Fixing Water puddle (standing water) in the Dishwasher

[Revised on 10/10/12 for an improved/easier way to fix the problem]

Dishwasher is notorious for having water puddle or accumulation on the bottom. My dishwasher would develop this problem every 6 months and it got very annoying because the dishes don’t get cleaned properly. The problem usually doesn’t go away on its down. The dishwasher expert would tell you that it’s pretty normal to have some water accumulated on the bottom. And if it kept getting more severe, then you may need to fix the motor or the disposal system (yes, there is a mini garbage disposal system in the dishwasher to grind out the solid food) within the dishwasher. Well, that’s a very expensive proposition. Based on my experience, there is an easier way. I suggest you try my method first before calling the dishwasher repairman if you want to save some money.

In my experience, the problems lied in the airgap (the waste water hose from the dishwasher gets routed to the airgap and then routed to the garbage disposal in most cases) or lack of cross-section area in the airgap. There was usually some big food chunks that don’t get ground out small enough to pass through the airgap. I have seen large nuts, vegetable stems, chicken bones, and etc.

To fix this problem, do the following:
1. Slide out the chrome top of the air gap.
2. Remove the top of the air gap by pinching the two tabs on the side. (Some fo the air gaps have the screw-on top, then you would just unscrew the top) You may need to use two blade-type screw drivers to pinch from the top and then lift up the top. See picture below:
Air Gap
3. Place a large glass over the exposed air gap and direct the opening
back to the sink. The dirty water will come out here.
4. Turn on the dishwasher. Almost immediately, the dirty water will be jetted out. Make sure you hold the glass steady or you’ll have an “old faithful” coming out of the kitchen.
5. After the dirty water is completely out, turn off the dish washer and place the air gap cap and slide the chrome top back on. The clog should be cleared.

If it doesn’t work, you can follow my old methods below or watch
the Youtub video here for a more thorough cleaning.

1. Remove airgap assembly from the kitchen sink.
2. Remove the hoses (both sides) from the airgap. Check for obstruction in the airgap. Replace the airgap (~$10) if it’s worn out. It’s not worthwhile to fix a broken airgap. Clear the obstruction from the airgap. I have seen a broken tip of a chopstick, a chicken wish bone, and etc. in the airgap before. If you are confident that this is your problem, you may skip the rest of the steps and jump to the last step.
3. Put a big empty bucket (~5 gallons) under the hose.
4. Turn on the dishwasher. Usually the first step for the dishwasher is to clear out the water within the dishwasher. You may see the waste water coming out right away. If not, then there is really something wrong with the dishwasher – call the repairman. Otherwise, keep having the waste water flushed out of the dishwasher until you’re certain that all of the debris has been flushed out. You may need to do this several times to get it out.
5. Re-attach the hose to the airgap and re-attach the assembly back to the kitchen sink.

You may need to repeat the above steps a couple of times to get to the culprit. If all fail, call the dishwasher repairman. Hope this helps.