A Spokane home with kitchen cabinets, dishwasher and refrigerator in the foreground to the right and pools of standing water on tile floor. Dishwashers can leak if not maintained regularly.

Dishwasher Leaks: Repair and Prevention Tips

Water Restoration

Dishwasher Leaks happen!

According to the Insurance Information Institute, water damage affects about 1 in 50 homeowners every year and the average water damage claim is just over $11,000.

If you have a dishwasher, you may have had or will experience a leak. Dealing with dishwasher leaks can be frustrating and messy, but they don’t have to be a long-term hassle. In most cases, dishwasher leaks can be fixed relatively easily. This blog discusses why a leak may occur and tips to resolve and prevent leaks.

3 Signs of a Leaky Dishwasher

If you notice any of the following signs, it may be time to check for leaks:

  • Soft Flooring. Flooring near your dishwasher that feels soft and/or flexes when you step on it is a red flag that may indicate a long-term leak. Pull out your dishwasher and inspect underneath and behind it. If drywall is soft, there’s a musty smell, and/or mold is present, it’s time to call a water damage expert to provide a free assessment and offer guidance on next steps.
  • Repeated, unexplained water on the floor. A puddle near your dishwasher is a surefire indicator of a dishwasher leak.
    Tiled floor in Spokane area home with pool of water in front of cabinets and dishwasher. Unexplained puddles like this may indicate a dishwasher leak, which if not addressed quickly, can lead to water damage.
    Frequent and unexplained puddles in your kitchen my indicate a dishwasher leak.
  • Mold or mildew. Mold or mildew, inside or around the unit’s exterior, is a sign that your dishwasher is not running as it should. An undetected leak may be the cause.

7 Common Causes of Dishwasher Leaks

Now that you know the signs of a broken dishwasher, you may want to know what can cause these leaks. Here are 7 of the most common causes:

  • Loose door seal. If the dishwasher’s plastic door seals is loose, water can escape. (See “6 Tips to Prevent Your Dishwasher from Leaking” below.)
  • Loose or broken drain hose. A dishwasher’s drain hose can loosen and/or degrade over time. When this happens, slow leaks can cause water damage to nearby flooring, walls, and even the ceiling of the level below.
  • Faulty water inlet valve. If the drain hose is functioning and you still notice your dishwasher leaking water underneath, the water inlet valve may be at fault. This valve opens and closes to allow water to flow to the dishwasher from your home supply. A malfunction may cause it to leak from one of its components.
  • Dishwasher drain clog. A dishwasher’s drain can become clogged with food, grease, and other debris, causing water leaks. Modern dishwashers made by American-based manufacturers have a miniature built-in garbage disposal to help prevent this, which must be inspected from time to time, and cleaned out or replaced as needed.
  • Improper alignment. Your dishwasher should be level. When this is not the case due to an uneven floor and no corrective leveling, water often won’t flow directly into the drain resulting in a pool forming at the bottom of the appliance. This and pressure around the gasket caused by the misalignment can cause water leaks.
  • Damaged spray arm. 1-3 spray arm(s) can found inside the dishwasher, at the bottom, middle and/or top of the unit. These shower dishes with water during the wash and rinse cycles. Inspect the spray arm(s) for cracks, warping, blockages, or other damage and replace as needed.
  • Damaged tub. Damaged dishwasher tubs may cause leaks. If you have inspected all of the items above without finding the likely source of the leak, you may need to replace the tub.

Tips to Prevent Your Dishwasher from Leaking

Many dishwasher leaks can be resolved with relative ease and often without calling a professional appliance repair company. (Before performing inspection or repairs, please disconnect the dishwasher’s power source and turn off the water supply.) Here are some tips on how to fix common causes of dishwasher leaks:

The easiest way to prevent a dishwasher from leaking or malfunctioning is to avoid overloading it. Ensure that dishes are arranged in an organized fashion before running a cycle. Additionally, remember to double-check that the dishwasher detergent is the correct one for the type of dishwasher you have.

If your dishwasher leaks from the door, it is likely because the door seal is loose. To fix this, tighten the screws around the dishwasher door. It’s also possible that your machine may be unleveled and requires setting to ensure it is leveled with the ground. You can do this by using a dishwasher leveling kit and/or using the up/down screw level on each of the feet.

A figure with a screwdrver ensuring mounting screws on a the top inside of a dishwasher are tight so the door seal is held firmly in place and does not cause a dishwasher leak
Ensure the plastic door gasket is screwed in tightly to avoid dishwasher leaks.

Replacing the dishwasher door gasket is another common solution to repair a broken dishwasher. If you have noticed that the plastic gasket is damaged or requires immediate attention, your best bet is to replace it.

Always ensure the appliance is not running before removing the old door gasket. Then, take the new one and install it at the top of the door area. Don’t forget to read your dishwasher manual for specific instructions on how to replace the gasket.

Another tip to further prevent leaks is to replace the dishwasher drain hose. If your dishwasher’s drain hose is cracked or rusty, replacing it with a new one may be necessary. Consult your dishwasher manual for specific instructions on how to do this.

Braided stainless steel dishwasher supply line with corrosion caused by rust. Appliance supply lines must be checked and replaced regularly to avoid dishwasher leaks and water damage at your Spokane area home
Braided metal dishwasher supply lines, though much sturdier and less prone to breakage than plastic lines, must also be checked for wear and corrosion periodically.

Even if there is no obvious wear, replace hoses every 5 years. Use a reinforced steel-braided hose, as they are less likely to fail.

If your dishwasher continues to cause problems, consider replacing the drain pump, which may be defective.

Another area to inspect is the dishwasher’s disposal/filter, which traps food particles that aren’t flushed down the drain during a wash cycle and helps prevent these from damaging the drain pump. However, if the built-in disposal or filter isn’t cleaned regularly, it can become clogged with these particles. When this happens, water won’t be able to drain and will puddle inside, resulting in a dishwasher leaking from the front.

Will a Dirty Dishwasher Cause Leaking?

Dishwashers can gradually become clogged with food, grease, and other debris. When this happens, water can back up and leak out of the dishwasher. Cleaning your dishwasher often can help prevent this from becoming an issue.

To clean your dishwasher, start by running it empty on the hottest setting. Then, add a dishwasher cleaning tablet to the detergent dispenser and rerun the dishwasher.

If you have a particularly dirty dishwasher, you may need to deep clean it with a vinegar solution. To do this, mix equal parts of water and white vinegar and pour them into the dishwasher’s detergent dispenser. Run the dishwasher on the hottest setting and let the vinegar solution work its way through the dishwasher.

By following these tips, you can help prevent dishwasher leaks and keep your dishwasher running smoothly for years to come. Remember, whatever the repair, reconnect the water supply and turn the power back on before resuming use.

Your locally owned PuroClean is Available for Emergency Property Damage Restoration Services 24/7.

Dishwasher leaks can cause expensive water damage to your home. If you require water damage restoration, it’s important to act quickly. PuroClean is available for emergency response 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to assist you with water damage restoration, mold remediation, fire restoration, and biohazard cleanup services. We will work with empathy and urgency to restore your property to its pre-loss condition. Please see what your Spokane area neighbors have to say about our service, then call us at (509) 505-5353 or visit our website for more information. 

Last edited on 19th of September 2022