GE Dishwasher Not Draining Troubleshooting Guide

GE Dishwasher Not Draining Troubleshooting Guide

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It’s tough to beat the inconvenience of a dishwasher that doesn’t drain. You’re doing your best to keep the kitchen neat and tidy, but it’s next to impossible if your dishwasher isn’t working. The worst part is that no matter how good or expensive your dishwasher is, they’re all prone to having drainage issues. The same holds true for GE dishwashers.

A dishwasher that isn’t draining correctly is an inconvenience, but it’s not the end of the world. With a bit of hard work, problem-solving skills, and the right tools for the job, you can get your GE dishwasher draining again. Whether you’re in the middle of a drainage struggle or want to be prepared when the time comes, in this GE dishwasher not draining troubleshooting guide we’ll walk you through each possible problem and what to do to fix them.

Bottom Line Up Front

There are many reasons why your GE dishwasher isn’t draining and is full of water. Unfortunately, none are good, and they all require diagnostic skills and hands-on work.

The drain hose may be clogged, the drain pump isn’t working, or there’s an issue with the garbage disposal hose. Regardless of what the problem is, you’ll have to solve it to get your dishwasher working again.

Before Beginning With Diagnosis

GE Dishwasher website - how to fix your Dishwasher

Before you get carried away with showing off your diagnostic skills, you first have to deal with the issue of a dishwasher full of water. Many of the components you need to check for problems will get buried beneath the water, so you’ll first have to bail it out. Here are some of the best ways to empty a dishwasher full of water.

  1. Use a shop vac to suck the water out.
  2. Use buckets or cups to bail the water out and dump it down a different drain.
  3. Use a sump pump to automatically pump the water out of the dishwasher and send it elsewhere.

Regardless of what method you use to drain the dishwasher, you must do so to start fixing the root of the problem.

11 Possible Reasons Why Your GE Dishwasher Isn’t Draining

If you have a dishwasher that isn’t draining, there’s no time to waste, so let’s dive right in.

The Drain Hose

Drain Hose GE Dishwasher

The first thing you should check is the drain hose on your dishwasher. As the name implies, the drain hose is responsible for draining the water that your dishwasher uses to wash dishes. The drain hose is located at the bottom of the dishwasher, usually towards the back. It’s possible that food, detergent, or other debris has gotten into the hose and is now blocking the water from draining.

How to Fix

In most cases where the drain hose is to blame, it’s because it’s clogged with food particles or hardened detergent. In any case, here’s what you need to do.

  1. Locate the drain hose and disconnect it from the dishwasher.
  2. With the other end of the hose still connected to the main drain, pour hot, soapy water into the end of the hose.
  3. If that doesn’t do the trick, use a mixture of baking soda and vinegar and pour it into the drain hose.
  4. If neither concoction works, you may have to remove the drain hose and install a new one in its place.

If food isn’t the cause of your issues, it’s also possible that the hose is kinked. You can quickly check for kinks with a visual inspection of the hose. If it’s kinked, you should first try to fix it. However, if you can’t repair the kink, you’ll have to replace the hose with a new one.

Clogged Dishwasher Filter

Clogged drain filters are one of the most common reasons for GE dishwashers not draining water properly. As with a furnace, air conditioner, or dehumidifier, there’s a filter in your dishwasher that blocks particles and prevents them from getting places they shouldn’t go. The filter’s primary purpose is to keep food away from the motor, drain hose, and other essential components.

It’s possible to catch a clogged drain filter before it completely clogs. Typically, the filter will fill with food over time, resulting in a slower drain.

Water will still go down the chute, but it will do so slower than usual. As the filter gets more clogged, water will drain slower and slower until it eventually stops altogether. When this happens, you’ll have to clean or replace the filter to get water moving again.

Clogged Dishwasher Filter

How to Fix

The drain filter on most dishwashers is located inside the dishwasher at the bottom and usually dead center. You’ll have to remove several outer caps and cases to access the filter. However, once you do so, you can remove the filter and check it for food and debris.

If you think the filter is the problem, you should wash it in hot soapy water for several minutes. Hot soapy water is usually enough to remove most of the food particles and oil that stick to the filter. Even if the filter isn’t the problem, removing and cleaning it at least once a month is a good idea.

Clogged Garbage Disposal

If you have a garbage disposal under your kitchen sink, there’s a good chance that the dishwasher drains into the disposal rather than straight down the drain. Therefore, either the garbage disposal drain hose or the disposal itself may be clogged.

Clogged Garbage Disposal

How to Fix

There are several components that you’ll have to check when it comes to the garbage disposal. First, disconnect the drain hose connecting the disposal and dishwasher and check it for clogs or kinks.

If the drain hose looks okay, you should double-check to ensure you removed the disposal plug when hooked up to the drain hose. Disposals always have a plug on their side so that you can hook the dishwasher drain up to it. However, if you hooked up your dishwasher yourself, you might have forgotten to remove the plug.

