Whirlpool makes some of the best dishwashers around. They’re energy-efficient, feature-rich, and user-friendly. This has made them arguably the most popular dishwasher brand, receiving overwhelmingly positive reviews from owners.
They’re considered a very safe purchase if you’re looking for a new dishwasher for your kitchen. However, one issue people have reported encountering is that their Whirlpool dishwasher suddenly stops draining the dirty water.
Not only does this smell bad as old food debris builds up in the washer, but it can also cause leaks and flood your kitchen.
So today, we’re going to cover all the main reasons why this problem occurs and how to get it fixed as quickly and easily as possible.
Why is your Whirlpool Dishwasher Not Draining?
Nine times out of ten, this problem is due to some kind of blockage that prevents the dirty water from draining away. Dishwasher clogs are very common due to the food particles that pass through them.
The good news is it’s oftentimes a simple case of just identifying where the blockage is and then cleaning it out.
1. The Drain Hose is Blocked Up
The first thing to check is the dishwasher drain hose; this hose carries the dirty water out from the dishwasher and into your home’s drainage system.
While Whirlpool dishwashers commonly utilize a garbage disposal or food filter, which is supposed to stop blockages from occurring, inevitably, blockages can still happen over time.
So by removing and unblocking this hose, we can allow the dishwasher to drain the dirty water away correctly.
In some rarer cases, there may be a kink in the drain hose, preventing water flow. If you have recently pulled the washer out, pushing it back in a way that kinks the hose can be very easy. So we will need to ensure that it’s nice and straight too.
2. A Clogged-Up Drain Filter
If your dishwasher doesn’t have a garbage disposal link (or an in-built one), there’s a good chance it relies on a drain pump filter. This is located at the bottom, underneath the spray arms, and collects the food to stop it from getting into the drain pump/hose.
These filters should be manually removed and emptied about once a month. If the food is left too long here, not only will it start to smell bad, but it will also cause dirty water to sit in the dishwasher and not be able to drain away.
The good news is Whirlpool has made it super easy to remove and clean the drain pump filter.
3. A Garbage Disposal Clog
If your dishwasher doesn’t utilize a filter, it may use a garbage disposal designed to grind up the food waste into smaller pieces so it can be drained away safely without the risk of blockages.
Certain dishwashers will run to the garbage disposal located under your sink, while others have in-built garbage disposal units.
Despite their very purpose being to chop the food up and prevent a blockage, sometimes, if there is a lot of food or it’s particularly tough, these can still get clogged up.
So, we need to clean this system out and free up any blockages; otherwise, it will prevent the water from draining away.
4. There is a Drain Pump Failure
The drain pump utilizes a rotating drain impeller which carries the water away to the drain hose.
This pump is powered by a small motor which can sometimes fail. You can commonly identify this by listening for an unusual humming sound which indicates the motor is struggling to run.
We will need to test this motor for continuity using a multimeter, and if it’s deemed broken, we will just need to replace it.
In some cases, the motor is working just fine, but the drain impeller is blocked up, so you should also inspect this and clean it as needed.
5. Blocked Up Air Gap
The air gap is the small device installed next to your sink, which is there to prevent any dirty water being expelled from your dishwasher from flowing back into the machine.
This, too, can become clogged up and, due to its location, can easily backflow dirty water through the drain hose.
So once again, this needs to be cleaned out to ensure the water can correctly drain away.
6. A Timer Failure
The timer is a small electronic component that tells the dishwasher when the water level is enough and needs to stop filling.
When these timers go bad, they might not give out this instruction to the dishwasher, which causes it to continue filling with water even though there’s already enough there, which can potentially cause leaks.
The timer should be tested for continuity using a multimeter; if it’s deemed non-functional, it will need to be replaced.
7. The Wrong Detergent is Being Used
Electronic dishwashers need to use detergent, which is specifically designed for use with these machines.
Using the wrong detergent can produce excess suds and leave deposits that contribute to blockages, preventing the water from properly draining.
Making sure you’re using the right kind of detergent is important in ensuring your dishwasher can’t get clogged up.
8. The Check Valve is Stuck
The check valve is a one-way valve that allows water to flow out of the machine and into the drain hose but not back into the machine.
So, when this component experiences issues, it may open when it’s not supposed to, causing dirty water to back up into the dishwasher.
The easiest option with these is just to replace them, as they can be tricky to repair.
9. A Clogged Spray Arm
A whirlpool spray arm rotates when there is a wash cycle. It is responsible for spraying water all over the dishes through its holes. A clogged spray arm prevents regular water circulation, causing it to back up and never drain.
10. A Problematic Control Board
The main control board orchestrates all the functions of Whirlpool dishwashers. If something goes wrong with this electrical brain, the drain pump won’t get the right orders or sufficient power to perform its role. Therefore, the problem of your Whirlpool dishwasher not draining will keep getting more complex.
