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What to Do With a Clogged Dishwasher

Posted by Gary Gray on May 30, 2019

Woman loading dishwasher in a clean kitchen

From knocking pipes to running toilets, we get a lot of good customer questions here at David Gray Plumbing. One that seems to stump a lot of people is what to do with a clogged dishwasher.

In some ways, it's amazing our dishwashers don't get clogged more often. After all, a lot of food, paper and other scraps get put in the machine and down our drains every day. Whether it's a backup due to a clogged filter or another, bigger problem, the occasional clog is to be expected. If you open up your dishwasher and find foul smell or standing water, we know it can be frustrating.

The key to fixing a clogged dishwasher is understanding how it happens in the first place and then developing habits that prevent it.

Mineral Build Up

The high levels of calcium and magnesium in the water here in Florida not only make it tricky to get things completely clean, it often leaves those annoying hard water spots on otherwise clean dishes and glassware. If the mineral level gets too high it can affect a number of home appliances including your water heater and dishwasher.

The reason you see those spots? It's because soap does not lather the way it should when mixed with hard water. And just like calcium creates those spots on your glasses, over time it can form a layer of crust on the bottom of your dishwasher.

There are several ways to combat hard water problems in your dishwasher. You can install a water softener, use more detergent, add a rinse aid, or every so often place a cup of water and white vinegar in the top rack before running the cycle .

Putting "Too Dirty" Dishes in the Dishwasher

While you shouldn't pre-wash dishes before putting them in the machine, scraping off large amounts of heavy food can help keep them from clogging up your dishwasher's drain. Just remember, your dishes and other kitchen items need to be dirty so the detergent can do its job.  That's because they're designed to attach themselves to food particles; without them, the enzymes have nothing to cling to.

Clogged Filter Basket

The filter basket fitted in the dishwasher's drain prevents scraps of food and other items from entering the pipes. You can usually remove the basket yourself. Try occasionally soaking it in a little white vinegar to remove any calcium build up that can prevent your dishes from coming out sparkling clean.

Though it's rare, a broken sewer pipe can block all the drains in your home. If it's more than your dishwasher backing up and you have multiple drainage problems, such as with a toilet and shower too, a professional assessment by a plumber is a good idea.

Keep Your Dishwasher Draining Properly

Blocked drains can be serious business! There are many steps you can take to prevent a clogged dishwasher disaster, but there will be those times you need to call in the pros. If you have any questions about your dishwasher not properly draining, or if you need the help of a professional plumber, contact David Gray Plumbing Services online today or call us at 904-724-7211 to learn more.

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