Dishwasher Diagnostics: Why Your Dishwasher Is Leaking And What You Can Do About It

14 December 2015
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A leaking dishwasher can be a damage hazard in your home, especially if your kitchen is carpeted or has hardwood or laminate flooring. Fortunately, most leaks do not mean you have to replace the unit -- some replacement parts or tweaking in the plumbing might be all you need. First, though, you'll need to determine the source of the leak. This guide can help you diagnose the leak and help you know what repairs you need.

Gasket Leaks

Gasket leaks are the most common type of dishwasher leak. They are caused when the gasket -- the seal around the door or the dishwasher -- peels away or becomes cracked, allowing water to escape during wash cycles. A damaged gasket is easy to diagnose. Simply inspect the seal, looking for warped areas, cracks, or missing pieces. If the seal looks good, you can test how well it functions by closing the dishwasher door with a dollar bill in between the seal and the drum of the unit. If the seal is working well, it should be hard to pull the paper out. If the seal does not firmly hold the paper, you know that the gasket is not functioning well and could be leaking. 

Usually, a gasket cannot be repaired completely. For a proper fix, it will need to be replaced. Replacing a gasket properly can be tricky, especially if you have an older dishwasher. It's best to leave replacing a gasket to an appliance repair specialist, such as Anderson's Appliance Repair Service

Hose Leaks

Hose leaks are the next most common type of leak. They occur when the hoses and fittings of the dishwasher are cracked or loose, allowing water to escape during the wash cycle or when the unit is draining. Usually, you can test to see if the hoses are leaking by first looking at where the water from the leak is pooling. If water seems to be coming from underneath the dishwasher instead of from the dishwasher door, this is a sign that the the hoses could be the issue. 

You will need to take off the bottom front panel on the outside of the dishwasher (below the door, near the floor), which will allow you to see underneath. You will be able to feel the hoses and see if they are wet on the outside. You can also feel the areas where the hoses meet the dishwasher. If any water drips from these openings, they will need to be repaired. In order to repair the hoses, you will need to pull the dishwasher out from the counter, taking care not the tear the insulating layer. Be sure you flip the breaker to eliminate the risk of electrocution. Replacement hoses and fittings can be found at any appliance store and instructions for installing them should be included in your owner's manual. If you have trouble replacing them yourself, you can call a repair service to solve the problem.

You should be aware that water pooling under the dishwasher can also be caused by inlet valve leaks. You can diagnose an inlet valve problem easily: if the hoses are not the problem, the only culprit left is the water intake, which is usually on the left side. You should never use a dishwasher that is leaking from the inlet valve until it has been fixed, as the water from this valve is closer to the electric supply and can cause shorts. 

Water Level Leaks

Another potential leak source is from the dishwasher body itself. When your dishwasher fills up, it only fills the bottom of the dishwasher to the level below the door. When water climbs up higher than this, the gasket is not able to prevent all the water from escaping. Symptoms of a too-high water level include water pooling in the washer after the cycle is completed (this leaves extra water for the next cycle that should not be there), or water spilling out of the washer when you open the door mid-cycle. Water level problems are caused by clogs in the hoses, which can be fixed by either removing the hoses and cleaning them out, or replacing the hoses if the clog is too difficult to remove.