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How to deal with dishwasher enclosure panel swelling?

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  • May 22nd, 2019 5:50 pm
[OP]
Sr. Member
Jan 19, 2018
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How to deal with dishwasher enclosure panel swelling?

Yesterday I noticed the side panel of my dishwasher enclosure has some bulging/swelling (see attached pic). Initially, I thought this may be a leak but then wouldn't make much sense for it to be on the side. Plus we never saw any puddles. Then I did more researching and seems like it could be steam damage. The panel material is MDF and the cabinets are only about 9 months old. What are the possible long term fixes here? I can probably get another panel made and installed but the same thing would probably happen again. I could get a new dishwasher, but I don't know what to look for to prevent this type of damage. I'm a relatively new home owner and know little about these things. All suggestions are appreciated.
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Last edited by bobohobo2kx on May 18th, 2019 1:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
20 replies
Deal Fanatic
Jan 25, 2007
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Paris
bobohobo2kx wrote: Yesterday I noticed the end panel of my kitchen cabinets that houses the dishwasher has some bulging/swelling (see attached pic). Initially, I thought this may be a leak but then wouldn't make much sense for it to be on the side. Plus we never saw any puddles. Then I did more researching and seems like it could be steam damage. The panel material is MDF and the cabinets are only about 9 months old. What are the possible long term fixes here? I can probably get another panel made and installed but the same thing would probably happen again. I could get a new dishwasher, but I don't know what to look for to prevent this type of damage. I'm a relatively new home owner and all suggestions are appreciated.
You will need a panel not made of MDF. This is very common from the heat and steam of a dishwasher. MDF around water is generally a bad idea.
Deal Fanatic
Jul 7, 2017
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Not just steam damage but there are some brands/models of DWs where the vapour vents are on the side (often the door) so they deliberately vent against cabinetry.
Cream rises to the top. So does scum.
[OP]
Sr. Member
Jan 19, 2018
934 posts
618 upvotes
Jerico wrote: You will need a panel not made of MDF. This is very common from the heat and steam of a dishwasher. MDF around water is generally a bad idea.
Hi, thanks for the advice. What panel material would you suggest then?
Deal Fanatic
Jan 25, 2007
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Paris
bobohobo2kx wrote: Hi, thanks for the advice. What panel material would you suggest then?
Real wood. Even some plywood veneers will come off.
Deal Addict
Dec 9, 2003
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MDF is fine as long as it is well sealed - all edges and faces. Use an epoxy paint on the inside.
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Deal Addict
Jan 28, 2007
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Cough wrote: MDF is fine as long as it is well sealed - all edges and faces. Use an epoxy paint on the inside.
+1
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Deal Addict
Apr 6, 2008
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Being that the damage is on the bottom, is it possible that there was a leak on the floor that was left for an extended period? Also, is it possible that the bulge was always there? I had a buddy who bought a brand new house and had similar damage. I think what happened in his case is that the cabinets were unloaded off a truck in the rain and managed to absorb the water and had permanent damage.
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Oct 19, 2008
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bobohobo2kx wrote: Yesterday I noticed the side panel of my dishwasher enclosure has some bulging/swelling (see attached pic). Initially, I thought this may be a leak but then wouldn't make much sense for it to be on the side. Plus we never saw any puddles.
Makes sense if the floor is slightly angled in that direction. Its probably a leak on water supply or drain, Remove 2 screws holding the access cover under the door and have a look with a flashlight. Since its the rear right you (or someone who is able) might have to pull the dishwasher out but theres a good chance you will see a drip from supply/drain by running the dishwasher with that bottom plate off.
Doubt very much its steam.
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May 10, 2005
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Zamboni wrote: Makes sense if the floor is slightly angled in that direction. Its probably a leak on water supply or drain, Remove 2 screws holding the access cover under the door and have a look with a flashlight. Since its the rear right you (or someone who is able) might have to pull the dishwasher out but theres a good chance you will see a drip from supply/drain by running the dishwasher with that bottom plate off.
Doubt very much its steam.
I agree with this. I have never seen a dishwasher emit steam while it is running. The MDF swelling is low and that part of the dishwasher internally is full or water, not steam.
I suspect a leak as well. It could even be a door seal.
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Jul 7, 2017
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Pete_Coach wrote: I agree with this. I have never seen a dishwasher emit steam while it is running. The MDF swelling is low and that part of the dishwasher internally is full or water, not steam.
I suspect a leak as well. It could even be a door seal.
Not steam, per se, but hot water vapour.

https://www.houzz.com/discussions/home- ... bd~t_28569

Particularly this:
https://www.houzz.com/discussions/kitch ... vd~2287464
Cream rises to the top. So does scum.
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Need to sign up to read the posts so I cannot red them but as I said, I have never seen this on any dishwasher I or anyone I knwo has.
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Pete_Coach wrote: Need to sign up to read the posts so I cannot red them but as I said, I have never seen this on any dishwasher I or anyone I knwo has.
Poor design of a KitchenAid (possibly Jenn Air and other Whirlpool DWs) where the "steam" vent was on the side of the door. Led to lots of people getting ruined cabinets. Looks like this model came out around 2013-14. Deflectors and all sorts of stuff were tried due to a design flaw (I guess someone wanted a clean front with no vent).

