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Leaking Dishwasher and damage to cabinets and drywall This could save you thousands of dollars!


Premium Member
Dec 10, 2016
Model Number
Sears Kenmore
More than 10 years
How to avoid costly damage to cabinets and flooring during a leak.

1) Inside any cabinet that has a water supply you need to use a clear caulk to seal all around the inside bottom perimeter of the cabinet. This will keep water from leaking into the wood joint and encourage the water to find its way to the front of the cabinet so that it wll drip out and notify you. (In these areas water sensors are also a great thing.)

2) This is general advice for those that have cabinets that were set BEFORE the flooring such that the flooring is laid up to the kick plates of the cabinet.

In this situation, the flooring creates a dam or sorts with the cabinets now sitting in a 1/2" deep well - especially if tile is the floor covering. When sufficient water leaks - from anything - the water cannot run out so that you can notice it but rather it gets trapped in these wells which fill up with water. The cabinets and the drywall then sit in this 1/2" pool of water soaking it all up and creating MAJOR issues.

This happened to me recently when my dishwasher began leaking. I didn't notice the leak for quite awhile - until the water began running out from under the dishwasher and it was seeping up through the grout joints and holes in the travertine tile on the OTHER SIDE of the wall!!! The floor under the dishwasher was tiled as well so the water dripped on the tile, ran off to the side and into the well area unnoticed for days.

By this time the cabinets had been sitting in the water for a long time and since they are made from particle board (as most are) it had swelled extensively and started to grow mold. NO fun!!!

When I busted the toe kick front off with a hammer I could see that the wells under the cabinet were totally filled with water. I used a vacuum to remove the water and then several hair dryers duct taped to the floor to circulate heated air under them. I also had to treat the wood and drywall with a mold solution.

So here is what I did and you should as well.

I heavily caulked the floor perimeter under the dishwasher and about an inch up the wall and cabinet sides so that leaking water would not touch the wood or drywall and find no exit except under the FRONT the dishwasher - where it would be noticed quickly.

I also heavily caulked the perimeter under each cabinet where the cabinet meets the floor and along the drywall so that any water that got under it could not travel to adjacent cabinet spaces or under the wall but rather be trapped in that one well. Don't forget to caulk along the edge of the tile and the floor so that the water cannot travel in the voids under the tile.

I had to install new toe kick plates to cover spaces under the cabinets. The new boards are thicker than the previous ones so they sit ON TOP of the tile. I also sealed these along the floor to help keep water from gaining entry under the cabinet from the front.

By doing these measures you are protecting yourself from a lot of grief should a water leak occur as you will limit the damage to your cabinets and drywall as well as avoid a potentially deadly mold issue.

I hope this helps someone.

And to those that set the cabinets before the flooring - I hate you!