My dishwasher isn’t draining fully: should I call a plumber?

May 5th, 2021

If you find water at the bottom of your dishwasher after the cycle is finished, you may need to call a plumber. But there are a few things you can try first. Let’s look at a couple of reasons why your dishwasher might not be draining and what you can do to troubleshoot it before calling us in! 


If you’re reading this while water is gushing out of your dishwasher and onto the floor, 



  1. Close the water valve that feeds your dishwasher – it’s likely under the sink or in the cupboard directly beside your dishwasher 
  1. If you can’t find it, close the main water valve for your house – this one is likely in your basement 
  1. Lay down as many towels as you can to start soaking up the water 
  1. Call a plumber. If your dishwasher is leaking everywhere, you’re beyond any DIY troubleshooting. 


OK, assuming you’re not experiencing a waterfall in your kitchen, let’s dive into some DIY troubleshooting for a dishwasher that isn’t draining fully. Here are some recommendations from the Plomberie Lalonde team for things you can try before calling a plumber: 


Check the cycle 

If your dishwasher didn’t drain after the last cycle, double check that the cycle finished completely. The same little gremlins that steal socks from the dryer are known to disrupt the dishwasher cycle, meaning it doesn’t finish draining properly.  Well, maybe not gremlins, but it is always a possibility that the full cycle did not run and you can drain and start again. 


Here’s what to do if you think your dishwasher didn’t drain properly because the cycle was interrupted: 


  1. Run the cancel/drain cycle if your dishwasher has one, or; 
  1. Empty the dishes from the bottom rack, remove it, and then use any combination of ladles, basters, sponges and towels to drain your dishwasher 
  1. Check your settings and run a quick cycle again. 


With any luck, the dishwasher will run its full cycle completely and you’ll be able to tackle other household problems like those missing socks! 


Look for blockages 

Even if you are diligent about pre-rinsing major food particles from your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher, there are a number of items that can become trapped and cause a blockage in your drain basket. Here are the steps to take in order to check for any blockages that might be preventing your dishwasher from draining properly: 


  1. Run the cancel/drain cycle if your dishwasher has one, or; 
  1. Empty the dishes from the bottom rack, remove it, and then use any combination of ladles, basters, sponges and towels to drain your dishwasher 
  1. Remove any food particles that have collected in the drain basket 
  1. Check for any plastics that might have melted onto the drain basket. Clear film is especially hard to see and can block the holes needed to drain. 
  1. If visible, check the drain hose in case smaller particles have collected and are now causing a blockage 


If you are confident that you have removed the blockage that has caused the water to build up in the bottom of your dishwasher, run a quick cycle to confirm. If the problem persists, you will need to call in the professionals to investigate further. 


Level up 

While rare, it is possible that your dishwasher is not draining properly because it is not level and water is unable to flow towards the bottom drain. You can easily check this by watching how water flows at the bottom, or use a marble for a more dramatic effect. If your dishwasher is not level, you can balance it out by adjusting the legs on the bottom and/or adding shims under the legs and/or frame. 


Still not draining? Call in the plumber! 

If none of these DIY troubleshooting methods help you get your dishwasher draining properly again on its own, it’s time to book a visit from your plumber.  Don’t take chances. If there is a blockage anywhere in your dishwasher or plumbing, you could end up with several litres of water emptying onto your kitchen floor. Avoid the expense and hassle of dealing with water damaged floors, ceilings, and whatever household contents get soaked by trusting the pros to identify and remedy the source of the problem. 

Related post: 5 Common Plumbing Problems and How to Fix Them 


If you’re in the Gatineau region and have questions about your dishwasher or any other residential plumbing issues, please don’t hesitate to contact us. No question is too small, and no job is too big for our team – the team at Plomberie Lalonde is here to help!