Dishwasher Overflow: How to Cleanup a Dishwasher Flood or Overflow

Dishwashers are one of the most used appliances in your home. While they are an inexpensive luxury that makes life easier, a dishwasher overflow can cause moderate to severe flooding in your kitchen. Depending on the cause, it may spread to other rooms or leak down to the floor below. If your kitchen floor is covered in soapy water from a dishwasher flood, take action quickly to limit the extent of the damage. These steps will help you stay safe and cleaning up soap and water after dishwasher floods.

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How to Cleanup Dishwasher Floods in Your Kitchen

The key to preventing water damage after a dishwasher overflow or flood is to remove the water, then dry and disinfect your kitchen quickly.

1. Turn Off The Water

The first step to cleaning up a dishwasher flood is to turn off the water at the main water supply shutoff valve. This will prevent more water from flooding your kitchen and allow you to inspect the scene.

2. You May Need To Shut Off Your Electricity

Water and electricity are a dangerous combination. If there is enough water to reach electrical outlets after a dishwasher overflow, you should turn off the electricity. Water from a dishwasher flood will flow downstairs or even pour through your flooring. This can impact electrical systems below and pose a risk of electrocution. Keep your family safe by carefully inspecting your basement and other lower levels of your home as well.

3. Soak Up As Much Water As Possible

Once the water and electrical systems are secure, begin removing as much standing water as possible. The longer it sits, the greater the chances of costly water damage. Use a mop or towels to soak up water and soap. Wring them out thoroughly before soaking up more water. If the dishwasher is still leaking, set up a perimeter of thick towels or blankets to stop the water from spreading further. Check cabinets, pantries, and closets for pools of water as well.

4. Clear Out Your Cabinets

Water from a dishwasher flood can quickly saturate foods and other items in your cabinets and pantry. Inspect them for signs of water and discard items that are wet. Wipe down cans and plastic items and store them in a dry area. Move pots and pans to the sink for hand washing later. Dry other items and move them to another room. You should also remove tables or other furniture from the kitchen at this time.

5. Vacuum Up the Remaining Water

While mops and towels will soak up a substantial amount of water after a dishwasher overflow, it can still seep into many materials. Use a wet-dry shop-style vacuum to extract as much water as possible. This is especially effective on porous materials like carpeting, drywall, and cabinets made of composite materials. It will also suck up water on the surface of hard materials like tile, glass, and metal. Make sure you move appliances and remove as much water from underneath them as well.

6. Dry Out Your Kitchen

After removing as much water as possible, use fans and dehumidifiers to dry the area. While they will work, consumer-grade fans are not designed for structural drying. Using them will result in extended drying times and may lead to mold or odors. A better alternative is to rent professional-grade fans and dehumidifiers from your local equipment rental company. When drying carpeting, we recommend lifting it off the floor first. This will provide better air circulation and decrease the drying time.

7. Remove Damaged Materials

Depending on the severity of damage after a dishwasher overflow, you may need to dispose of certain materials. Water can damage cabinets, laminate floors, hardwoods, drywall, and carpeting. The subflooring and ceiling of lower levels may also be damaged. Assess the situation and remove any material that is deteriorating, crumbling, or structurally unsound. It may be necessary to rent a dumpster depending on the extent of the damage.

8. Repair or Replace Your Dishwasher

Depending on the exact cause of your flooded dishwasher, you will need to repair or replace it. Issues like drain clogs, damaged supply lines, worn-out gaskets, and leaky doors can typically be fixed. Model numbers for replacement parts are usually included in the operation manual, but you can also find them by searching the Internet as well. Some items may be available at your local hardware store, but other items may require ordering direct through the manufacturer. If the issue is a damaged dishwasher tub or if your unit is extremely old, consider replacing the unit altogether.

9. Sanitize and Deodorize the Area

Regardless of whether you decide to repair or replace your dishwasher, you should disinfect any surface that came in contact with water. Waste water from your dishwasher is likely to contain contaminants that could lead to mold or bacterial problems in the future. Use a disinfecting solution of 1 and 1/4 cups of household bleach to a gallon of water. Wipe down items that came in contact with waste water and spray flooring, cabinets, and other surfaces for even, thorough coverage. For odors, begin by ventilating your kitchen. If odors persist, you may need to rent an ozone machine from a local equipment rental company. Read and follow the operating instructions before using an ozone machine and vacate the area for at least 8 hours during use.

10. Restore and Rebuild the Damaged Area

Reconstruction can begin once you have deodorized and sanitized the area. This may include installing new cabinets, flooring, or drywall and painting walls. For more severe damage, you may need to replace subflooring and make repairs to the ceiling on the level below. If carpeting got wet, you should shampoo or steam clean it to remove debris.

What Causes a Dishwasher Overflow or Flood

Unfortunately, there are several causes of dishwasher floods. While small leaks through the door are common, a dishwasher leak from the bottom can flood your kitchen or even other rooms in your home.

Defective or Leaky Door

A leaky dishwasher door can leave soap and water all over your kitchen floor. The latch and hinges tend to loosen over time, preventing the door from forming a good seal with the dishwasher tub. Loose latches and hinges may cause anything from a small leak to a large flood. You can usually tighten the latch and hinges yourself using a screwdriver or wrench. Call a professional plumber if you have trouble fixing the latch or hinges.

