Last updated on October 6, 2021
There’s just something highly upsetting when you notice that your Whirlpool or Frigidaire dishwasher is not draining.
While it doesn’t sound that bad to have puddles of water building up at the bottom of the appliance, you’ll soon find out that sudsy puddles can play host to a variety of unpleasantries, including bacteria and foul odors.
Is your dishwasher not draining? Then this guide is definitely for you. Read on to get back at draining those dishes.
What are the essential parts of dishwasher?
1. Heating element
Components that are responsible for heating water and air  for washing and drying. Usually found at the bottom of the dryer, heating elements are typically in the form of coils, but have also started seeing iterations in the form of condensation and evaporative drying.
Often thin, foam-like substances or fabrics that line the device that helps keep and maintain desirable temperatures. Insulation is required for heat not to escape as well as prevent any internal leaks that might affect cleaning and drying.
Some larger washers with grinders also have thicker insulation to shield against the added noise.
3. Drain hose
This is the hose that connects to the motor pump and allows for draining during each cleaning cycle. Usually located wherever the pump is and is almost always near the water intake valve.
4. Water intake/inlet valve
A valve that often connects to the hose that connects to whatever is the main water supply (either through a faucet or a tank). The water intake valve provides the pump with the necessary pressure to pump the water into the basin.
5. Upper spray arm
These are typically rotating sprayers commonly placed beneath the upper rack that sprays water onto the dishes on the top rack.
6. Lower spray arm
The spray arms are located below the bottom rack. Both it and the upper arms spin, so as to more evenly dispense water, but only when water is pushed in by the circulation pump.
7. Detergent dispenser
A small, often rectangular, component is usually found inside a dishwasher’s door.
It stores detergent and rinse aid in separate compartments and usually dispenses them at the proper time during a cycle.
Most dishwashers nowadays come with 2 racks. Some premium models even sport 3.
Racks are what holds the dishes in place while cleaning and drying and are the ones responsible for dictating a washer’s maximum capacity.
9. Control panel
Also called the control board, this is basically an electric computer component responsible for executing and maintaining all of a dishwasher’s functions.
Consider it the “brain” of a dishwasher. Merely replacing a control panel can cost just as much as getting a brand new dishwasher.
How should the dishwasher work correctly?
A dishwasher cleans by using jets of pressurized hot water along with liquid detergents.
Every cleaning cycle starts with the washer taking in water from the connected source.
Once the ideal amount has been gathered, it then passes through the heating element where the water is then heated and forced up the pipes by the electric pump.
The heated water is then directed and dispensed at the separate spray arms then drained.
How to diagnose the draining problem in your dishwasher?
1. Check the drain filter.
The drain filter is often located at the bottom of the base of the lower spray arm or at the back of a dishwasher.
The filter functions as intended and is responsible for catching small debris and foreign material.
Continued use will eventually cause build-up along with the filter which might result in occasional clogging. An obstructed filter affects the whole washer in more ways than one.
2. Check the drain hose.
The hose is what provides the line for used water to be expelled. Sometimes, your dishwasher not properly drain can be caused by either a faulty or rather dated drain hose.
Check the drain hose itself and look for signs of damage, obstruction, and corrosion. Rust build-up and heavy scaling can potentially cause clogging.
Also, inspect around the connecting valve for any sign of blockage if your dish cleaner like a Whirlpool dishwasher is not draining.
3. Check the sink disposal.
The interior parts of a garbage disposal system are usually housed within a dishwasher’s body.
While they’re of independent function, unfortunately, clogged pipes of sink disposal can and will affect proper drainage.
Check the disposal unit itself and be rid of any stuck chunks of food and other biodegradable waste.
Also, inspect the connecting pipes and make sure that they’re clear of debris and leftovers.
4. Was the dishwasher loaded correctly?
If not, you may end up with water not draining from the dishwasher.
Depending on your specific dishwasher model, the way you load items into it can sometimes inadvertently cause improper draining.
Before starting a cycle, check if everything has been properly loaded – bigger wares at the bottom rack and smaller ones above.
Make sure glass and kitchenware are all angled and facing down to avoid catching water. Make sure nothing will block the drainage upon starting.
5. Check the drain valve.
The drain valve can become stuck or closed, preventing water from draining.
The drain valve is usually by the motor, so depending on where your washer’s motor is located, that’s where you should begin looking.
The valve is usually paired with what’s called a solenoid which is what triggers it to open and close. Pinpointing that the issue is because of the drain valve, both it and the solenoid should be replaced.
6. Listen to the sound of your dishwasher motor.
Normally, a dishwasher’s motor works fairly quietly.
