What To Do When Your Kenmore Dishwasher Won't Drain?

By Cory White
What To Do When Your Kenmore Dishwasher Won’t Drain?

Your Kenmore dishwasher has been washing your dishes without a problem until now.  You open the dishwasher’s door after a wash cycle and find dirty water stuck there. This is because the dishwasher won't drain. The most common causes include a faulty drain pump, a clogged drain hose, and a faulty drain valve.  With a few simple troubleshooting steps, your Kenmore dishwasher should start draining immediately.

Why won’t my Kenmore dishwasher drain?

1.Drain Impeller

If your dishwasher is not draining, your drain impeller could be broken.

You can know if your drain impeller is broken if you hear some strange noise. The drain impeller is powered by the motor to help in draining out the water. 

This part of the dishwasher is responsible for moving dirty water into the drain hose and out of the dishwasher. If it is not working, your dishwasher cannot drain. Check if anything is blocking the impeller or if it’s just broken, then you need to replace it. The drain impeller cannot be repaired. 

Drain impellers sometimes just suffer from the usual wear and tear of machine parts. This happens if you have used your dishwasher for a long time. 

Remove the old impeller and replace it with a new one. 

2.Drain pump

The next step is to examine the drain pump if the drain impeller is not damaged.

Physically inspect the drain pump to make sure there is no foreign object like debris or broken glass or a teabag. Such foreign objects can stop a drain pump from working. 

To check if your drain pump is okay electronically, use a multimeter. Test the drain motor for continuity; if there’s no continuity then the pump is faulty. 

If the drain pump is faulty, the machine won’t be able to drain water out after the wash cycle. 

You need to replace the drain pump so that your Kenmore dishwasher can start draining again. The drain pump can also not be repaired. 

3 Drain Solenoid kit

This is the cylindrical coil that is responsible for closing and opening the drain valve. 

After washing the dishes, the drain solenoid is supposed to open the drain valve to drain out the dirty water. 

If your drain solenoid kit is faulty, your drain valve won’t open. 

This is how your Kenmore dishwasher ends up with water stuck in the machine instead of draining.

You have to check if it has failed electronically or mechanically. Mechanically, you can physically inspect the solenoid to see if it is broken. To check if the solenoid is faulty electronically, use a multimeter to test the solenoid for continuity.

If there’s no continuity then you need to replace the solenoid. 

You need to replace your faulty drain solenoid kit with a new one that works. 

4. Drain valve

This works hand in hand with the solenoid kit. During a drain cycle, the solenoid opens the drain valve so that the dirty water can go through.

The drain valve is responsible for letting the water out of your dishwasher when a wash cycle is done. Check if there’s anything like debris or food particles blocking the drain valve and remove them. Clean it well. 

If the drain valve is clogged, your Kenmore dishwasher won’t be able to drain after a wash cycle. 

Look at the drain valve to check if it has a problem that you can see. If you can’t see anything unusual, test the drain valve for an electric issue. Test the drain valve for continuity using your multimeter.

You will know it’s faulty if the continuity test display is negative. It needs to be replaced with a drain valve that works.

5. Pump and Motor Assembly

A defective pump and motor assembly prevent the dishwasher from draining.

The dishwasher’s water is pumped out through the drain hose by the motor that spins the impeller.

Male Technician Fixing Dishwasher

Start a drain cycle and listen to the motor. Listen carefully to find out if the motor is working. If the motor is running normally, check the drain hose for any clogging. 

 If the motor is silent or makes an unusual sound during the drain cycle, it’s time to replace the pump and motor assembly.

6. Clogged or Improperly Installed Garbage Disposer

If your garbage disposer is not new, check your sink and look through the hole that goes into the dishwasher. 

Dirt and food particles that have been collected over the years should be cleared from the garbage disposer inlet and outlet.

Make sure water can easily go through the garbage disposer. If the garbage disposer is clogged or blocked by anything, your Kenmore dishwasher won’t be able to drain after a wash cycle. 

If you’ve just installed your dishwasher, make sure you installed the garbage disposer correctly.

Make sure you’ve followed the instructions in your Kenmore dishwasher’s user manual when installing the garbage disposer. 

Check to see whether the knockout plug is still inside the garbage disposer. This is put by the garbage disposer manufacturer to ensure the garbage disposer is closed when it is not being used.

 If it’s still there then the water won’t be able to go through the garbage disposal hence the machine won’t be able to drain. 

7. Check Ball

The check ball is a ball near the check valve. It does nearly the same job as the check valve. 

It is also supposed to make sure the dirty water that has been drained out does not come back into the dishwasher.

The dishwasher’s check ball could be stuck. 

This means that it won’t be able to stop drained water from coming back into the dishwasher. 

If the check ball is stuck, try to free it and run a drain cycle again. 

If it continues getting stuck, it’s faulty. 

If the check ball is faulty, that means dirty water will be coming back into your dishwasher. 

Your dishwasher will not drain after a wash cycle if the check ball is broken.

You should remove it and replace it with a new one. 

8. Check Valve

After a wash cycle, the water is pumped out of the dishwasher. A check valve ensures that the pumped-out water does not return into the dishwasher. 

The check valve is located at the outlet near the drain hose.

If your Kenmore dishwasher’s check valve is stuck in the close position, water will not be able to move out of the dishwasher. 

Clean the check valve and check if the dishwasher is now draining. 

You’ll need to replace the check valve if it keeps getting stuck.

9. Drain Hose

The drain hose is the pipe that connects your dishwasher to the garbage disposer.

The drain hose will get clogged from time to time as you use your dishwasher because of food particles that collect there.

Both ends of the drain hose could get clogged. You need to inspect them both so you have to remove the entire hose. 

Unscrew the drain hose from the garbage disposer if it needs unscrewing. Most hoses are easy to remove so you won’t need a screwdriver.

Clean it well to ensure it is not clogged. You can even soak it in vinegar overnight to ensure it’s clean and clear. 

If your drain hose is clogged, your dishwasher won’t be able to drain water after a wash cycle. 

10. Water Pump Belt

Check your Kenmore dishwasher’s user manual to confirm if your machine has a water pump belt. In some dishwashers, water pump belts are not included.

If your dishwasher has one, check if it has been worn out or broken. 

It must be replaced with a new one.

The lower panel of the dishwasher must be removed if you want to reach the water pump belt. Look beneath the motor for a belt. 

Check if the water pump belt has slipped off from its correct position. Put it back into the correct position. Sometimes you might not have to replace the water pump belt.

11. Seeking professional help

Fixing a dishwasher that has failed to drain is usually easy. In most cases, you won’t even need the help of a technician. Just follow the above troubleshooting steps. Most of the solutions require you to unclog something. Others simply require a replacement. 

Call your plumber if you’re not comfortable with cleaning some parts because they can be nasty when clogged with food particles. 

If you have tried all the above troubleshooting steps and your Kenmore dishwasher is still not draining, you should let a qualified technician look at it. 


If your Kenmore dishwasher has not been draining, this troubleshooting guide has most of the common causes for your problem. The guide also has easy solutions that can be used by people who don’t consider themselves to be handy.

Cleaning your dishwasher regularly could save you a lot of clogging and you can prevent some of the common issues here.

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