Why Your Dishwasher Leaks with Water When Not in Use

Why Your Dishwasher Leaks with Water When Not in Use

It’s puzzling to see your dishwasher leak even when you are not using it. And although the problem may look serious, it can easily be fixed with the right guidance.

So let’s talk about what causes the leaking issue and what you can do to resolve it.

Why is your dishwasher leaking with water when it’s not in use?

Your dishwasher is leaking because its water inlet valve is faulty, the hose is loose, or there are draining errors. Excess detergent or a damaged seal can also be the cause.

Replace your water inlet valve and secure the supply hose’s connection. Clean the filters and test all draining components.

If the problem persists, you can also try the following steps:

  • Remove all the racks and baskets and clean all the excess detergent suds inside your dishwasher. Make sure to use the recommended amount in your next cycle.
  • Push the rubber seal inside its channel or replace it if it’s cracked or broken.

If you need a little more information to go on, keep reading below for a detailed guide on how to perform these troubleshooting methods.

Important note: Practice safety by unplugging your dishwasher and turning off your water inlet valve before doing any repairs. Press the power button and make sure that the panel doesn’t light up.

Causes and Solutions

There are 5 reasons your dishwasher is leaking even when it’s not in use.

  1. The water inlet valve is faulty.
  2. The water inlet hose is loose or damaged.
  3. The draining components are malfunctioning.
  4. There are too many detergent suds in the tub. 
  5. The door seals are misaligned or damaged.

Here are a few quick solutions for each issue.

Faulty Water Inlet ValveAccess the water inlet valve underneath your dishwasher and check it for cracks or other signs of damage. Test the water inlet valve for continuity and replace it if it’s damaged.
Damaged or Loose Water Supply HoseCheck the connection of the water inlet hose to the water supply pipe and the water inlet valve. Ensure that the connection is tight on both ends.

Verify that the inlet hose isn’t clogged, bent, or pinched. Replace it if it has holes or gaps in between.
Faulty Draining ComponentsRemove the filter assembly and clean away leftover food and other debris. Check the drain pump motor and test it to verify that it’s working properly.

Disconnect the drain hose and check for clogs in between. Make sure that it isn’t bent or pinched shut by the dishwasher. 
Excessive Detergent UseOpen your dishwasher and pull out the racks and other removable items. Wipe the interior walls with a clean cloth and remove any leftover food or detergent suds.

Wash the racks and baskets before placing them back inside your dishwasher.
Worn Out Door SealsOpen your dishwasher door and check the door seal for misalignment.

Push the rubber seal properly into the channel or replace it if it’s broken or severely worn out.

Now let’s take a closer look at each cause and troubleshooting steps mentioned above.

Faulty Water Inlet Valve

The water inlet valve controls the amount of water that’s coming into your dishwasher by opening and closing the entry port.

When the float switch or water level sensor reads that there is enough water in your dishwasher, it sends a signal to your control board to shut off the inlet valve.

However, since the water inlet valve is also an electrical device, it is prone to power surges and electrical damage.

If the water inlet valve becomes faulty at some point during the cycle, it may keep the port open and allow the water to come in even when your dishwasher is not in use.

The water inlet valve is also designed to sift the dirt from the incoming water. It has a mesh filter that is also vulnerable to clogs, especially if your house has a hard water supply.

Both a faulty inlet valve and a clogged mesh filter can cause your dishwasher to leak even when it’s not in operation.

Solution: First, unplug your dishwasher for safety. Remove the kick panel below to access the water inlet valve and disconnect the wires.

Next, test if your valve has continuity. Follow these steps to perform the test:

  • Step 1: Adjust your analog tester to the lowest setting of ohms of resistance. Calibrate the meter by touching the probes together while adjusting the needle to read zero.
  • Step 2: Use the probes to touch both terminals of the water inlet valve.
  • Step 3: Check the reading indicated in the tester. If the reading is between 500 – 1500, then the valve is working. However, the inlet valve is damaged if the needle does not move significantly or at all.

It is also a good idea to clean your water inlet valve assembly while it’s uninstalled. Wash the mesh filter and check the assembly for clogging or other mechanical issues.

Do not repair a broken valve by yourself. Replace it if it’s damaged or hire an expert to fix it for you.

Damaged or Loose Water Supply Hose

The water supply hose carries water from your pipes into the inlet valve and your dishwasher. 

While your dishwasher is idle, it simply holds the water in place until the water inlet valve opens the entry port.

However, if the hose has a loose connection on either end, the water it holds will likely slip through the gaps and cause a leak.

The same can also happen if the water supply hose is bent, kinked, or clogged by mineral build-up or frozen water. 

Solution: First, unplug your dishwasher and prepare a towel and a pan to catch any spilling water when you disconnect the hose.

Unthread the screws holding the bottom kick panel and set the panel aside. You should be able to see the water supply hose connected to the water inlet valve.

Slowly loosen the hose clamp and pull out the water inlet valve. Turn on your water supply and verify if water is coming out of the hose.

Check if the flow of water is weak or restricted. Remove any blockage in between the hose and reinstall its connection to the valve securely.

