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4 Ways to Avoid Dishwasher Overflow and Flooding

Tuesday, March 5th, 2019

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.

3 Tips To Prevent Your Dishwasher Backing Up

Tuesday, August 15th, 2017

diswasher maintenanceHow will you discover you have a dishwasher backing up? Maybe you’ll open the dishwasher door and gallons of greasy, soapy water will slosh out across your clean kitchen floor. If you’re not around when the backup occurs, standing water may leak out the bottom of the dishwasher door gasket instead, spreading underneath the unit, saturating the subfloor and the wall behind. No matter how it happens, a dishwasher backing up is a source of kitchen water damage as well as longer-term effects like mold growth.

Tips to avoid water damage

Here are three tips to prevent the main causes of water damage:

  1. Keep the garbage disposal clear. Many dishwashers discharge drain water through the garbage disposal in the adjacent kitchen sink. If the disposal is clogged with food debris, dishwasher drain water may back up through the drain line. Fill the kitchen sink with very hot water, then remove the sink stopper and run the disposal to flush out debris. Pouring two cups of cracked ice plus a cup of salt down the disposal afterwards also helps clear clogs.
  2. Clean the drain basket. It’s the plastic mesh filter in the bottom of the dishwasher tub that strains out food debris that could clog the drain line. Most drain baskets can be taken out with a screwdriver and cleaned outside the unit. While it’s out, pour a cup of baking soda followed by a cup of vinegar down the drain opening. After 15 minutes, follow that with a pan or two of boiling hot water to flush the drain.
  3. Check the air gap. Dishwasher drain lines often incorporate an anti-siphon air gap—a cylindrical metal chamber mounted beside the kitchen sink. The air gap prevents waste water from the sink or disposal from siphoning backwards into the dishwasher. If the air gap becomes clogged with debris or soap residue, it may obstruct flow of dishwasher drain water. Most air gaps have screw-on caps that can be removed so the component can be cleaned out.

Ask the experts at Rytech, Inc. about more remedies for water damage from a dishwasher backing up.

The Dishwasher Is Leaking! Do This First…

Thursday, June 22nd, 2017

leaky dishwasherA dishwasher leak can be an intermittent event that happens only when the appliance is in use. Or, it can be ongoing even when the unit is turned off. If you feel immediate action is necessary due to the severity of the leak, turn off the unit then close the valve in the dishwasher water supply line. Typically, this shutoff valve is located under the adjacent kitchen sink where the water supply line branches off to the dishwasher.

There are several potential causes for a dishwasher leak and associated water damage. First, rule out the less serious suspects:

  • The wrong detergent. Dishwasher detergent is a specific low-suds formula. Using anything else can cause excessive sudsing that may overflow from the unit and appear to be a leak.
  • Door seal leak. This typically shows up as minor pooling on the floor directly in front of the unit. When the dishwasher is off, open the door and inspect the rubber seal around the perimeter. It may be obviously worn or damaged in some way. A very dirty seal may also leak water.

More complicated leakage can occur beneath the unit. Water may conspicuously run out into the kitchen or simply keep the area hidden beneath the dishwasher constantly wet. Unseen leakage can rot the wooden subfloor and/or spawn growth of toxic mold.

  • Remove the kick plate at the bottom front of the dishwasher then use a flashlight to check the dark area underneath for signs of wetness.
  • Dripping when the unit is off could indicate a loose or defective connection where the water supply line attaches to the dishwasher or a leaky supply line.
  • If no leakage is noted, run the dishwasher through a full cycle while observing the area underneath. If leakage happens only while the unit is running, suspect a defective internal hose, a leaking water circulation pump or solenoid valve, or a rusted out tub inside the unit.

DIY dishwasher repair for these issues is not recommended. Call a qualified plumber for full diagnosis and service.