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How to fix a leaking dishwasher

Dishwasher leaking water and soap out onto kitchen floor

Besides leaving a mess on your kitchen floor, a leaking dishwasher can cause serious damage to your home. So if your appliance has sprung a leak, you should try and fix it right away.

Not sure where to start? Asurion Experts are trained and experienced with all major appliances, so they're proven pros at solving precisely this kind of problem. Here's their guide to fix a leaking dishwasher.

Why is my dishwasher leaking?

A number of factors can cause a dishwasher to leak, but the good news is that there are usually simple solutions. Here are a few common dishwasher issues that you may be able to diagnose (or even repair) yourself:

  • A leaking dishwasher door gasket
  • A broken float switch
  • A broken spray arm
  • A malfunctioning water valve
  • A damaged drain

We'll walk you through how to troubleshoot these problems. Before you start, remember to unplug your dishwasher or, if it is hardwired, shut off the circuit breaker in the electrical box and turn off the connected water source. And if at any time you feel like you could use a little help, book a repair with an appliance pro.

A leaking dishwasher door gasket

The dishwasher door gasket is the rubbery lining around the edge of the door that seals it when you close it.

How to check

Inspect the gasket for damage—such as cracks, tears, gaps, wear and tear, or buildup. Problems with the gasket can stop the door from sealing properly and cause your dishwasher to leak.

How to repair

If the gasket is damaged, repair it with an appropriate replacement part for your dishwasher model. You can find information on replacements in your dishwasher manual, or check the manufacturer's website. After you remove the old gasket, clean the surface well and allow it to dry. Before installing the new gasket, smooth out creases or wrinkles with a hairdryer on low heat. Then, press the new gasket into place without stretching it, starting at the middle of the top of the channel. Close the dishwasher door, reopen it, and check the alignment of the gasket. Once it's in place, close the dishwasher door and leave it for several hours to allow the gasket to set.

A broken float switch

The float switch is located at the bottom of the dishwasher tub and is connected to the float, which rises with the water level. If the float switch is broken, it may not stop the water from flowing into the dishwasher tub, leading the appliance to overfill and eventually leak.

How to check

If your dishwasher allows you to, open the door during the wash cycle to determine whether the water level is below the heating element. It’s the curved, round piece in the bottom of your dishwasher; it looks a little like the heating elements on the bottom and top of your oven. You can also diagnose a broken float switch by testing it with a multimeter—check out our guide on how to use a multimeter for more information.  

How to repair

Because of the complexity of this repair, we recommend you book a repair with an experienced appliance technician to install the replacement part.

A broken spray arm

The dishwasher spray arm is generally located at the bottom of the appliance’s tub. Some dishwashers also have spray arms below the top shelf or in the top of the tub. These spray arms shoot water to clean your dishes.  

How to check

Check the spray arms for damage or buildup, and manually spin them to ensure they are moving freely and correctly.

How to repair

If there is buildup blocking the holes, you can remove the dishwasher spray arms and clean them using soap and water or distilled white vinegar. If a spray arm is damaged, you’ll need to replace it. Some dishwasher models allow you to simply take out the bottom rack, pull the spray arm out to remove it, then insert the new one into the slot. Other types of spray arms, like ones located on the top or sides of the washer, may be more difficult to replace. If that’s the case, reach out to an appliance repair expert.

A malfunctioning water valve

This valve is located at the bottom of the dishwasher, typically behind the kick panel, and it lets water to enter your appliance. 

How to check

If your dishwasher model allows, open the door during the wash cycle to check for overfilling. If the water level is reaching the washer basket or is above the heating elements, your dishwasher is overfilling and your water valve may be malfunctioning. 

How to repair

If you suspect the water inlet valve isn’t working properly, you may need help from a professional. Before you reach out to an appliance repair expert for help with the replacement, you might also try ensuring that there’s no debris blocking the valve. To do so, first unplug your dishwasher or, if it’s hardwired, shut off the circuit breaker and turn off the water supply. Then remove the kick plate to access the water inlet valve. Once you locate it, place a towel underneath the valve and unscrew the attached hose. Then find the mesh filter inside the hose and pull it out—you may need a pair of needle-nose pliers to help. Run the filter under warm water to clean it, pat it dry, and then replace it and hook the hose back up to the inlet valve. 

A damaged drain

Another reason your dishwasher may be overflowing is a damaged drain, which could cause water to pool below and around your machine.  

How to check

Examine the filter at the bottom of the dishwasher tub for potential clogs. You’ll need to remove the kickplate to see if there is water under the dishwasher where the drain hose is located. The kickplate is usually attached with screws to the sides of the dishwasher to hold it in place. Unscrew these, then pull the kickplate off to remove it. If there are no blockages or damage to the filter, drain hose, sink drain, or sump, it’s possible the drain pump itself is broken.  

How to repair

If there is a blockage, remove it and clean the drain with vinegar or soap and water. Schedule a repair with an appliance expert if you suspect the drain pump has failed or a part in the drain system is damaged and needs to be replaced.

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