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Dishwasher - Does Not Drain, Water Leaks From the Air Gap

To minimize the possibility of electric shock, unplug this appliance from the power supply before attempting any maintenance or cleaning.

If water is leaking from the air gap or water is standing in the bottom of dishwasher, check the following items to see if it rectifies the problem. If these suggestions do not resolve your problem there may be a need for a plumber.

  • Some water, usually one to two cups, remaining in the bottom of the tub is normal. However, if water is covering the bottom of the tub, the dishwasher is not draining properly.

  • Check for paper or large objects covering or blocking the sump area in the rear of the tub.

  • Make sure that the right type and amount of detergent is used: Using the wrong type or too much detergent can cause sudsing that can prevent the dishwasher from draining. Only detergent specifically designed for automatic dishwashers such as Electrasol®, Cascade® or Cascade Complete® should be used. If you find suds in the dishwasher

  • Check disposer plug. If a garbage disposer has been recently installed, it is possible the disposer drain plug was not removed. The drain plug is a plastic piece in the disposer that blocks the hole where the dishwasher hose connects.

    Please consult the Owner's Manual. Download a free copy of the Owners Manual and/or Installation Instructions. In the Installation Instructions, will be the procedure for removal of the drain plug. You may also check with the installer.


  • Be sure the kitchen sink drain is not clogged. The dishwasher typically drains into the kitchen sink drain or a garbage disposer. If the dishwasher drains into a garbage disposer, run the disposer to clear the drain system. Do not put hands into the garbage disposer. Serious injury could result. You should always turn on your garbage disposer prior to running the dishwasher to clean out any food or debris within the drain system.

  • Check the drain hose where it connects below the sink for blockage or a kink in the hose. New dishwashers come with a white corrugated drain hose, which should be used. Re-using old, worn out drain hoses may promote kinking and blockage.

  • If it is necessary to extend the length of the drain hose, the total length should not exceed 144" (12 ft) for models starting with GDF/GDT/PDT/CDT/DDT, or 120" (10 ft) on all other built-in models. Be sure the extension used is not kinked or crushed. See your dishwasher installation instructions for details.

  • Check the air gap if one is installed. It could be clogged. An air gap (not part of the dishwasher) is usually located on top of the sink. Some state or local plumbing codes require the use of an air gap between the built-in dishwasher and the drain system of the home. This plumbing device is used to prevent the possibility of back flow into the dishwasher in the event of a clogged drain system. This item is not a part of the dishwasher and, therefore, the dishwasher warranty does not cover costs related to cleaning or repairing a drain air gap.

  • Typical air gaps are easy to inspect and clean. Be sure the dishwasher latch is in the OFF position or unlatched prior to removal of the drain air gap cover. Simply lift off the cover (usually chrome, could plastic) and unscrew or unsnap (depending on type of air gap) the plastic cap below. Remove any material that may have accumulated and replace the plastic cap and chrome cover. This simple procedure should be followed any time the dishwasher fails to drain properly.

    View a short video about cleaning the air gap:
    Play Video

    Sometimes perceived "no drain" problems are not "no drain" problems at all, but back flow of water from the sink or some other device into the dishwasher:

  • If you notice dirty water building up over time in the bottom of the dishwasher and do not have an air gap, make sure you have a high drain loop. A high drain loop is created when the drain hose is makes a loop at least 18 inches above the floor. Usually this is accomplished by attaching the drain hose to the underside of the countertop. Without a high drain loop or air gap, dirty water from the sink can flow into the dishwasher. The high drain loop prevents back flow of water from the drain into the dishwasher if an air gap is not installed.

    View a short video about a high drain loop:
    Play Video



  • If clean (or dirty) water builds up over time in the bottom of the dishwasher, check to see if the drain from another device is plumbed into the dishwasher drain hose. The dishwasher drain hose should be connected to the house drain either directly or through an air gap. Other devices, such as reverse osmosis filters, should also be connected directly to the house drain. Waste water from devices such as reverse osmosis filters, plumbed into the dishwasher drain hose may flow into the dishwasher, and result in overflowing of the dishwasher. Do not do this.
If the above suggestions do not resolve the issue, service may be needed. If you would like to schedule a service appointment, please contact GE Consumer Service at 1-800-432-2737 or schedule a service appointment on-line.