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How to Unclog a Dishwasher

October 6th, 2021 | Tips & Tricks, Plumbing

Unclog A Dishwasher

How to Unclog a Dishwasher

Is your dishwasher slow to drain? Is there a clog in your dishwasher that has prevented you from using it? When your dishwasher gets obstructed, it can present a major problem that sometimes requires plumbing repair to fix. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves! Here are eight steps you should take to free your machine and get your kitchen running smoothly again before deciding on plumbing repair. 


8 Steps to Unclogging a Dishwasher

Team up with your trusty local plumber and take these steps to get your dishwasher back to doing what it should be一washing… not making a mess! 

1. Assess How the Unit Is Draining

The first step to unclogging your dishwasher is assessing its draining connections. Your dishwasher should connect to a drain hose that runs water through the pipes under or into your sink. If these pipes begin to deteriorate or become clogged, they can cause draining issues for your unit. 

You likely won’t be able to determine anything with untrained eyes, so call a plumbing contractor. An expert will examine your unit’s draining connections and pipes and find out where that clog’s coming from. Not positive you have a real clog yet? Try the next step. 

2. Check for Standing Water

When your dishwasher is clogged, you may notice water pooling inside, sometimes with bits of food in it. If you open your dishwasher and find a puddle at the bottom, you may have a clog, or else that the wash cycle was interrupted for some reason. Try running your dishwasher again to see if the standing water drains. If there is still a puddle after you rerun the machine, you definitely have a clog.

Haven’t called a plumber yet? Now’s the time to do so. 

3. Wipe Up the Unit

Before a plumbing technician can assess the condition of your unit and drain, you’ll want to clean this area with a washrag or heavy-duty sponge. (If you don’t feel like taking this step yourself, your plumber may do it for you.) 

Once you’ve cleaned your unit, your plumber can check the filter. The filter is located at the back or along the bottom of the tub, near the spray arm. Newer units may have smaller grids built into their bases. This design acts to protect the filter from buildup, but debris can still accumulate there and clog things up. 

4. Inspect Plumbing Connection Points

So you know there’s a clog, but where? A professional plumbing service must take a closer look at your dishwasher’s connections to find the source of the clog. They will examine the drain hose connected to your dishwasher and make sure it’s securely attached to the sink or garbage disposal. 

They’ll also check the hose clamp and drain solenoid. You can try doing all this yourself if you’re familiar with plumbing connections and think you know what to look for. But if you notice any damage to these parts, definitely call a plumber for plumbing repair. Hose clamps and drain solenoids are essential for the operation of your machine’s drain valve, and your plumber may need to replace these parts to get your dishwasher draining properly again.

5. Try Turning the Garbage Disposal On

Still haven’t called a plumber? There are a few more things you can do. Most built-in dishwashers drain through the garbage disposal. Try turning on your garbage disposal to see if any leftover food or debris inside clears and allows the dishwasher to drain again. If the clog is minor, this step may work! 

6.  Clean Your Sink’s Air Gap Cylinder 

Water flows in the right direction during your dishwasher’s cycles, thanks to an air gap cylinder. This air gap cylinder also prevents wastewater from backing up into the dishwasher. This device is usually near the dishwasher outlet hose behind the sink.

You can try clearing your air gap cylinder yourself, but there’s a chance you don’t secure it back in place correctly. We recommend calling a plumber to take this step!

7. Dissolve or Break Through the Clog

If no other steps so far have worked, try dissolving the clog. We don’t recommend doing this yourself since commercial clearing agents tend to do more harm than good. Instead, call a plumber to dissolve the clog with a special solution. If the clog is too big or stubborn for acid to break down on its own, plumbers may also hydro-jet your lines or use a plumbing snake.

8. Take Steps to Prevent Future Clogs

If none of these steps have unclogged the dishwasher, you likely need dishwasher repair. A highly trained plumber will be able to fix the broken parts of your dishwashing machine and have it running smoothly again in no time!

Once your dishwasher is working properly again, you’ll want to take steps to avoid more clogs in the future. The following are all ways you can prevent future clogs in your dishwasher:

  • Always remove crumbs and other food from dishes before placing them inside the unit.
  • Soak hard-to-clean dishes in warm water to remove food before placing it in the unit.
  • Use a hot water cycle when you use your dishwasher.
  • Keep your unit clean by regularly wiping down the interior and exterior parts.
  • Routinely check the filter and remove any debris you may notice.
  • Run your unit often, using quality dishwasher detergent.
  • Schedule regular maintenance. 

Taking good care of your dishwasher will not only help you avoid future clogs but also help you extend the lifespan of your unit! If you have any further questions about clogs and how to fend them off, ask your friendly OC plumbers! Don’t have one? Take this last (final) step!


Call Moffett Plumbing & Air

If you landed here because you googled “plumbers near me,” consider your search over. Moffett Plumbing & Air is a leading provider of plumbing repair throughout the Orange, CA, area. We can resolve dishwasher clogs, broken sinks, backed-up shower drains, and more! 

Here at Moffett Plumbing & Air, we take great pride in our dedication to quality work and customer satisfaction. Our Orange County plumbers team also provides plumbing repair and other services to Anaheim, Irvine, San Clemente, Orange, CA, and surrounding cities. Call us today to schedule an appointment!

Moffett Plumbing & Air is a full-service, family owned & operated plumbing & HVAC company based out of Orange, CA. Follow our blog for valuable homeowner tips, and updates from your favorite team of plumbing professionals.