How to Respond to an Overflowing Dishwasher

Have you ever opened your dishwasher and been greeted by a flood of soapy water? If so, you’re not alone. An overflowing dishwasher is a common issue that can be a very stressful experience. In addition to dealing with the mess that has been created, you may also be wondering what caused the overflow and how to prevent it from happening again in the future. Fortunately, understanding why a dishwasher overflows and taking swift action when one does is not difficult if you know where to start. In this blog post we will dive into why dishwashers overflow and provide some simple tips on how homeowners should respond to fix things quickly and efficiently.

Dishwasher Flooding


Why Dishwashers Overflow

1. Too much—or the wrong type of—detergent

Dishwasher detergent can be a major cause of dishwasher overflows. If too much detergent is used, it can easily lead to an excessive production of suds, resulting in an overflow. Just as bad, if the detergent being used is not of a good quality or is low-grade, the same situation can occur. To avoid such problems, it is advisable to use only a top-quality dishwasher detergent and ensure that the portions for each load are within the manufacturers’ recommendation.

2. A faulty inlet valve

A functioning inlet valve is essential to the proper operation of a dishwasher. As expected, when the valve works properly, it pulls water from the main water line to fill your dishwasher and then automatically shuts off. Unfortunately, a faulty inlet valve can lead to your dishwasher being filled with too much water, creating a flooded kitchen if not addressed quickly. If this has happened to you, one way to tell the cause is to check whether or not your dishwasher has been used recently — if it’s full despite being unused, it might be time to check your inlet valve and make sure that it’s functioning properly.

3. Bad drain trap

Your drain trap should always be angled downward towards your sink or drain in order for water to flow properly through it. Over time, however, this angle can become less pronounced due to wear-and-tear, causing water from your dishwasher to back up into it instead of going down the drain as intended. To fix this issue, you should try adjusting the trap accordingly so that it allows water to continuously flow.

4. Gasket wear-and-tear

Gasket wear-and-tearKeeping your dishwasher’s gasket in good condition is essential to prevent water leaks when operating. Gaskets are rubber seals around the door, and they should create a snug fit to keep the water inside the unit where it belongs. Unfortunately, wear and tear can cause gaskets to weaken over time, leading to gaps that allow water to escape. If unnoticed, this can result in a flooded kitchen floor, so it is important to periodically assess the condition of your dishwasher’s gasket for signs of damage.

5. Blocked garbage disposal

If neither of these issues are present, then there could be something blocking your garbage disposal unit—a clump of food particles or other debris is often responsible for such blockages. To check if this is what’s causing your overflow problem, locate your garbage disposal unit and open up its cover plate (make sure to unplug it before doing so). If you find any obstructions inside, then use a pair of tongs or pliers (or even just a spoon) to remove them before closing up the cover plate and plugging in your garbage disposal again.


What to Do in the Event of a Dishwasher Overflow

dishwasher repair

1. Cut off the power source

When your dishwasher is overflowing, it’s important to take safety precautions first. Rather than reaching for the plug of the appliance, it’s better to shut off the electric flow by cutting the power at the breaker box first. This can be accomplished by flipping off the switch that belongs to the dishwasher–or, if you don’t know which switch is which, you can always flip off the master switch instead, as this is typically the biggest switch on the panel.

2. Break up the suds

If your overflowing dishwasher contains a lot of suds, salt can provide the solution. Once the dishwasher has drained, pull out the bottom rack and sprinkle table salt on top of the remaining suds—this will break them down and ease the process of cleaning up the mess. After adding the salt, run a rinse-only cycle to flush away any excess suds; if additional foam persists, add more salt and repeat until the overflow subsides. Throwing in a tray of ice cubes can also help to break up any remaining bubbles.

3. Mop and dry the area

To ensure that all the water is cleared up after a flooding incident, it is important to move the dishwasher and mop beneath it to make sure any additional water has been absorbed. It is not enough to simply mop around the exterior of the appliance; you’ll want to set up towels to trap any extra water and reduce the risk of it getting underneath. This way, you can know for certain that your dishwasher is clean, dry, and safe from further mess or damage.

Dishwasher overflows are a common problem, but they can generally be avoided by following basic cleaning and preventive maintenance techniques. If an overflow does happen, though, it is important to remain calm and follow the steps outlined above. The most important thing to remember is to immediately shut off the power source and start mopping up as soon as possible. Be sure to thoroughly dry the area afterwards as well.

Kitchen Flood

While dealing with a dishwasher overflow may seem difficult at first, following these guidelines and contacting our water damage restoration professionals can make the process of restoring your kitchen quicker and more successful.


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