Dishwasher Flood: What to do When Your Dishwasher Floods Your Kitchen and Steps to Prevent It
Dishwashers are one of the most used appliances in your home. While they are an inexpensive luxury that makes life easier, a dishwasher flood can be extremely frustrating. Not only can it lead to water damage throughout our kitchen, but it may also spread to other rooms leak onto the floor below. If you’re facing a floor covered in soapy water from a flooded dishwasher in the kitchen, it’s important to take action quickly to limit the extent of the damage.
What to do if Your Dishwasher Floods Your Kitchen
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 flood, you should turn off the electricity. Carefully inspect your basement or any lower levels of your home as well. Water from a kitchen dishwasher flood will flow downstairs or even pour through your flooring. This can impact electrical systems below and pose a risk of electrocution.
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 significant and costly damage. Use a mob or towels to soak up water. Wring them out thoroughly before soaking up more water. If water is still spreading, set up a perimeter of thick towels or blankets to stop its progress. 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 items 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 as necessary 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 significant amount of water after a kitchen dishwasher flood, water can work its way into many materials. Use a wet/dry 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 really designed for drying and this is likely to result in extended drying times. A better alternative is to ren professional-grade fans and dehumidifiers from an equipment rental company. This equipment will decrease the drying time, which will help prevent mold and odors. For carpeted areas, we recommend lifting the carpeting from the floor first. This will provide better air circulation and decrease the drying time.
7. Remove Damaged Materials
Depending on the severity of damage from a flooded dishwasher in your kitchen, 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. Common 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, it may be necessary to replace the unit altogether.
9. Sanitize and Deodorize the Area
Regardless of whether you decide to repair or replace your dishwasher, you should sanitize any surface that came in contact with water. Water from inside your dishwasher is likely to contain some contaminants that could lead to mold or bacterial problems in the future. Additionally, materials that were wet may also have a musty odor. While bleach kills many things, it is not effective at permanently killing mold. By using a medical grade chemical sanitizer, you greatly reduce the risk of mold and bacterial growth. 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.
How Dishwashers Cause Water Damage
Unfortunately, there are many ways a dishwasher can cause water damage. While small leaks through the door are the most common, a dishwasher flood or overflow can lead to significant water damage in your kitchen or even throughout your home.
Defective or Leaky Door
A leaky or defective door is the most common way a dishwasher can cause water damage. The latch and hinges tend to loosen over time, preventing the door from forming a good seal with the dishwasher tub and allowing water and soap to leak out. 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. 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 your dishwasher can cause water damage. Check the gasket on your dishwasher regularly for cracks or other signs of damage. To ensure a good seal and prevent water damage, have a professional plumber replace the gasket as necessary.
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 dirty water to drain out. The hose connections can loosen over time and should be checked and tightened at least every six months. Also, check that the hoses are in good condition and replace them if necessary. If the hoses wear out or the connections loosen, they are likely to cause significant damage. A broken supply line is one of the most severe ways a dishwasher can cause water damage, as water will continue to flood until you shut off the main water valve to your home.
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. If the tub corrodes through, water can seep out and pool under the dishwasher. 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. More severe leaks may result in a kitchen flood and water may even affect the levels below your kitchen.
Using the Wrong Soap
You should only use detergent specifically designed for dishwashers. Regular dish soap is designed to foam and is likely to leak out of your dishwasher, even if your gasket, latch, and hinges are in proper working order. If you pre-soak dishes in the sink with dish soap, make sure you rinse the dishes completely before putting them in the dishwasher.
The drain at the bottom of your dishwasher may become clogged with particles of food, mineral buildup, or other debris. If the drain is clogged, wastewater cannot drain from the unit normally and it 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 over filling. 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 Water Damage from Dishwashers
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 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 Use 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 Water Damage From a Dishwasher?
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 an overflowing dishwasher or a dishwasher flood, keep the unit in proper working condition. If you have a problem 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 as necessary.
In the event of water damage caused by an overflowing dishwasher, remember to take photos and document the damages. If the damage is severe, call a water damage restoration specialist first and then call your insurance agent together. The restoration contractor will use the right terms and provide detailed and technical answers your agent’s questions, helping to ensure that they approve your claim.
Call Us If You Have Water Damage Caused by a Dishwasher Flood or Leak
Water damage caused by a dishwasher flood is extremely frustrating and stressful. Let us give you peace of mind if a dishwasher caused water damage. Our water damage restoration crews are experienced in cleaning up after dishwasher floods and malfunctioning, broken, or leaking supply lines and drain hoses.
Our trained and experienced water damage restoration technicians provide complete water damage cleanup services, including water damage extraction, dry out, and restoration. Our contractors accept all insurances and can even bill your company directly.
Find a local water damage company or call 1-888-443-3110 now to talk with the on-call contractor in your area. The on-call Restoration Local contractors provide 24-hour emergency services, 30-minute response time, and a free, no-obligation estimate on all restoration services.