When assessing a drain issue, listen to your washer’s motor – if it’s quiet then things are running smoothly, but it runs relatively loudly, then that indicates that it’s exerting higher than required effort, typically corresponding to clogging, stoppage, or even a malfunction.
Why my dishwasher is not draining?
1. The door isn’t shut completely.
Like most appliances, a dishwasher cannot start a cleaning cycle if the doors are not fully closed and latched. The doors must be closed so that the washer does not leak or spill water while cleaning, keeping things neat and safe in the kitchen.
Most models nowadays have sensors that help ensure that the doors completely close, trimming down possible causes of non-closure to capacity overload, improper loading, or defects and malfunctions.
How to fix a dishwasher that doesn’t drain due to sensor detecting irregularities? Always make sure that everything is carefully and properly loaded and that the racks are properly aligned.
Inspect for any damage, obstruction, or defect on door components such as springs, hinges, the gasket, and the strike plate and have them repaired/replaced accordingly.
Also, check that the sensor is working if you see that your dishwasher doesn’t drain.
2. Interrupted washing cycle.
It is possible for a dishwasher to stop operation mid-cycle. This is mainly due to malfunctions and defects and is a core safety feature.
There is a multitude of reasons why a dishwasher would suddenly stop, such as a blown fuse. Especially in models with light indicators, lights lit up to indicate that power is flowing to the appliance. Otherwise, check your circuit breaker for any trips.
A faulty door latch can also cause abrupt stops. If the washer is otherwise running normally then suddenly stops, check if the doors are properly engaged.
Lastly, check and troubleshoot the control board. Control boards are designed to last pretty much a lifetime, but, as with all electronics, are not immune to faults and occasional bugs.
On a side note, if for some reason the washer is disconnected or cut off from the water supply, it will also stop its operation.
3. Sump blockage
The sump assembly helps control the water flow into the drain pump and actually houses the filter. As such, the sump itself is just as prone to blockage since it’s technically part of the dishwasher’s drain system.
While the filter itself can be relatively spotless, bits and chunks of food waste can find themselves jammed within the sump’s tunnels and joints.
In the event of clogging, inspect the sump assembly – especially if there is flooding and if the filter is clean, as debris could most likely be stuck in the sump.
4. Clogged drain filter
Any filter can work for a long time and would require more cleaning than replacement. Too dirty a filter can actually cause drain issues.
The more that you chuck leftover food waste down the sink, the faster muck builds up on the filter.
If you notice the dishwasher backing up water to the sink, or dirty water sitting at the bottom of the washer, then there’s a good chance that the filter is already clogged and now requires thorough cleaning.
Besides not draining properly, clogged filters can also generate foul-smelling odors and allow for the growth of harmful bacteria and microorganisms.
5. Clogged sink
One of the most common reasons leading to draining issues.
Even if you have a sink disposal unit installed, unless waste actually reaches it, there’s always the chance of it catching along the pipes leading to the waste processor.
If you notice that the sink drains slowly, then you can tell that the issue has more to do with a clogged sink than anything on the dishwasher’s side.
To address this, you can first try pouring some hot water to see if that clears up anything that might have been stuck.
If after 2 attempts with hot water and the sink is still backed up, head below and inspect the piping. Disassemble the joint nearest the top and remove all and any debris that was stuck.
Galvanized sink pipes end up getting cut because of blockages.
Tips to avoid dishwashers from not draining
- Make sure that any whole leftovers easily fit down the sink drain.
- Give all used plates, glasses, and utensils a good rinse before inserting them into the dishwasher.
- Remember to properly load your dishwasher .
- Secure the washer’s door and make sure the latch engages.
- Occasionally clean the sump and the filter.
- Perform routine inspection and maintenance on the motor pump and control board.
- Regularly use the ‘hot water cycle’ feature, if your washer supports it, to help remove and prevent build-ups.
Make sure to have your power tools ready for DIY fixings.
Keep your sinks clog-free and your kitchenware spiffy clean with the help of a dishwasher. Not only do dishwashers effectively and efficiently sanitize your plates and glasses, but they also make kitchen work more manageable and convenient.
The key to ensuring that your dishwasher drains properly lies in how well you take care of it as well as how responsible you are when it comes to the proper disposal of food waste.
Keep the dragon happy, fix her dishwasher before she goes crazy, and get back to the workshop!
Have a faucet handle problem? Fix it here.
Hi, my name is Jessica, thank you for reading my article.
As an architect and interior designer, my goal here at Bangingtoolbox is to provide my readers with unique ideas for their home and DIY projects.
If you want to ask me any questions about the world of design, you can find out more about me here.