One of the worst problems that a dishwasher can have is water leaking through the door and pooling on the floor below. Cleaning it up can be a real drag — and the water could potentially lead to more serious problems like mold. So, what exactly causes this problem and how can you fix it?
The most common causes of a leaky dishwasher door are a damaged door gasket or a clogged drain. For a recently installed dishwasher, the most likely cause is improper alignment leading to a leaking door. First, inspect the door gasket and the drain filter to locate the issue.
Let’s go through each of these potential causes in more detail, and we’ll take a look at some other possible issues as well. I have designed this guide in a way that’ll help you quickly identify where the leak is coming from in a systematic approach.
What Causes a Dishwasher Door to Leak?
There are a few possible causes in relation to your dishwasher door leaking. The first thing to determine is where the leak is coming from. If you don’t know, try running a test cycle with nothing in the dishwasher and observing any leaks.
The most likely cause of a leaking dishwasher door is a poor-fitting door seal and the telltale sign of this is where leakage happens at either side of the door rather than the middle. Later, I walk you through exactly how to fix this issue.
The other most likely cause is a clogged dishwasher filter. This causes water to pool at the bottom of the dishwasher and in turn dirty water leaks through the door. The table below shows other possible causes:
|Signs||Most Likely Cause|
|Water leaks from either side of the door||Damaged door gasket, damaged door latch or loose screws|
|Recently installed dishwasher||Improper dishwasher alignment|
|Water leaks from bottom and water is pooling at bottom of dishwasher after cycle||Clogged drain or clogged air gap|
|Water leaks from beneath the door||Water supply line, drain line or leaking pump|
dishwasher door leaking from the corners: Door seal
Where your dishwasher door leaks from the bottom corners, the most likely issue is an improper seal between the gasket and the door. However, this isn’t necessarily caused by the rubber gasket itself.
I’ll run through three possible causes and fixes in this section (hint: the first fix is really simple and fixes many dishwasher door leaks!).
Fix 1: Check screws along the door seal
The first thing you should check is the screws that run along the dishwasher door. Check to see if any of them are loose, or if when you push down on the metal next to the screw whether there is any flex.
When the dishwasher door is shut and the cycle is running, water sprays around the entire dishwasher, and a screw that’s not tight enough can break the seal on the gasket.
I’ve noticed this is actually quite common in many dishwasher brands and the good news is that it’s an easy fix. All you need to do is this:
- Remove the screw completely
- Cover the thread of the screw in Threadlocker (on Amazon)
- Screw it back in
It’s really important to use threadlocker (or an equivalent) because if you don’t, the screw will just come loose again. Try running a test cycle after tightening the screws. Hopefully, this fixes your leaky door but if not move on to fix 2 and 3.
fix 2: door Latch is Bent or Loose
Another potential issue that could cause a leaky dishwasher door is a bent or loose door latch. If this is the case, the door won’t be able to close properly, and it can lead to a gap in the door’s lining that water can flow through.
If the latch is just loose, you may be able to screw the latch in tighter to fix it. However, if the door latch is bent or broken, you may need to have a new door latch installed on your dishwasher.
fix 3: Damaged Door Gasket
The door gasket is the rubber lining around your dishwasher that causes an airtight seal to form when you close your dishwasher door, preventing water from flowing through. If this gasket has been damaged, a hole can form in the airtight seal, causing water to escape from your door and onto the floor.
Note: Most gaskets are located on the ‘tub’ rather than the door itself, but some older plastic timer-based units may have the gasket on the door.
It’s also possible that food can get trapped in the door gasket, preventing the door from closing properly. In this case, all you have to do is wipe off your door gasket with a paper towel to clear it of any debris.
Similarly, if the leak has only occurred once then it’s possible a spatula or spoon could’ve blocked the gasket from forming a seal. But if the leak is a continual problem, you’ll need to replace the gasket. Although this can be a bit fiddly, it’s absolutely a DIY-able job and I’d encourage you to give it a go.
Before you replace the gasket, it’s REALLY important that you order the correct replacement gasket. If it’s not exactly right, the door won’t shut properly and you’ll continue having the same problem. Don’t be tempted by a cheap one on Amazon. A website like Part Select will let you enter your model number to identify the correct replacement.
- Yank the whole gasket out from the tub of the dishwasher. It shouldn’t be too hard to remove. Make sure to clean the channel thoroughly too, just in case there’s any debris.
2. Replace the door latch if plastic. Plastic latches are notorious for warping and it could be the cause of a door leak, too. If the latch is metal then there’s no need to replace it.
3. Tuck in the new gasket tight in the bottom corner and work your way around the door. Pull gently as you push the gasket in, which gets rid of any slack and ensures a tight seal. Don’t pull so tight to warp the gasket.
4. Feed down the gasket to the bottom opposing corner, use scissors to cut off any excess, and tuck it under the door.
I’d also recommend then leaving the dishwasher door closed for at least a few hours to further ensure a tight fit. Here’s a useful video I found showing how to replace a dishwasher door gasket:
dishwasher leaking from The Bottom In The Middle: 4 reasons
When your dishwasher leaks from the middle of the door, there are a few possible causes: improper alignment, a clogged drain, a blocked air gap, or leaking internal components.
