A kitchen sink with a dish rack and glass jars, addressing a clogged dishwasher drain.

What to do if Dishwasher Drain is Clogged?

Clogged dishwasher drains can be a frustrating problem, preventing your dishwasher from draining properly and leaving you with a sink full of dirty water. However, in most cases, unclogging a blocked dishwasher drain is an easy DIY fix.

This article will provide tips on how to diagnose and clear a clogged dishwasher drain, so you can get your appliance draining properly again. We’ll also look at steps to prevent future clogs.

Signs of a Clogged Drain

Here are some common signs your dishwasher has a clogged or blocked drain:

  • Water pools in the bottom of the dishwasher after a cycle
  • Dishes aren’t drying properly or are spotted
  • The dishwasher stops mid-cycle
  • You hear gurgling sounds as it tries to drain
  • Water backs up out of the air gap on the sink

If you notice any of these issues, it likely means debris, food particles, grease, or soap scum have built up and blocked the drain hose or pump filter.

Diagnosing the Clog

Before you can fix the problem, you need to pinpoint where the clog is occurring. Here are some steps to take:

  • Remove the lower rack and bottom panel to check the drain pump filter. This is often where debris builds up.
  • Detach the drain hose from the sink trap or garbage disposal to see if water flows freely. A clog here will prevent proper drainage.
  • Check for kinks or sharp bends in the drain hose that could impede water flow.

Once you’ve identified the location of the clog, you can move on to unclogging it.

Unclogging a Blocked Drain

Here are tips for getting rid of debris that’s clogging your dishwasher drain:

Clean Out the Drain Pump Filter

This small filter catches food particles and debris, preventing them from clogging pipes further down the line. To clean it:

  • Scoop out any water from the bottom of the dishwasher.
  • Twist off or unscrew the filter cover counterclockwise.
  • Remove the filter and rinse it under warm water to wash away debris.
  • Use a toothbrush to dislodge any stuck-on gunk.
  • Replace the filter, securing it back in place.

Be sure to check it regularly going forward to prevent repeat clogging.

Flush the Drain Hose

If cleaning the filter doesn’t solve the problem, the clog is likely in the drain hose leading to the sink drain. To clear it:

  • Shut off power to the dishwasher at the breaker.
  • Detach the drain hose from the sink plumbing. Place it in a bucket.
  • Use a zip tie to secure the end of a drain snake or wire coat hanger to the hose.
  • Feed it up the hose until you feel the clog. Twist and push until it breaks up the debris.
  • Flush the hose out with hot water using a faucet sprayer if needed.
  • Reattach the hose securely before using the dishwasher.

Fix Kinks or Bends in Hose

If water isn’t flowing smoothly through the drain hose, kinks or tight bends could be the issue. To fix:

  • Disconnect the hose and straighten it out completely. Remove any ties or clamps creating kinks.
  • Trim away excess hose if needed. Make clean cuts to prevent more clogs.
  • Secure the hose in place without sharp bends or pinches.

Straightening the hose encourages proper water flow and drainage.

Tips to Prevent Future Clogs

Prevention is the best medicine when it comes to dishwasher drain clogs. Here are some tips:

  • Scrape off food scraps and rinse dishes before loading – don’t let large particles go down the drain.
  • Avoid putting non-dishwasher items in the dishwasher that could clog it. Stick to dishware, glassware, and cutlery.
  • Clean the filter monthly to remove built-up gunk.
  • Use a dishwasher cleaning product monthly to dissolve grease and limescale.
  • Ensure the garbage disposal is running clear before connecting the drain hose.
  • Don’t jam in dishes too tightly – water needs circulation.
  • Allow the dishwasher to fully drain between cycles.

With proper care and maintenance, you can prevent annoying clogs from forming and keep your dishwasher drainage flowing smoothly.

When to Call a Plumber

If you’ve tried the steps above but can’t seem to clear the clog in your dishwasher’s drain, it may require professional service. A plumber has specialized tools and expertise to fully dismantle drains and remove stubborn clogs. Call for assistance if:

  • The drain is completely blocked with no water drainage at all
  • Removing debris from the pump filter and hose doesn’t improve drainage
  • The dishwasher has an odor even after unclogging attempts
  • Water is leaking as the dishwasher tries to drain
  • You’re uncomfortable doing electrical disconnections

Don’t let a finicky clogged drain cause ongoing headaches. With some periodic maintenance and quick troubleshooting when problems arise, you can keep your dishwasher’s drainage clear and prevent water backup.