Dishwasher Filling With Water When Off

May 21, 2022
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Troubleshooting a Dishwasher with Water Overflow Problems

When appliances are working well, they are a pleasure to have around. But things can go wrong. They start to malfunction. If your dishwasher is filling with water when off, you understand how frustrating this can be.

Maybe you woke up one day to see a small pool of water around the floor in front of your dishwasher when it is off. Or perhaps you noticed that the dishwasher was still full of water after a completed cycle.

Maybe you're even witnessing your dishwasher overflowing during a wash cycle. Whatever the case, that's never an enjoyable discovery.

Not all hope is lost. By going through the steps provided in this post, you can investigate the problem with your dishwasher.

A dishwasher filling with water in a dark room.

Prevent Your Dishwasher from Filling When it Isn't in Operation

We’ve been there before. And we have gathered the information you need to stop your dishwasher from filling with water when off.

Here are the key points covered:

  • Should There Be Water in My Dishwasher?
  • How to Investigate the Problem
  • Stop Dishwasher Filling With Water When Off
  • Time to Call Help

Should There Be Water in My Dishwasher?

Dishwashers are a bit of a literal black box. We put in dirty dishes and some detergent, hit a button, and clean dishes emerge. If you haven’t put much thought into it, they are almost a bit magical.

When it comes down to it, they are pretty simple. Water comes in through a connection. It gets pushed through a spray arm to clean your dishes.

And eventually, the dishwasher drains the used water. Of course, there is a bit more nuance to it, but that’s a general idea.

Since it uses water to clean your dishes, you might be wondering if it's normal for there to be any standing water in dishwashers.

Let us put that to rest. No, that is not normal. Your dishwater filling with water when off is a problem. One that you should correct.

Photo of overflowing dishwasher

Too much water in the dishwasher can lead to an overflow

If left unattended, a dishwasher filled with water could lead to worse problems. It might use dirty water to use your dishes.

But it could even lead to flooding your home like a bad water heater can do. That’s why you should take a look at it right away.

How to Investigate the Problem

Before you reach for the phone book and make that annoying and expensive call to the local plumber, it’s worth trying to investigate the problem. You never know, the fix could be simple and easy.

There are quite a few different parts that can fail on a dishwasher. When trying to figure out why it’s filling up with water or has standing water inside after a cycle, use this major clue to figure out the problem.

An appliance repair pro troubleshoots water issues with dishwashers

Is the water left inside of your dishwasher clean water? Or does it look like drain water from the sink or dishwasher after a cycle? Let’s dive deep into both of these possibilities.

Clean Water Left Inside of Dishwasher

If you see clean water, you might be a bit relieved. After all, it’s a bit better to deal with a mess of clean water rather than drain water. Let’s not even get started on what can happen with toilets.

But the fact is that clean water sitting inside your dishwasher can be cause for serious concern. If some parts fail, then water might start flowing into your dishwasher at any time.

This could not only fill up your dishwasher, but it could also flood your home, ruin floors and furniture, and creep into hidden spaces causing all sorts of havoc.

Water Inlet Valve

Thankfully, there’s a common problem that causes your dishwasher to fill with water when it’s turned off. A faulty water inlet valve. This valve is usually responsible for letting water into the dishwasher when it’s on to help clean your dishes.

But it can malfunction and work even when it’s not supposed to. Even on the best models, including a Bosch dishwasher or Kenmore dishwasher, this problem can exist.

If that happens, you can start by inspecting your water inlet valve. Mineral buildup or scale might cover it. That could prevent the valve from sealing properly.

If your house uses well water or another hard-water source with high mineral content, minerals build up rapidly.

Sometimes the valves fail and need to be replaced. But in any case, if your dishwasher is filling up with clean water when it’s turned off, try to find, clean out, and possibly replace the inlet valve to fix it.

Drain Water

Sometimes dishwashers fill up with dirty drain water. This can be a more uncomfortable solution, but there is no reason to go running for the plunger. Instead, check out the drain system of your dishwasher and sink, plus a couple of other components.

Drain Hose

A common problem is that your dishwasher’s drain hose is not properly placed. That can cause even the best GE dishwasher units to fail. They usually connect to the side of the garbage disposal.

Someone might have bumped it loose when stuffing things under the sink, it could get clogged, or it could be angled too flat. Start by visually inspecting the drain hose, one of the most crucial dishwasher parts.

A plumber is fixing a hose in a bathroom where the dishwasher is unexpectedly filling with water when turned off.

Problems With Your Drain Hose Can Prevent the Proper Emptying of Your Dishwasher

Another tip about the drain hose is that it should loop above the base of the sink. Sometimes the hose isn’t high above the sink drain.

If this happens, it’s possible for the sink water to durian into the dishwasher instead of the drain. Zip ties can help hoist the drain hose above the drain.

Check Valve

The check valve is another part of the drain system that might malfunction. It is a small plug-like device designed to allow water to flow in one direction: out of the dishwasher. If it isn’t working, water can flow into the dishwater from the drain hose.

Inspect the check valve to ensure nothing prevents it from making a good seal. Clean it out, and if you find it’s broken, replace it with a proper repair part from your dishwasher’s manufacturer.

Float Switch or Impeller

If neither of these solves your problem, it might be caused by another one of your washer parts. This includes your drain switch, float switch, or impeller.

The float switch is part of the overall float assembly that resides on the bottom of your dishwasher tub. It will actually turn off your dishwasher if your water level is getting to high.

While a float switch might help with the check valve, an impeller can provide the force necessary to get the water out of your dishwasher. Some devices might use a drain pump to assist too.

Calling In Help

Some of these repairs are pretty easy and can be completed in minutes without much risk. Other ones, like investigating problems with an impeller, can be more complex.

Photo of an appliance repairman fixing a dishwasher

If you can’t fix the problem yourself, call in an appliance repair expert

Turn off the water supply to your dishwasher before starting any repair. You don’t want to unhook a hose from the water inlet and have water start flowing out that you can’t stop.

You also can consider unplugging the power to your dishwasher, often located under the sink, or shutting off the breaker that supplies power to it.

Dishwashers are a mixture of water and electricity. If not treated with proper care, they can be downright dangerous.

An image of a kitchen with water filling in the dishwasher when off.

Dishwashers That Don't Drain Properly Can Result in a Kitchen Flood

At a minimum, you can probably do a quick visual inspection of the drain pipes under your sink to ensure the solution isn't obvious.

If you’ve tried and still can’t figure it out, don’t fret. It is to call in a dishwasher repair pro.

That’s why professional appliance repair people can make a living. It’s their job to understand all of the fine details. Don’t hesitate to call in a professional for washer repair after you’ve tried to figure it out with no luck.

You can try to hit the cancel or stop cycle button to manually drain your dishwasher while you wait for a repair person to make it over.

Frank Salvatore

Hey there - I'm Frank Salvatore. I created this site as a comprehensive kitchen resource. You'll find everything you need to know about everything in your kitchen. From appliances to utensils and layout - it is covered on this site!

About Me
Frank Salvatore
I created this site as a comprehensive kitchen resource. You'll find everything you need to know about everything in your kitchen. From appliances to utensils and layout - it is covered on this site!
Learn More About Me
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