Why Won't My Dishwasher Drain?

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Dishwasher not draining? There are several possible causes of it, however, one of the key causes is that food gets stuck in the drain or impeller.

A dishwasher not draining seems to be the most commonly searched problem on the web. The reason that this has become such an issue is because dishwashers have changed and, frankly, we North Americans haven't fully adjusted to them.

Dishwasher filters versus food grinders

Up until ten or 15 years ago, the majority of dishwashers made and sold in North America, by GE, KitchenAid, Frigidaire and other North American manufacturers, manufactured their dishwashers with food grinders. That meant that you could scrape your plate, no rinsing required, and any food stuck on the dishes disappeared down the drain. The food grinder would take care of all the little food scraps and you'd never think about a clogged drain unless the drain pump broke.

Food filter dishwashers

The introduction of dishwashers with filters into the North American market has led to a few unexpected developments.On the positive side, dishwashers are so much quieter than in the past. Not only can you have a conversation next to one, brands like Bosch have an indicator light that shines on the floor to let you know it's running so you don't open the door mid-cycle.The reason they're so quiet is that food grinders have been replaced with filters. Filters need a little more maintenance than food grinders and dishes need to be prepared a little better. Plates need to be scraped thoroughly or extra food will get stuck in the filter or get into the drain pump or impeller. If it gets stuck there, your dishwasher will get clogged and water will build up in the bottom of the dishwasher. (See this post for how to maintain your dishwasher so it will last).

How you clean your plates is a determining factor in your dishwasher choice

If you're about to buy a new dishwasher, you might want to consider which is the most important to you:

  1. Quietness and water efficiency - in which case, look for a dishwasher without a food grinder.
  2. Lower maintenance - look for a dishwasher with a built-in food grinder

If you think you're more prone to the convenience of scraping your plates and not worrying about food particles in your dishwasher, you're probably going to want to stick with a dishwasher with a food grinder.

Drainpipe size is important

If you're doing everything right and your dishwasher still isn't draining, it might be the size of the drainpipe. If the drain pipe is too small, the water won't drain as quickly as it's supposed to and may get backed up in the bottom of the tub.If your dishwasher isn't draining, RepairClinic offers several suggestions as to what the problem might be.

This is the best video I've seen on the two most likely problems in a Bosch dishwasher - a clogged drain and a stuck impeller or valve: