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How to Find a Dishwasher Leak

How to Prevent Dishwasher Leaks

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How to Fix a Leaky Dishwasher

10 min readUpdated Mar. 08, 2024Lyle WeischwillDishwasher
How to Fix a Leaky Dishwasher

When you see water seeping out from under the dishwasher or from under the counter next to it, you’ll need to take immediate action to fix the leak and minimize damage to counters and baseboards in your kitchen. Our comprehensive guide provides step-by-step instructions to identify and resolve common causes of dishwasher leaks, ensuring your kitchen remains dry and your appliance functions efficiently.


  • Upon noticing a leak, shut off the water supply valve and the dishwasher's circuit breaker, and investigate the possible causes such as damaged door seals, cracked spray arms, or loose drain hose connections.
  • To find the source of a dishwasher leak, check components like the door seal, spray arms, water supply line, drain hose, and bottom components such as the heating element and pump, ensuring safety precautions are taken during inspection.
  • Regular professional cleaning and maintenance by Sears Home Services technicians can help prevent dishwasher leaks by ensuring proper operation of components like the electronic control board, pumps, spray arms, dispensers, heating element, door gaskets, and water filters.

In case the leak is caused by the water supply hose, you should shut off the water supply valve going to the dishwasher. Shut off the house circuit breaker for the dishwasher to prevent any chance of electrical shock until you can find and fix the leak.

Leaks in dishwashers are often caused by a damaged door seal, a cracked or clogged spray arm or damaged components under the dishwasher. A loose drain hose connection can also cause a dishwasher leak.

If you don’t want to find and fix the leak yourself, you can schedule a Sears Technician to visit your home and fix the dishwasher. Same day and next day service appointments are available in many areas.

How to Find a Dishwasher Leak

Finding the cause of a dishwasher leak can be challenging in some situations. We recommend that you follow this systematic approach to finding the leak.

Examine the Door Seal

Check the door seal first because it’s easy to access. Be sure to look at the bottom edges of the door seal where leaks most often occur. If you find damage such as cracks, a tear or chunks missing from the door seal, replace it. Here’s a DIY YouTube video that shows how to replace the door seal in common types of dishwashers:

Check the Spray Arms

If the door seal is okay, check the spray arms for cracks or damage. This may seem like a peculiar step in finding a dishwasher leak, but a cracked or damaged spray arm can create a wave action in the water inside the dishwasher tub. The wave created by a cracked or damaged spray arm can cause water to slosh over the front lip of the dishwasher tub and leak out through the bottom of the door. This cause of a dishwasher leak is well-known by experienced service technicians.

Replace a spray arm if it’s cracked or damaged. That may fix the cause of the dishwasher leak.

If the door seal and spray arms are both okay, then you may need to have a Sears Technician find and fix the leak.

If you’re confident in your DIY appliance repair skills and you want to search further for the leak on your own, follow the advice in this YouTube video to find and fix the dishwasher leak.

Check the Water Supply Line and Drain Hose

Before checking the water supply line and drain hose, you’ll need to shut off electrical power if you don’t already have it disconnected as advised above. Turn off the house circuit breaker for the dishwasher or unplug the power cord to disconnect power. You’ll also need to shut off the water supply valve.

To check the water line connection to the dishwasher, remove the bottom front service panel and toe panel by removing the mounting screws and then pulling off both panels so you can see under the tub. On many dishwasher models, you will also need to remove the front door panel and control panel to see and reach the bottom components better. To remove the front door panel, open the dishwasher door and remove the Torx screws from the outer edges of the inner door panel. Support the outer door panel with one hand as you remove the final screws so it doesn't fall. Separate the outer door panel and control panel slightly from the inner door panel, and let the outer panel rest on the floor while you disconnect the user interface control wire harness. Pull off the outer door panel and control panel.

Check the water supply line connection at the front of the dishwasher first. If you find that connection leaking, tighten the fitting to see if that stops the leak. If not, shut off the water supply and place a towel under the water supply line connection. Disconnect the supply line and replace the connection seal. If the water supply line connection isn't leaking, check the drain hose connection to the drain pump for drips or other evidence of leaking such as a water trail or water stains. Reconnect the drain line if it’s loose.

If the drain hose isn't leaking, use a flashlight to look under the dishwasher for evidence of leaks. You may see the water dripping or a water trail indicating the location of the leak. If you find the source of the leak, replace the leaking seal or component.

Examine the Heating Element, Pump and Diverter Motor

If you didn’t find the source of the leak, you’ll have to pull the dishwasher out from under the counter. For safety, make sure that you have electrical power disconnected from the dishwasher. Shut off the water supply to the dishwasher and release the drain hose from the garbage disposal or sink drain connection. Place a towel under the water line connection on the water inlet valve. Disconnect the water line and wipe up any spilled water. If the power cord plugs into an electrical outlet, position the power cord so it moves freely when you pull the dishwasher out from under the counter.

If your power cord doesn't plug into an electrical outlet, then the power cord is hard-wired into the junction box. Remove the junction box cover and disconnect the supply wires. Remove the strain relief nut to release the power cable from the junction box. Position the door panel and control panel close enough to the inner door so you can reconnect the user interface control wire harness and attach the outer door panel and control panel to the inner door panel. Reinstall the mounting screws.

Remove the bottom dishrack to avoid damaging interior parts when you tip the dishwasher over to examine for leaks. Remove the screws from the mounting brackets that hold the dishwasher under the counter. Carefully pull the dishwasher out and lay it on its back so you can see all of the bottom components. Check for water trails or other evidence of leaking from the bottom components, such as the heating element, sump or diverter motor. Replace any component that’s leaking.

If the component has a seal that you can purchase separately, replace the seal instead of the whole thing. If you don’t see a water trail or evidence of leaks, set the dishwasher upright. Fill the tub with some water to see if you can find the source of the leak now that you have a better view of the bottom components. Pour a quart of water into the tub. Check for water dripping from any components under the tub. Continue adding water and checking for leaks until you fill the tub to the bottom of the mushroom float. You'll likely find the source of the leak using this process. Keep a wet/dry shop vac or container handy to remove the water from the dishwasher once you find the source of the leak. Once you find the leak, remove the water and replace any leaking components or seals.

If you still can’t find the leak, then the faulty component may only leak when the pump sprays water. Have a Sears service technician find this leak because the technician will likely check for leaks with the dishwasher running and with wiring and electrical components exposed. Only a service technician should run the dishwasher in this condition because exposed wiring and components are an electrocution risk.

Image of an Sears Tech performing maintenance

How to Prevent Dishwasher Leaks

Dishwasher leaks can be devastating because they can go unnoticed for days or weeks and cause irreparable damage to kitchen cabinets.

You can help prevent dishwasher leaks from occurring by having your dishwasher professionally cleaned and maintained every year by a Sears Technician. Sears Cleaning & Maintenance service won’t just help prevent leaks, it will help your dishwasher clean more efficiently and last longer. During cleaning and maintenance service, the Sears Tech will:

  • Check the electronic control board and sensors. The electronic control board is the "brains" or motherboard of the dishwasher; it starts and stops all the dishwasher's functions — filling, washing, drying and draining. It receives a signal from the control panel when you select a button and displays the cycle status, time and other information on the control panel. The control board also receives signals from temperature sensors, water level sensors and water quality sensors to help control the dishwashing cycle. Electronic control board and sensors not operating properly can lead heating failures, damage to the dishwasher or dishes from overheated water/air, dishes that don’t get clean, water leaks that could damage kitchen cabinets or flooring or excess water/energy use.
  • Check incoming water supply temperature. This aspect of dishwasher operation is actually controlled by the water heater in your home. The technician will check incoming water temperature for the dishwasher and advise you about proper water heater settings for the dishwasher. Water that’s not hot enough can lead to longer than normal cycle times or dishes that won’t get clean.
  • Examine and clean pumps and spray arms. The technician will check the wash and drain pumps for proper operation and leaks. Failure of either pump prevents dishes from getting clean during the wash cycle. Leaks from a pump can cause expensive damage to kitchen cabinets and flooring. Spray arms that are cracked or clogged by food debris and hard water deposits don’t distribute water properly for cleaning dishes. The technician will check and clean spray arms and recommend spray arm replacement if damaged. The tech also will recommend the best cleaner for cleaning your dishwasher to remove hard water deposits and food debris, as well as keeping your dishwasher smelling fresh.
  • Test the detergent and rinse aid dispenser. Because dishes won’t get clean if the dispenser doesn’t open when it’s meant to, the technician will check for proper detergent and rinse aid dispenser operation.
  • Check the control panel. You may not know when an infrequently used button on your dishwasher control panel isn’t working properly. A faulty control panel button can eventually cause the dishwasher to stop operating. The service technician will check all control panel buttons for proper operation during dishwasher cleaning and maintenance.
  • Test the heating element. The heating element is mounted on the bottom of the dishwasher tub and heats the water during the wash and rinse portions of the cycle. Raising the water temperature improves cleaning, and in some situations, sanitation. Dishes won’t get clean and/or dry properly if the heating element fails. During this check, the technician inspects the condition and operation of the heating element.
  • Check and clean dishwasher door gaskets. Door gaskets, also called door seals, prevent water from leaking out of the dishwasher, possibly damaging kitchen flooring and cabinets. Your Sears technician will check for loose, damaged or dirty door gaskets.
  • Clean removable water filters. Many dishwashers have removable water filters that screen out debris, broken glass and food particles from recirculated wash water during the dishwashing cycle. Failing to clean these filters can cause the dishwasher to redeposit food debris on the dishes during the wash and rinse cycles. The technician will clean these filters during dishwasher maintenance and instruct you on regular cleaning of the removable filters.

Trust Sears to help you keep your dishwasher in top shape and protect your kitchen cabinets and flooring from water damage. Schedule your Dishwasher Cleaning & Maintenance Service today.

Schedule your dishwasher repair now!

With extensive experience, our technicians are skilled in repairing dishwashers of all makes and models, ensuring sparkling clean dishes with every cycle.

Call (213) 596-2538 or schedule online now.

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