How to fix a dishwasher that won’t drain

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So your dishwasher is broken? The dishes aren’t clean and the water won’t drain, and it’s definitely not working like it did when you first got it. Before you call here at JDL Appliance Repair, here are a few simple steps you can follow to be your own handyman.

Most of the time, the reason your dishwasher isn’t working is because there is a blockage caused by food or some other item, so we have some easy tips for you to test yourself before you call us in (no plumber’s license required!). These are the first things a professional will check, and now you’ll be able to do it too.

The Process:

Step 1: The filter
The filter on your dishwasher collects the food that is rinsed off dishes and presents it from getting stuck on clean dishes and from clogging the drain. While most newer dishwashers have a small grinder built in, there are still some things (like labels washed off jars or fruit seeds) that can clog up the filter. The first step is to check the filter and give it a good clean.

The filter can usually be found at the bottom or at the back of the dishwasher. Pull the dish rack out to expose the filter, and take a picture, so you’ll remember what it looks like and how it clips back into place. Most filters can be screwed off without needing any tools, and there may be arrows on top to indicate which direction to turn for taking the filter out. Rinse it under running water and then clean it thoroughly with soapy water, before placing it back in. Some dishwashers have a cage covering the filter, which may also need to be cleared of food debris. These are usually held in place with screws and can be removed with a basic screwdriver.

Step 2: The drainage hose
Once the filter is clean and clear, move on to the drainage hose. First, you’ll need to disconnect the power to the dishwasher, either by unplugging it or by turning off its circuit breaker. There may be a panel near the floor held on by a few small screws. Remove this panel, and then loosen the hose clamp. Disconnect the drain hose from the back to ensure there is nothing stuck; the drain hose is most often the one with ridges. Blow into the hose to check for blockages and to dislodge any food. Before you reattach the hose, check for any kinks and straighten them out.

Step 3: Inside the dishwasher
Next, check any areas of the dishwasher where you see dirt or grime, as these could be causing blockages in other areas of the dishwasher.

Step 4: Clean
After you have taken these three steps, buy some dishwashing cleaner from your local supermarket. Use as directed to clean the dishwasher.

If the dishwasher is still blocked after you have tried all these steps, then it’s time to call your local plumber.

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