Dishwasher Flooded: Causes and Solutions


Walking into the kitchen to find a floor filled with water after you have run the dishwasher is frustrating. Even if the water does not reach the floor, opening your dishwasher door to find it still filled with water is alarming. Thankfully, there are usually only a few reasons that your dishwasher has flooded.

Typically there are three main reason why your dishwasher has flooded:

  1. Clogged Sump Pump
  2. Clogged Drain or Garbage Disposal
  3. Drainage Hose Issues

Before you start investigating deep into this issue I want you to check the filter on the bottom of the dishwasher. If the filter is blocked up it will not allow the dishwasher to drain (it can also make your dishwasher smell like eggs).

If your strainer is clear, you can check the following areas to see if they are preventing your dishwasher from draining.

Problem 1: Blocked up Garbage Disposal

It is very common for dishwashers to be hooked up to run through the garbage disposal system. If your garbage disposal is filled or blocked, the water from your dishwasher will not be able to drain. Run your garbage disposal to see if it is blocked.

How to Unclog your Garbage Disposal

To make sure that your disposal is empty and is draining fine, you will want to plug your sinks. Add lukewarm water and about 5 or 6 pounds of cubed ice. You should also add a ½ cup of lemon juice to de-grease your disposal. Once you have added everything to the water, turn on the disposal and pull the plug so the water/lemon/ice mixture can flow through the garbage disposal.

The ice will unblock many larger items in your garbage disposal and will also help keep the blades sharp. The lemon will remove the grease build-up that can occur within the unit. If the disposal empties fine, try running a rinse cycle in your dishwasher to see if it will drain. If it drains, the problem is solved. If not, follow the next step.

If your drain hose is connected directly into the drain then you should run what is known as a snake through the pipe and use drain cleaner. You can rent a snake or purchase one from your hardware store.

Problem 2: Blocked Up Sump Pump

Before you start checking the sump pump on your dishwasher, you will want to turn off the power to the unit. This will keep you safe. You may also need to turn the water off to the dishwasher if you have to remove the unit from the cabinet or wall to remove the sump pump.

How to Unclog your Sump Pump

Check Underneath your Strainer

After turning off the electricity the first thing you should do is to check underneath your strainer. This is the entrance port to your sump pump. If food or other debris has gotten past your strainer, the entrance to the port may be filled. Pop out your strainer and look down in there to see if there is debris blocking the entrance to the pump. This will be easy to see. If there is, remove debris with your hands and put the strainer back on the unit.

Check Where the Sump Pump is Connected to your Drain Hose

If you have found that there is no food blocking the sump pump underneath the filter the next place to check is where the drain hose connected to your dishwasher.

You will need to pull your dishwasher out for this step. The hose is connected to wards the back of your dishwasher. Once you have disconnected the power and water you will want to take the clamp off of the hose and pull it off the unit. Get your fingers in the hole and feel around for clogs.

Turn the power back on and try a rinse cycle to see if the dishwasher will drain.

Problem 3: Blocked Up or Kinked Drainage Hose

The last thing that you can check to see why your dishwasher flooded is to see if the hose that connects the dishwasher pump to the drain is blocked or kinked. Since your dishwasher is already removed from the cabinet, unhook the hose from the pump and the drain to check if it is blocked. This would also be an excellent time to check the points where the hose is connected to each piece to see if they are blocked (if you did not previously do that).

In a sink that still has drains connected, run water through the hose to clean it out. If the water is running freely, there is no problem with the hose. Make sure that when you reconnect the hose that it does not kink or bend when you push your machine back into the cabinet.

At this time, you can also see if the hose was already kinked. Over time, the motion from the dishwasher can cause the hose to move and kink. This will block water flow. If the hose has been kinked, it may be in your best interest to replace the hose before putting the dishwasher back into place. The integrity of the hose is now compromised, and it will be more likely to kink again in the future.

Once you have checked the hose and reattach it to your unit, you can place it back in the cabinet and re-hook up the water and power. Run a rinse cycle to check if the dishwasher is operating correctly before loading it with the dishes.

If The Dishwasher Continues To Flood

If you have checked all of these items and your dishwasher continues to flood, it is time to call for service. You may need to replace the sump pump on the machine, or one of the electrical parts is not working correctly in the unit. Safety is always a concern. If you do not feel comfortable removing your machine from the cabinet or working on any of the moving parts, it is recommended that you call a technician.

Once your dishwasher has been repaired, you should run a dishwasher cleaner through the unit before you begin washing dishes. A good cleaning will remove any build up in the machine and will remove any smells that may have occurred as a result of the flooding.

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