How to Unclog a Blocked Dishwasher

Despite being incredibly useful at saving time and even water, dishwashers are not always reliable. Wherever you’re setting off for vacation or needing to get an early night, dishwashers seem to encounter problems at the most awkward of times.

One of the most obvious reasons for a broken dishwasher is due to a clog in your plumbing. In today’s post, we will be looking at how to tell if your dishwasher is clogged and how you can get it going again.

How to Identify a Blockage in Your Dishwasher

Before we can look at how to unclog a dishwasher, we must first identify if there is a clog in your dishwasher. Being an electrical piece of plumbing equipment, there are many reasons why your dishwasher might not be working properly.

If the dishwasher is not turning on or switches off at random intervals, it is likely a sign the machine has an electrical issue. Tampering or trying to fix a dishwasher can put you at risk of electrical shocks – so you should save any electrical wiring for an electrician or specialist to do.

If the dishwasher switches on and finishes its cycle normally but isn’t draining well, your plumbing could be the problem. Dishwashers have to deal with food waste and oils, which is prone to clogging when leaving the dishwasher. This clog can sometimes be partial which means water is still passing through it but very slowly. You can typically suspect a clogged dishwasher if there is dirty sitting water that hasn’t drained after the cycle is finished.

How to Unclog a Blockage in Your Dishwasher

1. Check Other Plumbing Equipment in the Room

Sometimes a plumbing problem can be bigger and affect an entire house or street. If your taps and faucets are running and draining normally, then the clogging problem is likely inside the dishwasher. If other appliances are experiencing the same issue, it might need further inspection by a plumber.

2. Switch off Your Dishwasher

When working with a dishwasher, you should always switch it off and ideally disconnect the power. This will make sure you can safely inspect it. You do not want to risk being electrocuted, especially since water is a powerful conductor of electricity.

3. Clean Up any Sitting Water

Clearing the sitting water inside a dishwasher will help make unclogging it a lot easier. To remove sitting water from a dishwasher, you may use towels or cloths. These easily absorb water and can be squeezed out into a bucket.

Once cleaned, you can have a better view of the drain and may be able to remove any obvious food particles that are stuck.

4. Inspect the Dishwasher Drain

The drain acts as an exit port for dirty waste water in your dishwasher. You will typically find the drain behind the dishwasher or connected to your sink. If you are having difficulty identifying the drain hose or valve, refer to your dishwasher manufacturer’s manual as models may vary. These are also available online in case you have lost the paper copy.

5. Clean the Dishwasher Drain

Once you’ve found the drain hose, carefully remove it from the dishwasher. Make sure you have a small pot or bucket to collect any wastewater that could flow out. You might require some additional tools to remove the drain as they are often tightly fitted to prevent leakage. Again, your manual can help guide you on safely removing the valve.

To clean the drain hose, use a drain cleaning tool. These items are typically stick or wire-like and are available at many home and hardware stores. You can also make a drain cleaner from a wire coat hanger. To do so, mold the hanger into a straight wire with a loop at the top. Place a small piece of cloth over it and tape it over the loop. You can use this to pry the clog out of its position.

If you encounter a clog and manage to move it, return your dishwasher back to its original state. Then attempt to run it and see if the water drains properly.

Contact Your Appliance Manufacturer or Your Local Plumber

If you are still having difficulty with your dishwasher or cannot remove the clog, please do get in touch with the appliance manufacturer or your local plumber. If you are looking for assistance with installing and removing a dishwasher, or are looking for help clearing a clogged pipe, Caldwell Plumbing is here to help. Our plumbers across the GTA and Durham Region are more than happy to assist you – learn more by contacting us today!