The Six Most Common Reasons Why Your Dishwasher Might Be Leaking

January 10, 2020
Dishwasher Repair

Using your dishwasher is a huge time-saver for modern homeowners. Anyone who’s ever washed dishes by hand knows that an entire family of dishes and cookware can seriously tick away your precious time at home. Your dishwasher makes it possible to rinse, load, and then kick back with your favorite hobby or TV show instead. But if you start seeing puddles forming under your dishwasher, it’s time to get serious about repairs.

A leaky dishwasher is a bad sign, but not necessarily for the health of your dishwasher. The five most common causes of dishwasher leaks are surprisingly easy to understand and in many situations, you can take care of the repairs yourself. Today, we’re here to share the common causes of dishwasher leaks and what you can do about your dishwasher before you’re stuck washing by hand. 

1) The Dishwasher Drain is Clogged

If you or someone else loads the dishwasher with food still on the plates, those food particles can really build up and can eventually block the drain of your dishwasher. When the drain can’t clear the unit from the bottom, that water sits inside and makes it increasingly likely that your dishwasher will leak the standing water inside.

Pull out the bottom drawer and find the drain. The dishwasher drain cover usually looks like a white or gray plastic basket upturned over the drain valve. Some newer dishwashers have a garbage disposal macerating (grinding) drain of their own, but many do not. Clear out any food, debris, or bits of plastic that may be clogging the area around your dishwasher drain on the inside. This is the most common cause of dishwasher drain and leak problems. 

2) The Door Isn’t Fully Closing

Another very common reason for dishwasher leaks the door. During the wash cycle, water is thrown around at high-velocity surrounding and cleaning the dishes. Without the door seal, this would be a pretty messy process. So if the door isn’t sealing properly, don’t be surprised if you see a little water leaking out around the edges to form that suspicious puddle. There are several things that can get in the way of your door fully closing. There may be a lost piece of silverware or bulky piece of food in the hinges or caught in the seal. Your door may be off-level due to hinges or recent damage. Or the door latch may not press closed completely. Or it could be the door gasket itself. 

3) The Door Gasket is Broken or Worn Out

Another potential problem with your dishwasher door is the actual gasket. Most people don’t notice, but your dishwasher has a gasket very similar to the gasket of your refrigerator, only smaller. Inspect your dishwasher door gasket carefully. First, wipe it down to see if there was any residual soap or grit that was getting in the way of the seal. Then oil it with petroleum jelly lightly to see if that brings to life old rubber.

If that doesn’t work, inspect your door gasket closely for signs of twisting, tearing, or other forms of damage. A damaged or overly dry dishwasher door gasket will likely need to be replaced. 

4) The Drain Hose is Loose

Next, check the drain hose’s connection. Your dishwasher drain hose connects to the drain valve underneath the dishwasher, which can be reached by removing the kickplate. It then runs through a cut hole in the cabinetry into the under-cabinet of your kitchen sink to connect just below the drain assembly just below the garbage disposal. The drain hose, naturally, carries the drained water out of the dishwasher out to where it won’t make a mess. Typically, that’s into your normal drain system which connects underneath the kitchen sink.

Check the back of your dishwasher if you’ve been noticing leaks coming from underneath the unit. If the back hose connection is loose, there’s your culprit. If the moisture has been coming from underneath the sink, the problem might be from the other end. Check under your sink where the drain hose connects and releases water into the drain. If it’s loose, this is where the water is coming from. Tighten both valves firmly with a wrench. 

5) The Kitchen Drain is Clogged

As we just discussed, your drain hose leads directly into the drain assembly under your kitchen sink. But what happens when food debris begins to cloth the underneath of your sink drain? The inner drain below where your dishwasher connects? You probably guessed it: Backups. When there’s a bad kitchen drain clog, there’s nowhere for the dishwasher water to go. The water packs up, begins to pool inside the dishwasher tub and drain, and eventually leaks.

There are a few different ways to address this one and you may know them all from your previous work with your kitchen sink drain. You can run the garbage disposal to help chop and clear anything blocking the drain. You can run hot water, pour vinegar, or use a ZipIt tool. Or you can remove the S-trap, which is something everyone should do from time to time. Just make sure to put a bucket or tub under the S-trap when you remove it. You know why. 

6) Your Dishwasher is Uneven

Last, it’s just narrowly possible that your dishwasher is set unevenly on the floor. Measure each side of the dishwasher that you can reach with a bubble level to determine if the dishwasher is uneven on the floor. You might notice regular wobbling, or wobbling when you give the unit a shove. If this happens, you can either twist the dishwasher feet until they’re all level or you can slide small slats of wood underneath the feet until the dishwasher is even again. This can help the tray to not fill up and will mean that water directs toward the drain as it’s supposed to.

—If none of these investigations and minor fixes solve your dishwasher leaking problem, it’s time to call a professional. Contact us today for more information about how to fix your dishwasher and the right triggers to call a professional before you get stuck elbows-deep in soap suds.


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