You own a dishwasher, but for some reason, it is not working. You open it up and see a flooded bottom. Even if the brand is a Frigidaire, Samsung, Whirlpool, or even a GE, it is possible for it to break down eventually.

But we don’t want to wash all those dishes by hand, right? I have put together a guide to help you service your broken dishwasher all by yourself. If you are a beginner at fixing things, the steps below will be easy to follow and will be applicable to almost all of the available dishwasher models.

Prepare the following things that you will need to fix your dishwasher:

  • Gloves
  • Flashlight
  • A lot of rags
  • A bucket for holding the flood water
  • Dishwashing soap
  • Sponge
  • A screwdriver (prepare different sizes as the screw sizes may vary)
  • Acid cleaner (optional)
  • Dishwasher manual (to locate where the parts can be found)

Before following any of the steps below, ensure that your device is turned off and unplugged. Second, scoop out the excess water in order to see the floor of the dishwasher. Most of the parts that need to be cleaned up or repaired are at the bottom, so removing the floodwater is important. Drying it out with a rag will also help ensure you can see the parts clearly.

You should also use a flashlight in case the light in your kitchen is not sufficient. Getting someone to help you hold the flashlight will also speed up the process of fixing up your broken dishwasher.

You might want to check if your dishwasher has a warranty – that way, you can get it fixed for little or no cost at all, and less effort on your part! Also, be warned that some warranties may become void if the dishwasher was opened up or repaired by someone else aside from the maker (brand).

Enough chit-chat, let’s get our hands wet and get that dishwasher up and running!

Things that you need to know and do before troubleshooting your dishwasher:

  • Remove the drainage basket. You will need a screwdriver in order to do this. Clean the drainage basket with a sponge and dishwashing soap as needed.
  • Under the basket, there might be a “flap”. Dismantle this too, and as above, clean as needed
  • There might be some water in the drainage area, so you will want to dry that up too
  • Check the drainage area if there are any bits and pieces of leftovers. You will need to remove those to prevent clogging. With a soapy rag, you can clean this area up as needed. Dry it up once done.

6 steps to fix your flooded dishwasher 1

Young Woman Cleaning And Fixing Dishwasher In Kitchen

Step One: Checking the Drain Pump

This is the most common cause of flooded dishwashers. The drain pump is one of the most important parts of the dishwasher since it houses the motor which forces the water through the hose. If it does not work (i.e. no water pushed out), unfortunately, you can’t repair this, and you will have to replace it. You can contact your local dealer for a replacement drain pump motor in this case. If your dishwasher has a warranty, then this would be one of the best times to use it.

6 steps to fix your flooded dishwasher 3

Coins in a drain pump filter

Step Two: Checking the Drain Valve

At times, leftovers get trapped in the drain valve and thus inhibit draining. This is a very common occurrence and happens over time. You can try and clear it by picking out the debris, or by dissolving it with an acid cleaner.

If you made sure that there is nothing else blocking the drain valve and it still does not work, you will need to replace the drain valve, since it is not repairable.

Step Three: Checking the Drain Hose

Another dishwasher part that may be blocked would be the drain hose. This is where the water passes through to push out the water used when running a cycle. To clean the drain hose out, you will need to dismantle it from both ends – the dishwasher itself and the sink drain.

You can pass a rope through the hose to try and dislodge the debris, or you can use a chemical cleaner to flush it out. If you don’t want to use a chemical cleaner, you can always attach it to a faucet, and force the waste out. Take note that this might just push the debris further in, so you will want to use your better judgment on what will work best to unclog the drain hose.

6 steps to fix your flooded dishwasher 5

Workman attaches a drain hose to a sewage pipe

Pro Tip: Be very careful when handling the drain hose – the plastic or rubber that makes up the hose might be thin, so use the acid cleaners with care. Make sure that the acid cleaner you are using does not melt nor deform plastic or rubber. Acid cleaners should always be a last resort, and must be used with extra care.

Step Four: Stuck Check Valve and Check Ball

The check valve is the part that prevents the used water from going back up to the dishwasher. The check ball is a plastic ball within one of the tube-like structures of the check valve. In some cases, the check ball gets stuck, and it should be as easy as freeing it up to get it working again.

6 steps to fix your flooded dishwasher 7

Check and ball valve with selective focus on thread fittings

Depending on what dishwasher you have, it might be too small to see, so you might have to take some time looking for the ball. Make sure it’s the ball you are freeing up and not another part of the check valve. Damaging the check valve might further the dishwasher problem. A good way to free up the check ball is by running some dishwashing liquid on it. It may help loosen it up. Try spinning the ball on its socket, and see if it helps free it up.

PRO TIP: It is always better to spin the ball than to try and pry it out. Prying out the ball might cause further damage.

Step Five: Troubleshooting the Garbage Disposer

There are two main reasons why the garbage disposer might be stopping the dishwasher from draining: first, it might be clogged; second, it might not be installed properly. The garbage disposer may be an optional installment for your dishwasher – you may or may not have this.

If it is clogged, again, you will want to remove all of the debris as much as you can. If the garbage disposer has been recently installed, it is possible that the drain plug may not have been removed. The drain plug is by default, attached, to prevent the water from just gushing out. Removing the drain plug should fix this.

​Step Six: Faulty Water Pump Belt

The water pump belt is the least common of the problems since not all dishwashers have it. It would be located near the motor. If the water pump belt is broken or worn out, you will need to purchase a replacement for this, since like most dishwasher parts, is irreparable.

PRO TIP: Return all the dismantled parts where you found them. Ensure that all the screws are placed securely, to avoid the parts from moving or vibrating about. Loose parts may cause further damage to your dishwasher. Once you have replaced everything, run a new full cycle on your dishwasher, and see if it now drains.

More often than not, stuck debris are the culprits of dishwashers failing to drain. After following the steps above and the dishwasher still fails to drain, it is possible that some of the parts we’ve discussed above may be broken or may have short-circuited. In rare cases of short-circuiting, it would be best to leave the repairs to a professional.

Now and then, make sure to clean out your dishwasher. Even if these machines make our life easier, it would still be our responsibility to check the efficiency of these appliances, and maintain it. The 6 steps above should address the most common causes of a flooded dishwasher. A single step may help solve the problem immediately. In some cases, you might need to follow all of the steps to get the draining system working.

We would love to hear feedback from you – feel free to let us know which step helped you get your dishwasher draining again!


How long should a dishwasher last?

A dishwasher should last about 10 years.

How much standing water is normal in a dishwasher?

Some standing water, usually one to two cups, remaining in the bottom of the tub, is normal.

Is it worth it to repair a dishwasher?

It depends on what the problem is. If the dishwasher needs something simple, such as a drain pump, valve, or hose repair may be worth it.

How do I fix a dishwasher that won’t drain?

Before following any of the steps below, ensure that your device is turned off and unplugged. Second, scoop out the excess water to see the floor of the dishwasher.
1. Check the drain pump.
2. Check the drain valve.
3. Check the drain hose.
4. Diagnose the check valve and the check ball.
5. Troubleshoot the garbage disposer.
6. Check the water pump belt.

Thank you for reading!