Worn Out Gasket

The gasket is a rubber or silicone seal on either the door or the dishwasher tub. When you close and latch the door, the gasket forms a watertight seal. Over time, the gasket can deteriorate and may cause a dishwasher leak or overflow. Check the gasket on your dishwasher regularly for cracks or other signs of wear. To ensure a good seal and prevent water damage, have a professional plumber replace the gasket as needed.

Loose or Damaged Connections

Your dishwasher has two connections, typically under or behind the unit. A supply line brings clean water into the dishwasher, while a drain hose allows wastewater to drain out. Damaged or loose hoses are most likely to cause a dishwasher leak from the bottom. Small leaks can go unnoticed for weeks or months and may cause a flood. To prevent dishwasher leaks, check your hoses every six months. Tighten connections or replace the hoses if they are crimped, worn, or damaged.

Damaged Tub

A damaged tub is another cause of a leaky dishwasher. The tub is the main body of your dishwasher and houses the spray nozzles and dish racks. A buildup of detergent and minerals can corrode the bottom of the dishwasher tub over time. A corroded tub can result in your dishwasher leaking underneath. Depending on the severity of the leak and how frequently you use the dishwasher, the damage may go unnoticed for some time. This can lead to mold and water damage to the subfloor beneath the dishwasher.

Using the Wrong Soap

You should only use a detergent specifically designed for dishwashers. Regular dish soap is designed to foam and is likely to leak out of your dishwasher, even if the gasket, latch, and hinges are in proper working order. If you pre-soak dishes in the sink with dish soap, rinse them completely before putting them in the dishwasher.

Clogged Drain

The drain at the bottom of your dishwasher can get clogged with particles of food, mineral buildup, or other debris. If there is a clog, wastewater cannot drain from the unit normally and may leak out. A worn-out gasket or loose latch can make the issue even worse. Check and clean the drain regularly to prevent a flood or backup.

Malfunctions With the Float Bulb

Very similar to the float in your toilet, the float bulb prevents your dishwasher from overfilling. The float bulb may wear out over time or particles of food or other debris may build up underneath it. If this happens, the dishwasher will not stop the flow of water at the right time and can lead to significant flooding.

Preventing Dishwasher Overflows and Floods

The best way to prevent a leaky dishwasher or even a flood is to use it properly and perform regular maintenance.

Read the Manual

Every dishwasher is different and it’s important to know how your dishwasher works. Review the features and controls when you first purchase the appliance. Note the correct type and proper amount of soap to use. This will keep your dishwasher in proper working order and prevent malfunctions that can lead to leaks and water damage.

Perform Regular Maintenance

Regular dishwasher maintenance will keep it working efficiently and prevent it from breaking down. The exact maintenance varies for each model, but the most common things to do are flushing filters and cleaning seals, gaskets, and spray nozzles. Check your manual and schedule reminders for the specific maintenance your dishwasher requires.

Inspect the Supply Line and Drain Hose

Your dishwasher has two hoses, the clean water supply line and the wastewater drain hose. Damage to either the supply line or the drain hose may cause a slow leak that can lead to both water damage and mold growth. You should check both lines at least twice a year.

Use the Right Soap

Only use detergents designed for dishwashers and refer to the manual for your model to determine the right amount of soap to use. Never use regular dish soap, as it’s not intended for use in your dishwasher. Dish soap will create excessive foaming and may lead to leaking or other malfunctions.

Load It Properly

Always load your dishwasher properly to prevent leaks or water damage. Make sure items do not block spray nozzles and never overload your dishwasher. Most dishwashers are designed to place glassware and smaller items on the top tray, with plates and larger items on the bottom. Refer to the manual for the proper loading instructions for your model.

Only Run it While You Are Home

One of the simplest ways to prevent water damage from a dishwasher is to only run it when you are home and awake. If there is a problem, you’ll be able to take immediate action to limit or even prevent damage.

Does Insurance Cover Dishwasher Flooding?

Most insurance policies will cover water damage caused by a dishwasher flood if there was a sudden malfunction. However, they are likely to deny your claim if your dishwasher shows signs of excessive wear, improper maintenance, or you have had a problem with it in the past.

To ensure your insurance covers damage from a dishwasher overflow or flood, keep the unit in proper working condition. For problems with a new dishwasher, review the manufacturer’s warranty and have it serviced immediately. If you have an older unit, make sure you perform the required maintenance regularly and replace worn out parts.

If you have a dishwasher overflow or flood, remember to take photos and document the damages. Call a water damage restoration specialist first if the damage is severe. They can then call your insurance agent together. The restoration contractor will use the right terms and provide detailed and technical answers to your agent’s questions, helping to ensure that they approve your claim.

Call 1-888-443-3110 Now for Water Extraction After a Dishwasher Flood or Leak

If you have a dishwasher flood, leak, or overflow, get professional water extraction services from a local contractor now. As the largest network of restoration companies, it’s easy to find a water damage contractor in your area. Choose from both independent companies and major brands like PuroClean and Stanley Steemer. If you need immediate service, call 1-888-443-3110 now for a free estimate from the on-call contractor in your area.

Author: Jeff Rooks

Jeff Rooks writes restoration content that helps homeowners restore their lives after a disaster or accident. Most days, you can find him cycling through Tampa. He also enjoys exploring new and delicious food and beverages around the world.

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