GE Dishwasher Not Draining? (here’s why & what to do)

If you notice water in the bottom of the tub after your GE dishwasher has finished its cycle, you might be getting worried. This can be due to something serious like a faulty drain pump or defective control board.

However, it could just as easily be caused by something as easy to fix as a blocked filter. If you own a GE dishwasher and it’s not draining properly, keep reading.

In this article we take a close look at the reasons why your dishwasher isn’t draining and offer solutions to these issues.

Why Is My GE Dishwasher Not Draining?

There are a number of reasons why your GE dishwasher might not be draining which include;

Probable CauseSolution
Clogged FilterRemove and clean the filter
Obstructed SumpRemove any blockage from the sump
Blocked Waste Disposal UnitClear the waste disposal unit
Blocked Air GapRemove any blockage from the air gap
Blocked Sink Waste PipeClear any blockage from the sink waste pipe
Twisted, Kinked Or Blocked Drain HoseStraighten the drain hose and remove any blockage
Faulty Drain PumpContact a technician
Defective Drain SolenoidContact a technician
Defective Float SwitchInspect, clean or replace the float switch
Malfunctioning Control BoardReset the dishwasher, contact a technician

Let’s look at each of these issues in more detail;

Clogged Filter


The filter on your GE dishwasher is designed to trap any food particles or other debris and prevent them from returning to the clean dishes. As well as preventing them from causing problems with internal components on the dishwasher.

Over time these particles can build up around the filter and cause it to become clogged. This will prevent any wastewater from draining from the dishwasher.

You will need to consult your handbook for specific information on the location and exact method for removing the filter. Once the filter is removed, you should wash it under running warm water or soak it in soapy water and use a soft bristled brush to remove any stubborn stains.

Any really stubborn stains can be removed by soaking the filter in a 50/50 mixture of warm water and white vinegar.

Obstructed Sump

If the filter is clogged, there’s a strong possibility that the sump area will be clogged too. This could be preventing the appliance from draining properly. You should inspect the sump or bottom of the tub and remove all signs of dirt or food particles. 

There could even be detergent residue accumulating in the sump area as well. Remove as much as possible using a soft cloth soaked in white vinegar to restore the sump to its original clean state.

Blocked Waste Disposal Unit

If your dishwasher is connected to a waste disposal unit, there is a chance that this is the cause of the drainage issues. Try running the unit for around 30 seconds and see if this clears any blockage.

If not you can often free any blockages using an allen key to move the grinders inside the unit backwards and forwards until it moves freely.

Blocked Air Gap

If your dishwasher is connected to an air gap it is possible that the air gap has become blocked and is causing the dishwasher not to drain properly. 

You will need to remove the cap and cover of the air gap and remove any blockage using a pair of tweezers. You can then clean as far into the air gap as you can reach using a bottle brush.

Blocked Sink Waste Pipe

kitchen sink

If your dishwasher is connected to the sink’s waste pipe, this could be the cause of the problem. Check the sink and clear any blockage using a plunger, plumber’s snake or proprietary drain cleaner.

Twisted, Kinked Or Blocked Drain Hose

If the drain hose is twisted or kinked, it can prevent the wastewater from draining away. Over time this can lead to a buildup of food particles and other debris which could create a blockage in the hose.

You should inspect and straighten any twists or kinks in the drain hose. Then remove any blockage using a plumber’s snake or by running the removed drain hose under fast running water.

Faulty Drain Pump

All of the wastewater is powered out of the dishwasher via the drain pump. The drain pump is powered by a small electric motor which turns a mechanical impeller.

If the drain pump develops a fault, it can prevent the wastewater from draining away as it should. As the drain pump is difficult to access, we recommend getting a technician to investigate, repair or replace the drain pump if necessary.

Defective Drain Solenoid

The drain solenoid or valve opens to allow wastewater to leave the appliance once it receives a command from the control board. It then closes once it receives another command from the control board.

If the drain solenoid becomes defective, it will either not open at all in which case all of the wastewater will remain in the dishwasher, or the wastewater will re-enter the dishwasher after leaving.

In either of these circumstances the dishwasher will fail to drain as it should. If the drain solenoid is defective we recommend getting a technician to replace it for you.

Defective Float Switch

loading a dishwasher

The float switch rises as the water level in the tub rises and once it reaches a set level, it signals the control board which shuts the inlet valve to prevent any more water from entering.

If the float switch becomes defective, it can fail to notify the control board when there is enough water. This will lead to water continuing to flow into the dishwasher leading to the drainage system failing to cope.

We recommend contacting a technician to investigate and replace the float switch if necessary.

Malfunctioning Control Board

Every function on your dishwasher including drainage, is controlled by the control board. If the control board malfunctions, it could cause the drainage system to fail to operate as normal. In some cases, the control board could have suffered from a glitch.

If this is the case, the issue can often be solved by resetting the dishwasher. This can be done by disconnecting the power for 10 to 15 minutes. This allows any residual power to dissipate. Once the power is reconnected, the fault might have cleared and the dishwasher will function as normal.

If the fault remains or returns soon afterwards, you will need to get the control board looked at professionally.

As the control board is a delicate and expensive part, we recommend getting a technician to investigate and replace it if necessary.

Ways To Help Prevent Your GE Dishwasher From Failing To Drain

dishwasher pods

Once you have solved your GE dishwasher’s drainage issue, it makes sense to find ways to prevent this problem from recurring. These include;

  • Always use the correct type and amount of detergent
  • Clean the filter at least once a month 
  • Run a hot service wash every month
  • Inspect the inlet and drain hoses and remove any twists or kinks

By adhering to these simple preventative measures you can ensure that your GE dishwasher runs smoothly and effectively for many years to come.

SEE ALSO: How To Clean A GE Dishwasher Filter

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my GE dishwasher holding water in the bottom?

If your GE dishwasher is holding water at the bottom it is probably because; the filter is clogged, the sump is obstructed, the waste disposal unit, air gap or sink waste pipe are blocked, the drain hose is twisted or clogged, the drain pump is faulty, the drain solenoid is defective, the float switch is faulty or the control board is malfunctioning. 

How can the float switch cause drainage issues on my GE dishwasher?

The float switch on your GE dishwasher is designed to rise as the water level inside the tub rises. Once it reaches a predetermined level, the float switch sends a message to the control board which in turn, sends a message to the inlet valve to shut off the water supply. If the float switch is defective, it will not send the correct message to the control board which could result in an excess of water entering the appliance.

Why is my dishwasher humming but not draining?

If your dishwasher is humming and not draining, it could be because the motor has seized up or the drain impeller could be jammed. You may need to get the motor or drain pump replaced.

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