Why is my dishwasher leaking (and how do I fix it)?


By Kristy Snyder

Here's something you never want to see: your dishwater leaking water all over your kitchen floor. Not good.

As you frantically clean up the mess to prevent serious water damage, you're probably wondering — why is my dishwasher leaking? 

5 reasons why your dishwasher is leaking water.

There are a few common causes of dishwasher leaks. To find out what could be causing your woes, check out these culprits and how to troubleshoot them:

1. Cracked or damaged tub.

Over time, your dishwasher sees a lot of wear and tear. One place this can show up is in the dishwasher tub. This area may develop cracks or damage that can let water seep out during a cycle.

What to do: To see if this is the problem, visually inspect the bottom of your dishwasher. Do you see any cracks or fissures? If so, this is likely something you'll need to have a professional fix for you

2. Loose or damaged hoses.

Your dishwasher has hoses for intake and outtake, so there's always a risk of loose connections. Two areas to look out for are the drain line and the water supply line.

What to do: To know which line might be leaking, consider where the leak is happening. If you see water pooling underneath the unit, chances are it's the water supply line. If the water mostly pools in your dishwasher tub and spills out, then it's likely the drain hose. You might be able to repair these on your own by tightening the connections.

The problem could also be with the water inlet valve itself. This valve controls when and how much water flows into the water supply line. If there's an issue with it, you may notice water gushing during a cycle.

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3. Broken door seal or gasket.

The latch and gasket seal your dishwasher's door shut. They work together to create a watertight barrier. If one or both break, you'll see water leaking through the door.

What to do: To determine if the door seal is broken, see if the latch clicks. Next, inspect the latch to see if it's bent.

You should also inspect the rubber seal and gasket. Look at the inside of the door. Do you see it sagging or torn in places? It can also get so covered in debris that it can't make the proper connections. 

Depending on the damage, you may be able to DIY this task. If not, contact a pro for help.

Related: Dishwasher repair guide: How to fix dishwasher problems.

4. User error.

Simple mistakes when loading dishes can result in a leaky dishwasher. For example, putting too many dishes on the racks can cause your dishwasher to use too much water. The water has nowhere to go but out of the door.

Also, using the wrong or too much detergent is another common error. Dishwasher detergents are specifically designed so they don't create too many suds. Opting for regular dish soap is a recipe for disaster.

What to do: Be careful when loading your dishwasher. Ensure that the dishes do not block the spray arm and that they're properly aligned. Check your owner's manual for specific instructions for your dishwasher.

5. Unlevel surface.

If your dishwasher isn't sitting entirely flat, it could be causing a leak. The slight angle could allow water to escape out one side during a cycle.

What to do: This is easy to check. Just whip out a level, place it on top of the dishwasher, and see if it's off-center.

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How do you fix a leaking dishwasher?

To fix a leaking dishwasher, make sure you have the following tools on hand:

  • Screwdriver
  • Pliers
  • Towels
  • Bucket
  • Cleaning supplies and warm soapy water

Important note: The exact steps will vary depending on what you think the problem is. But a good tip for any troubleshooting is to turn off the water supply. That way, you won't accidentally unleash a cascade of water onto your kitchen floor.

Fixing a water supply line leak.

If you think the problem is a water supply line leak, remove the lower kick panel and sound insulation. Then, find the water line hookup. It's generally at the front left corner.

Check the water connection, and hand tighten the hose to make sure it's tight enough. Use pliers to tighten the coupling.

Fixing a leaky drain line.

The drain line usually comes out the bottom of the dishwasher cabinet, so this is where you'll be working. Investigate the hose clamp to make sure it's in the right position.

If everything looks ok, the problem may be a clog in the line. You'll need to call in a professional.

Related: Why won’t my dishwasher drain? 6 troubleshooting tips.

Fixing a damaged gasket or seal.

Once bent or otherwise damaged, latches and gasket seals often need to be replaced. If you're lucky, they might just be loose. Try tightening them with a screwdriver first.

If that doesn't work, make sure to order the correct replacement part and then switch them out.

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Tips to prevent dishwasher leaks in the future.

Once you've got your leak under control, how do you stop it from happening again? It's simple as long as you perform routine maintenance and follow the correct operating instructions for your dishwasher model.

For example, do the following:

  • Always make sure you're using the right amount of dishwashing detergent. Use too much, and you could be in suds city. Avoid using regular dish soap for the same reason.
  • Don't overload your dishwasher or put things in the wrong place. Generally, the bottom rack is for plates and large bowls, while the upper rack is for smaller items like cups and tiny bowls. This prevents water from pushing up against the door and causing leaks.
  • Clean your filter regularly. Pull it out from its compartment, and follow these instructions to clean and unclog the filter.
  • Wipe down the doors and seals. Don't let your dishwasher's rubber seals and gasket get soiled. If so, the door may not latch and cause a leak.

Related: How to clean a dishwasher in 9 easy steps.

Dishwasher still leaking? Contact a pro.

There's no shame if you can't fix your dishwasher on your own — it's a complex machine with many moving parts. For more help troubleshooting leaks, call in a professional. A local plumber, handyman, or appliance repair technician can dive deep into dishwasher repairs so you never have to deal with leaks again.

To get started, download the Thumbtack app today and start getting price quotes from repair professionals.

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