Kenmore Dishwasher Not Draining? Try These Fixes

Kenmore Dishwasher Not Draining? Try These Fixes

It can be incredibly frustrating when your dishwasher doesn't do its job and leaves you with a sink full of dirty, soapy water. If your Kenmore dishwasher is not draining properly, there are several things you can try yourself to get it working again before calling in an expensive appliance repair technician.

This troubleshooting guide will provide tips on how to fix a Kenmore dishwasher that won't drain. We'll cover how to reset the dishwasher, unclog the drain, check the drain pump and filter, and more. With a few simple do-it-yourself troubleshooting steps, you can likely get your Kenmore dishwasher draining properly once again.

Kenmore Dishwasher Troubleshooting Guide

When a Kenmore dishwasher won't drain, start by going through this troubleshooting guide:

Reset the Dishwasher

Resetting your Kenmore dishwasher can often fix minor glitches that are preventing normal operation. To reset a Kenmore dishwasher, follow these steps:

  1. Press the “Cancel/Drain” button and let the cycle fully cancel.
  2. Unlatch the door and let the dishwasher sit for 5-30 minutes. This gives time for the control panel to reset.
  3. Close the door and select a new wash cycle. Run it empty first to make sure the reset solved the issues.

Check for a Clogged Drain Line

If resetting the dishwasher doesn't work, the next thing to check is whether the drain line is clogged. Follow these steps:

  1. Pull the dishwasher out from under the counter so you can access the drain hose that runs from the dishwasher to the sink drain pipe.
  2. Disconnect it from the drain pipe and see if water drains out; if not, there is a clog in this drain hose that needs to be cleared.
  3. You can try blowing through it with a wet/dry vac or using a drain snake to remove built-up food debris.

Clean Out the Drain Filter

The drain filter is designed to catch food particles and debris, protecting your dishwasher's drain pump and drain line from clogs. Follow these steps to clean it:

  1. Check the filter by removing it from the bottom of the dishwasher tub.
  2. Rinse it under water to remove any stuck-on food or debris.
  3. Reinsert the filter once it's clean.

Check the Drain Pump

The drain pump is responsible for pushing water out of the dishwasher through the drain hose. If it becomes faulty, the dishwasher won't be able to pump water out normally. Follow these steps to check it:

  1. Removing the drain pump to inspect it is more complex than the other troubleshooting steps, so only attempt this if you are very mechanically inclined.
  2. The pump may need to be replaced if blades are broken or worn down. Consult your owner’s manual for specific instructions on your model.

Test in Diagnostic Mode

Many Kenmore dishwashers have a built-in diagnostic mode that can help troubleshoot issues. Follow these steps:

  1. Check your owner's manual for how to enter diagnostic mode on your specific model.
  2. Often, this involves pressing certain buttons like "Hi-Temp Wash" and "Heated Dry" simultaneously.
  3. Diagnostic mode will run the dishwasher through a test cycle and can often detect certain faults or issues that are preventing normal operation.

How to Fix a Kenmore Dishwasher That Won't Drain

If going through the troubleshooting tips doesn't reveal an obvious cause, here are some steps to fix a Kenmore dishwasher that won't drain:

  1. Remove the lower access panel underneath the dishwasher door. This will expose the bottom of the dishwasher so you can access the drain components.
  2. Check the drain impeller inside the drain pump. Spin it manually to see if spins freely. If not, you may need a replacement drain pump.
  3. Check for kinks or clogs in the drain hose. Disconnect from drain pipe and ensure water flows freely.
  4. Remove and clean the drain filter and triple filter assembly if clogged. Rinse thoroughly.
  5. Use a wet/dry vac to suck out any standing water in the bottom of the dishwasher. Caution: Make sure power is disconnected first!
  6. Check for clogs in the sink drain line the dishwasher hose connects to. The clog may be beyond the hose in the sink pipe itself.
  7. Make sure the knockout plug has been removed from inside the garbage disposal inlet.
  8. Re-install any components removed and secure all hoses and filters. Restore power once complete.
  9. Run a test cycle to verify that water is now draining completely. You may need to run a few empty cycles to clear out any residual standing water and debris.

If problems persist, you may need to call in professional help to fully diagnose and repair the issue.

Unlocking a Jammed Kenmore Elite Dishwasher Door

Kenmore Elite models are designed to automatically lock the door during a wash cycle as a safety measure. However, this feature can be problematic if the door gets jammed or won't unlock after the cycle finishes. Here are some tips for unlocking a stuck Kenmore Elite dishwasher door:

  1. Wait 10-15 minutes after the cycle ends to give the door latch time to release. Sometimes it just needs time.
  2. Press the door release button on the control panel. This should manually release the latch.
  3. Slide a butter knife or thin plastic card along the door gap and press the door latch lever to the right. This manually releases the latch.
  4. Locate the door latch assembly inside the door panel (remove panel screw covers first). Push the latch lever to pop open the door.
  5. For Kenmore Elite models with electronic control panels, disconnect power for 5 minutes which should reset the latch.
  6. As a last resort, unplug the dishwasher, pry off the toe panel, and manually detach the door cable connector. This will fully release the door but you'll need to reattach the cable after.

