It is always helpful to know how to handle basic repairs of household appliances. These DIY repairs are not only a great way to keep us engaged, but it also saves us money, since we don’t need to hire professional help every time something goes wrong around the house.

One of the appliances we use the most often in most households is the humble dishwasher. And a very common problem that occurs with dishwashers is that they stop draining out the water. 

There are a number of reasons why this could happen. One possibility is that the flow path or the drain hose could be clogged. This could be at the outlet from the pump or drain housing where the check valve is located. There could be a malfunctioning timer or control. If you have dirty water returning to the dishwasher tub, you might have a damaged check valve. Or, the worst-case scenario could be true: your dishwasher drain pump has stopped working.

How to know if the drain pump has failed

Most dishwashers have a single drain pump that performs two functions. It drains water from the dishwasher and distributes water to the spray arms. If the dishwasher pump fails to drain water but only distributes water to the spray arms when activated, it could be a sign that the pump has been damaged. 

There is another way to judge if the pump is working or not. Most dishwasher pumps activate when you press the Cancel button on them. Or, if the appliance has a timer, set it to the Drain portion of the cycle. Then, listen to the sound of the pump running.

If the drain path has no blockages and the pump motor seems to be running but no water is pumped out, it’s a sign that the drain pump may not be working.

However, here is a sure-fire way to determine whether the pump has indeed failed.

  1. Before you begin testing the pump, the first thing you will need to do is disconnect the device from the power source.
  2. The dishwasher pump is located behind the lower access panel in most cases. Locate it and remove the pump.
  3. Set your multimeter on the Rx1 mode and bring the probes in contact with the terminals. If your dishwasher pump is working fine, then you should get a continuity reading of zero or almost zero.

You ought to also get no reading when you test for the ground connection by leaving one probe in a terminal and touching the other one to the bare metal housing.

If these tests give you any results other than those above, it means your drain pump has failed.

Unlike a lot of other appliance parts, once damaged, you have no option but to replace the drain pump. Let’s now go through a detailed description of the process of replacing it.

How to replace the dishwasher drain pump

Dishwasher drain pump

Disconnect power

If the socket where the dishwasher is plugged in is easily accessible, then turn off the socket and unplug the dishwasher. Otherwise, switch off the house circuit breaker supplying power to the dishwasher.

Make sure the power has been completely disconnected before continuing. You can do this by pressing the power button. If the power has been disconnected, nothing ought to light up.

Disconnect the outer door panel and control panel

The dishwasher door will have an outer panel and an inner panel. The control panel ought to be connected to the outer panel.

To remove these, you will need to unscrew the Torx screws from the inner panel, while holding the outer label with your other hand to make sure it does not fall out.

Then, separate the outer panel from the inner panel. Set the outer panel down gently on the ground and proceed to disconnect the user interface wiring harness from the control panel.

Finally, remove the outer door panel and control panel.

Disconnect the toe panel and bottom front access panel

The bottom front access panel and the toe panel will be held in place by screws that can be easily removed using a nut driver. Once the screws have been removed, simply pull the panels forward and dislodge them.

Remove the drain pump

disconecting water supply

You ought to be able to see the drain pump by now. Lay a large towel underneath it for the excess water.

The drain hose is held in place underneath the pump by a wire hose clamp. Use pliers to remove the clamp.

Then, pull the drain hose off the drain pump. Next, you will need to disconnect the wire harness from the pump as well.

Once that is done, locate the locking tab on the pump. Press it down and turn the pump counterclockwise about a ¼ turn to disconnect it from the sump. You have now successfully removed the old drain pump! 

Install the new drain pump

Use a coat or rinse aid to water seal the O-ring of your new pump. This is a precautionary measure to prevent leakage.

Then, insert the new pump into the sump and rotate it a ¼ round clockwise. You ought to hear the locking tab snapping into place.

Then, plug the wiring harness back into the receptacle before you reinstall the drain hose and secure it in place using a hose clamp.

Reinstall the bottom front access panel and toe panel 

First position the toe panel in place and then the access panel in front of the toe panel. Secure both in place using their screws.

Reconnect the outer door panel and control panel

removing dishwasher

The first thing to reconnect is the UI control wire harness. You will need to position the outer door panel and control panel close to the inner panel in order to do this.

Once the harness has been connected, reconnect the outer door panel and control panel to the inner door panel before adding back the Torx screws.

Turn it on

The only thing left for you to do now is to turn the dishwasher back on and make sure the new pump is working properly.

Costs

The average cost of a dishwasher pump varies between $150 and $350. While that may seem like a lot, keep in mind that a lot of these pumps come with a guaranteed lifespan of around two decades. That’s more than your dishwasher will last you.

However, there is something else you ought to consider before you replace the pump. Check the general health of the appliance first. If the appliance is around a decade or older, chances are things are likely to keep breaking down. In that case, it may make more sense for you to just buy a new dishwasher than to keep replacing parts. 

A detailed guide to dishwasher drain pump replacement was last modified: June 10th, 2022 by Narayan Shrouthy
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