Dishwasher Stuck On Drain Cycle, Even When Empty

Are you tired of your dishwasher being stuck on the drain cycle, even when it’s completely empty? Say goodbye to endless draining woes with our comprehensive guide.

In this article, we will explore the reasons behind this perplexing issue and provide you with step-by-step solutions to get your dishwasher back to its normal functioning. Don’t let a perpetually running drain cycle drive you crazy; read on to discover the causes and fixes for your dishwasher’s stubborn behaviour.

Dishwasher Drain Pump Won’t Turn Off

If your dishwasher drain pump won’t turn off after draining the wastewater, there could be a blockage or a poorly positioned drain hose, or even a faulty component. In this troubleshooting guide, I will provide you with a few scenarios and actionable advice on how to go about getting them resolved.  

Standing Water In The Bottom Of the Dishwasher

If you notice standing water in the bottom of your dishwasher, it is a clear indication that either the water filter is plugged, or the drain hose is not positioned properly. Both issues cause water to drain slowly or not at all, prompting the pump to run continuously as it attempts to drain the sump. 

To fix this, you will need to inspect the drain filter and check that it’s clear. If it’s not then simply remove it and wash it in the sink removing all of the debris from the fine filter gauze. 

If cleaning the drain filter does not solve the problem, you most likely have a clog in the drain hose. Remove the drain hose from under the sink air gap or garbage disposal. Then access the other end of the hose, located underneath the dishwasher. To do this you will need to remove the base plate near the floor at the front and remove the hose from the drain pump. 

Inspect the hose and flush it to clear it, alternatively, replace it with a new hose. 

No Water in the Dishwasher

If the dishwasher is continually attempting to drain, but there is no water in the sump or bottom of the appliance, it’s likely that the appliance detects moisture or that a major component has malfunctioned. In either case, you will need to troubleshoot the possible causes step-by-step to determine where the problem lies so you can repair the dishwasher correctly. So let’s get started.

Why Your Dishwasher Won’t Stop Draining

Whether your dishwasher has standing water in the bottom or not, the fact that it is stuck in drain mode means something is wrong. Below, I go over some of the scenarios that can lead to a dishwasher that won’t stop draining and how you can go about fixing it. 

Some of these repairs are simple enough for you to carry out yourself, but if you aren’t comfortable with making repairs such as these, you should contact a professional plumber to do it for you. 

Dishwasher Stuck In Flood Mode

When a dishwasher becomes stuck in “flood mode,” it simply means that there is water trapped in the base pan located below the tub. When this happens, the dishwasher continues to drain, trying to dispel the water that is trapped there. A dishwasher stuck in flood mode is usually caused by a clogged drain, or sometimes, too many suds in the tub, which can cause the tub to overflow into the base pan. 

Regardless of the cause for flood mode, you will need to get the water out of the base pan to get your dishwasher up and running properly again. To do this, you can:

  1. Uninstall the dishwasher. Pull it out of its cavity below the counter and disconnect all hoses and power sources. 
  2. Place several towels on the floor in front of the dishwasher. Tip the appliance forward at a 45-degree angle to drain the water from the base pan. 
  3. Make sure all the water has drained before reinstalling the dishwasher and testing. 
  4. Alternatively, if you do not want to uninstall the dishwasher, you can try leaving it unused for a week or so to see if the water will drain/evaporate on its own, or
  5. You could attempt to drain the water from the base pan using towels or a drain hose without uninstalling and tipping the appliance. This may not successfully remove all of the water, though. 

Drain Hose Level Too Low

If your dishwasher is newly installed and won’t stop draining, it could be that the drain hose was not installed correctly. The appliance drain hose needs to be installed as high as possible to be effective in siphoning off the wastewater. 

A dishwasher drain hose being installed incorrectly is one of the most common defects found during home inspections. If a dishwasher drain hose is not looped high enough before being attached to the sink’s drain, dirty water can flow back into the dishwasher, which can lead to the appliance trying to constantly drain. 

The only way to correct a drain hose that is too low is to install a high loop or an air gap in your dishwasher’s drain system. In some municipalities, however, high loops are not allowed, in which case, you will need to install an air gap. Both of these fixes are better conducted by a licensed plumber so you know they are installed correctly and legally. 

Faulty Drain Solenoid

Some dishwashers have a drain solenoid that opens to allow water to drain and closes to keep water in. If the drain solenoid fails and remains stuck in the closed position, water will not be able to drain from the appliance. 

Since the drain solenoid is an electrical part, it can be tested with a multimeter for continuity. If there is none, the part is bad. With that said, if there is continuity, you should troubleshoot further as there could be other reasons the part has failed. 

  1. Visually inspect the drain solenoid for loose, broken, or corroded wires.
  2. Look for damaged insulation and corroded connectors as these, too, can cause the solenoid not to work. 
  3. If the solenoid does not pass the continuity test in any way, replace it. 
  4. If it passes the continuity test, but you notice any of the signs of electrical failure listed above, clean any corroded connections and replace any broken or damaged wires. 
FIXED - GE Dishwasher Stuck on Drain Cycle - Continuously Drains

In 99% of cases, I would recommend calling in an experienced appliance repair technician to perform this task and carry out the repair work. 

Faulty Sensors

Dishwashers have various sensors to tell the control board what part of the wash cycle the appliance is in. The sensors detect water levels, floods, overfills and other issues that could alert the appliance to potential flood risks. If one of these sensors fails, the appliance cannot tell when it is supposed to drain or when the tub is empty, and this can often result in the appliance trying to drain the sump in an attempt to avoid a flood. 

Identifying, locating and repairing the faulty sensor will vary depending on the make and model of your dishwasher. So at this point, it is recommended to call an appliance technician to perform an on-site diagnosis of the machine, allowing for repair from an expert.

Faulty Control Board

A dishwasher’s control board reads the signals sent by the various sensors contained within the appliance. As with all electrical components, the control board is susceptible to wear and tear as well as damage from power surges. If the control board malfunctions, it can misread the signals sent by the sensors and conduct incorrect operations or fail to conduct the appropriate cycles. 

To troubleshoot your dishwasher’s control board:

  1. Unplug the dishwasher from its power source for 10-15 minutes. This should reset the board and clear out any misread or lagging commands. 
  2. Visually inspect the control board for damage. Remove the access panel and look for burnt or broken wires or burnt connections. 

If you see any signs of damage, contact us and we can assist you with finding a repair solution.

Dishwasher Drainage Error Codes by Brand

Dishwashers with digital displays often display error codes when something isn’t functioning properly during the wash or drain cycle. If your dishwasher keeps trying to drain even though it is empty and you are seeing an error code on its screen, consult the list below to find out what the code means, so you know what is wrong and can fix it quickly. 

  • Bosch: E24 or E25 codes generally indicate a problem with the drain system.
  • Whirlpool: F2, F2 E2, or F9 E1 typically point towards a draining issue.
  • Frigidaire: i20, i40, and iF0 are drainage error codes causing flashing lights on the display panel.
  • GE: C2, C3, or C4 error codes usually mean there’s an issue with draining.
  • Samsung: 4E, 4C, 9E, 5E (or SE) is the typical error code for draining issues.
  • KitchenAid: F2, F2 E2, or F9 E1 codes could suggest a problem with draining.
  • LG: OE error code is usually related to draining problems.

Appliance Service Technician | Website | + posts

Andy has over 8 years of experience working on residential household appliances, performing diagnostics, and repairs across most major brands. He graduated from the Denver Institute of Technology, is NASTeC certified, and has worked for Mr. Appliance. Andy has contributed to features on major publications including Better Home & Gardens, Family Handyman, and