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In our modern world, we recognize dishwashers as a simple and convenient part of our lives. We load up the day’s dishes, run a cleaning cycle, and spend the next hour completing other tasks. We take having a working dishwasher for granted, until it doesn't work all of the sudden.

The items your dishwasher accumulates, such as food, paper, and other scraps, can create clogs and cause backups that limit performance.

Learn about the key indicators that you can look out for when you suspect your dishwasher is clogged, the reasons why your dishwasher is clogged, and how to fix it yourself. 

5 Signs Your Dishwasher Problems Are Caused By a Clog

Review the five signs that indicate a dishwasher clog.

1. You Hear Gurgling.

Abnormal gurgling sounds, shaking, or thumping sounds while your dishwasher runs could indicate that there is water trying to break through a clog in your main or secondary sewer line. 

2. Your Dishwasher Is Backing Up Water in Your Sink.

Your dishwasher is connected to the drainage system in your kitchen sink. If your dishwasher is running and water begins backing up into your sink, it's possible your dishwasher has a clog. 

You can rule out a dishwasher clog if you run your garbage disposal while the dishwasher is off. It's possible that the problem is food that is caught in the sink, which means your dishwasher isn't the problem.

3. You Notice Slow Draining In Your Dishwasher.

There may be a clog or a partial clog in your kitchen sewer line if you notice water pooling in the bottom of your dishwasher or in your sink. 

Clear out the partial clog as soon as possible so it doesn't become a more costly problem.

4. You See Water Backup In the Dishwasher After the Cycle.

Standing water in your dishwasher after a wash cycle means that your dishwasher isn't draining properly. This is because leftover food is clogging the drainage system.

Inspect your dishwasher, and clean the drain basket. If this doesn't take care of the problem, you may have a clog in your drains.

5. Your Dishes Are Not Cleaned.

It's possible the dishwasher isn't filling with water if your dishes are still dirty after your wash cycle is complete. This is caused by a clog in your main or secondary sewer line. 

5 Reasons Your Dishwasher May Be Clogged

Here are five potential reasons you're experiencing a dishwasher clog. 

1. Clogged Filter Basket

Your dishwasher has a filter basket fitted in the drain that prevents scraps of food and other items from entering the pipes. The filter basket needs to be cleaned regularly so that your dishes come out sparkling clean.

If you have hard water issues, you may need to soak the drain basket in a little vinegar to remove the deposits. This prevents the holes of your dishwasher filter basket from becoming clogged.

2. Clogged Drain Hose

Your dishwasher drains through a hose that can be connected to your kitchen sink drain or garbage disposal. The drain hose can get an interior build-up of sludge that causes backups and clogs. 

Cleaning the dishwasher drain pipe and the other drain pipes under your sink will eliminate the clog if they are the source of your drainage issues.

3. Garbage Disposal

New garbage disposal installations can cause your dishwasher to become clogged if the knockout plug was not removed when the disposal was installed. Removing this plug will likely solve your dishwasher clogging issue.

If your garbage disposal is older, the things you've been putting down the disposal may be the source of your problem.

4. Clogged Drains

More than one clogged drain in your home is a sign that something is clogged further down the sewer line. In many cases, it has nothing to do with your dishwasher.

Your dishwasher may not be draining properly if there is a clogged drain further down the sewer line. However, if you have more than one clogged drain in your home or if water is gurgling back up into the sink when your dishwasher drains, you may have a more serious clog that has nothing to do with your dishwasher.

5. Broken Sewer Line

Most people don't think that a clogged dishwasher can be caused by a broken sewer line. But a broken sewer pipe could block all of the drains in your home.

If the dishwasher, guest toilet, and shower will not drain, it's time for a professional assessment of your home or business sewer pipes.

How to Unclog Your Dishwasher

Once you confirm that you have a clogged dishwasher, you can get started on trying to fix the issue on your own. 

1. Diagnose the Cause of the Problem.

Most often, dishwasher clogs are caused by improper use. For instance, some dishwasher owners aren't making sure they dispose of food and cooking oils properly, which causes fragments and oils to become lodged within dishwasher drain pipes. 

Conduct an inspection around your dishwasher and kitchen sink drains. Make sure the problem is actually a clog before you jump in to fix a problem that isn't there.

2. Gather the Right Plumbing Tools for the Job.

Once you’ve properly identified the cause of your dishwasher clog, make sure you’re well-equipped to unclog your drains.

Some tools you may need include:

  • Drain snake or auger
  • Phillips head screwdriver (to remove drain grates)
  • Bucket
  • Baking soda and vinegar
  • Gloves

3. Gain Access to Dishwasher Drains, and Clear Debris.

Make sure your dishwasher unit is off or unplugged so you can stay safe during your DIY home plumbing project.

  • Start by removing dish racks from your unit, and find the drain grate. This should be located somewhere on the bottom of your unit. The grate can be removed with a conventional screwdriver. 
  • Use a drain auger or de-clogging flush to clear debris within the pipe. We recommend a natural solution such as baking soda and vinegar, rather than chemicals because frequent chemical use can actually harm your drains more than help them. 
  • Reattach the grate and reinsert dish racks.
  • Power your dishwasher back on, and run it to see performance issues resolved.

4. Know When to Contact a Plumbing Professional.

DIY plumbing projects are a great way to save money, but some dishwasher clogs require a professional. Contact a professional if you don't have the right tools to fix the problem, or if you believe performance issues with your dishwasher unit are due to a more complex issue than clogging.

Using high-grade video inspection tools, plumbing experts can determine the exact cause of drain damage in your home. Then, they can identify the most practical and affordable repair option for your plumbing issues.

Hire an Expert Plumbing Professional

Blocked drains in a home can become a nuisance and a health risk. Business environments may even be required to shut down because of a clogged dishwasher and flooded floor if it is not addressed immediately.

Contact Express Sewer & Drain today for an assessment of the sewer lines for your home or business!

Dealing With Common Plumbing Problems

Topics: Commercial Plumbing, Home Plumbing, Drain Cleaning and Repair