Got Water In The Bottom Of The Dishwasher? (We Have A Fix!)


Water In The Bottom Of The Dishwasher

If there is still water in the bottom of your dishwasher after it is done running, don’t freak out. There are ways to fix it. And it is often a minor issue that you can fix yourself. So, just get a few towels and a large cup and get rid of the water so you can see what may be causing it.

Some of the common causes of water in the bottom of the dishwasher include your garbage disposal, a dirty filter or drain basket, the drain hose may be clogged, the drain itself may be blocked, or the air gap could be closed off. It may also be the float assembly, the pump motor, or the timer.

We will start with the most common and work our way to the very rare. Many of these are easily fixable but there are some that you may have to call in a professional to help you with.

Garbage Disposal

Let’s start with the garbage disposal. The drain hose from your dishwasher empties into your garbage disposal drain. Food particles or sludge may be stuck in the disposal drain. Sometimes all it takes is to run the disposal to get it to drain. Run the water and turn the garbage disposal on. Let it run for 15 seconds.

Run Another Cycle

If running the garbage disposal did not work, try running the dishwasher for another cycle. It may have gotten bumped and accidentally turned off before it was finished. If that is the case, running it again should finish the cycle and drain the tub. If not, keep reading.

Check the High Loop

The hose that goes from the dishwasher to the disposal has something called a high loop to keep the water from your sink from going into your dishwasher. This may be the problem.

  • Step One: Turn off the power to the garbage disposal and dishwasher.
  • Step Two: Turn the water off.
  • Step Three: Take off the drain hose from where it connects to the garbage disposal or sink.
  • Step Four: Check for clogs and clean out the hose. Use a wire brush to clean everything out of the hose.
  • Step Five: Hook the hose back up, turn everything back on, and check the dishwasher by running another cycle.

It May Be a Clogged Filter Basket

Dishwashers have a filter basket in the drain at the bottom of the dishwasher tub that stops food particles and other debris from getting into the pipes. When too much food and junk get lodged in there, it will not let the water drain so you should clean this periodically anyway.

  • Step One: Turn off or unplug the dishwasher. You can also shut off the power at the circuit breaker. Whichever is easier for you to do.
  • Step Two: Find the filter basket located around the filler arm at the bottom of your dishwasher.
  • Step Three: If your filter basket is removable, take it out and empty the debris. Give it a good washing in hot water to clean it completely before you put it back.
  • Step Four: If the filter basket is not removable, you will have to clean it out with your hands. Remove as much of the debris as you can.
  • Step Five: Use a clean cloth to remove any gunk or grime on the surface of the filter basket.
  • Step Six: Plug the dishwasher back in and see run another cycle.

Drain Clog

If the basket was not the issue, it may be underneath the basket. The sump under the drain basket may be gummed up with sludge or other stuff that should not have made it through the basket.

  • Step One: Unplug the dishwasher or turn off the breaker.
  • Step Two: Try using a skinny piece of metal to see if you can unclog it by poking through the basket holes.
  • Step Three: If that did not work, unscrew the nuts to get to the sump underneath.
  • Step Four: Dislodge anything that is blocking the sump and clean around it.
  • Step Five: Put the basket back in and turn the power back on so you can run it again.

The Drain Hose May Be Clogged at the Pump

There is a drain hose that attaches to the pump under the dishwasher. You will need to check that to make sure it is not clogged. Follow these steps.

  • Step One: Shut off the power to the dishwasher.
  • Step Two: Open the front kick plate at the bottom of the dishwasher. You may have to take out a few screws to get it off. If you cannot get to it from the front, you may need to open the door and remove the screws from inside the dishwasher.
  • Step Three: There should be a ridged plastic hose hooked to the pump. Unclip it and blow through it.
  • Step Four: If it is blocked, clean it out with a small pipe cleaner.
  • Step Five: Hook the hose back up, put the panel back, and turn the power back on.

The Drain Hose May Be Kinked at the Sink

If that job did not do the trick, check the drain hose. Turn the power and water back off and look to see if anything is kinked or clogged.

  • Step One: Turn off the water and check under the kitchen sink.
  • Step Two: If you see anything kinked or twisted, fix that first.
  • Step Three: Detach the drain hose from the drain or disposal unit.
  • Step Four: Clean out the hose with a bristle brush or snake.
  • Step Five: Reattach the hose and turn everything back on before running another cycle in the dishwasher to see if it drains.

The Float Assembly May be Faulty

When the dishwasher fills with water, the float assembly is what stops the water when it is full. If this is clogged or faulty, your dishwasher will not drain. Take these easy steps to check it.

  • Step One: Turn off all power to the dishwasher.
  • Step Two: Open the dishwasher and take out the lower dish rack.
  • Step Three: Find the float at the bottom of the dishwasher tub. It looks like a UFO.
  • Step Four: If there is a cover on the float, take it off. It will either snap off or you will have to remove a screw or two.
  • Step Five: Move the float around to make sure it is not stuck. Lift it up and drop it a few times.
  • Step Six: Put everything back together, turn the power on, and check it by running a cycle.

