How to Unblock Your Dishwasher

If you’ve noticed water lying in your dishwasher, or a bad smell, this can be a sign of a blockage in your dishwasher or further down the drain pipe. You may initially notice that your dishwasher starts to drain slower – it is best to take action to clear a blockage as soon as possible as it may take more work to do so later. However, if your dishwasher is already completely clogged, following the steps in this guide can help you to clear it.

The engineers at Lanes Group are experts when it comes to unblocking drains and keeping them in good working order. In the following guide, we will explain how you can unblock your dishwasher if you find that it is not draining properly and what steps you should take to keep it clean and functional.

Why do dishwashers become blocked?

The main causes of dishwasher blockages are large chunks of leftover food that get lodged in the drain. Most dishwashers have a filter to catch food debris that is too large to go down the drain, because these chunks can result in issues that are more difficult to remedy if they travel further down the pipe. However, food can pass through this filter and congeal on the other side, forming a blockage. Additionally, small items of cutlery, such as teaspoons, may dislodge from the racks and fall into the filter, damaging it or causing a blockage themselves.

Your dishwasher, like most kitchen appliances that dispense wastewater, probably uses the same waste pipe as your sink. If you find that your dishwasher and sink are both draining slowly, it may be the case that the blockage is located in the main drainage pipes beneath the sink. In this case, you should attempt to clear the blockage through your sink instead, as this is much more accessible than your dishwasher drain.

Unblocking a dishwasher

Signs of blockage include slowly draining or standing water in the bottom of the main compartment, or a bad food smell emerging from drains, especially when you use your dishwasher or other utilities. You should attempt to clear the blockage as soon as you can or you may risk flooding your kitchen.

It is not always difficult to clear a blocked dishwasher but it can be messy. You should ensure that you are wearing suitable clothes, as they will likely get wet, and clear an appropriate space around your dishwasher for any water that leaks out. You should also turn off the power to the dishwasher as well as the water supply, which you should switch off at the mains. If you are unsure about any of these steps, it may be best to contact a professional to unblock your dishwasher for you.

If your dishwasher is full of standing water, you will need to clear it before attempting to unblock the filters. To do this, you should either scoop it out and into a bucket or speak to drainage experts. If you remove the water yourself, avoid pouring it into another drain that may then become blocked. Instead, remove any chunks of food and throw them in the bin, first.

Once you are ready to begin clearing your blocked dishwasher, you should first locate the filter. This will be a plastic or metal cover with small holes in it, fitted over the waste pipe through which the water drains out of the dishwasher after use. This is usually easy to find, but if you cannot locate the filter, you can pour water into the dishwasher and watch where it drains to. It may be the case that your dishwasher has multiple drains, so you should make sure to repeat the clearing process for all of them if you cannot determine which one has the blockage. 

Remove your dishwasher’s filter and clear any trapped items, including food debris, from the filter and the mouth of the pipe. Take note of how the filter fits onto the pipe to help you replace it later. If your filter has multiple separate parts, you should clean all of these in a sink with hot water and dish soap. Once they are clear and any food has been cleaned from them, reinstall the filters as they were before.

You should then test the dishwasher by first pouring a cup of boiling water into it and observing how it drains. It is best to test with a small amount of water first, even if it seems like the blockage is clear; if your dishwasher drain is still blocked, a full cycle could lead to flooding. Boiling water can also wash away any food debris that remains inside the pipe, although it is not a suitable solution to the problem on its own and will be ineffective at clearing blockages.

If the water drains quickly, you can then run a cycle to confirm that your dishwasher is clear. If you find that your dishwasher still does not drain properly, the problem may be further down the drain. At this point, you should consider hiring a drain-unblocking expert to help. The team at Lanes Group provides a range of domestic drainage services, and with a wealth of experience, we can quickly diagnose and fix the causes of blocked dishwashers or other utilities.

How to maintain your dishwasher

Maintaining your dishwasher is an important way to keep it running smoothly for years to come. By taking a few simple steps, you can ensure that your dishwasher runs efficiently and reliably and reduce the risk of blockages in the future.

One of the most important things is to regularly check and clean the filters, just as you would to clear a blockage. Doing this every couple of weeks can help to keep food particles and other debris from clogging the system and affecting its performance. You should also avoid putting food waste down your drains. Make sure to scrape your plates into the bin as effectively as you can and give them a quick rinse and wipe before putting them in the dishwasher.

It is also important to check for any signs of leaking or malfunctioning parts – such as worn gaskets, loose connections, or cracked hoses – that could be causing water to escape. If you notice any of these issues, have them examined by a drainage expert immediately.

You should also remember to use the correct amount and type of dishwashing detergent for your machine. This will help to ensure that it works effectively and prevent any build-up or corrosion that can occur if you use too much detergent.

At Lanes Group, we specialise in unblocking drains and advising people on how to maintain them and avoid the more serious consequences of blockages. If you find that your dishwasher regularly becomes blocked, or has a blockage that you can not shift, you should speak to us. Our technicians can identify the source of the problem, clear the blockage and advise you on how to avoid further problems, to help you to get the most out of your kitchen appliances.

Call our 24/7 helpline today on 0800 526 488. Alternatively, fill out an online enquiry form and we will return your contact at a time that works for you.