4 Ways to Avoid Dishwasher Overflow and Flooding

Like washing machines, dishwashers are often operated in a “set it and forget it” mode. Frequently, residents start a load of dishes, then go to bed. However, even when people are up and around, little attention is paid to proper functioning of the dishwasher. However, dishwashers can be the source of slow, long-term leakage as well as major overflow—both of which cause significant water damage. Cost of remediating damage after a dishwasher overflow, including preventing potential mold growth, averages around $5,000.

Overflow can result from four common issues:

  • Too much detergent. A consumer dishwasher isn’t a rigorously watertight device. Over-sudsing can fill the unit to a level where leakage of sudsy water out the front door is likely. Use only detergent specifically intended for dishwashers and purchase quality products: consumers often compensate for cheap detergent brands by adding an excess amount. This leads to high sudsing and overflow on your kitchen floor.  
  • Door gasket failing. The rubber gasket sealing your dishwasher door is subject to wear and tear. Over time, it may lose its elasticity to seal properly and/or develop cracks or splits that allow leakage. Occasionally, some food debris may become caught in the gasket and is allowing leakage. In this case, cleaning the gasket may resolve the problem. Otherwise, gasket replacement is usually required to stop leakage that is traced to the door.
  • Defective water inlet valve. The inlet valve starts and stops the flow of water into your dishwasher. A faulty valve—usually the result of defective solenoids—may not allow any water into the unit if it fails in the closed mode. Alternatively, it may stick open and allow too much water, resulting in overflow. Troubleshooting and repair of a dishwasher inlet valve requires expertise working with electrical valves and should be left to a qualified appliance service person.
  • Faulty float switch or sensor. The float switch or sensor detects the level of water in the unit and shuts off the flow to prevent overflow. If the switch/sensor fails, water level in the unit will continue to rise and eventually cause flooding. Replacement of the component is required.

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