If the drain hose is clear and the plug is removed, the disposal may be clogged. To check this, turn your sink water on and activate the disposal. Doing this should clear up any blockages and get your dishwasher draining again.

The Drain Pump

If the filter, disposal, and drain hose aren’t to blame, it’s possible that the drain pump has broken. The drain pump is the mechanism that helps force water against gravity and down the drain. Therefore, when it breaks, water remains at the bottom of the dishwasher, unable to drain.

On most GE dishwasher models, you can can access the drain pump by removing the front bottom plate. However, if you can’t get to it, you’ll have to pull the dishwasher forward and set it on its back.

The Drain Pump

How to Fix

It’s essential to test the drain pump before assuming it’s bad and replacing it. Drain pumps can fail in one of two ways. They can have an electrical malfunction, such as a blown fuse or a mechanical function where the impeller won’t spin.

  • Mechanical Failure: Because the mechanical portion is easiest to check, you should do that first. To do that, attempt to rotate the impeller by hand. If the impeller won’t spin, it’s because the drain pump has malfunctioned mechanically, and it must get replaced. However, if you see visible damage on the impeller, it may be the source of your problems. If that’s the case, you can replace the impeller and salvage the drain pump.
  • Electrical Failure: The only way to check for electrical issues is with a multimeter. The drain pump should have constant continuity running through it. If it fails the continuity test, the pump is bad and must be replaced. You can replace the drain pump on your own. Just make sure to get one that fits your GE dishwasher model.

The Drain Solenoid

Contrary to what you may think, dishwashers aren’t in a constant state of drainage. There’s a drain solenoid valve that opens and closes when signaled to allow water to drain or to keep it in place. Unfortunately, this solenoid valve tends to malfunction after repeated use. It can also give out if your dishwasher accidentally produces unnaturally hot or cold water.

On most GE models, the solenoid should be near the drain pump or the motor, which you can access via the bottom front panel.

The Drain Solenoid

How to Fix

If you think the drain solenoid is the problem, the valve won’t open, and your dishwasher will fill with water. To test the integrity of the solenoid, you’ll need a multimeter. As with the drain pump, you should check for continuity on the solenoid. If continuity is present, you can move elsewhere. If there isn’t continuity, however, the solenoid has malfunctioned and should get replaced.

Too Much Detergent

While mechanical and electrical failure is often the reason for a dishwasher that doesn’t drain, it could also be operator error. For example, you might think that the more detergent you put in your dishwasher, the cleaner the dishes will be.

Unfortunately, this isn’t true because the more detergent you put in your dishwasher, the greater the chances are that you’ll plug the drain.

The suds that are left behind from the detergent have to go somewhere, and down the drain is the only option. However, if there are too many suds, they begin to accumulate and harden. Eventually, they will clog the drain hose entirely, resulting in a dishwasher that doesn’t drain.

Too Much Detergent GE Dishwasher

How to Fix

Fixing the issue of a drain clogged with detergent is the same as clearing a drain clogged with food. Detach the drain hose and visually check it for clogs. If it appears fully or partially blocked, run soap, hot water, baking soda, and vinegar through the hose.

Using too much detergent is why many homeowners prefer to use pods which take the guesswork out of the equation.

You Have an Air Gap Problem

Many GE dishwashers have an Air Gap designed to keep water from being siphoned out the back of the dishwasher. The Air Gap is usually located at the back of the dishwasher near the edge of the kitchen sink and is in the shape of a small cylinder.

Luckily, there’s a surefire and obvious way to know if your Air Gap is the problem. If your dishwasher is shooting out of the back randomly when you run it, then the Air Gap is likely blocked and unable to work.

On the bottom of the dishwasher, there is another air gap designed to do the same thing. So, if you see water running out of the bottom of the dishwasher, there’s a good chance that a blocked Air Gap is to blame.

How to Fix

To repair your Air Gap, here’s what you need to do.

  1. Do whatever you need to do to access the Air Gap. If it’s on the back of the dishwasher, you may have to move it forward. If it’s on the bottom of the dishwasher, you may have to remove the front panel or put the dishwasher on its back.
  2. Remove the Air Gap and check it for blockages.
  3. Disconnect the hoses attached to the Air Gap and check those for blockages.
  4. Your problem lies elsewhere if no blockages are present on either the hoses or the Air Gaps themselves.

Defective Timer

Another possible reason that your dishwasher isn’t draining is because of a defective timer. All GE dishwashers get equipped with timers, and their job is to regulate the lengths of the cycles and tell your dishwasher when to perform certain actions, such as draining and rinsing.

Dishwasher Timer

How to Fix

If the timer has given out, it’s possible for your dishwasher to stop before the drain cycle. However, you should know that timers rarely give out, and you should check all other components first. To test the timer, here’s what you need to do.