Make sure that there are no bends, gaps, or kinks when you reinstall the water supply hose. Replace the hose if there are clear signs of damage.

Faulty Draining Components

Another common reason your dishwasher leaks even when you’re not using it is there’s standing water left in the tub from the previous cycle.

If you find wastewater at the bottom of the tub, this means that one or more draining components are failing.

This can be caused by clogs in the sink drain, garbage disposal, or the drain hose.

When this happens, the water will still drain during the cycle. After the cycle, however, wastewater will slowly flow back to your dishwasher when it reaches the clog.

Another possible reason is that the check valve or the “flapper” inside your drain pump is worn out or stuck in an open position. 

When water flows back to your dishwasher, it can leak from the bottom of your dishwasher door or from the drain hose’s connection to the pump.

Solution: Inspect all the draining components in your dishwasher and find the source of the problem.

Once you figure out the cause, apply the right troubleshooting steps below to fix the issue.

Clogged Sink Drain or Garbage DisposalInspect your sink drain or garbage disposal and clean it if it’s clogged with too much food waste or debris. 

If your dishwasher is connected to the garbage disposal, check that the cap has been removed. 
Faulty Drain HoseDisconnect the drain hose from both ends and test it for blockage. Clean the drain hose and ensure it has a high loop and is tightly reconnected.

Straighten the hose if it has irregular kinks or bends. Replace it if it’s damaged.
Damaged or Stuck Check ValveAccess the drain pump assembly and locate the check valve. Clean its housing from debris and ensure that the check valve is facing the right way and can move freely.

Replace the check valve if it’s damaged.

Excessive Detergent Use

Adding more detergent to your cycle may sound like a smart way to make your dishes cleaner. Unfortunately, it causes more harm than good to your appliance.

Excessive detergent leaves a white film on your glasses and transparent dishes. Moreover, they leave a soapy residue at the bottom of the tub that doesn’t easily wash off.

Using liquid soap to wash your dishes instead of a dishwasher detergent will also lead to the same issues. On top of that, they can trigger your leak sensor and the LE/LC error code.

Once the soapy residue dissolves long after the cycle has ended, they leak into the gaps of your dishwasher door.

Solution: Unplug your dishwasher, remove all the dishes, and pull out all the racks and baskets.

Wipe the interior walls of your dishwasher using a clean cloth soaked in hot water and remove any detergent residue.

Clean all the racks and baskets before placing them back inside your dishwasher.

Read the manufacturer’s manual and make sure to apply the recommended amount of detergent for each cycle.

Consider using a different detergent brand if you are already using the right amount but are still getting the same issue.

Worn Out Door Seal

The door seal is the black, rubber component that runs along the perimeter of your tub. It provides a tight seal against the door to make sure that water can’t escape the tub during the cycle.

However, because the door seal is made of rubber, it is quite vulnerable to damage from heat and friction. This will cause the door seals to be misaligned or worn out over time.

Solution: Open your dishwasher door and inspect the condition of the door seals. Re-aligned the gasket back in the channel if they are loose or pushed out.

Also look for breaks, cracks, and other signs of damage on the door seals. Replace the seal if necessary.

If you want to replace your dishwasher rubber seals, follow the steps below:

  • Step 1: Wear proper work gloves to protect your hands.
  • Step 2: Unplug your dishwasher and turn off the water supply valve.
  • Step 3: Open the dishwasher door and remove the seal from the channel. Start at the edge of the door.
  • Step 4: Remember which side of the door seal faces the outside of the channel.
  • Step 5: Gently pull out the rest of the door seal.
  • Step 6: Use a cotton swab and a mild dishwasher detergent to clean the channel holding the door seal. This helps make sure that the new seal fits correctly into the channel.
  • Step 7: Let the channel dry for a few minutes after cleaning. You can also wipe it with a cloth to aid the drying process.
  • Step 8: Straighten the creases on the new door gasket by warming it. Use a blow dryer or a heat gun and set the temperature low to avoid damaging the seal.
  • Step 9: Find the midpoint of the rubber seal by folding it in half.
  • Step 10: Press the seal’s midpoint to the center of the channel. Make sure that the correct side of the seal is facing outwards.
  • Step 11: Press the rest of the rubber seal into the top channel. Install it evenly on both sides of the tub.
  • Step 12: Press the seal as much as you can into the channel without stretching it.
  • Step 13: Extend one or two inches of the seal beyond the bottom of each side. This helps in sealing the door’s opening.
  • Step 14: Close the dishwasher door and press it firmly against the newly installed seal. Open the door again and check if the seal is properly aligned.
  • Step 15: Remove and reinstall the rubber seal as much as necessary to ensure that there are no gaps.
  • Step 16: Close the door for a few hours to help the new rubber seal set in the channel permanently.

We hope that this article helped you find the cause of your leaking dishwasher and gave you the knowledge to DIY its repair.

But if you don’t have the tools to perform the steps above or the know-how to handle them, it’s always a good idea to call your manufacturer’s support center or hire a professional for help.

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