Dishwasher Flooding: A Repair And Prevention Guide4 min read

Dishwashers are certainly one of the most convenient kitchen appliances out there — but not when they’re flooding or leaking. A malfunctioning dishwasher can be frustrating, smelly, and a safety hazard. So, what causes a dishwasher to flood, and what can you do about it?

Clogs in the dishwasher drain, hose, and filter can cause flooding. Cleaning the drain grate and filter can help remove clogs. Make sure the drain hose has no kinks and is free of blockages. Prevent future issues by keeping your unit well-maintained and putting large debris in the trash.

Try not to panic if water starts to pool in the bottom of your dishwasher; we’re here to help. This is a pretty common issue and is usually fairly straightforward to resolve if you know what to do. Let’s look at everything you need to know to repair and prevent dishwasher flooding.

common culprits of a flooded dishwasher

Finding still water in your dishwasher after a wash cycle can be alarming. The stagnant water may be contaminated and smelly, and you might need to rewash your dishes.

Although a bit of water at the bottom of the tub is nothing to worry about, anything more than 1 or 2 cups worth of water indicates that your dishwasher isn’t draining correctly — and you’ll have to find a solution.

Some common culprits behind dishwasher flooding and clogs include the following:

  • Clogged Filter Basket
  • Blocked Drain Hose
  • Garbage Disposal Issues
  • Clogged Drains
  • Blocked Spray Bars
  • Broken Sewer Line

Any one of these issues could cause your dishwasher to flood. You might also notice gurgling sounds, slow draining, dirty dishes, or unpleasant odors.

Let’s look at what you can do if your dishwasher starts to flood or leak.

take immediate action: What to Do If your Dishwasher Starts Flooding

If you notice water pooling in the bottom of your dishwasher (or beyond), try to stay calm. For starters, unplug the unit or turn off the circuit breaker. You can typically find a power outlet next to the appliance inside your kitchen cabinets.

Next, mop up the water from the dishwasher cabinet using towels and a bucket. Inspect any dishes left over from the wash cycle for damage or breaks. Grab the following tools before jumping into the troubleshooting process:

Once your tools are ready, you can move on to the troubleshooting methods below.

How to Manually Drain a Dishwasher

Ensure your dishwasher is turned off and unplugged before following the steps below:

Remove the dish racks from your appliance and find the drain grate. The drain grate is at the bottom of the dishwasher on the “floor” of the unit. You can usually remove the grate with a Phillips head screwdriver.

Dishwasher Drain Gate
The drain gate is located underneath this plastic part of the dishwasher
  1. Now, take a drain auger or a homemade mixture to clear debris from the drain pipe. You can use equal parts baking soda and vinegar as a drain flush.
  2. Pour equal parts baking soda and vinegar into the bottom of the unit. Let the mixture sit and bubble for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Turn your dishwasher on and run a rinse cycle using the highest temperature setting.

Now, determine if the flooding situation has been resolved. If the issue isn’t fixed, you’ll need to move on to the troubleshooting methods below.

How to Unclog a Dishwasher

If cleaning the dishwasher drain didn’t fix the issue, it’s time to move on to the filter. Consult the owner’s manual or find your model online if you need help locating the dishwasher filter.

If you can’t find a filter at all, your model may not have one.

  1. After you find the dishwasher filter, remove it by turning it clockwise until you feel it release. You should now have access to the larger coarse filter underneath it.
  2. Clean out any food waste, debris, and grime within the filter slot. You can wash the filters in your kitchen sink using warm, soapy water.
  3. Reinsert the filters and turn the top filter counterclockwise to secure it in place.
  4. Gently spin the sprayer arm to ensure the filter is installed correctly and isn’t blocking anything.
  5. Now, run a rinse cycle on the highest temperature setting and see if the issue is fixed.

Check and Clean the Drain Hose

If you’re still dealing with a flooded dishwasher after trying the above solutions, the drain hose might be the culprit.

The dishwasher drain hose is typically located at the back of the unit. You may need to pull out your unit from the wall to reach the drain hose.

Dishwasher Hose

Some units have a removable plate on the backside that allows access to the hose. Make sure the dishwasher is turned off and unplugged before following the instructions below:

  1. Inspect the drain hose for any kinks, knots, or bends that may prevent it from draining correctly.
  2. If there aren’t any kinks or bends, loosen the clamp on the hose with a pair of pliers. This will allow you to inspect the hose for any clogs. Be sure to have towels or buckets ready to soak up any water.
  3. Flush the hose with hot water and inspect it to see if the water is flowing correctly. If there’s a blockage, you can use equal parts baking soda and vinegar as a homemade flush.
  4. Alternatively, you can replace the drain hose if the clog is too big. Ensure the high-rise loop is maintained when replacing.
  5. Otherwise, reattach the clamp and move the dishwasher back into place. Run a rinse cycle on the highest temperature setting to see if the issue is solved.

How to Prevent Your Dishwasher From Flooding

Following the troubleshooting steps above should resolve your dishwasher flooding problem. Fortunately, you can also take several preventative measures to stop your unit from leaking again in the future:

  • Use the recommended type of detergent and amount for your dishwasher. Too much detergent can cause leaks or safety hazards.
  • Be sure to load your dishwasher correctly. Misaligned dishes can cause water to leak out of the door vent or pool on the bottom of the unit. Improperly arranged kitchenware can also damage one another and moving parts in your machine.  
  • Inspect the dishwasher door gasket. Leaks around the edges of the dishwasher door may indicate that the gasket needs to be replaced or tightened.
  • Keep your dishwasher clean and well-maintained. Be sure to follow any maintenance instructions in the owner’s manual. Don’t ignore unusual sounds or odors so that issues don’t get out of hand.

These tips should help prevent your dishwasher from leaking or flooding. That said, issues can still occur, and it’s best to address them as soon as possible. Don’t hesitate to call a service technician if you notice unusual behavior from your appliance.

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Hi, I'm Ed, and I run BuildFanatic! I enjoy providing the best possible information on a range of home improvement topics.

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