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4 Shocking Reasons Why Your Dishwasher Isn’t Draining

There are many reasons why your dishwasher isn’t draining!

When your dishwasher isn’t draining, chances are that something is going on, and you have to deal with this problem ASAP. This amazing kitchen gadget helps you quickly get rid of a mess after a huge meal with your loved ones, giving you more time for friends and family.

During a wash cycle, water is strongly pumped into the appliance to get rid of food particles, fat, grease, and other stuck-on waste. The dishwasher removes the water, soap, and any food particles small enough to fit through the filter before the cycle is over, making your dishes look sparkly and squicky.

However, in case you check your gadget after the cycle is finished and you notice that it’s still full or half full of water, you’ll probably question, “Why isn’t my dishwasher draining?”.

We talked to some experts, and they shared with us all the reasons why your trusted dishwasher isn’t draining, along with some tips on how to get rid of this annoying problem. Let’s begin! Your dishes deserve to sparkle again!

PS: When your dishwasher isn’t draining, here’s what you need to do!

dishwasher isn't draining
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Types of dishwasher drain connections

Before we begin talking about all the reasons your dishwasher isn’t working, we have to say a few words about the types of dishwasher drain connections, so you can identify the type your appliance has.

There are four popular configurations, including air gap to disposal, air gap to drain, high loop to disposal, and high loop to drain. We’ll talk about each one separately.

An air gap to disposal configuration extends to the top of your cabinet, where it attaches to a tiny, cylindrical knob at the rear of the sink before continuing to the disposal. The small knob that’s located at the back of your sink is commonly known as an air gap. This item is meant to keep soiled sink water from returning to the dishwasher.

The air gap-to-drain configuration has an important drain hose that goes to an air gap knob behind the sink and then to the drain. The drain line connections should be made above the P-trap so that they prevent sewer gases from leaving the dishwasher. Moreover, this technique helps prevent the air gap from allowing dirty sink water to flow back into the dishwasher.

The third type of configuration we’ll talk about is known as high loop to disposal, and it has a drain hose looped up to the top of your cabinet and connects to your garbage disposal. To make sure water doesn’t flow back into your trusted dishwasher, the high loop is held in place with a chain, tape, or a string.

The last type of configuration is the high loop to drain setup, which has a drain hose that loops up to the top of your cabinet and connects to your drain line. To prevent sewer gases from entering your dishwasher, the connection must be placed above the P-trap on the drain line.

Now that you know more about dishwasher drain connections and can identify the one in your home, it’s time to discover why your trusted dishwasher isn’t draining.

Do you know why your dishwasher isn’t draining? Let’s find out together!

1. Clogged garbage disposal

While not all kitchens have garbage disposals, if your setup does (lucky you, I love this thing, and I’m pretty sure you do too), it can be the reason why your dishwasher isn’t draining.

When debris and food particles block your garbage disposal, wastewater that comes from your appliance doesn’t have enough space to drain. You can quickly solve that by turning the disposal on and using cold water to get rid of the blockage.

There’s a chance that this technique won’t work, so you might have to personally remove the clog from the disposal. Start by turning off the appliance’s breaker and unhooking the disposal. Now it’s time to get to work. Grab a flashlight and a pair of long-handled tongs (such as the one from Amazon) or pliers to locate and remove the impediment.

You can also try to clear the annoying clog with the help of 1/2 cup of white vinegar and 1/4 cup of baking soda. Pour the baking soda into your disposal, add the vinegar, and allow the mixture to work for roughly 10 minutes, then rinse with cold water.

Keep reading to discover other reasons why your dishwasher isn’t draining!

dishwasher isn't working
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2. The air gap is choked

If you have an air gap to disposal or an air gap to drain configuration in your kitchen, the reason your dishwasher isn’t draining might be due to an obstructed air gap.

As we’ve previously said, the air gap is a tiny, cylindrical knob placed on the back edge of your kitchen sink. The air gap is responsible for preventing vacuums from building up in your drainage system, and that stops the drain water from being pushed back into your appliance.

When the air gap is clogged, you’ll have to solve the problem by clearing the air gap (all you have to do is remove the cap and start cleaning on the inside).

Plumbers also recommend disconnecting the drain hose that runs to the air gap, because that allows you to check if there are any clogs or not. After you’re done with cleaning, connect your drain hose to the air gap again and see if it works.

The dishwasher isn’t draining? Here’s how to solve the issue!

3. Your high loop is out of position

You might notice that your dishwasher isn’t draining when the drain line in a high loop to disposal or high loop to drain kitchen setup moves or is knocked out of place.

Gravity is key for a high-loop system to stop wastewater from returning to the dishwasher. However, water might not be able to exit the appliance effectively if the drain line isn’t fastened to the top of your counter.

If this is the dishwasher’s main issue, it shouldn’t be difficult to fix. To get rid of the dishwasher drainage problem, move the drain hose back to the correct high loop position at the top of your counter.

Try this tip and let us know in the comments if it works. And if you have any suggestions that might be helpful for other readers, share them with us!

dishwasher isn't working
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4. There’s food buildup in your drain basket

If your air gap, drain hose, and disposal seem to be in good condition and don’t have any sign of obstructions, there might be another reason why your dishwasher isn’t draining. Take a look at your drain basket, because if there’s any grease, food buildup, or anything else, it can cause serious issues.

This part of your appliance generally looks like an upside-down basket fastened in place with a single screw or a couple of simple snap fasteners.

Take off the drain basket’s cover, undo any screws, and take it out of the dishwasher. After you empty the basket’s contents into the trash, wash away any leftover material. Give your drain basket a quick cleaning before reinstalling it, then use detergent and press play on a normal wash cycle to see if the problem is solved.

Do you know any other reasons why your dishwasher isn’t draining? Share them with us! If you liked reading this article about reasons why your trusted dishwasher isn’t draining, we have many other useful ones on our website. Until next time, here’s another great post for you to check out: 12 Reusable Household Items You Should Stop Throwing Away

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