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My Dishwasher Keeps Overflowing: How to Fix

Dishwashers are a crucial part of most modern homes. Especially if you live with multiple people, it’s important that the dishes stay clean, so your home stays sanitary and organized. Though they’re generally user-friendly, dishwashers sometimes malfunction even if we take good care of them, one of the worst issues being them flooding and overflowing.

To fix your dishwasher, you’ll have to see if you’re using too much soap, ensure that the door gasket is fully intact, make sure the water inlet valve is in good condition, and check the float switch for functionality.

showing inside of dishwasher with caption saying dishwasher keeps overflowing

Through this article, you’ll learn how to do the following:

  • Identify the reason your dishwasher is overflowing
  • Determine how to fix it
  • Find the right tools for your project
  • Keep your dishwasher from overflowing in the future

See if You’re Using Too Much Soap

Why It’s Happening

One of the most crucial parts of the entire dishwashing process is soap. Everyone seems to have a strong preference as to what kind of soap they like to use. Some people choose the most affordable option at the grocery store, while others like to pick out a scent that they like most or even an option that’s eco-friendly and biodegradable. 

No matter what you choose for a dish detergent, it’s a crucial part of the process – the sudsy properties of soap help break down particles on your dishes. Soap also helps to wash away any grease that might be on your dishes that tend to linger around long after you’ve eaten.

If you have a big load of dishes that you have to get done, you might want to add extra detergent to your dishwasher, thinking that it might help get the dishes done more effectively. 

However, this isn’t a wise idea. Dishwashers were designed to use a certain measurement of dish detergent in order to clean your dishes most effectively. If you put too much dishwashing liquid or powder into the detergent compartment of your dishwasher, you’ll be faced with some issues.

How to Diagnose

Although you might be thinking that more soap means cleaner dishes, it actually will only result in equally clean dishes and a mess of bubbles all over your kitchen. That’s right – when you use too much dish detergent, your dishwasher creates a massive amount of bubbles, and these bubbles can leak out of the dishwasher and onto your kitchen floor. 

These bubbles are the telltale sign that you are adding too much soap to your loads of dishes. The kids may love it, but it’s a pain to clean up.

It’s easy to determine whether an excess of dishwashing detergent is your problem. First, you need to find out how much detergent you’re putting into your dishwasher. Most dishwashers have a line that demarcates how much soap you need to put in – some even have written instructions inside the machine that are easy to find.

You may also be facing overflow if you’re using a super-concentrated style of soap like a castile soap or body soap that isn’t designed for use in dishwashers. Although you may need to get dishes done and only have non-dish soap on hand, just wait until you’ve bought some detergent – your floor will thank you in the long term.

How to Solve

Solving the issue of too much detergent is very simple – use less detergent! If you have a habit of just splashing in however much soap you think you need into your dishwasher, make sure you measure out how much you really need every time. 

It might be better for you to switch to a dish powder for more ease of measurement, or even start purchasing dish detergent pods from a brand of your choice.

Ensure That the Door Gasket Is Fully Intact

Why It’s Happening

Because most of us aren’t plumbers, mechanics, or repairmen, very few of us actually know how the inner workings of a dishwasher actually operate. Our lives are centered around other tasks and jobs, so we leave the dishwasher repairs to the experts – all we have to do is load, add soap, and press the buttons. 

Though this is the reason that dishwashers were designed – to get a tedious task done quickly – it’s important to understand the basic design of your dishwasher.

Dishwashers are built into your house by inserting them into the area where you already have a sink installed. They are hooked up into your home water supply, where the water in your dishwasher comes from. 

The dishwasher itself – shaped like a big metal box – is set underneath your counter, where the racks can be pulled out and filled with cups, bowls, utensils, and pans. The dishwasher also has a pull-down door that also usually holds a small soap compartment.