Getting into a Kenmore Elite to unlock the door can be challenging. Only attempt if you are comfortable working with appliances internally. Calling a technician may be the best solution if all else fails.

How to Reset a Kenmore Dishwasher that Won't Start

If your Kenmore dishwasher won't start or power on at all, resetting the unit can often get things working again:

  1. Unplug the dishwasher from power or turn off the breaker. Let it sit unpowered for 5 minutes.
  2. Plug the unit back in or flip the breaker switch.
  3. Let the dishwasher power back on but don’t press any buttons yet. Wait another minute or two.
  4. Press the “Start/Reset" button to reset the control panel and attempt to clear any glitches.
  5. With the door still unlatched, press Start to begin a cycle.
  6. If it still won’t start, repeat the power reset one more time.
  7. Check for any error codes displayed on the control panel indicating a faulty part.
  8. Press and hold heated dry for 20 seconds to initiate a reset on some models.

If not resolved after multiple tries, you may need a dishwasher repair technician to properly diagnose the issue. Electrical or control board issues are likely culprits.

Troubleshooting a finicky Kenmore dishwasher that won't cooperate can be tiresome, but usually it’s a minor issue that can be fixed with a few simple reboots, resets, and component cleaning. Following the troubleshooting tips above will help you rule out common causes like clogged drains or jammed latches. With some perseverance, you can likely get your Kenmore dishwasher draining properly again. However, if you've tried it all without success, don't hesitate to bring in a professional appliance repair technician to get your Kenmore dishwasher back to washing dishes dependably.

Tips for Maintaining Your Kenmore Dishwasher

Regular maintenance is crucial to keeping your Kenmore dishwasher running smoothly for years. Here are some recommended tips for proper care and maintenance:

  1. Clean the filter monthly - Remove the filter at the bottom of the tub and rinse it under warm water to remove any accumulated debris. Make sure no food particles remain trapped.
  2. Use a descaler regularly - Hard water can create limescale buildup in the dishwasher. Use a citric acid-based descaler product monthly to remove this buildup.
  3. Clean spray arms - Spin the spray arms and use a soft brush to remove any hard water deposits or stuck-on particles. Ensure holes are clear.
  4. Inspect gaskets and seals - Dryness around the door gaskets can allow leaks. Clean with a damp cloth and check for cracks. Reseal door if needed.
  5. Drain residual water - If not used often, water can remain stale in the unit. Run a Quick Rinse cycle regularly to drain out any residual water.
  6. Don't overload - Overloading makes it harder for the spray arms to reach all the dishes. Load per manufacturer recommendations for optimal cleaning.
  7. Skip the pre-rinse - Scrape large particles off instead of fully rinsing dishes before loading them. The dishwasher detergent needs food soils to activate properly.
  8. Use correct detergent - Only use dishwasher-specific detergents. Scrape off excess rather than letting it soak in the dispenser which can clog.
  9. Air dry dishes - Allow dishes to air dry instead of relying solely on the heat dry function. This will help avoid any cloudy film from hard water spots.
  10. Clean door seals - Use a soft cloth with warm soapy water to remove grease and limescale buildup from the door seals.

Following these best practices for dishwasher cleaning and maintenance will help reduce the need for repairs and keep your Kenmore dishwasher running like new for longer.

How to Deep Clean Your Kenmore Dishwasher Filter

For optimal performance, deep clean your Kenmore dishwasher filter with these steps:

  1. Remove the lower rack and bottom access panel to expose the filter.
  2. Twist the filter counter clockwise to unlock and pull it out.
  3. Use a toothbrush to scrub away any stuck-on food particles and debris.
  4. Rinse under hot running water until completely clean. Check for any cracks.
  5. Replace the filter, twist clockwise to lock in place.
  6. Replace access panel and racks.
  7. Consider soaking the filter periodically in white vinegar to dissolve hard water deposits and limescale.
  8. For models with an upper filter attached to the top spray arm, twist and detach to remove and clean this as well.

Thoroughly cleaning the dishwasher filter prevents drain clogs and keeps wash cycles running smoothly. Remember to deep clean the filter at least once per month.

Troubleshooting When a Kenmore Dishwasher Won't Fill with Water

If your Kenmore dishwasher won't fill with water, try these troubleshooting steps:

  1. Check that the water supply valve is turned on fully. The valve is usually located under the sink.
  2. Verify water supply line screens are not blocked. Disconnect lines and clean out sediment and debris.
  3. Test the water inlet valve by disconnecting the dishwasher line and running water into a bucket. If no flow, the inlet valve is faulty.
  4. Clean the float cup reservoir which can get clogged with debris and prevent proper water intake.
  5. Inspect door seals for tight fit. Worn or loose seals allow water to leak out. Adjust or replace seals as needed.
  6. Test water temperature to ensure it's at least 120°F. Dishwashers require hot water supply.
  7. Press down on door firmly when closed to engage door safety switch. Faulty switch prevents cycles from starting.
  8. Check for kinks in supply line. Straighten or replace if needed.

If water won't fill at all after trying these steps, contact a Kenmore repair technician to fully diagnose the issue. Problems with the intake valve, control board, or water pressure may require expert service.


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