Frigidaire Dishwasher Not Draining? (Possible Causes & Fixes)

Dennis Howard
by Dennis Howard

Opening your Frigidaire dishwasher to find water standing in the bottom is not a welcome experience. Unfortunately, this is a more common occurrence than people think. There are some common and not so common reasons that a Frigidaire dishwasher doesn’t drain.

A Frigidaire dishwasher may fail to drain because of a clog in the air gap or the drain hose. Other problems may also keep a frigidaire dishwasher from draining. The other issues may be a

  • Failed drain valve
  • A bad drain pump
  • Broken timer or control board
  • A clogged garbage disposal
  • Debris in the drain basket

Fortunately, most homeowners can easily remedy all but one or two of these situations. Once you diagnose the cause of the failure to drain, most of the fixes are easy. A few short steps can soon have your dishwasher running and draining again.

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Finding the Problem – Start at the Bottom

Often, a frigidaire dishwasher that fails to drain has food and debris clogging the drain basket in the bottom of the tub. Most Frigidaire dishwashers have both a fine and coarse filter at the bottom of the tub. To clean the fine and coarse filter, follow these shorts steps.

Step 1 – Remove as Much Waste Water as Possible

Dip out as much of the standing wastewater as possible from the bottom of the Frigidaire dishwasher. Removing as much of this water as possible will make finding any clogs much easier and less messy.

Step 2 – The Fine Filter

The fine filter on your Frigidaire dishwasher captures larger objects and broken bits of glass. Take care when removing the fine filter from your Frigidaire dishwasher to avoid injury. To remove the fine filter, rotate the filter counter-clockwise and lift. Empty the filter and rinse it thoroughly with running water.

Step 3 – The Coarse Filter

The coarse filter is under the fine filter in the drain assembly. You can remove the coarse filter by lifting it carefully from the drain assembly. Rinse the coarse filter thoroughly. The coarse filter may also contain fine bits of broken glass, so be careful.

Step 4 – Replace the Coarse Filter

Before replacing the coarse filter, wipe the inside of the drain assembly with a paper towel or soft cloth. Slip the coarse drain filter back into place, making sure it fits snugly into the drain housing.

Step 5 – Re-Install the Fine Filter

Re-installing the fine filter is the reverse of removing it. Put the fine filter into its mount and twist gently clockwise. The fine filter should lock into the drain assembly of your Frigidaire dishwasher.

A Problem with the Drain Hose

The drain hose connects your dishwasher with the drain system in your home. This connection is usually under the sink. If your sink has a garbage disposal, your Frigidaire dishwasher probably connects to the garbage disposer to drain. If there is no garbage disposal, the dishwasher will connect directly to the drainpipe under the sink.

Step 1 – A Sink with A Garbage Disposal

If your Frigidaire dishwasher drains into the garbage disposal, first check to ensure that the garbage disposal is draining properly. A clogged garbage disposal can cause a backup into your Frigidaire dishwasher.

Turn on the tap and run water in the sink and the garbage disposal. If water backs up into the sink, your garbage disposal or the p-trap under the sink is probably clogged. Eliminating the clog in the garbage disposal or the p-trap under the sink should fix your problem.

Step 2 – A Clogged Drainline or Connection

If your garbage disposal runs freely, but your Frigidaire dishwasher still doesn’t drain, it will probably be a clogged drain line. A clog in the drain line can occur anywhere along the line but usually happen at the drain line connections.

Step 3 – Under the Cabinet – Checking for Kinks

The first order of business is to gain access to the kitchen sink’s underside to inspect the drain hose. Remove anything stored in the cabinet. A flashlight is a handy tool for this. Before you go any further, check the entire length of the drain line for kinks or bends. Food waste will collect at kinks or tight bends and create a clog.

If there is a kink, try to straighten the drain line to eliminate the king or any tight bends. Once you straighten the drain line, check to see if your Frigidaire dishwasher will drain. Often, unkinking the drain line will free the clog.

If the drain line is damaged or will not stay straight, you may need to replace the entire drainline to solve the clogging problem permanently. No kinks or tight bends usually mean the clog is elsewhere such as where the drain line connects to the dishwasher or the waste pipe.

Step 4 – Finding the Clog – Off with the Drain Pipe

The drain pipe from your Frigidaire dishwasher should connect to the garbage disposal or the waste pipe with a clamp. Before you unhook the drainpipe, be sure you have a bowl or bucket to catch the wastewater.

If the clog is at the connection under the sink, it will be apparent. A smaller length of plastic hose or a bottle brush is a handy tool to help remove clogs in the Frigidaire dishwasher drain line.

Step 5 – Re-install the Drain Pipe – Tighten Carefully

Re-install the drain pipe and tighten the hose clamp carefully. Don’t overtighten, or you risk damaging the connection or the clamp. When the clamp and drain pipe is secure, check your Frigidaire dishwasher to see if it drains.

If your Frigidaire dishwasher still doesn’t drain, a clog at the dishwasher connection is a possibility. To check this connection, you must pull the dishwasher from under the counter.