To keep all the boiling, steamy water inside of your dishwasher and out of your clean, dry kitchen, there is something attached to your dishwasher door called a door gasket

The door gasket is what creates an airtight and watertight seal between the door of the dishwasher and the box-shaped dishwasher itself. It keeps air from coming and seals the water from flooding out and is a crucial part of a fully functional dishwashing unit. Without it, the dishwashing process would be much messier.

How to Diagnose

To create an airtight and watertight seal between the dishwasher and its door, the door gasket is made of thick rubber, which fits tightly around the door to keep any water from coming out. This is why many dishwashers have a lever that you have to switch in order to make it run. 

When you switch that lever, you’re locking the dishwasher and sealing the gasket. If you pay close attention next time, you can feel the rubber of the door gasket sealing up – it’s like a giant, thick rubber band.

If you notice water rushing out of your dishwasher around the edges of the door and the water isn’t excessively soapy, there’s a chance you’re dealing with a worn or damaged gasket. What’s frustrating about dishwasher door gaskets is that, since they’re made of rubber, they tend to wear easily. 

Over time, rubber has a tendency to stretch out and dry up, which makes it less airtight and watertight and prevents the door from sealing entirely.

How to Solve

Generally, dishwasher door gaskets are easy to see, as they’re exposed when the dishwasher is open. If you’ve already figured out that you’re not using too much soap in your dishwasher, check that the gasket is properly aligned with the door and that it’s not dry. 

If you notice any issues, you’ll want to replace it. Many hardware stores have the supplies available for this quick and easy task – to help, here’s a video that shows you how to do the replacement yourself to save money:

Make Sure the Water Inlet Valve Is in Good Condition

Why It’s Happening

We’ve already gone over a little bit of the dishwasher’s makeup, so hopefully, you have a decent grasp on what a dishwasher looks like on the inside and how it fits into your home. It’s essentially a big box with a hinged door that’s stuck under your counter, and that connects to the water hookup in your house. 

You might be wondering, however, “how does the water get into the dishwasher?” This is an important question and is a sign that you’re thinking critically about how to repair your dishwasher.

Dishwashers are connected to the water hookup in your home through a series of pipes that run throughout your house. These pipes flow to your faucets, sinks, toilets, showers, hoses, and dishwasher and are a crucial component of having a home with running water. 

To keep your home functioning normally, there has to be a decent amount of running water. If any of the pipes in this system are malfunctioning, there is likely to be an issue in another part of the plumbing as well.

Copyright protected content owner: ReadyToDIY.com and was initially posted on August 26, 2020.

Because your dishwasher – like all the other water-based appliances in your home – is connected to the main water supply through a series of open tubes, there has to be a way for the water to enter the dishwasher, as well as exit it. 

The device that rests at the place where the water from your main household hookup connects to the dishwasher itself is called the water inlet valve. This valve is essential to the process of letting in water because it brings in the amount you want.

The water inlet valve is essential to the dishwashing process because water is what washes your dishes when combined with soap. Just like with dishwashing detergent, you need to have a particular amount of water to make sure the dishes get clean. 

If there’s not enough water, the dishes will remain dirty, and if there’s too much water, then the dishwasher will overflow, which you may already have learned.

How to Diagnose

If you’ve already determined that your issue doesn’t lie with an excess of soap and that the gasket on the door of your dishwasher is in tip-top shape, then you’re likely dealing with a faulty water inlet valve. 

A water inlet valve in proper condition will only allow water in when the machine sends a signal to the valve to open. However, a faulty water inlet valve will let water into the dishwasher at any time because the valve is broken.

It is easy to diagnose a faulty water inlet valve. According to the experts at Remove and Replace, you can tell that the water inlet valve is to blame for an overflowing dishwasher because a broken water inlet valve will allow water in even when the dishwasher isn’t running. 

If you are having an issue with the dishwasher flooding even when you’re not doing the dishes, it’s probably that pesky water inlet valve.