1. Recently installed dishwasher door is leaking: Improper Alignment
Many dishwasher owners are unaware of the fact that your dishwasher needs to be level in order to run properly. If your dishwasher isn’t level, the door may not be able to close properly or the water inside may not be able to drain. If your dishwasher has recently been installed this is a likely cause.
In my experience, the installation of many dishwashers is rushed whereas when done properly it can take between 2 – 3 hours. To function correctly, they have to be absolutely plumb front to back and left to right. Sometimes the door needs to be adjusted and other times the legs need adjusting, and adjustments often require the dishwasher to be removed and reinstalled again.
To check this, simply use a level at the bottom of your dishwasher to check whether it’s misaligned. If it is, place some shims underneath the low side of your dishwasher until the two sides are equal. Hint: you can use a phone app like mine below if you don’t have a spirit level:
The ‘proper’ way of doing this is to adjust the dishwasher legs. Dishwashers normally have simple adjusting mechanisms even if they can be a little fiddly to reach. The adjusters look like big, metal bolts with plastic knobs on the end.
Whilst you’ll be able to access the front legs without removing the dishwasher, you’ll need to remove it to access the rear legs.
Turning the nuts clockwise will raise the legs whereas counterclockwise will lower the legs. Continually test the level of the dishwasher until no more adjustments are required. Here’s a useful video GE Appliances made on how to adjust the legs of your dishwasher:
2. Drain is Clogged
One of the most common issues that can lead to a dishwasher door leaking is a clogged filter. What many dishwasher owners don’t know is that the filter in their dishwasher’s drain is meant to be removed and cleaned out regularly.
If this filter isn’t cleaned out, things like hair and food particles can get stuck in the filter and prevent water from flowing into the dishwasher’s drain. As a result, the water won’t have anywhere else to go other than through your dishwasher’s door and onto the floor. Other common signs of a clogged filter include:
- Gurgling noises coming from the dishwasher
- Slow-flowing drain
- Water backing up into the kitchen sink
- Leftover water when you open the door at the end of the cycle
How to take out and clean the filter varies from dishwasher to dishwasher, so it’s best to consult your dishwasher’s user manual. However, the process usually goes a little something like this:
- Open the dishwasher door and remove the bottom rack.
- The filter (and drain) should be located at the bottom of the dishwasher, under where the bottom rack was. Usually, the filter can be removed by either twisting it out or unscrewing it.
3. Clean the filter of any debris with either your hand or a small brush. Be careful not to be too rough or you could damage the filter.
4. If needed, leave the filter to soak in water for about an hour to loosen any hardened debris.
Once you return the filter back in the dishwasher, hopefully, your dishwasher no longer clogs and fills with water and this should prevent your door from leaking.
3. Air Gap Blocked
Another extremely common thing that can cause a dishwasher to leak is a clogged air gap. If you have a sink above or next to your dishwasher, the air gap is a cylindrical device that sits next to your sink. This air gap is connected to your dishwasher’s drain, and it’s there to prevent wastewater from flowing between your sink and dishwasher.
However, it’s possible for this air gap to become clogged with food and debris, preventing water from draining in your dishwasher. This can cause your dishwasher to overflow, further causing water to escape through your dishwasher door.
If you’ve already cleaned your dishwasher filter and water is still pooling at the bottom of the dishwasher, this is a likely cause.
To fix this issue, all you have to do is remove the metal cover on your air gap and clean any debris that you see. This should hopefully allow water to flow through the air gap and drain properly.
4. other possible internal reasons
Once you’ve checked the door seal, the filter, and the air gap you’ll either need to open up the bottom of the dishwasher or look for professional help.
Note: although it may appear as though the leak is coming from your dishwasher door, the leak could actually be coming from underneath the dishwasher tub.
To take this on, remove the bottom panel of the dishwasher. Normally this will just require removing two screws.
If the leak is coming from the front of the dishwasher the most likely cause is a loose or damaged water inlet valve, whereas if the leak is coming from the back of the dishwasher the most likely cause is a leaking drain line.
leaking water inlet valve
The water line is the line that feeds your dishwasher with fresh water. Inspect underneath where the line meets the dishwasher. If there is a leak, try tightening the bolt as highlighted in the picture below:
leaking drain line
The drain line connects underneath normally towards the rear of your dishwasher, and if the leak is at the back underneath your dishwasher a leaking drain line could be a cause.
Ensure the rubber fitting is pressed in place until the rubber boot is flush with your tabs. And ensure the clamp is in place. If you’ve checked these and water is still pooling near this tube, you may need to replace your drain hose.
One last possible cause of your dishwasher door leaking is a leaking dishwasher motor. To check this, wait until the dishwasher has cooled and run your finger along the housing area to check for leaks. The most likely place it’ll leak is at the very top of the water pump.
Dishwasher pumps cost around $150 to $350 to replace so depending on how old your dishwasher is, it may just be worth investing in a new machine.