Step 6 – Removing the Dishwasher – The Hidden Screws

Most Frigidaire dishwashers slip into the opening in the lower cabinets. A pair of support brackets hold the dishwasher in place under the front edge of the countertop. Before you do anything, unplug the Frigidaire dishwasher from the power outlet and empty the dishwasher of any dishes or utensils.

When the mounting clips are free of the countertop, you can carefully pull the dishwasher from under the counter. You may need help to feed the power wire and the drain hose if they pass through a partition in the cabinet.

Step 7 – Remove the Drain Hose – Beware a Flood

Once you have your Frigidaire dishwasher far enough to work behind, you can locate the connection to the dishwasher drain. Again, have a bucket or bowl handy as you remove the drain line. If the clog is at this connection, the collected wastewater will immediately drain when you remove the drain line.

If there is a clog, clean the drain connection on the Frigidaire dishwasher and the drain line. Wipe both connections clean and dry before re-installing the drain line.

Should you remove the drain line and the wastewater remains in the dishwasher, the problem is probably not a clog. At this point, there is probably a failed component in the Frigidaire dishwasher.

Beyond a Clog or King in a Drain Line

If you have checked the drain line and garbage disposal for clogs or blockages and have not managed to resolve the problem, the issue is probably a failed component in your Frigidaire dishwasher.

At this point, many homeowners should call a trained Frigidaire appliance technician to make the necessary repairs. However, many home DIY’ers can handle finding and fixing many of these problems.

Checking the Drain Valve

Frigidaire dishwashers have an electrically operated drain valve. This valve keeps wastewater from backflowing from the sink into your Frigidaire dishwasher. Food debris can clog the valve and prevent your dishwasher from draining properly. To check and clean the drain valve, follow these steps.

Step 1 – Work Safe – Unplug the Dishwasher

The dishwasher usually plugs into an outlet under the kitchen sink cabinet. This outlet may be under the sink or directly behind the dishwasher. In any case, do not work on the inside of the dishwasher with the power connected.

Step 2 – Locate the Drain Valve and Remove

Remove the screws holding the service panel in place and set the panel aside. The drain valve location is close to the pump motor. Carefully unplug the two wires that are attached to the drain valve. Make a note about which color attaches to each side of the valve.

Remove the hose connections to the valve. Have a bowl or bucket handy. If the valve is the problem, any wastewater in the bottom of the Frigidaire dishwasher will immediately drain. To avoid a mess, have the means to collect the water at hand.

Step 3 – Check and Clean the Drain Valve

Clean any clogs or debris from the drain valve. Visually inspect the valve. A partially opened valve indicates that the valve is not working properly. Visit your local parts distributor and purchase a new drain valve.

Step 4 – Check the Drain Valve Operation

If the valve appears to be fully closed or fully open, check the drain valve’s operation by re-attaching the wires. Take great care with this step. Plug the dishwasher into the outlet and have someone select the drain cycle on the control panel. You should be able to see or hear the drain valve open or close.

If the drain valve doesn’t operate, install a new drain valve. Re-attach the wires and hoses in the reverse of the removal you did earlier.

The Water Pump – The Heart of the Dishwasher

It is rare for the water pump to fail in Frigidaire dishwashers, but it can happen. To check the water pump operation working through a set of steps is the best method.

Step1 – Check the Operation of the Pump

With the dishwasher still connected to power, use the control panel to start a drain cycle. The pump should start to turn when the Frigidaire dishwasher starts to drain. If the pump doesn’t start, the motor is probably faulty, and the entire assembly needs replacing.

Step 2 – The Motor Turns, but Nothing Happens

If the motor turns, but the pump doesn’t move water or doesn’t turn at all, it is clogged or broken. Unplug the Frigidaire dishwasher from the power before attempting to remedy this situation.

Remove the pump and motor assembly from the dishwasher. Depending on the model of the Frigidaire dishwasher, this procedure can vary. You may decide to call your appliance repairman for this job.

If you get the pump and motor assembly out, check the pump inlet for debris that may jam into the impellers. If you can turn the impeller by hand, the problem is elsewhere.

Step 4 – Put it Back Together

If everything with the pump seems to be in order, re-install the pump and motor assembly.

If It Isn’t the Heart, the Problem Maybe the Brain

A failed control panel is rarer than a failed pump. However, there is always a chance. In new Frigidaire dishwashers, the control panel contains several circuit boards and electronic parts. A trained Frigidaire service technician should only do repairs to these components.

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Keeping the Dishes Done

A Frigidaire dishwasher is a great appliance that sees daily use in most homes. Being without the use of your dishwasher is no joy. When the wastewater doesn’t flow, the dishes don’t get clean. We hope that these steps help you find the solution to your Frigidaire dishwasher that doesn’t drain.

Dennis Howard
Dennis Howard

Dennis is a retired firefighter with an extensive background in construction, home improvement, and remodeling. He worked in the trades part-time while serving as an active firefighter. On his retirement, he started a remodeling and home repair business, which he ran for several years.

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