How to Diagnose a Dishwasher Leak

The inside of an empty dishwasher.
  • 1-4 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 0-100
What You'll Need
Replacement hoses
Replacement inlet valve
What You'll Need
Replacement hoses
Replacement inlet valve

A dishwasher leak can cause many problems. If it is leaking enough you can see it, the chances are very high there is much more water damage you can't see, and a bigger problem then just a wet floor.

When there is moisture and warmth left for any length of time, mold and mildew will soon follow. Household mold can be very detrimental to your health and has been linked to the death of very young infants. Therefore, diagnosing and repairing a dishwasher leak can be very important to your health and the health of your family.

Step 1 - Check the Gaskets

Like most appliances, dishwashers have a rubber gasket around the inside edge of the door which helps to keep the water and soap inside. If this gasket is torn or cracked due to age, this could be the source of your leak.

To check the gasket, start by visually inspecting it for any tears. If you do not see any, take a piece of notebook or newspaper and insert it at the top portion of the door along the side.

Then close the door on the paper and try to gently pull the paper out of the door. Open the door and move the paper to the next space and do this all along both sides of the dishwasher. A dishwasher should have enough of a seal to make pulling the paper out difficult, so if it slides out easily, you need to replace the gasket.

Step 2 - Check the Hoses

man repairing a dishwasher

A dishwasher leak can also be caused by one of the hoses attached to it. To get access to them, you'll need to remove the kick plate, thus exposing electrical controls and wiring.

Caution—Before removing any protective covers from the dishwasher and exposing the electrical area, always turn off the power at the breaker.

Then locate the screws holding the kickplate in place and remove it. You can then see the inlet solenoid valve right in the front with the fill hose attached to it. Run your hand or fingers along the hose feeling for water. Use a flashlight or trouble light and shine it underneath to spot where the water is on the floor, or where it's dripping from, especially at the inlet valve's connection point.

There is also a larger hose for the drainage connected to the dishwasher, but this one usually coming from the back of the unit. If it's not easily accessible, you will have to remove some screws fastening the top part of it to the cabinet.

Pull out the dishwasher revealing the drain hose. Then feel and look for wet spots. Look near the connection points and also on the floor directly under where the connection points are normally located.

If the hoses are leaking at a connection point, the clamp may have simply come loose. If this is the case, simply tighten the clamp. If there is moisture on the hose itself, see if you can feel for a crack or hole. Damage to either of these hoses will mean immediate replacement.

Step 3 - Check the Water Inlet Valve

This is also a good time to check the water inlet valve. This valve is the connection the hoses are attached to and could be leaking. If you see or feel the water around it that is not coming from the hoses, you will need to replace the valve.

A dishwasher leak from the water inlet valve can be dangerous due to the wires that are also attached to the solenoid valve. If the inlet valve is the source of the problem, do not use the dishwasher until it has been repaired.

Step 4 - Check the Water Level

If the tub on your dishwasher gets too full, it can also cause a dishwasher leak. To check the tub level, turn the dishwasher on and let it fill. Once you hear the water shut off, open the door.

The water level should be just below the lower edge of the door. If it is any higher, check the dishwasher for clogs which may be preventing water from properly draining.

While these aren't the only malfunctions your dishwasher can have that may lead to leaks, these are some of the most common. If you've checked all of these places and still can't locate your leak, it may be time to call in professional help.