It Could Be the Float Switch

There is a float switch below the float assembly on the bottom of your dishwasher. If it is faulty, it may not shut off the water level when it should, causing it not to drain completely. You can check it with these steps.

  • Step One: Disconnect the power to the dishwasher by unplugging it or shutting it off at the breaker box.
  • Step Two: Open the lower kickplate panel at the bottom of the front of your dishwasher. You may have to take out a few screws to get it off. If you cannot get to it from the front, you may need to open the door and remove the screws from inside the dishwasher.
  • Step Three: Look directly below the float assembly and you should see a small black box connected to two wires. Pull the switch loose and use your ohmmeter to test it. If the switch fails, you need to replace it. Otherwise, put it back on and try something else.

Check the Air Gap

About two inches from the drain hose, up by the sink counter, there is a small plastic piece that attaches to the drain hose by the garbage disposal. This is called the air gap. You can check the air gap with these steps.

  • Step One: Turn off the power to the dishwasher and the water.
  • Step Two: Lift up the cover from the air gap by unscrewing it. The cover is typically located behind the faucet.
  • Step Three: Remove the plastic cap and get rid of any dirt or debris in there.
  • Step Four: Use an air can or blower to blow into the air gap, making sure there is nothing trapped or clogged inside.
  • Step Five: Put everything back together and turn everything back on before checking the dishwasher by running a cycle.

Check the Sprayer Arms

The sprayer arms are in the propeller at the bottom of the dishwasher. This is what pushes the water out into the dishwasher. Take these steps to check them.

  • Step One: Turn off the power to the dishwasher
  • Step Two: Remove the lower dish basket.
  • Step Three: Clean each of the holes in the sprayer arms with a safety pin or needle.
  • Step Four: Put everything back together.
  • Step Five: Turn the power back on and run the dishwasher.

Check the Motor

You will want to do this last because it is the most difficult to do. The pump motor is controlled by the timer on the front panel as well as solenoids and relays.

  • Step One: Turn off the power to the dishwasher.
  • Step Two: Open the front kick panel on the bottom of the dishwasher. You may have to take out a few screws to get it off. If you cannot get to it from the front, you may need to open the door and remove the screws from inside the dishwasher.
  • Step Three: Check the motor by touching the probes of your ohmmeter to each terminal. It should read zero.
  • Step Four: Touch one of the probes to the metal housing one at a time. There should be a zero reading on each.
  • Step Five: Put everything back together and call a professional.

Related Questions

What if My Dishwasher is Leaking Outside the Machine?

There are several reasons why the dishwasher may be leaking outside the machine onto the floor. From a simple broken latch to the wrong dishwasher detergent, we list them here.

Door Gasket

There is a black rubber gasket that runs around the inside of the door. Make sure it is securely attached and that there are no cracks or damage. If there is, you will need to replace it by pulling it off and replacing it with a new one.

Broken or Loose Latch

The door latch could possibly be loose, bent, or not latching right. Try these steps:

  • Step One: Unplug or turn off the power to the dishwasher.
  • Step Two: Check the door latch for damage or to see if it is loose.
  • Step Three: If the latch is loose, just tighten it up with a screwdriver.
  • Step Four: If the gasket is damaged or the latch is broken, you will need to replace it.

Leaky Tub

If the water is just outside or under the door, it may be the door itself. If your dishwasher is old or has recently been installed, it could be that the door is leaking. After unplugging the dishwasher, check the tub to see if it has any cracks or holes. You are typically better off buying a new one rather than fixing the old one.

Loose Valves

One of the valves or hoses may be leaking. Unplug the washing machine. Then check the hoses and connections to make sure everything is connected right and there are no cracks or holes.

It May Be Misaligned or Unlevel

Use a level to check whether it is level or not. If it is not, adjust the feet or place shims under the machine until it is level. Then check to see if it works by running another cycle.

Maybe You Are Putting Too Much in There

If you overload the dishwasher it may be using more water than it should. Then it will not drain properly. Try running the dishwasher with nothing in it and see if that does the trick.

Could You Be Using the Wrong Dishwasher Detergent?

If you use dish soap instead of dishwasher detergent, you can cause it to leak. That is because regular dish soap foams up too much. You can only use dishwasher detergent. Clean the dish soap out of your dishwasher and run it again.

What Kind of Maintenance Can I Do to Keep My Dishwasher Running?

Most people think that their dishwasher is zero maintenance because it cleans itself. However, there are some things you should do to keep your dishwasher running properly. Do each of these at least once a year.

  • Inspect the door seal for cracks and leaks
  • Look at the drain hose clamps to make sure they are attached and angled for better draining
  • Check the dish racks to make sure they are in good shape
  • Clean the sprayer-arm holes with a wire brush
  • Clean out the filter and trap with a stiff brush and hot water

Patricia Oelze

I am a DIYer who loves writing about anything home-related. When I am not writing, you can find me studying for my PhD in Psychology, photographing nature, and swimming at the lake with my grandkids.

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