leaking dishwaserDishwasher leaks can cause more issues than a simple puddle in the kitchen. Over time, a leaky dishwasher can lead to water damage and expensive, messy repairs. The water leaking from the dishwasher can damage the flooring in the kitchen as well as the subfloor. If left alone, this water can lead to an even bigger issue – a mold outbreak.

The good news is most dishwasher leaks can be easily fixed with some DIY repairs and even prevented with routine maintenance. Let’s take a look at how to repair a leaking dishwasher and how to clean up the mess after a leak.

6 Reasons for Dishwasher Leaking and How to Fix it

Most dishwashers will spring a leak at some point either because of wear and tear, faulty installation, or a combination of the two. Knowing how to fix a dishwasher is a great DIY skill and can help you quickly fix an issue before it causes extensive water damage.

Here are the most common reasons a dishwasher leaks and how to fix the issue:

Faulty Door Gasket

A faulty door gasket seal is the most common cause of a dishwasher leak. Over time, the rubber material begins to dry out and become brittle which will lead to a dishwasher leak. You can tell if this is the issue when you run your fingers across the gasket – does it feel cracked and damaged? Is it not as pliable as it was when new?

QUICK FIX: Replace the door gasket. This is a fairly easy task to do yourself. First, check the owner’s manual for the correct replacement gasket to pick up at your hardware store. Then, remove the old gasket and clean the channel with warm, soapy water. Follow the installation instructions on the packaging to install the new gasket. Pro tip – warm the gasket with a hairdryer on low heat to make it more pliable and easier to install.

Overloaded Dishwasher

No one likes to do the dishes, but that doesn’t mean you should cram every single dish into the dishwasher! An overloaded dishwasher can cause some of the internal components such as the spray arm or dishwasher tub to become stuck or clogged. When the internal components are overworked because too many dishes are in the dishwasher, this can create a dishwasher leak.

QUICK FIX: Inspect the dishwasher for stuck dishes or clogs. Open the door to the dishwasher and inspect the top and bottom racks. Look for dishes that may be causing the spray arm to get stuck or check the bottom of the dishwasher for loose items like food or even silverware. Remove the culprits and restart the wash cycle.

Cracked Hoses

If you notice water leaking from under the dishwasher, you may have a water hose or clamp issue. Over time, the hoses will wear down and start to slowly leak. The drain hose is an especially critical element of your dishwasher and feeds water from the dishwasher system out of your sink drain. When this breaks down, you may lose water onto the floor rather instead of it exiting through the end of the hose line.

QUICK FIX: Replace the dishwasher hoses. Safety first – unplug the dishwasher from its power source. Then, open the kickplate to access the water inlet valve, hoses, and other components. Run your hand across the hoses to understand which one is leaking. You can replace the faulty hose by following the instructions in the owner’s manual and on the replacement hose packaging. Not super confident in your DIY skills? This repair may be better handled by an appliance repair professional.

dishwasher spray arm
The dishwasher spray arm is located in the bottom of your dishwasher.

Damaged Spray Arm

The spray arm is the component in your dishwasher that showers dirty dishes with water during the wash cycle. Depending on the model of your dishwasher, you may have one, two, or even three spray arms. All dishwashers have at least one and it is located at the bottom of the dishwasher. Inspect the spray arms for cracks, clogs, or other damage.

QUICK FIX: Replace spray arms. Replacing the spray arm typically is an easy fix that you can do yourself. Depending on the model of your dishwasher, the spray arm may snap in place, have a screw holding it in place, or may be threaded onto a shaft. Check your owner’s manual for which type of replacement part you should purchase and follow the instructions for installation.

Float Switch Malfunction

Your dishwasher float switch triggers the dishwasher to either fill or drain and monitors the water level in the dishwasher. A defective switch may interfere with the wash cycle and cause the dishwasher to overflow. To check if the float switch is operating correctly, gently move it up and down and listen for a “click.”

QUICK FIX: Float switches are very common and can be easily replaced for around $10-$20. To access the float switch, remove the kick plate. Unscrew the float switch and replace it with a new one.

Incorrect Detergent

Kitchen filled with lots of suds and bubbles? You may have caused the dishwasher leak yourself! Using dishwashing detergent or other kinds of soaps and cleaners can quickly cause excessive suds and water to fill the kitchen!

QUICK FIX: If you’ve accidentally used the incorrect detergent in your dishwasher, the fix is rather simple – clean up the suds and run the dishwasher again with the correct detergent and see if it still leaks. Put down a few towels just in case.

Knowing how to fix a dishwasher leak can save you from expensive repairs and even help prevent future dishwasher leaks and kitchen flooding.

How to Clean Up a Dishwasher Leak

Did you run your dishwasher before you left for work only to arrive home to a flooded kitchen? Kitchen floods are never easy to deal with and can lead to water damage and mold. The best thing to do to clean up after a dishwasher leak is to act fast to save the kitchen from further damage.

Here are steps to take after a kitchen flood from a leaky dishwasher:

  • Turn off all appliances near the water damage: Safety first! Water and electricity do not mix. If you are unsure if any appliances or outlets were affected by the water, turn off all power to the kitchen.
  • Begin dry out: The first few hours after a water leak or flood are critical to minimize further damage. Mop up any standing water, open up windows and doors to create air circulation, and place fans to help keep air moving.
  • Inspect the floor, floorboards, and any areas touched by the water: Even though you’ve cleaned up standing water, the subfloor and baseboards may still be damp and wet. Damage to the subfloor can spread throughout the kitchen, so you want to be sure everything is completely dried.
  • Call in the professionals: While most dishwasher leaks can be easily contained and cleaned up yourself, larger water damage is best left to the pros. Emergency restoration companies have the training and equipment to mitigate water damage and prevent mold growth from occurring. Even more, reputable restoration companies have experience working with insurance companies and can help you navigate the homeowner’s insurance claim process.

Learn More About Water Damage Mitigation

Water Damage Repair from Reynolds Restoration

Dealing with water damage after a dishwasher leak? Let us help! Reynolds Restoration Services has been helping homeowners with water damage mitigation and water damage restoration for more than 17 years in the mid-Atlantic region. Our trained and certified team can tackle the job quickly and efficiently and get your kitchen back in tip-top shape after a flood.

With offices in Harrisburg, Pa., King of Prussia, Pa., and the Baltimore, Md./Washington D.C. region, we can be on-site quickly. We are on-call 24 hours a day to assist! Our goal is to respond and rebuild with care on every single project. For emergency services, call our toll-free call center at 1-888-277-8280.