  1. Remove the bottom kickplate on your dishwasher.
  2. You should be able to see the timer and the timer motor.
  3. Use a multimeter to check for continuity.
  4. If continuity is present, your problem isn’t with the timer.
  5. If there isn’t continuity, the timer is busted, and you’ll have to replace it.

Check Valve is Stuck

Check valves are one of the newer additions that plumbers utilize on dishwashers. Check valves are one-way valves that allow water to flow in one direction but block them from going the other way. It prevents dirty water and debris that’s going down the drain from flowing in reverse back into your dishwasher. Typically, check valves are pre-installed on the dishwasher, or a plumber installs them on the drain line.

Check Valve is Stuck GE Dishwasher

How to Fix

Check valves are designed to let water flow in one direction but block it from returning. However, if the valve is malfunctioning, it can completely block water, which means it won’t be able to drain. Here’s what you need to do.

  1. Locate the check valve.
  2. Inspect the flapper on the valve for tears or rust that won’t allow it to open.
  3. Remove the hoses attached to either side of the valve and check them for blockages.
  4. Ensure the flapper can open easily and its movement is unobstructed.

If the check valve flapper can’t move, you’ll have to replace the valve. It’s also possible that something is pressed against the flapper on either side of the valve. If you remove these blockages, your dishwasher should be as good as new.

Faulty Drain Impeller

The drain impeller is attached to the drain pump, and the two work together to help your dishwasher drain. Their job is to push water upward, through the drain hose, and to the garbage disposal, if that’s how your dishwasher drains.

Faulty Drain Impeller GE Dishwasher

How to Fix

Unfortunately, there’s no way to replace just the impeller on the drain pump. You’ll have to replace the entire pump, and here’s how you do it.

  1. Make sure your dishwasher is turned off without power or water running to it.
  2. Pull the dishwasher away from the wall by removing the mounting bracket at the top.
  3. Tip the dishwasher on its back for better access.
  4. Disconnect the wiring that attaches to the solenoid valve.
  5. Remove the outlet for the pump spray nozzle and the clamp that’s fastened to the sump.
  6. Remove both the support clamps for the motor and the drain return line.
  7. Remove the pump, impeller, and any other components that are in the way, including the grater and cutter blade, and wear ring retainer.
  8. Check each of these components and replace them if they appear worn.
  9. Install the new pump and impeller, and reassemble the dishwasher as needed.

Clogged Chopper Blade

We briefly touched on the fact that your dishwasher is equipped with a chopper blade. As the name indicates, the job of the chopper blade is to chop up chunks of food into manageable bits that can flow down the drain. However, if the blade gets too overwhelmed with food, it will eventually stop doing its job and clog.

Clogged Chopper

How to Fix

The chopper blade is located inside and at the bottom of the dishwasher. It’s usually below the lower spray arm, which you’ll have to remove to access the blade. You’ll also have to remove the bottom dish rack and the cover that holds the chopper blade in place.

You can then remove the blade and clear the area around the blade of blockages. You should be able to manually spin the blade, ensuring that there aren’t any clogs. It’s also possible that the blades are broken, in which case you’ll have to replace them.

How to Reset a GE Dishwasher

Resetting a GE dishwasher that doesn’t drain isn’t a cure-all by any means. However, it can sometimes be an effective trick to have up your sleeve. Depending on the issue, resetting the dishwasher will sometimes help it drain.

Most GE dishwashers have a Reset button located on the backside of the dishwasher next to the power cord. To perform a reset, here are the steps to follow.

  1. Unplug the dishwasher so that power isn’t running to it.
  2. Remove the bottom tray and anything in the way of the bottom spray arm.
  3. Press the Reset button and hold it down for five seconds.
  4. If the process worked, you should see the Start/Reset button flashing on the dishwasher.
  5. Next, water should automatically start draining out of the bottom of the dishwasher.
  6. This process takes roughly two minutes to complete.

While this works for some issues, it won’t work if your dishwasher isn’t draining because of a blockage. The only way to repair that is to locate the blockage and remove it.


Question: How do I fix my dishwasher from failure to drain?

Answer: If your dishwasher isn’t draining, it’s always best to first start with the most common problems. Start with the drain hose and proceed down this list until you’ve checked everything you can think of. You can also perform a reset. If the dishwasher still doesn’t drain, it might be time to call a professional plumber.

Question: How do I get rid of standing water in my GE dishwasher?

Answer: If you only have a little bit of standing water at the bottom of your dishwasher, it’s nothing to worry about. However, if you have more water than usual, you can remove it with a shop vac or by bailing it out. You can also try performing a factory reset to see if it forces your dishwasher to drain.

Question: Why is there standing water in the bottom of my dishwasher?

Answer: If you have standing water in the bottom of your dishwasher, you have a blocked drain, a faulty dishwasher component, a clogged filter, or a clogged cutter blade. You’ll have to locate and remove the blockage before your dishwasher drains.

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