clogged dishwasher

Clogged Dishwasher

How to Identify, Avoid, and Fix a Clogged Dishwasher

A flooded kitchen? That sounds like a nightmare. Unfortunately, the chances of it are all too real, and clogged dishwashers are a common culprit.

Dishwashers not draining is in fact one of the most common problems that plumbers encounter. The trouble can be rooted in a malfunction, misuse, or just general wear and tear. To make matters worse, dishwasher clogs can easily go undetected, because let’s face it, who regularly sticks their head inside their machine?

Failure to recognize a clogged dishwasher in time can leave you with a flooded kitchen floor and twice as much hassle than the clog alone brings. That is why we’ve compiled this “dishwasher cheat sheet” to help you learn signs, reasons, and treatments for a clogged dishwasher.

Per the common phrase, offense is the best defense. Knowing the signs of a clogged dishwasher can help you handle the situation before you need professional help or a costly replacement.

Your dishwasher is linked to the water supply line and drain system of your kitchen sink, which means it faces the same plumbing problems that kitchen drains encounter. Unfortunately, dishwasher clogs are not so easily detected as they are in the sink, and while a clog goes unnoticed, the dishwasher is unable to adequately perform its clean and sanitizing function.

To avoid the frustration and guessing game of whether or not your dishwasher might have a clog, watch for these warning signs.

Dishes don’t get cleaned up properly.

Clogged Dishwasher Dirty Dishes Frustrated

If you notice that your dishes look nearly the same as they did when you first put them in the washer, it is a clear indication of a problem with the machine. It is best to watch for less obvious changes as well. Dishes that are not quite as clean as they used to be can signal the start of a larger problem.

Your dishwasher makes unusual sounds

When you hear your washer make unfamiliar sounds when you run it, it is time to consider that there might be a problem. Be extra attentive for dishwasher noises that aren’t normal, such as loud humming or disturbing shaking and thumping.

Your dishwasher still has water after you run it

If there’s a pool of water present in the bottom of your washer after it has completed its cycle, this could mean that it didn’t drain the water properly.

Leftover water in your washer can be a breeding ground for mold and bacteria, which needless to say, can spread disease by way of your dishes.

You notice that water backs up whenever you run your dishwasher

If water backs up in your sink as you run your dishwasher, this can indicate a clogging problem. Remember that your dishwasher is connected to the same water supply line that your kitchen sink is also connected to, so a clog in one section can be the direct cause of water in another.

Dishwasher drains slowly

If water from your dishwasher drains slowly, this is an obvious sign of partial clogging. When left untreated, it’s only a matter of time before the clog grows.

If you recognize any of these warning signs, trouble isn’t far behind. Identifying the cause of your clog is the next step in treating it.

Reasons For Dishwasher Clogs

There are a number of reasons your dishwasher might be clogged. Below are just some of the common causes that bring about this unfortunate issue:

The drain hose is clogged

If water in your dishwasher drains slowly, there could be buildup that prevents it from draining properly. Food and other debris may build up in the drain hose which then causes the clogging.

Clogged Dishwasher Dirty Dishes In Dishwasher

What causes this buildup? If you don’t rinse your dishes before you load them into the washer, you can expect food and other debris to accumulate in the drainage hose over time eventually leading to the clog.

Dishwasher filter is clogged

Your dishwasher comes with a filter that makes it possible for food bits and other debris not to get caught in the pipes. This filter, which is located at the bottom of the dishwasher, may accumulate food scraps over time, especially when tough food items get stuck or when you don’t clean the filter regularly.

If the dishwasher’s filter basket is fully clogged, it won’t drain completely. Moreover, the clogging may cause your dishes not to be cleaned completely.

Your kitchen sink’s air gap is clogged

At the back of your kitchen sink is a small device that prevents water that is drained from the dishwasher from backing up into the appliance. This is called an air gap, which can get clogged over time and lead to water not draining properly.

A clogged air gap may cause water to come out of it when the dishwasher makes its cycle. This may be caused by a block between the garbage disposal and the air gap itself.

You’ve just installed a new garbage disposal

A newly installed garbage disposal may cause your dishwasher to get clogged, especially if the disposal’s knockout plug wasn’t removed when it was installed. This typically causes the dishwasher not to drain properly, which may lead to clogging.

Your garbage disposal is clogged

Your dishwasher’s drain hose is connected to your garbage disposal. When there’s an accumulation of food particles within the disposal, expect water from the drain hose of the dishwasher to not drain completely, as there is clogging within the garbage disposal itself.

When the garbage disposal is clogged, water from this appliance doesn’t clear out completely and may back up in your dishwasher. This may cause water to remain in the bottom of your washer even after it has made its complete cycle.

There’s clogging in your drainage line

If your dishwasher doesn’t properly drain, it may be caused by a clogged drain in your sewer line. This is especially true if water from the dishwasher backs up into your kitchen sink.

A clogged bathroom drain or any other clogged drains in your home should alert you, as this can be a sign of a serious plumbing problem. A clogged drain line may require professional help from plumbing experts.

Your sewer line is damaged

When there’s no clogging in your dishwasher, there could be a more serious problem that is causing your appliance to malfunction. You may want to consider a broken or damaged sewer line, which could cause clogging in any or all of the drains in your home.

A damaged or broken sewer line may cause water to back up in all the drains of your home, which can cause serious flooding. This is the kind of problem that calls for the assistance of a plumbing professional.

What To Do When Your Dishwasher is Clogged

There are simple troubleshoots you can do to remove any clogging in your dishwasher.

1. You can clear your garbage disposal and check for food buildup.

2. You can clean the air gap to remove any blockage that causes the clogging.

3. You can check and clean the dishwasher.

For more serious clogging problems, such as a clogged drainage line or broken sewer pipes, it is best to leave these issues in the care of a professional.

Clogged Dishwasher Dishwasher Mechanic

If you don’t think your pipes are backed up, but you still can’t find the source of the troubles, enlisting the help of a professional plumber can help you avoid larger future troubles.

Dealing with a Clogged Dishwasher? Call So Cal Services to Help

So Cal Services is exactly the plumbing expert you need to ensure that blocked drains or damaged sewer lines are addressed effectively and immediately. So Cal Services provides expert diagnosis of your plumbing problem and offers the best recommendations for repair or replacement to suit you and your household.

As one of the top plumbing companies boasting experienced plumbing professionals, you can rest assured that proper assessment and management is provided when you face a clogged dishwasher. With our reputation in homes and businesses around Riverside, Orange, and San Diego counties, you know you’ll be in good hands.

To know how So Cal Services can help fix your clogged dishwasher, call (951) 926-1978 or send a text via (951) 662-4894 to schedule an appointment. You can also reach us by email at


For complete details of its services, visit the So Cal Services website at


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Signs That Your Dishwasher Is Clogged