How to Fix a Clogged Dishwasher

When your dishwasher clogs, the most likely cause is a clogged drain. This issue is a common one given the amount of food and scrap that gets put into a dishwasher and down the drain. As such, it’s not much of a surprise when it gets backed up every now and then.

The clearest sign of an issue is when you see lots of standing water at the bottom of the dishwasher. When this happens, there are some things you can do before calling in a professional to help you out.

Things To Do When Dishwasher Isn’t Draining

It’s understandable to be concerned when your dishwasher is suddenly clogged up. But rather than reach for the phone to call a professional to come and check the issue out, why not try a few things yourself to see if it eases the problem? This way, you can use the money intended for the professional for other more important things you might need. With that being said, here is what you should do when your dishwasher isn’t draining.

1. Clear the garbage disposal.
There are times when dishwasher water drains through the disposal. If you have this kind of system, you might want to look into clearing your disposal frequently. Doing so allows water to pass without any obstructions. Water backs up when a disposal is full causing you to see standing water in your dishwasher. To avoid future problems like this, make sure to run your disposal and loosen up clogs.

2. Clean air gap.
A lot of kitchens have air gaps installed on the counter right next to the faucet. The purpose of the air gap is to prevent water from the sink from backing up into the dishwasher. When buildup clogs the air gap, the dishwasher may not drain properly. One way to know that the air gap is clogged is when water floods onto the counter. You can clear air gap by taking the cap off and removing any debris that you find.

3. Use kitchen items to solve clogged drains.
While commercially available solutions are definitely a convenient option to turn to, you can remedy a clogged drain with items already found in your kitchen. All you need is some vinegar, baking soda and hot water. What you need to do is combine baking soda and vinegar and pour this mixture down the basket located at the bottom of your dishwasher. Let that solution settle for about 10 to 15 minutes. After letting the mixture sit, pour a pot of boiling water down the basket. Check if the problem still exists after doing this.

Fixing a Clogged Dishwasher

When you’ve tried to solutions above but still have a clogged dishwasher, you might have to do some dirty work. Here’s a guide on what you should do (remember to try to run the dishwasher after each option as you don’t need to proceed to the next one when the first one solves the issue):

1. Make sure the dishwasher is empty.
It’s always best to empty your dishwasher before investigating what might be causing certain problems. If there are any plates, utensils, cookware and other items inside the dishwasher, they have to be removed. After making sure all diningware and cookware have been taken off, remove the dish racks and set them aside. Also, you might want to clean them thoroughly to remove food and scrap. Doing this helps in preventing future issues with clogging.

For the next step, you will need to put on some gloves. You will need them because you have to look at the bottom of the dishwasher. And if you see any water, you will have to take that out plus any debris that you see lying around.

If you find water at the bottom of the drain, empty it out by using a sponge and bucket. If these aren’t available to you, you can use similar options. In addition, take out any bits of food that you see (this is where the gloves will really help you).

2. Check the hose.
Unscrew the bottom panel of the dishwasher and set it aside. Doing so allows you to see the draining hose. Check the hose for any signs of clogging (one of the more noticeable signs of a clog is bulging which is caused by debris).

Sometimes, the issue might just be a kink in the hose which leads it to not drain properly. You can remove the hose using a wrench then re-attach it once you get it smooth again. In case you can’t get the hose fixed, you will need to get a new one.

3. Clean the drain using a metal hook.
Do this option only if the first two haven’t worked for you. You will need to fashion a metal hook out of a metal coat hanger for this one. The hook will be used to get out small pieces of food from the drain. To make a metal hook, all you need to do is open out a metal coat hanger (this leaves you with a thin piece of wire). After this, make a small bend at the flat end of the wire; you can clean the drain with this.

However, if this doesn’t do anything much in terms of removing debris, you can take the draining basket out with the help of a screwdriver. Simply rinse the basket under a tap and return it to the drain.

Helping Your Dishwasher Run Better

There are simple things you can do to make sure your dishwasher doesn’t get clogged up.

1. Scrape food off before loading items into dishwasher.
Doing this minimizes the chances of debris clogging the drain.

2. Don’t put too much in the dishwasher.
Overloading only leads to certain items not being cleaned. It would also be a waste if more than one cycle has to be performed just because some plates or other cookware still ended up dirty.

3. Clean really dirty dishes by hand.
There’s only so much your dishwasher can do and sometimes, there are cases when it’s better to wash items by hand.

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