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4 Reasons Why the Sink Fills Up When I Run My Dishwasher

Mar 20, 2018

4 Reasons Why the Sink Fills Up When I Run My Dishwasher

Woman washing her hands in her black kitchen sink with the water running.
The last thing you want to deal with after a nice family dinner is a kitchen sink that fills up with water from the dishwasher — gross, gray, sudsy water that messes up your clean sink or, even worse, submerges the pan or dishes you’ve been soaking with dirty dishwater.
The water that flows through both your kitchen sink plumbing and dishwasher drain comes from the same main line. Any issue with the main line can cause water to backup into your kitchen sink and the dishwasher.
When your dishwasher backs up into the kitchen sink, the cause is often minor and can be repaired with cleaning and maintenance. However, if this keeps happening, there may be a more serious problem.
Let’s look at some of the reasons why your dishwasher might be draining into your sink, how you can fix these issues and prevent them from happening again.

What’s causing my sink plumbing problem?

There are four places where your kitchen plumbing problem could be coming from: the dishwasher, the sink, the air gap or the garbage disposal. 
The first step to repairing your sink plumbing problem is to cut the power to your dishwasher and garbage disposal. Electricity and water don’t play nicely together, as we are sure you’re aware, so you’ll want to make sure to either unplug your appliances or shut down the power source directly from the circuit breaker. 
As an extra safety precaution, you should turn your water off as well.
1. Dishwasher Blockage
Standing water indicates that your dishwasher isn’t draining correctly. Check the drain in your dishwasher, as well as the drain hose, for any obstructions. You should also be mindful of the amount of dishwashing detergent you use; over time, residue can build up and cause a clog.
Bonus question: Should I rinse my dishes before I put them in the dishwasher?
Ah, the great debate! Since the earliest days of dishwashers, families have been split along lines of serious rinsers and those who will stick a plate with half a slice of congealed lasagna stuck to it directly into the dishwasher. Who’s right?
According to Good Housekeeping, the non-rinsers are right. Why? There are four reasons: 1.) dishes need to be dirty for detergent to work (seriously — the detergent sticks to the food); 2.) a modern dishwasher adjusts for dirtiness levels, so rinsing is a waste of time; 3.) pre-rinsing is a huge waste of water; and 4.) you should use your time for more useful things, like figuring out why your dishwasher is blocked. (Hint: It’s probably a stray piece of silverware.)
2. Clogged Sink
You shouldn’t just toss all kitchen waste down the garbage disposal. Pasta, citrus peels, bones, eggshells, coffee grounds, grease and other common food wastes wreak havoc on your pipes, and can eventually cause septic tank trouble later down the line.
If water from your dishwasher is backing up into your sink, it might be due to a kitchen sink clog that’s preventing your dishwasher from draining properly. Here are some ways you might be able to fix the clog yourself:
  • Run the garbage disposal
  • Use sink cleaner 
  • Snake the drain
If these methods are ineffective, contact a Warrenton plumber as soon as possible to fix the problem and prevent further damage to your pipes.
3. Air Gap Blockage
Air gaps are commonly installed in kitchen sinks and are often found next to the faucet. The purpose of an air gap is to prevent wastewater from backing up into the dishwasher by separating the hoses that connect the dishwasher and the sink. In the event of a clog in the main sewer line, this keeps the wastewater from backing up into the dishwasher and contaminating clean dishes.
One sure sign of a clog: water flowing into the sink from the air gap. To check for blockages, remove both the air gap cover and the inner protective cap to look inside the device. Debris is usually visible and easy to remove, but if you’re unable to access the blockage, call one of our five-star technicians to get the job done.
4. Garbage Disposal Plug 
Did you recently have a new garbage disposal installed? It’s possible the source of your sink plumbing problem is the garbage disposal drain plug, which is designed to cover the opening where dishwasher wastewater drains into the garbage disposal. In order for your dishwasher to drain correctly, the plug needs to be removed after installation. 
If you suspect this to be the cause of your plumbing problem, call one of our five-star technicians to help you remove the garbage disposal drain plug.

Some problems require help from the pros.

Now that we’ve outlined some of the solutions to your kitchen plumbing problems, you may be thinking, “Forget the plumber, I can fix this myself.” With hundreds of DIY tutorials available online, it’s easy to convince yourself that you’re ready to tackle the job. However, we frequently get calls from customers who need help cleaning up a DIY disaster because they weren’t prepared to handle unforeseen complications.
Do I have the proper tools? Have I done a project like this before? Do I have time to do this project the right way?
These are all questions to consider before you attempt to take on a plumbing project yourself — and if your answer to any of these questions is “no”, don’t do it yourself.
Our five-star technicians can diagnose and solve any plumbing problem you have in your kitchen. Need a Warrenton plumber? Call CroppMetcalfe 1-877-740-6657 or schedule service online now.


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