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Dishwasher Flooding: How To Fix a Leaky Dishwasher [+4 Causes]

Water leaks from dishwasher onto a kitchen floor.

Major causes of dishwasher flooding include overfilling, drainage issues, flawed installation, or damage. To prevent dishwasher flooding, consider inspecting the gasket, monitoring water levels, checking hoses, and searching for water in the inlet valve.

Damage from household floods can set you back thousands of dollars; thankfully, quick action can save you from these hefty costs. Dishwashers are among the top appliances that can cause home and business flooding. Sometimes, the leak occurs where you can see it. Other times, the leak is hidden, causing unseen damage that can be detrimental to the structure of your property. That’s why it’s so important to check your dishwasher for leaks, whether you suspect a problem or not.

Learn what to check for, why your dishwasher is flooding, and how to handle dishwasher flooding in our guide below.

An illustration describes how to stop dishwasher flooding.

What To Do If Your Dishwasher Floods

If you notice your dishwasher flooding, act fast to stop the water flow and reduce the damage.  Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Locate the waterline: The waterline connecting the main water supply to your dishwasher is typically a flexible tube located under the kitchen sink. Open the cabinet under the sink and look for a tube that runs from the wall or the floor up to the dishwasher. It's usually made of copper or plastic and is relatively thin compared to other pipes under the sink.
  2. Turn off the water valve: A single valve may control the water flow to both the dishwasher and the hot water side of the kitchen sink. Find the main water shut-off valve in your home or commercial space. Turn the knob clockwise as far as it will go to shut off the water.
  3. Mop up water: Remove the standing water with towels, mops, or a wet-dry vacuum. Pay attention to water that may have reached underneath appliances or cabinets to prevent water damage and types of mold from growing.
  4. Contact a water damage professionals: After managing the immediate issue, it’s time to think of professional water damage restoration. If water soaked into your floor or walls, service professionals can dry hidden water to prevent mold growth.
  5. Schedule appliance repair: Schedule an appointment with a professional for dishwasher repair to ensure the underlying cause of the leak is addressed and your dishwasher is properly fixed to prevent future issues.

How To Check Your Dishwasher for Leaks

When checking your dishwasher for leaks, try inspecting the internal components, checking water levels and hoses, and searching for water presence. 

1. Inspect the Gasket

The dishwasher has a rubber gasket running along the inside of the door to keep soap and water contained. Age can cause the gasket to crack or tear. Start by visually inspecting the gasket. 

If you don’t see any signs of wear, test it further by closing the door on a piece of paper. If the paper slides out easily at any point around the gasket, it isn’t creating a tight seal and needs to be replaced. Test it further by running your fingers along the gasket to feel for any irregularities, such as bumps, depressions, or inconsistencies in the texture, that you might not have seen.

2. Monitor the Water Level

Your dishwasher may also leak if the water level gets too high during operation. To test this, turn on the dishwasher and let it fill with water. When you hear the water shut off and the wash cycle begin, open the door and check that the water goes no higher than the lower edge of the door.

If water spills out when you open the door, there could be something wrong with the float switch, or the strainer could be clogged with food and other debris. First, remove the strainer and wash it in the kitchen sink to remove clogs. 

If that doesn’t work, replace the float switch. Check your owner’s manual for specifics on part numbers and proper disassembly and assembly procedures.

3. Check the Hoses

Dishwashers typically have two hoses: a fill hose and a drain hose. To check them, first shut off power to the dishwasher at the breaker box. Then unscrew the access panel at the bottom of the dishwasher and shine a flashlight inside. You’re looking for two 1.5-inch rubber hoses. Run your hand along the hoses and the floor directly beneath them, feeling for wet spots.

Just to be sure, place newspaper under the hoses and fill the bottom of the appliance with water. After a few minutes, check the newspaper for wetness. Even a small leak can amount to substantial water damage over time. If you find a leak, first try tightening the clamps on the hose connection points. If this doesn’t work, have the hoses replaced.

4. Search for Water in the Inlet Valve

While the access panel is removed and power to the dishwasher is turned off, check the water inlet valve as well. This is the connection point that the rubber hoses attach to. 

If you feel water around the inlet valve, you need to have it replaced before you run the dishwasher again due to the dangerous mix of water and wires attached to the valve. 

An illustration describes the main causes of dishwasher flooding.

Why Is My Dishwasher Flooding?

Dishwasher flooding can be due to multiple issues. Four common causes include overfilling, drainage issues, improper installation, and damage to the appliance.


When a dishwasher is packed too densely, the water spray can't reach all the dishes, and water may be deflected in unintended directions, causing it not to drain properly. This excess water can then spill out of the dishwasher, causing an overflow.

Detergent can also generate excessive foam, which most dishwashers can’t handle. The foam can trick the dishwasher into sensing too little water because it displaces the air, causing it to add more water. As the foam dissipates, it leaves excess water, which can lead to leaking or flooding.

Drainage Issues

Food particles, grease, and other debris can accumulate in the drain, forming a blockage that prevents water from exiting the dishwasher. When this happens, the water has nowhere to go but onto your kitchen floor. 

An improperly connected drain hose can also lead to significant flooding issues. If the hose hasn't been installed correctly, it may be kinked or positioned in such a way that it traps water, preventing the dishwasher from draining effectively. 

Improper Installation

If a dishwasher is not level, it can lead to water pooling on one side of the machine and spilling out. This water might not reach the drain as it's supposed to, resulting in water overflow. The unit must be aligned and balanced during installation to ensure water flows where it's meant to, preventing leaks and potential floods.

Gaps in connections, particularly in hoses, are another significant issue stemming from improper installation. If there's a gap in the hose connection, water can leak directly through these spaces, flooding your kitchen. These gaps often result from inadequately tightened connections or hoses that are too short, pulling on the connectors and creating spaces. 

Internal Damage

Cracks in the dishwasher interior can cause water to leak out onto your floor, while a damaged door seal may allow water to seep out the sides of the door. These kinds of issues often result from wear and tear or impact and can develop slowly over time, eventually leading to a flooding event. 

Leaks and gaps in the internal components of the dishwasher can also lead to flooding. A worn-out seal around the pump or a crack in the water inlet valve can result in significant water leakage. When these critical components are damaged, they fail to hold water as they should.

Clickable graphic directing to Rainbow Restoration's blog How To Find & Turn Off a Main Water Shut-off Valve in Emergencies.

How To Recover From Dishwasher Flooding

Water damage from dishwasher flooding can be stressful and challenging, especially considering the potential for long-term damage to your kitchen. This is where the expertise of a water damage professional becomes invaluable. These experts not only understand the immediate aspects of water removal but also the secondary effects of water damage, such as mold growth, electrical hazards, and structural issues. 

By investing in a professional restoration, you're not just cleaning up the current mess; you're protecting your home or business against the long-term effects of water damage and potentially saving significant repair costs down the line. It's about restoring your peace of mind and the safety and comfort of your space.

Don’t delay; book an appointment with a water damage restoration professional.

This article is intended for general informational purposes only and may not be applicable to every situation. You are responsible for determining the proper course of action for your property. Services should be performed by licensed and experienced professionals. Rainbow Restoration is not responsible for any damages that occur as a result of this blog content or your actions. For the most accurate guidance, contact a Rainbow Restoration professional for a custom, on-site assessment.

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