How To Fix Frozen Dishwasher Problems

May 21, 2022
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Get Your Dishwasher Working Again

A dishwasher is a valuable workhorse in your kitchen. If you own one, you have less to worry about when it comes to dirty dishes. You only need to load your dishwasher with the dirty dishes and have them cleaned without your input.

What if you open the dishwasher door and find water pooling at the bottom? You run it but realize it can’t drain the water or clean your dishes due to a frozen pipe. Of course, the last thing you perhaps want is to incur repair costs or replace your high-end Bosch dishwasher.

Before you worry much about your appliance, know that the issue could result from dishwasher actually being frozen and requiring fixing. You can follow a few steps and fix the issue on your own.

Luckily, this article offers five simple ways you can unfreeze your dishwasher. But before you discover how to fix it, here’s how to know your dishwasher is frozen.

How Do You Know Your Dishwasher is Frozen?

You cannot fix a dishwasher problem if you don’t know its source. But you don’t have to be a dishwasher expert to notice the warning indicators of your dishwasher. Below are telltale signs that your appliance has run into problems.

  • Water is backing up. If you run your dishwasher and realize that water is backing up instead of draining into the drain hose, it means there’s a problem. It could be that it’s frozen or food and other debris are preventing water flow.
  • Drains slowly. A perfect dishwasher should drain water seamlessly. If your dishwasher is draining water slowly, it could mean there’s a clog in the pipe, and it needs drain cleaning. However, if it’s a result of a faulty drain pump, you may consider seeking the help of a dishwasher repair expert.
  • Noisier than usual. A dishwasher makes a gurgling noise when cleaning and draining water. If it makes an unusual sound, it could mean there’s a problem looming somewhere.
  • Unclean dishes. If you empty your dishwasher after a cleaning cycle and find your dishes are still dirty, it means your appliance has a problem.
Photo of a man in front of a broken dishwasher

The frustrations of dealing with a broken dishwasher

It’s easy to prevent your dishwasher from freezing by allowing it to run at night. In most cases, dishwashers get frozen at night when there’re low temperatures. You can use the control panel to program your dishwasher to run during the night.

Use the control lock to ensure no one resets or interferes with your programmed dishwasher. Make sure you leave the water faucet on to release water pressure and for all water to flow continuously through your pipes.

But after realizing your dishwasher is not draining due to frozen water damage, you may consider unfreezing it. Besides having frozen dishwasher problems, your dishwasher could have issues with the garbage disposal food debris. So, here are the easy steps you can use to fix it.

How To Fix a Dishwasher That Won't Drain

Here are some techniques to fix a dishwasher that won’t drain. If you’re not comfortable crawling around on the floor and under your sink - you may wish to just call the appliance repair person or plumber instead depending on your particular situation.

Pour Hot Water

Hot water is perhaps the best remedy for dishwasher problems caused by freezing temperatures. With prolonged exposure to cold air, water in the pipes may freeze and cause a clog. It may even cause pipe damage (in which case it is time to call the plumber). If the issue is freezing with no visible damage, Hot water may solve this problem by thawing the ice within the drain pipe in an hour or so.

Here’s how to fix a clogged dishwasher using warm water:

  • First, empty the pooling water in your dishwasher with a cup or sponge.
  • Next, pour hot water into the drain and allow it to rest for some time.
  • If it doesn’t unfreeze, empty the drain and add more hotwater.
  • Eventually, the hot water will hopefully unfreeze your frozen pipes, and water will start flowing.

Alternatively, blow some warm air under the dishwasher or the sink where the drain hose is. Attempt to get the temperature of the pipe back up to a typical room temperature. The process may take time, but with time the heat will hopefully unfreeze your dishwasher if it’s not a severe clog.

Photo of Frozen Pipes

Frozen pipes are a major hazard - don’t apply excessive heat or else the pipe could burst

Never use extreme heat on the outside of any pipe that you believe is frozen. Doing so can have unintended consequences - like the pipe cracking or exploding.

Check the Drain Hose

The drain hose ensures water and food debris drains out of your dishwasher. However, your drain hose may become frozen if it’s freezing outside. Additionally, food debris may accumulate in the drain hose and cause a clog. In such cases, water will back up and rest on the tub.

The drain hose connects your dishwasher’s drain pump and the sink’s disposal. Before inspecting a clog, check whether your drain hose is kinked or damaged for replacement. Then, you can disconnect it from your dishwasher to check for blockage.

If the clog results from frozen water or food debris, you can blow air through it. What if blowing air doesn’t help? That could mean your hose is clogged at both ends. Use a wire to remove the clog.

If the clog doesn’t come out, you may need to replace the drain hose. Purchase a new drain hose from your local dealer and connect it to your drain pump and sink’s disposal. Fix it properly to prevent water from leaking or failing to drain out. Alternatively, call your plumber to fix it securely.

Run the Garbage Disposal

Your garbage disposal could be why your dishwasher won’t drain. If you suspect your dishwasher has a clog, it’s advisable to check the garbage disposal to unclog it.

When cleaning your dishes, dirty water drains through the garbage disposal. As the water drains, it leaves behind food particles and other debris. Continued use of your dishwasher means more debris is left in the disposal, and once it’s full, water won’t find space to empty into. As a result, water is left pooling in the tub.

You can fix this problem by running the garbage disposal to eliminate all food and debris. Open your tap to allow water to run down to clean the disposal and empty the remaining dirt down the drain. Run the disposal for 30 seconds while ensuring enough water supply to clean all the food and debris.

Drain Clean Your Dishwasher

Drain cleaning can come in handy when unclogging any frozen water and food debris buildup. However, be cautious when drain cleaning your dishwasher.

Some commercial products used in drain cleaning contain toxic chemicals. After unclogging, chemical residues could remain in your dishwasher and might attach to your dishes during cleaning. The chemical may also damage your drain hose and other dishwasher parts.

Instead of using commercial drain cleaning products, you can use baking soda and white vinegar. The mixture will dissolve minor clogs and leave your dishwasher safe and running well.

To drain clean using vinegar and baking soda, pour the mixture into the drain hose and allow it to rest for 30 minutes. After the mixture has unclogged your drain hose, allow your dishwasher to run through a normal cycle to remove any residue. Make sure there’s enough water supply to run through the dishwasher.

Drain Your Dishwasher Manually

Sometimes all you need to fix your dishwasher is by draining it manually. For example, if water is pooling in the tub, you can empty it using a cup. Alternatively, you can place a sponge or towel on the tub to collect the pooling water. When the level gets too low, use towels to absorb the remaining water.

Once you’ve scooped all the water, check the bottom to discover the cause of your dishwasher’s clog. If it’s the filter causing the problem, you can clean it or replace it. You can also inspect for food debris or a frozen dishwasher problem. After discovering the source of your dishwasher’s problem, fix it on your own or seek the assistance of a dishwasher repair expert.

Frank Salvatore

Hey there - I'm Frank Salvatore. I created this site as a comprehensive kitchen resource. You'll find everything you need to know about everything in your kitchen. From appliances to utensils and layout - it is covered on this site!

About Me
Frank Salvatore
I created this site as a comprehensive kitchen resource. You'll find everything you need to know about everything in your kitchen. From appliances to utensils and layout - it is covered on this site!
Learn More About Me
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