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Dishwasher Not Draining?
How to Fix a Dishwasher That’s Not Draining

Something StinksTo fix your dishwasher not draining problem you are going to need to learn a few things about that now useless hunk of plastic and metal in your kitchen!
Since dishwasher’s first began to be affordable and widely used in the 1960’s obviously there have been many different brands and types of dishwashers created…

All dishwashers have a least one pump to move water.
Most modern dishwashers have two pumps, one main pump to wash your dishes and another pump to drain water from your dishwasher.

Most dishwashers use a simple 120 AC drain motor to push drain water out of your dishwasher into your home drain system through the kitchen sink.

Three possible dishwasher to home drain styles…

  1. Dishwasher drain connects to an “air gap” mounted next to the sink faucet, then flows to the garbage disposal or sink pipe. (Most Common)
  2. Dishwasher drain hose connects directly to the garbage disposal or sink drain pipe.
  3. Some weird Jimmy Rig that some yahoo figured out to bypass the sink all together… (Good Luck)


Dishwasher Repair Person Repairing DishwasherK.I.S.S. Keep it simple… smarty pants.

Look at your dishwasher’s control area. Most dishwashers have a “Cancel” or “Drain” button or option. Sometimes this will be two buttons pressed at the same time, which should be noted on the control.
If you have a manual timer type dishwasher, start in the wash part of the cycle and slowly rotate the dishwasher knob clockwise until the wash motor stops and hopefully the dishwasher’s drain pump kicks in. If you have a dishwasher with a timer instead of a touch control you may have a dishwasher with only one pump so look at the single pump dishwasher notes below for more tips.

At this point the dishwasher’s drain pump should be sent power from the control board or timer and you should hear at least a faint hum.

“I hear a hum!”

Good News! The problem is not your dishwasher’s control board or timer!
The reason your dishwasher is not draining is ether a clog in the drain system or the drain pump is getting power but not working for some reason…
More Dishwasher Not Draining Tips

“I don’t hear a darn thing!”dachshund dog listening

If the dishwasher has power but you don’t hear a pump motor trying to run when it should be draining then there are two possible causes for your dishwasher not draining.

  1. Your dishwasher is not draining because the control board or timer is not sending electricity to the drain pump.
  2. Your dishwasher is not draining because the drain pump is broken electrically and is not working even though it is getting power from the dishwasher’s control.
  3. Your dishwasher is not draining because the wires or some wire connection is weak and power is not getting to the drain pump.To really narrow down why your dishwasher is not draining you will need to have some knowledge of electricity and ability to check for 120 volts from the dishwasher’s control and at the dishwasher’s drain pump…

Electricity 101 
How to use a Multimeter 

So if you are feeling out of your element you may want to call a dishwasher repair company
Before you call a dishwasher service person to figure out why your dishwasher is not draining, you may want to look at these other articles to decide if repair or replacement is the best option for you.

New Dishwashers

Dishwasher reliability statistics

Common Problems that could make your dishwasher not drain…

Clean WaterIn order of likelihood, Ask yourself…


    1. Is the dishwasher not draining because a filter in the bottom of the dishwasher is clogged up? Dishwasher Not Draining Videos
    2. Is the dishwasher not draining because there is something clogging the dishwasher drain system at your sink?
      If you have the “air break” style of drain that I talked about earlier, this is the most likely place for a blockage.

Disconnect the dishwasher’s drain hose from the sink connection and try draining the dishwasher into a bucket. If the dishwasher will drain you have just narrowed down the problem and should focus on your sink plumbing.
If you are still not getting any water from the dishwasher even though you hear the drain pump trying to drain, use a shop vac to suck on the drain hose and see if you can pull out whatever is in there, that may be causing your dishwasher to not drain.
Most shop vacs can be reversed to blow. If you blow on the hose, do you get water and air coming back into the dishwasher?

  1. Is your dishwasher not draining because the drain pump is jammed or broken?


Checking Your Dishwasher’s Drain Pump

Unfortunately, the drain pump may be difficult to check depending on what dishwasher brand you have. Some dishwashers have lots of room and are easy to work on others, not so much. If you have a very quiet dishwasher that is closed in on the bottom, I hope you are determined because it may be worth the money to call a dishwasher repair company. However some have placed the drain pump in the front where it is fairly easy to remove and check…

Check out the dishwasher repair videos for your style of dishwasher and see if it’s something you want to take on. Dishwasher Drain Pump Videos


Let’s take a moment to sum up the situation… You can hear the dishwasher’s drain pump running when you advance the dishwasher to drain, and you have eliminated the possibility of a clog in the drain hoses with a shop vac or some other method. How could the pump keep your dishwasher from not draining?appliance repair man puzzle

The drain pump has a small paddle wheel that starts spinning and causes the water to flow out of the dishwasher. The drain pump is not very powerful so it doesn’t take much to stop it from spinning. Small things like seeds or broken glass can work past the dishwasher filters into the drain pump and jam up the works. If this is the case usually removing the object will fix the problem.
The other way that the drain pump can fail to work is when an object has worn the paddle wheel down. In this case even if the drain pump is spinning it still will not effectively drain the water from the dishwasher. A sign of this would be a dishwasher that is draining but is very slow to drain.
Lastly the pump motor may be working just fine but the shaft of the paddle wheel inside the drain pump is broken. When you get into the pump to check it you should notice that the drain pumps wheel has a magnetic jump, this is normal. If the drain pump is okay it should tighten up and then jump forward suddenly. What it should not do is spin freely with no drag, that would be a sign that the ether the shaft or wheel is broken and the pump needs to be replaced.

Single Pump Dishwashers

bad dishwasher drain solenoid

Dishwashers that only have one pump will have a shifting device that will direct water from the main spray arm for wash and the drain system to push the dirty wash water out. Some older dishwashers use a solenoid, that can sometimes melt or jam to move the diverter. If the dishwasher will wash but not drain, first check for blockages that cause your dishwasher to not be draining. Then try to disconnect the solenoid and move the shifting device manually. If this works, focus on the dishwasher’s shifting device. Why is it not moving properly? The answer to this question should also answer why your dishwasher is not draining…

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