How to fix a backed up dishwasher
When a sink is backed up, most at-home do-it-yourselfers don’t hesitate to grab a wrench and dig in. However, when water is filling a backed up dishwasher, the challenge feels greater. However, as long as you understand how your dishwasher’s drain connections are set up, it can be just as easy a fix.
Just like with a sink that isn’t draining, there are steps to take that make it easy to fix yourself.
Check Your Disposal
If you have a dishwasher drain line hooked up to a garbage disposal, that drain line is the place to start. It may not make sense, but once you get under your sink, you’ll see why. Dishwashers often drain through garbage disposals, so first make sure your disposal isn’t causing the problem.
Run your disposal completely and make sure it is clear and draining correctly. If it is running clean, remove the drain line coming from your dishwasher and make sure it is free of clogs. If you don’t see an obvious clog, it may be time to call us.
Mind the Air Gap
If you don’t have a disposal connected to the backed up dishwasher, then you will want to check the air gap. The air gap is that strange structure you’ll see near your faucet. Not all sinks will have them, but if you have one, you need to check to make sure it also isn’t clogged. It’s important to keep water from reaching the drain pipe. If you’ve ever noticed water leaking from it, it’s a sign you may have a plugged air gap.
To clear it, take the cap off, and use some sort of tube (like an empty paper towel roll) to blow air down into the gap. Remove any debris you can clearly see as well.
Check Your Dishwasher Drain
While it may seem like the first thing you should check, the dishwasher drain could be the problem. Removing your dishwasher racks and sticking your head inside your dishwasher to probe its drain takes a bit more effort. If after checking the air gap and checking the disposal the dishwasher still won’t drain, it’s time to get up close and personal with the inside of your dishwasher.
Once the racks are out, get a good look at your dishwasher’s drain with a flashlight. If you see debris clogging the drain, clean it out. For tough clogs, you may need to bend the hook of a metal coat hanger into a small “U” shape that can fit farther down the drain than your finger might. Probe the drain, fishing out any other debris that may be clogging.
Homemade Drain Cleaner
If clearing debris from the dishwasher, the disposal and air gap don’t do the trick, there’s a homemade solution composed of boiling water, vinegar and baking soda for a backed up dishwasher.
Start by bringing a kettle of water to a boil. Then, pour a half cup of baking soda and a cup of vinegar down the drain. Wait 10 to 15 minutes for the solution to do its work, then follow with the boiling water to clear the line.