Is It Safe to Run A Dishwasher When Nobody Is Home? (Find Out Now!)

Matthew Mountain
by Matthew Mountain

When your busy, the simplest tasks can seem burdensome. Say, for example, you’re about to leave for an important function, when out of the corner of your eye you spot a stack of dirty dishes in your kitchen sink. What should be done?

You can just take the dishes, put them in the dishwasher, and go on your merry way, right? Not exactly. While dishwashers are reliable 99.9% of the time, this is the kind of appliance you don’t want to leave running unattended. This article will explain why it’s not good to leave a dishwasher running when nobody is around to keep an eye on it.

No, it’s not safe to run a dishwasher when nobody is home. An unattended dishwasher could cause a fire, and a leak could also spring and cause a lot of flood damage. Moreover, there could be an electrical malfunction, and this too could cause a hazardous situation. To avoid all these negative events, only run a dishwasher when you’re around.

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What Can Happen to an Unwatched Dishwasher?

Several things, all of them negative, can happen when a dishwasher is left on with nobody around to keep an eye on it. To avoid these unfortunate events, you should only operate your dishwasher when you’re around.

Sure, the same issues may occur when you are near your dishwasher, but the key difference is—when you’re around your dishwasher—you’ll be able to mitigate the problem before it gets worse.

Often, an unattended dishwasher can lead to disastrous results like damaged floors and associated high repair costs, and this is unfortunate considering these machines exist to make individuals’ lives easier. Here’s what can happen when you’re not around to watch your dishwasher.

Fire Hazard

Dishwashers include heating elements, and a general rule of thumb is that you should never leave an appliance that utilizes a heating element on unattended. A dishwasher’s drying cycle can produce enough heat to start a fire, and therefore the risk of a fire being started is always there when the dishwasher is running.

If you’re at home when a fire is sparked by the dishwasher, you can cut off power to the machine and take proper steps to put out the flames immediately. But when nobody is home and a fire starts, nobody will be there to suppress the flames, and eventually, the flames will spread and possibly engulf your entire property.

Water Issues

Water-related issues are more common with dishwashers. After all, these systems rely on water to function. If you’re running your dishwasher and you’re not home, your system could spring a leak, and an unaddressed leak could flood your entire kitchen as well as other parts of your home.

A lot of the time, a leak is caused by an improper seal. Even if you ensure a seal is made before you leave, you can’t control what happens while you’re not there. If the seal somehow gives way, it’ll release water as it does, and you won’t be there to do anything about it.

Dishwashers contain a lot of water, so when your system starts to leak, it won’t stop until something is done to stem the tide—literally. Say, for example, you leave your dishwasher running the day you leave for a three-day vacation. You can’t be surprised if you come back to flooded floors, leaking ceilings, and a lot of other disastrous consequences.

All of these disastrous results can be avoided if you just don’t leave your dishwasher running while you’re away. Only wash dishes when you’re there to supervise the machine.

Electrical Issues

A dishwasher can experience electrical issues as well, and if you’re not around when your machine short-circuits or sparks an electrical fire, then there’s no telling how much damage will be sustained.

This issue is especially relevant to those who leave appliances on whenever they leave their homes. If there’s too much demand for electricity, and nobody is there to shut appliances off in the event of a power surge, then an electrical fire may start.

This kind of problem is especially dangerous, as malfunctioning wires will be in close proximity to water and delicate components. If you’re experiencing electrical-related issues with your dishwasher, and you’re not a trained electrician, you should get a professional to help you address this problem. They’ll know what to do.

A plumber may also be able to help, but it’s best to get an electrician to handle electrical-related issues, even if they’re just specific to one appliance.

What About Running a Dishwasher at Night?

While running a dishwasher at night may seem like a bad idea—for the same reason that running a system unattended is a bad idea—there is a slight difference that makes leaving a dishwasher on at night more tolerable than running one completely unattended.

Of course, you’ll be relying on the likelihood that a malfunction would eventually wake you, but this isn’t always a guarantee. Therefore, being at home when a dishwasher starts to malfunction isn’t an automatic safe bet.

Say, for example, your dishwasher’s heating element malfunctions and starts a fire. Smoke begins to fill the room which houses the dishwasher, and if you don’t have a smoke detector nearby, then you won’t be aware that the dishwasher has malfunctioned, until—maybe—you start to smell smoke.

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By this point, the area around the dishwasher will already be filled with smoke, and in all likelihood the dishwasher will be already lost. Also, you’ll probably be dealing with extensive damage in this area after the flames have been put out.

While a dishwasher causing a whole house to go up in flames is unlikely—and massive flooding isn’t all that common either—this doesn’t mean that leaving a system on overnight won’t lead to a lot of damage. The safest thing one can do is just avoid running a system when there’s nobody around to keep an eye on it.

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Matthew Mountain
Matthew Mountain

Matt loves everything DIY. He has been learning and practicing different trades since he was a kid, and he's often the first one called when a friend or family member needs a helping hand at home. Matt loves to work with wood and stone, and landscaping is by far his most favorite pastime.

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