How to Solve

Although it’s an annoying issue that can potentially cause damage to other parts of your home (read: the cabinets, floor, carpet, etc.), you’ll be pleased to know that fixing a broken water inlet valve is a relatively easy job that most people can do at home with just a few pieces of equipment, a little know-how, and a helpful tutorial. 

Check out this video for a hand figuring out how to replace that tricky piece of plastic and metal. Soon enough, your dishwasher will be back in prime condition:

Check the Float Switch for Functionality

Why It’s Happening

So, we’ve learned how dishwashers fit into your home, how they keep water inside (and out of your kitchen), and what happens when the water inlet valve that connects your dishwasher to your home water supply doesn’t function properly. Where do we go from here?

When it comes to figuring out what the issue is with your dishwasher and you’ve determined that none of the previously mentioned issues is the problem, then it’s likely you’re dealing with an issue with the float switch in your dishwasher. 

If you have no idea what a float switch is, then you’re not alone – it’s a mechanical part that’s relatively unique to dishwashers and isn’t well-known or well understood by people who aren’t plumbers or mechanics.

Let’s think back to our understanding of what a dishwasher looks like on the inside. You have a big box connected to your home water supply by piping, and the amount of water that comes into the dishwasher is controlled by the water intake valve, which keeps excess water out and the right amount of water in. 

You may be wondering, however – how does the water intake valve know when to open up and close off?

Copyright article owner is ReadyToDiy.com for this article. This post was first published on August 26, 2020.

One of the most unique pieces of the dishwasher mechanism is the float switch. At the bottom of your dishwasher, there is something called a float assembly (PartSelect gives a great explanation of this part). 

The float assembly is a piece of equipment that rises as the amount of water in your dishwasher increases, and it also falls as the amount of water being pumped into your dishwasher decreases. It helps to measure the amount of water that’s being used for your load of pots and pans.

What’s extra useful about the float assembly is that it determines how much water is enough for your dishwasher in conjunction with the float switch. Once that point in the dishwashing filling process is reached, the float assembly signals to the float switch that they’re good to go, and the float switch stops the water level from rising any further. 

While this is a great system to prevent excess water use, can you see where an issue may arise?

How to Diagnose

If there is an issue with the float switch for whatever reason, it can lead to a massive amount of flooding and overflow of water into your kitchen. When the device that controls the water stoppage isn’t working and there’s nothing in your dishwasher to tell the water inlet valve to close, then you’re working with an open pipe that’s just pumping water into your dishwasher without an end in sight.

Suppose you’re dealing with an excess of water that’s leaking from your dishwasher during the fill cycle and you can’t see any other reason for leakage after having run all the other tests mentioned in this article. In that case, you’re definitely dealing with a malfunctioning float switch. This is a frustrating issue, and you may need a bit of professional help to solve it, so buckle in.

How to Solve

With a malfunctioning float switch, you’ll have to perform a full replacement of the device. This can be a bit tricky since the float assembly and float switch consist of a complicated series of parts, but there are a number of tutorials out on Youtube and other platforms that can show you how to change it out. 

Here is a video of one we recommend from PartSelect:

Final Thoughts

Dealing with a dishwasher that’s overflowing can be absolutely aggravating. It can lead to all sorts of damage to the floors, cabinets, walls, and appliances in your kitchen. It’s important to understand that you’re dealing with a serious issue when your dishwasher starts to leak, but it’s just as important to remember that, while these issues are serious, they can be easily solved with a little tenacity and this reference guide.

To determine why your dishwasher is overflowing, you’ll need to run the following tests:

  • See if you’re using too much soap
  • Ensure that the door gasket is fully intact
  • Make sure the water inlet valve is in good condition
  • Check the float switch for functionality

Along with showing you how to run these tests, we’ve given you an explanation of why these problems happen and have shown you how to fix them on your own. Best of luck!

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ReadyToDIY is the owner of this article. This post was published on August 26, 2020.

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