Why Would a Dishwasher Leak Water?


Dishwashers have liberated the modern homemaker from hours of washing dishes, arms sunk in sudsy water to the elbows and red faced from steam and sweat. Occasionally potential disaster strikes, and the dishwasher begins leaking water. Slow leaks can result in the homeowner shoving a towel over the puddle, but puddles and large leaks incite panic. Dishwashers leak water for a variety of reasons, most of them easily fixed.

Damaged Seal

  • The rubber or plastic seal, also called a gasket, around the door of the dishwasher provides a watertight closure for the door. Sometimes this seal deteriorates, usually after time, and the rubber or plastic cracks, forms pits or depressions or comes loose from the door. The seal is one or two pieces: a continuous rubber or plastic piece attached around the inner door or a shorter seal at the bottom of the inner door and a longer, continuous piece around the left, right and top of the door. Inspect the seal for damage or blemishes. Damaged seals should be replaced to eliminate the dishwasher leak.

Clogged Filter or Hose

  • Dishwashers have filters that need to be clean regularly and hoses that bring water into the appliance. Filters catch food remnants and anything else that might be a large particle floating around in the dishwasher. A blocked filter full of rotting food can stink and cause water to leak from the dishwasher. The filter is typically located at the bottom of the dishwasher. Standing, foul smelling, murky water is a visible sign of a clogged filter. Clean the filter weekly with a paper towel, scooping out the food debris. Some new dishwasher models feature automatic cleaning filters so you don't have to worry about filter clogs. The dishwasher hose may deteriorate over time. Leaks may occur behind the dishwasher (or under the sink if this is how your dishwasher is installed) around the hose clamp connecting it to the waterline. Inspect the hose for damage, and replace the metal clamp to eliminate hose-related leaks.

Improper Loading

  • Sometimes leaks are caused by improperly loading the dishwasher. Big items, such as skillets or pans, can block the spray arm or put outward pressure on the door. When pressure is put on the door, the door may not seal properly and a gap in the seal will allow water to leak from the dishwasher door. If too much water is being sprayed against a large item and then forcefully against the door, the dishwasher door may leak around the seal or out vents. Consult your dishwasher owner's manual for proper loading tips and instruction.

Clogged Drain and Pipes

  • Dishwashers have a drain through which dirty water is flushed from the appliance and into the plumbing lines in the house. The drain is covered by a valve that opens when the dishwasher is draining the water. Food remnants can clog the valve so it can't close, which may cause water to back up and flood out of the dishwasher wherever the water can find an outlet. Dishwashers typically drain into the house plumping lines or garbage disposal. If the plumbing lines have clog problems, such as invasive tree roots, or if the garbage disposal is backed up and clogged, water will back up into the dishwasher and may leak or flood from the dishwasher. A garbage disposal and sink may also fill with dirty water. Take steps to clear the pipes or disposal, and wait for the dishwasher to drain on the next cycle. If the leak and clogs persist, call a plumber.

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