Your leaking dishwasher has soaked your counters or floors in dirty dishwater for the past several nights. However, since you don't understand how your dishwasher is designed, you've been unable to figure out how to repair it. Instead of continuing to tolerate your leaking dishwasher, inspect your dishwasher for the following problems and perform or arrange for the necessary repairs:
Seized Float Cup
Many homeowners mistake a seized float cup for a malfunctioning drain pump. Your float cup, which is located in the base of your tub, is designed to rise with the level of water in your tub. When the float cup rises a certain distance, it activates your drain pump. However, your float cup will become seized when soap scum collects beneath it and locks it in place.
To allow your float cup to move, pull it from the base of your dishwasher tub to remove it and soak it in hot water for several minutes. Use a brush to scrub any remaining soap buildup from its underside before reinstalling it into your dishwasher tub.
Clogged Drain Line
A clog in your dishwasher's drain line is fairly uncommon. In most cases, the pressure created by your drain pump is powerful enough to force dishwater through a clog caused by a stubborn piece of leftover food. Luckily, since drain lines are typically clear, identifying a clogged drain line is a very easy task.
To clear a clog in your drain line, use a screwdriver to remove the clamps securing your drain line to your air gap--the knob-like fixture next to your faucet. Next, disconnect the other end of your drain line from beneath your dishwasher and use a long pipe cleaner, plumbing snake, or untwisted metal hanger to dislodge the clog from your line.
Your air gap is your dishwasher's most basic form of backflow prevention. In simple terms, your air gap prevents water draining through your sink from flowing into your dishwasher. However, when your air gap becomes clogged, which will typically occur inside one of the gap's inlets, your air gap will send dirty dishwater spurting onto your counter, faucet, or sink.
To clear a clogged air gap, pull the decorative cover off your air gap and shine a flashlight (the one on your smartphone will work just fine) through the lines inside the air gap. If you see a blockage, you can place a paper towel roll over your air gap and forcefully blow through the roll to dislodge the clog.
If your air gap remains clogged, then shut off the power to your garbage disposal. Guide a narrow pipe cleaner or an untwisted metal hangar through the line that leads from your air gap to your garbage disposal. If you encounter a clog, then it's likely that your disposal's blades launched food scraps up your disposal line. Force the blockage out of the line and back into your disposal to fix your air gap leak.
Malfunctioning Drain Pump
Your drain pump creates the pressure required to send dishwater through your drain line and air gap. There are several components of your drain pump that can malfunction, but the most common problems that cause leakage are a damaged circulation motor or worn gaskets. When your drain pump can't drain the water that collects in your dishwasher's tub, water will slowly seep through the gasket that lines your dishwasher's door.
Unfortunately, repairing even just a worn gasket inside your drain pump will require extensive labor and in-depth knowledge of your dishwasher's design. For these reasons, it's best to leave the task of repairing your malfunctioning drain pump to a certified appliance repair specialist.
Additionally, if you encounter any problems while attempting to repair your float cup, drain line, or air gap, then stop immediately and contact a professional appliance repair service to finish the job for you. If you continue trying to fix your problematic part without knowing exactly what to do, you can cause further damage to your dishwasher—which will only increase your repair costs.