How to Drain a Whirlpool Dishwasher
As we can see, almost all of the main culprits behind a Whirlpool dishwasher not draining are due to a blockage of some kind.
Fortunately, these are easily fixed in almost all cases with a bit of cleaning. As a reminder, before attempting any repairs or maintenance unplug the dishwasher and shut off the water supply.
In some rarer cases, a component failure may require a Whirlpool technician to help fix it.
1. Unblock the Drain Hose
If the drain hose is blocked up, then the dirty water will not be able to flow away.
So, we need to disconnect the drain hose from the dishwasher and ideally take it somewhere outside, so it doesn’t leak dirty water all over the home.
Next, you should pour baking soda into the drain hose and shake it a bit, so it falls all the way through, and then add an equal part of vinegar.
Let this vinegar and baking soda solution sit for about 15 minutes to break down whatever buildup is clogging the hose. Then rinse it thoroughly with water.
It’s a good idea to run an empty wash cycle once you’ve reinstalled it to ensure its adequately drained.
2. Clean out the Drain Filter
The drain filter should ideally be cleaned once a month. Luckily this process is nice and easy to do.
You should first remove the drain filter from the dishwasher. You’ll find it located at the bottom of the machine underneath the spray arms. Turn it counterclockwise, and then it will lift right out.
Let it soak in a sink full of hot water with a bit of dish soap for 10-15 minutes to help loosen any food that may have gotten stuck.
Then scrub it gently to remove the food; something like an old toothbrush works great for this.
Rinse it under clean water and then reinstall it.
3. Unclog the Garbage Disposal
Whether your dishwasher is linked to the garbage disposer under your sink or an in-built one, the process of unblocking it is the same.
All we need to do is run the tap (or, if it’s internal, pour some hot water down the drain) for about 10 seconds while the garbage disposer is running.
This will further help grind anything up that’s stuck in there and flush it away.
4. Replace the Dishwasher Drain Pump Motor
If the dishwasher drain pump motor has been tested for continuity and is deemed non-functional, it will need to be replaced.
You can contact Whirlpool customer support to source a replacement motor, and if you don’t feel comfortable installing it yourself, they will also help arrange for a technician to install it for you.
5. Clean out the Air Gap
To clean the air gap, you can first pop the cap on the cylindrical component that protrudes from your sink.
Then you can take something like a long bottle brush (ideally with harder bristles to help break up whatever’s clogging it). Leave the water running as you do this to help carry the debris away.
6. Replace the Faulty Timer
If the timer has been tested with a multimeter and is found to be non-functional, it will need to be replaced.
Once again, contacting Whirlpool support here is best, as these can be tricky to fix and replace yourself.
7. Use the Correct Type and Amount of Detergent
Detergent deposits can contribute to buildup and blockages, so ensure you are using the correct type of detergent for your dishwasher and only use the amount stated on the packaging.
8. Replace the Check Valve
In certain situations, the check valve can be cleaned out and repaired, but most of the time, when this component fails, it will just need to be replaced by a trained technician.
9. Clean the spray arm
Cleaning the spray bar is one of the easiest troubleshooting solutions. It requires removing it from the dishwasher. Rinse with warm water first to help dissolve the stubborn buildup. Then scrub with an old soft brush until the holes are debris-free.
10. Reset the control board
Resetting this compact electrical device may resolve minor issues. It is done by pressing the built-in reset button. However, if this draining failure persists, you should look for professional repairs.
Bear in mind that the repair costs of a damaged control board might be extremely high. So, you might want to replace the entire board or get a new dishwasher, depending on the cost.
How to Prevent a Whirlpool Dishwasher from Not Draining
Following this troubleshooting guide can fix this issue after you end up with dirty plates and smelly, expensive appliances. However, preventing clogs may be possible by doing the following:
1. Use the Right Detergent
Using the recommended detergent for your Whirlpool dishwasher is essential for achieving maximum cleanliness. Also, it minimizes the chances of over foaming, which makes draining more difficult.
2. Avoid Overloading
Overloading the dishwasher with dishes puts more pressure on the control board, leading to serious damage. This can result in drain failure and damage to the whole appliance.
3. Remove Food Residue from Dirty Dishes
Food residue is the primary cause of clogging filters, hoses, and other parts of the dishwasher. So, it is better to remove them by hand before loading the dishes into a Whirlpool dishwasher.
Dealing with a Whirlpool dishwasher not draining is a tough experience. Luckily, you can easily take control of this situation by following our troubleshooting guide. Make sure the filter and hose are regularly cleaned or replaced when needed.
Also, scrape food residue before starting the dishwasher, and keep the spray holes clean. Ideally, you should clean them every 3–4 months to prevent the formation of clogs.
However, if you are unable to deal with the problem on your own, do not hesitate to call a certified technician.
For other problems that you might face with your Whirlpool dishwasher, you can take a look at our relevant articles:
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