Ways to Fix Standing Water in a Dishwasher

South End Plumbing, Heating, & Air Expert Tips

Standing water can become a real health hazard.

Ways to Drain Standing Water in a Dishwasher

Your dishwasher finishes a cycle. You’re supposed to have clean dishes and glasses. You open the door and find a bunch of standing water at the bottom of the machine. This is irritating and disgusting. It actually can be unsanitary. The dirty water hasn’t drained and it’s making the clean load of dishes dirty. What are ways to fix standing water in a dishwasher? What can you try on your own before calling a pro? Standing water in a dishwasher can be caused by different problems. Most of these issues can be handled DIY style or with a simple fix.

Stagnant Water is Nasty and Unhealthy

This isn’t just an ugly mess to clean up. Standing water can become a real health hazard. Bugs, pests, bacteria, diseases, and mold can get into and grow in standing water. The smallest bits of food in the undrained water make this even worse. If you have a clogged dishwasher, it’s a priority to fix it as soon as possible.

Before Going DIY on the Dishwasher

You don’t need to call a pro or worry about expensive fixes, yet. Here are some safety steps to do before trying any fixes yourself.

  • Turn off the power and disconnect the machine – Water and electricity are a very bad combination. You don’t want to do anything with standing water and even the slightest risk of electric shock. Make sure the dishwasher is off, and better yet, disconnected, before removing or fixing components.
  • Remove the water – You want to remove as much of the water as possible before doing any other checks or work. If you have inches of water, you can scoop most of it out, then get the rest with rags or paper towels.
  • Check the drains – This is the simplest and most likely answer. Food, trash, fat, or broken pieces of something have gone down into the filter, drain, or a line and it’s clogging the whole machine.
  • Run an empty cycle – Once you’ve removed the water and think the drains are fine, try running a cycle with nothing in the machine. If you get standing water again, there’s possibly a more complex problem.

Causes of Standing Water in a Dishwasher

  • Food clogging the drain – Inspect under the bottom rack and clean out food, fat, or anything quite literally getting in the way of the drain.
  • How you load the washer – It’s important to load a dishwasher the right way and safely. Check the owner’s manual about how to load, and what not to load, in your specific model.
  • Regular upkeep – A dishwasher has a drain filter and it needs to be cleaned or emptied sometimes. Again, check your manual or info about your machine to see how and how often to do this.
  • The drain valve – The drain valve may stick or become dirty and clogged. Check it, then clean it or move it and loosen it up if needed.
  • The drain pump – There can be multiple reasons or causes having to do with the drain pump or drain motor in a dishwasher. You might hear clicking, banging, or buzzing before you get a standing water problem. A drain pump has two impellers. One is for the water going in, the other is to pump water out. There can be debris clogging one impeller. There could be a piece of food, bone, broken dish or glass, or other trash that shouldn’t have gone in the dishwasher stopping, and hopefully not breaking, the pump or motor.
  • Garbage disposal – If your machine is connected to disposal via a drain hose, you could get clogs or an air gap somewhere in the line. Check the kitchen sink drain, too, as it could be a clue or have the same issue. Do not put your hand down a garbage disposal.
  • Water supply line – There could be a clog or gunk in the water supply line. First, try to limit the mess. Put a bucket under the supply line, usually under your sink. Disconnect the water line that runs into the main drain. Let the water run out. Look in the line if you can, then use a drain snake or another tool to clear it. Reattach everything and run the dishwasher with an empty cycle.
  • The drain line – Then there’s the drain out of the bottom of the dishwater. You probably have to remove the filter screen to see it well. If this looks like the problem, you probably can’t do much manually. You can try a mix of half water and half baking soda. Put the filter screen back on and pour the solution down the drain. Then pour vinegar down the drain. Let it sit for 15 minutes. Pour hot water down the line until it’s fully rinsed out.

Stopping Standing Water

There are tips and upkeep to try which will help keep your dishwasher running as it should. This may give you a lot more loads before needing a new machine.

  • Load it right – There is such a thing as proper loading with a dishwasher. For instance, putting a pan covered in grease or fat in the dishwasher is asking for a problem. It’s worth reading and following the owner’s manual.
  • The right detergent – Using the right type of detergent for your machine matters. Is your washer made for pods, powder, or liquid? Using a mismatch can cause a drain or line problem.
  • Listen for more info – Pay attention while the dishwasher is running. There can be sounds or smells that tell you something. You might catch an issue in the early stages when it’s an easy, doable fix rather than a total break or failure.

South End Plumbing specializes in leak repairs and water heater installation, so remember, we are just a click away. We also specialize in tankless water heaters – give us a call! South End Plumbing is one of the only companies that will give you a free estimate. Call us at 704-919-1722 or fill out the form online to schedule a visit.

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