Whether you’re a landlord or a homeowner, standing water in a dishwasher is a giant headache. However, there are plenty of options for troubleshooting standing water before turning to a professional.
How a Dishwasher Drains
It’s important to look at the manual for your dishwasher model to determine how it is supposed to drain, so you know where to start. If you don’t have a copy of your manual, many can be found online through a Google search.
Generally, a dishwasher is connected to a drain hose that connects to the pipes under your kitchen sink. Those pipes can clog with pieces of food, leaving you with a mess. The pipes can also deteriorate and may need replacement. Following these steps can help you determine if you can DIY or if it’s time to call in a professional.
7 Ways to Fix Standing Water in a Dishwasher
Remove the standing water from your dishwasher (or at least most of it) by using a ladle bowl or a towel to soak up the water. Then turn off the power by unplugging the machine or turning off the circuit breaker.
Here are the best things to try when troubleshooting standing water in your dishwasher:
1. Run the Garbage Disposal
While this isn’t the most common issue, it is the simplest fix to try. An air gap in a hose or an overly full garbage disposal can block the dishwasher from draining. Run it for about 20 seconds and see if that fixes the issue. It’s a good idea to regularly run your garbage disposal (with the water running!) for an extra 10-15 seconds after the food has disappeared.
2. Try Baking Soda and Vinegar
Mix about a 1/2 cup of baking soda with some warm water. Pour that into the bottom of your dishwasher. Now add about 1/2 cup of vinegar, and let it sit for about 15 minutes. If the water drains, or at least starts draining a little, run the rinse cycle and see if that can loosen up the clog.
This won’t work for major clogs and is likely only a temporary solution. It’s still a good idea to clean the filter for the long-term health of your dishwasher.
3. Clean the Drainage System
The most common reason for standing water is a simple clog in the bottom of your dishwasher. Over time, enough particles of food can get down there, literally blocking water from draining.
First, you’ll want to remove the drain basket at the bottom. Depending on your model, you can either pry it out (usually if the basket comes in two half-circle pieces), or there’s a cap to screw off. Then, you can scrub it with a brush until clean. If the little holes in the basket aren’t getting cleaned out, try putting some baking soda on it while scrubbing, or soaking in water and vinegar.
4. Clean the Impeller
Different dishwashers are built differently, but the first step here is to take out the filter as well as the bottom sprayer arm.
In some models, you can take out the pump and check the individual parts for debris. If you do this, lay the pieces out in the correct order so you can reassemble them!
In other models, there will be a plastic cover to take off. Underneath, you’ll have access to the top impeller (basically a propeller that sucks instead of pushes). This needs to spin freely, and any stuck debris could be the culprit here.
5. Check the Air Gap
The Air Gap, if you have one, is usually located next to your sink faucet. It is used to help with the flow of the cycle and prevents dirt water from re-entering your dishwasher. It can get clogged, blocked, or displaced.
Check the air gap to make sure it is clear. If you notice any debris, clear it out and then make sure it is tightly secured.
6. Check for Kinks
Find the drain hose located under the sink (clips usually hold it up) that connects the sink and garbage disposal. Sometimes in newer houses, this hose can be installed with a slight kink that can get worse over time. Or, pushing something heavy up against it can cause it to kink as well. Straighten out the hose and try again.
You can also pull out your dishwasher to see if the kink is located behind your unit.
7. Clean the Drain Hose
While checking for kinks, you should also clean out this hose as well. Disconnect it (with a bucket underneath) and blow through it or try to poke a wire hanger through it. Don’t use a plumber’s snake as these hoses typically aren’t heavy-duty enough to withstand one. When you reconnect the hose, be sure that it is tight and won’t leak.
How to Prevent Future Standing Water
Better than running into an emergency repair is using a little prevention ahead of time.
- Clean your filter regularly – Your unit’s instructions should give you an idea of how often you should pull out the filter and clean it. A general rule of thumb would be every 6-12 months. Also, consider replacing it if you have a very old unit and the filter doesn’t appear usable.
- Use the correct detergent – It’s possible to use a detergent that can clog up your unit (although this is rare). Also, a detergent not meant for a dishwasher may create too many suds and push water out of the dishwasher itself while it runs.
- Listen to your machine – Even worse than a clog or a kink is a piece that needs to be replaced. If your machine is extra loud, hums, or clicks, one or more parts may have worn out. It’s probably a good idea to bring a professional at this time for a proper diagnosis.
- Pre-rinse your dishes – This is the main culprit of nasty clogs.
How Much Does It Cost To Repair a Dishwasher?
The average cost for a dishwasher repair is $200. However, it can range from $160 – $600 depending on the model and what needs to be replaced. For example, replacing a motor is much more expensive than replacing a pump or removing a clog.
Check out this table to see the average cost of common dishwasher repairs.
|$400 – $600
|$75 – $100
|$150 – $350
|$80 – $125
|$50 – $100
Be sure to check with your Home Warranty (if you have one) as they will pay for the cost of repair as long as you follow their protocol.