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Handyman Q&A

Disposal Clog Is Causing Dishwasher Trouble


Question: Every time I run the dishwasher, I've got to stand by the sink with a cup to bail the water out that comes up and drain it into the adjacent sink. If I don't, the sink and dishwasher will overflow.

The water comes up on the side of the sink where the garbage disposal is. We've never used the disposal because it's been broken since we moved here several weeks ago, but I'm not sure this should affect the way the dishwasher drains.

Also, the water never completely drains after running. There's always a small pool in the dishwasher and a small collection in the sink that does not recede. Is there anything I can do to fix this problem?

Answer: This is definitely one that you can fix. The sink is flooding because the disposal and its drain are clogged.

Water leaves the dishwasher through a rubber hose that travels up under the sink to a device called an "air gap." The air gap is a vent that equalizes air pressure so that the water can easily drain out of the dishwasher without air-pressure resistance. From the air gap, a second hose travels into the disposal. Once in the disposal, the water from the dishwasher is drained into the sewer system (the same place that the other side of the sink drains into).

If the water has made it into your sink, it means that the lines to the disposal are working fine and that the drain from the disposal is clogged. Remove the disposal and the associated drain. Clear the drain and install a new disposal.

By the way, you can eliminate the disposal, but it will probably cost less to replace it. There is a ring under the sink right at the drain that can be gripped with a small Phillips screwdriver. A quick tug and the disposal will fall out. And that's all there is to it.


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