What to Do When Your Dishwasher Does Not Drain or Overflows

Craig Plumbing Blog Posts(12)

Dishwashers are one of the most convenient appliances to have in your kitchen. They save time and make your life easier by cleaning your dishes while you sit back and relax.

But what happens when your dishwasher starts acting up? It can be frustrating, especially if water starts overflowing from it or if it does not drain properly. This can cause flooding and water damage to your kitchen.

In this blog post, we will guide you through some steps to take when your dishwasher does not drain or overflows.


Step 1: Check for Blockages

The first step is to check if there are any blockages in your dishwasher. Over time, food particles, soap scum, and other debris can accumulate in the dishwasher drain and impede the flow of water. To check for blockages, remove the bottom rack of your dishwasher and inspect the drain for any visible debris. If you spot any debris, remove it. You can use a toothbrush or a small cleaning brush to gently scrub away any stubborn debris in the drain.


Step 2: Clean the Filters

The next step is to clean your dishwasher filters. Dishwashers come with two filters, which are usually located at the bottom of the dishwasher. The first filter is a coarse filter that collects large food particles and debris, while the second filter is a fine mesh filter that catches smaller particles. If these filters get clogged, it can cause drainage problems. To clean the filters, remove them from the dishwasher and rinse them under hot water. Use a soft brush to scrub away any stubborn debris.


Step 3: Check the Drain Hose

If your dishwasher is still not draining properly, it might be due to a clogged drain hose. The drain hose is the plastic tube that carries wastewater from your dishwasher to the drain. Over time, this hose can become clogged with food particles and debris. To check the drain hose, you will need to disconnect it from your dishwasher and drain. Check if there are any visible blockages in the hose. If you spot any debris, use a long, flexible brush to remove it, or running water through it.


Step 4: Check the Dishwasher Pump and Motor

If cleaning the drain hose, filter, and interior didn't fix the problem, you may need to check the dishwasher pump and motor. The pump and motor work together to help drain the dishwasher. If either of these two parts is broken, your dishwasher may not drain properly. Consult your owner's manual or a professional repair technician to diagnose and repair the pump or motor.


Step 5: Inspect the Air Gap

If you have an air gap installed on your dishwasher, it might be the culprit behind your drainage woes. An air gap is a small device that prevents dirty water from flowing back into your dishwasher. Over time, this device can become clogged with debris, causing drainage problems. To inspect the air gap, remove the cover and check for any visible debris. If you notice any blockages, remove them using a wire brush.


Step 6: Clear out the Garbage Disposal

If the dishwasher is connected to the garbage disposal, then the garbage disposal might be clogged. Running the disposal could help to clear it. Also, remember to disconnect the power supply to the dishwasher before removing the clog. Once you are done, reconnect the power and run a cycle.


Step 7: Run a Cycle with Vinegar

Another thing you can try when your dishwasher is not draining or overflows is running a cycle with vinegar. Vinegar contains acetic acid that will help dissolve any food particles or debris in the dishwasher. Simply pour a cup of vinegar into the bottom of the dishwasher and run a hot cycle.


Step 8: Call a Professional

If you have tried all the above steps and your dishwasher is still not draining or overflowing, it might be time to call a professional. A plumber or an appliance repair technician will be able to diagnose the problem accurately and provide a solution. In some cases, the drainage problem might be due to a faulty pump or a broken motor. An expert technician will be able to fix the problem and ensure that your dishwasher runs smoothly again.


Prevent Future Problems

To prevent your dishwasher from overflowing or not draining properly, there are a few steps you can take. First, be mindful of what you put in the dishwasher. Avoid placing large food particles or hard objects in the dishwasher. Also, make sure to scrape any food debris off plates before loading them in the dishwasher. Finally, regularly clean the dishwasher interior and filter to prevent any buildup of debris.



A malfunctioning dishwasher can be a nightmare for homeowners, especially if it does not drain or overflows. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can troubleshoot and fix most common drainage problems. Remember to maintain your dishwasher regularly by cleaning the filters and drains to prevent future drainage problems.

If you are still experiencing issues, don't hesitate to call a professional.  Craig Plumbing, Heating and Cooling provides expert plumbing services and can help troubleshoot and repair your plumbing problems.

Happy dishwashing!