Image
https://st.hzcdn.com/fimgs/623228950bd9 ... 0-p0--.jpg
Cream rises to the top. So does scum.
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thriftshopper wrote: Poor design of a KitchenAid (possibly Jenn Air and other Whirlpool DWs) where the "steam" vent was on the side of the door. Led to lots of people getting ruined cabinets. Looks like this model came out around 2013-14. Deflectors and all sorts of stuff were tried due to a design flaw (I guess someone wanted a clean front with no vent).

Image
https://st.hzcdn.com/fimgs/623228950bd9 ... 0-p0--.jpg
OK. Seems the vent is quite high on the door.
The OP has a problem with the bottom and back of the cabinet....and I know water runs downhill. There should also be some sort of indication higher up if he has this type of washer (as seen in your picture).
I till suspect some kind of leak.
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Nov 18, 2005
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fusion2k2k wrote: Being that the damage is on the bottom, is it possible that there was a leak on the floor that was left for an extended period? Also, is it possible that the bulge was always there? I had a buddy who bought a brand new house and had similar damage. I think what happened in his case is that the cabinets were unloaded off a truck in the rain and managed to absorb the water and had permanent damage.
Zamboni wrote: Makes sense if the floor is slightly angled in that direction. Its probably a leak on water supply or drain, Remove 2 screws holding the access cover under the door and have a look with a flashlight. Since its the rear right you (or someone who is able) might have to pull the dishwasher out but theres a good chance you will see a drip from supply/drain by running the dishwasher with that bottom plate off.
Doubt very much its steam.
I agree with these posts and others that it is likely a leak and not steam since it is at the bottom. Could be caulked at the bottom which would prevent a leak from showing up outside the cabinet.
[OP]
Sr. Member
Jan 19, 2018
934 posts
618 upvotes
Hi everyone, OP here. Thought I'd provide some updates.
fusion2k2k wrote: Being that the damage is on the bottom, is it possible that there was a leak on the floor that was left for an extended period? Also, is it possible that the bulge was always there? I had a buddy who bought a brand new house and had similar damage. I think what happened in his case is that the cabinets were unloaded off a truck in the rain and managed to absorb the water and had permanent damage.
At this point I am skeptical that it's a leak (see more detailed response below). But the bulge was not always there. These were new cabinets that were installed to replace the old ones when I bought my place and it wasn't raining the day they were delivered. The dishwasher probably a few years old (came with the unit when I bought it) and is this specific model: https://www.maytag.ca/en_ca/kitchen/dis ... 49sdz.html.
Zamboni wrote: Makes sense if the floor is slightly angled in that direction. Its probably a leak on water supply or drain, Remove 2 screws holding the access cover under the door and have a look with a flashlight. Since its the rear right you (or someone who is able) might have to pull the dishwasher out but theres a good chance you will see a drip from supply/drain by running the dishwasher with that bottom plate off.
Doubt very much its steam.
Pete_Coach wrote: I agree with this. I have never seen a dishwasher emit steam while it is running. The MDF swelling is low and that part of the dishwasher internally is full or water, not steam.
I suspect a leak as well. It could even be a door seal.
JWL wrote: I agree with these posts and others that it is likely a leak and not steam since it is at the bottom. Could be caulked at the bottom which would prevent a leak from showing up outside the cabinet.
Hey guys, the cabinets are not caulked at the bottom and that's why I thought I would probably have seen some water seeping through the bottom over the last 9 months and the couple of dozen times I used the dishwasher if there was a leak. Nonetheless, the floor is indeed slanted slightly towards the right side, so I thought you guys may be right. I removed the access cover and ran a full wash cycle (~3 hours) and checked with my phone flashlight at various points throughout the wash but didn't see any drips. At the end of the wash, there was no water on the floor as far as I could tell. On the inside face of the panel, there was some swelling/bulging as well in the same location, but not nearly as pronounced as the outside (see attached pics). There is also a layer of foam just above the bulge/swelling but it remained dry throughout the wash cycle.

Image
Image
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Oct 19, 2008
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Its a leak with water wicking up the panel...that's why the worst damage is against the floor. Run the dishwasher again and move the braided supply line (front left?) a bit, see if it is leaking at its threaded connection or if the water inlet valve is cracked.
Sr. Member
Oct 3, 2011
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is that a water stain on the back wall?

Could it be condensation from the heat on the bottom of the machine?
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Nov 18, 2005
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Great pictures. It is super clear that at some point there was water in that corner of the dishwasher and enough to damage the wood side panel as well as the drywall in behind. That is not from steam. It is also not necessarily from the dishwasher. If the sink is beside the dishwasher, if there was a leak under the sink water could have gotten to the floor and flowed to that corner. Even a large spill in front of the dishwasher that flowed under the dishwasher could have caused it. But there definitely was more than a little water under the dishwasher in that corner. Really could be a one time event in the past.

Maybe leave the front panel of the dishwasher off for a bit an make multiple observations. Could also get a cheap water alarm and put it under the dishwasher.
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Jul 30, 2015
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I had something similar. It was a leak, but for the longest time we couldn't see it because it left no trace except water stains on the wood. It wasn't until I pulled out the DW, ran it, and saw the water leaking with my own two eyes.

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