Closeup of dishes in a KitchenAid® dishwasher

Types of Dishwasher Leaks and Tips on How to Fix Them

After a day spent baking, cooking or roasting that leaves you with a pile of dirty dishes, the last thing you want to find is a dishwasher leak. Over time, a dishwasher and its parts start to wear down, reducing its performance level and possibly causing leaks. Use this article to learn about the causes of dishwasher leaks and whether they can be repaired or if you need to consider upgrading your appliance.

Woman closing a loaded dishwasher

How to Tell If a Dishwasher Is Leaking

Puddles of water on the floor near the door of the dishwasher usually signifies a leak. Dried water stains on the floor or sides of the dishwasher can also indicate a smaller leak. When the leak occurs underneath the dishwasher, you may not see any water at all, but you may notice a smell indicating mold from an old or long-occuring leak.

Select KitchenAid® dishwashers offer a Leak Detection System with multiple sensing points, a water flow monitor and a drip tray to protect against potential sources of leaks. If the system detects a problem, the dishwasher will stop the cycle, drain and alert you that a service is needed.

Why is My Dishwasher Leaking? Common Causes

There can be a variety of reasons for a leaky dishwasher, including:

  • Broken or damaged gasket 

  • Faulty door latch 

  • Cracked or defective valve connection

  • Unlevel dishwasher 

  • Water supply leak 

  • Wrong detergent used 

Locating where the leak is coming from can help you identify what may be causing the issue and what course of action you can take. Note that you should always consult your owner's manual for specific information prior to trying repairs.

Stainless steel KitchenAid® dishwasher in between light grey cabinets

Dishwasher is leaking from the bottom

If your dishwasher is leaking from the bottom of the unit, then chances are that you may be having issues with the water inlet valve, a water supply leak or an unlevel dishwasher. Read on below to learn how to diagnose and resolve each issue.

Close up image of the bottom of a dishwasher

FAULTY INLET VALVE OR CRACKED HOSE

Over time, your valve and hose, which allow water to come into the tub, may loosen or become damaged. If that's the case, replacing the valve and/or hose may be your best option. Check the hose for any cracks and inspect the valve for leaks. If cracks or leaks are found, you may want to schedule a service with a professional. KitchenAid® dishwashers come with a warranty that covers the repair/replacement of worn or damaged parts by a certified technician.

Replacement dishwasher hose

WATER SUPPLY LEAK

You'll need to reference your owner's guide to see where your water supply is installed, since locations may vary depending on your dishwasher's manufacturer and model. If your dishwasher wasn’t installed properly, the water supply connection may not be tight enough to prevent leaks. When you purchase a new KitchenAid® dishwasher, you have the option to select professional installation to ensure your appliance is properly connected.

Stainless steel front control dishwasher next to dark cabinets

UNLEVEL DISHWASHER

An unlevel dishwasher may cause water to overflow the tub and onto the floor beneath the door. To check if your dishwasher is not level, place a level on the top front of the unit and check front to back. If it's not level: 

  • Unplug the dishwasher or turn off the circuit breaker.
     

  • Remove the dishwasher access panel. 
     

  • Adjust the leveling legs up or down with either a hex head socket or an adjustable wrench. 
     

  • To raise the dishwasher, turn the legs counterclockwise, and to lower, turn clockwise.

Person closing a stainless steel top control dishwasher

Dishwasher is leaking from the door or the front

If your dishwasher is leaking from the door, then you may be encountering issues with a broken/damaged gasket or a defective door latch. This can happen with older dishwasher models as parts may wear out over time. If you notice suds coming out of your dishwasher during the cycle, then it may be that you're using the wrong detergent.

Close up image of a dishwasher door gasket

BROKEN OR DAMAGED GASKET

The gasket is the rubber seal that keeps the door airtight shut during the washing cycle. If you notice that soil is preventing the gasket from shutting the door correctly, then a simple clean up should do the trick. However, if you notice that there are tears or missing pieces to the seal, then replacing it will be your best bet. 

  • Wipe down the gasket using a clean, damp cloth.
     
  • For stubborn soil, use a toothbrush and warm, soapy water.
     
  • If you notice any mold or mildew, use 3% hydrogen peroxide to clean. 

  • If the gasket is damaged, consult your owner's manual for specific information on which gasket to buy and how to replace it. KitchenAid® dishwashers under warranty may be  covered for this replacement performed by a licensed technician. Consult your product warranty and schedule a service.

Close up image of a dishwasher door latch

BROKEN OR DEFECTIVE LATCH

The door latch will keep the door shut in place as the dishwasher goes through the cleaning cycle. On older dishwashers, the latch can become loose, bent or broken. If the door isn't staying shut or if water leaks out during cycles, then chances are the culprit is a loose or bent door latch. 

  • Unplug the dishwasher or shut off the circuit breaker. 
     

  • Check the latch. If it's loose, tighten with a screwdriver.
     

  • If you notice that your latch is bent or broken, you'll need to replace it with a latch specific to your model. Reference your owner's manual for specific information.

Close up image of a dishwasher detergent dispenser

WRONG DETERGENT USED

Dishwasher cycles should also be run with detergent specific for automatic dishwashers. Do not use regular dish detergent used to hand wash dishes, since it may cause an overproduction of suds that may overflow the dishwasher.

Man loading a dishwasher

Dishwasher is leaking from the sides

The most common cause for leaking coming from the sides of the dishwasher is a faulty gasket. Double check that your gasket doesn't need to be cleaned or replaced with the steps listed above.

Dishwasher is leaking from the vent

If you notice a lot of steam coming from the sides of the dishwasher as it's running or water collects around the air vent, then you may have a clogged drain line. If that's the case, then hiring a professional to locate and remove the blockage may be necessary.

Dishwasher drain hose is leaking

A leaky drain hose may come from a loose connection or years of wear and tear of an outdated dishwasher. The hose connects the pump under the dishwasher to your home's garbage disposal or sink. Check that the hose clamp screws are securely in place. If they aren't:

  • Tighten the nuts with an adjustable wrench.

  • Use thread seal tape to replace any old or worn tape.

Should I repair or replace my leaky dishwasher?

Many of the causes of dishwasher leaks can be attributed to worn out parts on an old or outdated appliance. It can be a challenge to find compatible replacement parts for models past their life expectancy. Problems that pop up on an older model can be an indication that your dishwasher may need an upgrade.

DISCOVER NEW KITCHENAID® DISHWASHERS

If after several attempts you realize that you may need a new dishwasher after all, then KitchenAid brand offers a selection of dishwashers designed with advanced cleaning and performance features to keep up with the way you create. Explore dishwashers with features like the Advanced Clean Water Wash System that circulates clean water to all three racks, and the Fan-Enabled ProDry System that provides thorough drying so dishes come out ready to use for your next creation.

Learn More About KitchenAid® Dishwashers