It can be unnerving to open your dishwasher and find standing water there. It makes you wonder if your dishes have truly been cleaned, and if left too long, the water will start to smell. Standing water can be caused by a number of things, but the solution is normally an easy one regardless of the problem.

Is Standing Water Really a Problem?

Standing water can cause a number of problems if it’s not taken care of in a timely manner. Stagnant water is a breeding ground for insects, which are not only bothersome, but they could potentially carry diseases that could spread to you or your family.

Stagnant water also puts your home at risk for mold and mildew, which are extremely hazardous to your health. If you leave standing water in your dishwasher for a prolonged amount of time, it’s highly likely you will develop mold or mildew, which can spread to the floors, walls, ceiling, and even your appliances.

What Causes Standing Water?

  • Food clogged in the drain. If you routinely put plates with lots of food scraps into your dishwasher, food is a very likely source of your standing water problem.
  • A damaged drain pump or motor. If you’ve noticed a strange buzzing or clicking sound coming from your dishwasher, your pump or motor might need to be cleaned or replaced. If broken glass, food pieces, or other debris get stuck in these elements, it could prevent the impellers from turning, which will cause standing water.
  • An Air Gap in the Garbage Disposal. Your garbage disposal could be to blame for your standing water. It’s always important to clear your disposal before doing a load regardless of any standing water issues, but if you’re currently dealing with standing water running the disposal won’t be enough. You could have an air gap in a connecting hose.

Troubleshooting Steps to Fix Standing Water

  • Turn off the power. For safety reasons, it’s important that you always turn off the dishwasher’s power before you begin working on it. Simply unplug the machine itself, or switch off the circuit breaker in your electrical panel.
  • Remove the standing water. Use a cup to scoop the water until it becomes too shallow. After that, use a thick towel to soak up what’s left of the remaining water.
  • Clean the filter. If you think food debris is the cause for the standing water in your dishwasher simply check the filter for blockages. If you find food, remove the pieces, rinse the screen with water, and wipe the surrounding area with a damp sponge.
  • Check for an air gap. As mentioned above, an air gap in your garbage disposal may be to blame for standing water. If you suspect this could be the case, you’ll need to remove the dishwasher’s drain hose where it connects to the garbage disposal and clear any blockages with a flat-head screwdriver. Once you’ve removed any clogs you find, make sure the kitchen sink drain isn’t clogged and run the disposal. Remember to run the disposal in the future before you do a load of dishes.
  • Clean the sprayer arms. Along with the filter and pump, it’s important to clean the sprayer arms from time to time. They should simply pop out, making it easy to check for debris and rinse them with warm water.
  • Clean the drain line. For thorough cleaning, try mixing together ½ cup of baking soda and ½ cup of water to form a paste. Pour this paste into the drain line through the filter screen in your dishwasher. After pouring the paste, pour ½ cup of vinegar down the drain line, and let it all set for 15 minutes. After the solution has set, pour hot water down the drain line.
  • Straighten out the drain hose. The hose is located under the sink, pinned up by clips or screws. This hose can get kinked, which can create a blockage that prevents your dishwasher from emptying properly.
  • Run a complete cycle. Once you’ve completed all these steps, you need to do a test to see if your dishwasher is now draining properly. Turn the power back on, and run a complete cycle. If you notice an abnormal amount of water still standing in your dishwasher after the cycle is complete, it might be time to call a professional.

Standing water can be a nuisance, but most of the time the issue can be fixed using these easy steps. Be thorough with your cleaning, and refer to your manual if you need help locating specific items or hoses on your dishwasher model. Don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself, call the experts at J&B Appliance Repair for service.

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