drain, check the drain hose, clean the filter, and test the drain pump.

Why is testing the drain pump important when dealing with a clogged dishwasher drain?

Testing the drain pump is crucial as it expels water from the dishwasher, addressing drainage issues effectively.

How can I test the drain pump on my dishwasher?

You can test the drain pump by inspecting for clogs, ensuring power supply, and running a test cycle to confirm proper functionality.

What should I do if I am unsure about testing the drain pump on my dishwasher?

If unsure about testing the drain pump, consider contacting a professional technician to avoid potential damage or injury.

Charlie Thomson is Appliance Mastery's expert on laundry appliances. With a degree in mechanical engineering and over 8 years of experience in the appliance repair industry, Charlie is a go-to resource for homeowners who want to tackle common issues with their washing machines, dryers, and dishwashers.

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