Help! My Dishwasher is Leaking From the Bottom: What Do I Do?

By: Diana Rodriguez-Zaba
Updated on: October 20, 2023

No one wants to walk into the kitchen and see leaks around the bottom of the dishwasher. You’re looking at an appliance that has to be fixed and water damage that has to be cleaned up.

It’s a situation we know well. It’s usually a situation you can manage too, if you know where to start.

ServiceMaster by Zaba takes care of all types of water damage for Chicago homeowners, and we do it with more than 15 years of restoration experience.

Read on for helpful tips on how to fix a dishwasher that leaks from the bottom.

Signs of a Dishwasher Leaking From the Bottom

signs of dishwasher leaking from the bottom

When your dishwasher operates properly, its pump valve brings water into the tub through the inlet pipe. Spray bars convert the water into a powerful spray that cleans the dishes.

The tub empties through the drain hose, and the cycle repeats.

When dishwasher components break down and cause leaks, you’ll notice one or several of these signs.

  • Puddles of water under and in front of the dishwasher
  • Discolored residue buildup inside the bottom of the tub
  • Musty mold-like odors when opening the dishwasher door
  • Unusual noises as the dishwasher progresses through cycles
  • Water damage on the kitchen floor adjacent to the dishwasher

Before You Get Started

  • Unplug the unit or turn off its circuit breaker.
  • Make sure the dishwasher water supply is shut down.
  • Have a mop, bucket and plenty of towels handy just in case.

How to Fix a Dishwasher That’s Leaking From the Bottom

how to fix dishwasher leaking from the bottom

If the dishwasher suddenly overflows, you immediately turn it off and investigate. 

Leaks from the bottom of the dishwasher aren’t as dramatic, but they need to be taken care of right away. 

Here’s what to look for, why it happens and how to fix it yourself.

Cause #1: Faulty Door Gasket

Where It Leaks – Water leaks directly in front of and around the dishwasher door. 

Why It Happens – The rubber door gasket is too damaged or loose to form a watertight seal.

How to Fix It – Open the dishwasher door all the way, and pull out the bottom rack. Grab the rubber gasket, and peel it off the door. Clean and dry the exposed area. Using the notch in the center of the new gasket as a guide, place it in the groove on top of the door and work it into place.

Cause #2: Leaks Due to a Clogged Filter

Where It Leaks – Water backs up and out of the dishwasher catch basin and collects under the unit.

Why It Happens – Oil and grease build-up, trapped particles of food and general debris clog the filter.

How to Fix It – Unlock the mesh filter by twisting it until it releases. Clean the filter under hot running water using dish soap, wipe it down with a dry towel, and lock it back in place.

Cause #3: Leaks Stuck Float Switch

Where It Leaks – A bad switch float causes water to leak onto the floor from all sides of the dishwasher.

Why It Happens – The float switch becomes stuck and doesn’t properly control water levels, resulting in tub overfill.

How to Fix It – Locate the float switch at the bottom back corner of the dishwasher tub. Remove it by disconnecting its wiring and then unscrewing the switch. After replacing it with a compatible float switch, test run the dishwasher to be sure it’s operating properly.

Cause #4. Leaking Inlet Valve

Where It Leaks – Leaks from a faulty inlet valve pool on the floor around all sides of the dishwasher.

Why It Happens – A corroded inlet valve doesn’t completely close between cycles, allowing the dishwasher to overfill.

How to Fix It – Access the valve by removing the dishwasher kickplate panel. Disconnect the valve’s clamp, screws and inlet hose. Replace the faulty part with a new valve by reversing the steps for disconnecting the old valve.

Cause #5. Damaged Dishwasher Tub

Where It Leaks – Tub leaks typically collect under the dishwasher and may not be obvious right away.

Why It Happens – Corrosion and age damage the tub, resulting in cracked seals between tub walls and the dishwasher.

How to Fix It – Because of its size and enclosed components, replacing a damaged dishwasher tub isn’t a DIY project. Diana Rodriguez-Zaba recommends, “Jobs this big are more than most homeowners can handle. Let a dishwasher repair technician take care of the heavy lifting.”

How to Prevent a Dishwasher From Leaking at the Bottom

how to prevent dishwasher from leaking

Appliances eventually break down, but you can minimize the risk with regular maintenance and a few preventive tips. 

These easy routines can head off leaks that might otherwise turn into flooded kitchen disasters.

  • Regularly check the door gasket for signs of wear or slippage, and keep it clean.
  • Keep the filter clear by removing and rinsing several times a month.
  • If you hear unusual sounds during a cycle, open the door, and investigate.
  • Always run and clear the garbage disposal before using the dishwasher.
  • Check your owner’s manual for maintenance tips specific to your dishwasher model.

If your leaky dishwasher does flood the kitchen, be prepared. These tips can make it easier to deal with the mess.

  • Know in advance where to turn off the dishwasher’s electricity and water supply.
  • Update your contacts with the phone number for a water damage company, like ServiceMaster by Zaba.
  • Double-check your homeowners insurance, and confirm that it covers water damage from a leaky dishwasher.

Dealing With Water Damage From a Leaking Dishwasher? We’re Just Around the Corner!

If a dishwasher leak gets out of control, don’t let the damage spread. Call a professional restoration company.

If you’re dealing with water damage here in Chicago, we’re just around the corner. Our teams are on call 24/7 for homeowners in Northshore and Lake County too.

When you need help with any type of water damage emergency, you can count on ServiceMaster by Zaba.

Helpful Resources for Homeowners

Online Owners Manuals – Ask.Com

Fix Leak Week – EPA

Energy Saving Dishwashers – EnergyStar.Gov

Are leaks from the bottom of the dishwasher always obvious?

In most situations, you’ll see obvious signs of the dishwasher leaking from the bottom. However, dishwasher leaks can develop towards the back of the unit. When this happens, it may take several days or even weeks for the leak to spread and become noticeable.

Can a leak from the bottom of the dishwasher damage my kitchen?

Yes. Water from a leaking dishwasher seeps into the floor directly under and around the unit, as well as adjacent walls and cabinets. If the leaks aren’t detected and taken care of right away, long-term water damage sets in. The results can be buckled flooring, crumbled drywall and warped wood in cabinets.

When do I need professional cleanup for leaks from the bottom of the dishwasher?

If the leakage goes unnoticed for more than a few days, let a water damage restoration company take care of cleanup. For example, ServiceMaster by Zaba cleans, sanitizes and deodorizes the affected area, and we also address secondary water damage problems, such as mold growth, crumbled drywall and ruined flooring.