How to Repair a Dishwasher Leak- Landlord Style

Dishwasher LeakI am a strong advocate of buying investment property close enough you can walk to.  The advantages are enormous.  You can keep closer tabs on your tenants, handle simple maintenance calls, and be able to keep an additional 10% to 20% of your rents in your own pocket.

Here is one repair that was relatively easy, and saved quite a bit of money over hiring a repair shop or buying a new dishwasher.  If you want to know how to repair a dishwasher leak, please read more.

Water is a huge issue in any rental.  It is especially an issue in a multifamily, and even more of an issue in a upper unit in a multifamily.  Despite all of the water horror stories that you hear about rentals, it rarely happens.  But when it does, you need to act.

Most water issues are sink drains.  The hand-tighten white plastic drain pipes come loose, and water start to leak. It may be the pipes were installed improperly, either crooked, pipes cut too short, not tightened enough, or some other similar install issue.

Some water issues arise out of a dishwasher, which is what this post is about.  The tenant texted me that the dishwasher was leaking.  I immediately wanted to know where the water was leaking.  It could be a dishwasher door seal, a drain pump leaking, the hose connection or any of the drain pipes under the kitchen sink.  It could also be a water supply line.  Each one might require a different set of actions from me or the tenant.

If it is a dishwasher drain pump leaking, it makes more sense just to replace the dishwasher that to replace the pump.  I buy dishwashers that have a food grinders and a few electronic buttons.  They are generally ~$300, so it is not worthwhile spending too much time on repairing a dishwasher.

The tenant said it was leaking from under the dishwasher.  It was only leaking when the dishwasher was running.  I told them I would be out to fix it the next day, and told them to avoid using the dishwasher until I could get out there.  I mentally planned what tools I was going to need.  In general, I have a lot of tools in my tool box that can fix most anything.  But sometimes, I need a special tool, or a tool such as a cordless drill that I typically do not leave in my truck.

To be able to fix the issue, when I got there, I started the dishwasher and attempted to recreate the issue.  The dishwasher filled fine.  It ran fine.  Once the drain cycle started, a steady water puddle was growing in front and under the dishwasher.

Before I even got there, I was prepared to remove the dishwasher.  You cannot fix many dishwasher leaks unless you remove the dishwasher.  It’s easy to do.  Home Depot charges about 150 to install a dishwasher, you can do it in about 15 minutes.  Two screws hold most dishwashers to the kitchen cabinets.  The electric is either hard-wired, or a plugin.  The supply water is generally a flexible line, but it could be flexible copper, which is not as flexible as a braided stainless steel water line.  There is also a drain line.

Since I was only going to pull the dishwasher out far enough to see it work, and pinpoint the leak, I was glad there was enough slack in all of the hoses and wire to let me see the machine work.  So, after pulling the dishwasher out, I started it, fast forwarded to the drain cycle, and saw the leak.  The water was being pushed out of a small crack in the rubber part of the discharge hose.  I do not think the hose was installed properly to begin with, but it was not my install.

Once I saw the crack, I knew it needed a new hose, but I did not have one with me.  I figured I would attempt to fix this leak, and in a few months when the tenants were gone, I could replace the drain hose.  I disconnected the hose and saw that the rubber was a bit soft from the heat and soaps.  I cut the end off, and reconnected the hose.  Not bad I thought.  The leak was fixed.  I tested it and re-installed the dishwasher.  It took about 30 minutes to  complete the task.

After a few weeks, the tenant called me back for the same issue, with the same symptoms.  I hate having to re-do items, but it’s sometimes part of the game.  It is also how you learn.  You never learn from doing things right the first time, you learn from having to do them again.  Or at least you remember how to do things right when you have to re-do them.

Since I already knew about the soft rubber on the discharge hose. I went to Home Depot and paid for a new discharge hose on the way over.  I am fortunate to have many of my rentals within three miles of my home, and a Home Depot located about half way in-between.  The hose was ~$12.  I arrived at the rental, and I immediately went to work removing the dishwasher and replacing the hose.  It took about 15 minutes, and I was back on my way.

You can rely on a property manager, or you can do the simple fixes yourself and exponentially increase your return in investment.

What recent repairs have you done?  Have you ever had to repair a dishwasher leak?


8 Replies to “How to Repair a Dishwasher Leak- Landlord Style”

  1. Sounds like a pretty simple fix. I appreciate you explaining this repair, because I have a terrible feeling my dishwasher will have issues in the future. Or i just fear water leaks in general 😉

    This is also a great takeaway -> “You never learn from doing things right the first time, you learn from having to do them again. Or at least you remember how to do things right when you have to re-do them.” Something to keep in mind in the future when I get frustrated trying to do things.

  2. It’s always frustrating to make a second trip. I knew it was a temporary fix, but then it was the best I could do with the time and materials I had at the time. And I hate working on places when you have people and animals walking around wile you work. And the worst is young kids looking in your tool box. Too many sharp items in there, and too easy to lose a shiny tool.

    But it should be fixed now.

  3. YEs you can save a ton of money fixing things yourself. Mind many people are not too handy, so it is a try to fix until you fail situation. THen you can hire out the repairs.

  4. Love the blog and you tried to fix the issue! But to be perfectly honest i’d be pretty pissed a few weeks in with the same problem if i was renting from you. Response time is key though and it sounds like you have it nailed. I hope that doesn’t come off as too snarky.

    1. Thank you for the comment!

      Sometimes, fixes need to be done differently. That’s the breaks. I will do it according to the tenants schedule, so they do not have to wait around all day, like they would if an actual repair person would have been there. Also, sometimes you need to come back twice, once to diagnose and one time to fix it. In this case, I made the best fix I could, with the tools and parts (none) I had available. It got them buy for a few more weeks.

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