Leaky Dishwasher Wrecks Hardwood Floor And Ceiling Below, Sears Shrugs


Sometimes, you buy a defective appliance and your only problem is that that the appliance doesn’t work. It’s sad, but you replace the item, either using a warranty or by purchasing a new one. Sometimes the company will stand in your way, and you have to fight them for a replacement. And then sometimes your defective appliance warps your hardwood floor, leaks through to your basement ceiling, and causes more than $4,000 worth of damage. That’s what happened to Nachos Grande and his wife (not his real name) when they bought a defective Whirlpool dishwasher from Sears.

His wife wrote a 1,800-word complaint letter to Sears, which you can read on his blog, but here’s his more succinct summary of what happened:

My wife and I bought a dishwasher from Sears (Sears installed).

The dishwasher leaked upon running.

Approximately $4,300 dollars damage to our wooden floors (plus leaking into the ceiling of the room below the kitchen in the basement).

We filed claim with Sears.

Sears pawns us off to their insurance people, who pawn us off to Whirlpool (the dishwasher brand), who in turn pawn us back off on Sears.

Repeat the above step[s] for about 4 months.

Nachos left out the part where Sears delivered a floor model dishwasher to replace the brand-new one they had paid for, either because they’re just that disorganized, or maybe hoping they wouldn’t notice.

Mrs. Grande sums up her epic complaint letter by saying:

Sears, it is positively shameful to make the innocent consumer (victim) with $4,300 worth of damage, resulting from a product your company sold, perform your proverbial bitch work in trying to reach resolution. Especially since said innocent consumer foolishly purchased your Master’s Protection Extended Warranty for $190.79, thinking that you would stand behind your product – the absurdity! 

So I urge you, informed consumer, next time you’re in the market for a new appliance, consider an independent dealer. We certainly will be. 

Customer Service Woes: Sears [Nachos Grande]


Edit Your Comment

  1. LadyTL says:

    I just have to wonder, if you don’t have a local appliance store that you can go with, is there really any way to avoid sear or best buy or any of the other bad companies? Also even if you do go with a local store is there any decent brands for major appliances?

    • Kuri says:

      I went to Lowe’s for my dishwasher, a Frigidaire, and it’s been rather reliable so far.

  2. Pre-Existing Condition says:

    Do appliance warranties typically cover secondary damage, loss of use, etc. or are they usually only for the appliance itself?

    For $4,300 in damage, it seems like it might be worth filing a homeowner’s insurance claim and letting them fight Sears in subrogation. Or, going after them in small claims court. I imagine a lot of it will come down to specific language in the warranty booklet.

    I’m always hesitant when filing a HO claim because of the possibility of increased premiums, getting dumped entirely, or getting negative info in one’s CLUE report but sometimes there are no alternatives.

    • ChuckECheese says:

      I have been curiously flamed for making the same claim in a previous thread, but here I go again: The policies I’ve purchased expressly denied coverage for flooding due to plumbing accidents. YMMV.

    • flychinook says:


      This is part of what your homeowners insurance is good for. Your insurance company covers the bill for water damage mitigation (or at least they should), then they go after any possibly responsible party to recoup their losses.

      • ZachPA says:

        This is eerily similar to a situation I had while flipping homes several years ago. I bought a home in pre-foreclosure and rehabbed it, including adding laminate flooring and all new appliances. One of those appliances was a refrigerator with automatic ice maker.

        Apparently one of the lines in the ice maker broke during or after installation. The new owners turned on the ice maker and then left the property for two days. Two days later, they were greeted by ruined laminate flooring and water ready to pour out of the home.

        They called their insurance company to file a claim, who in turn sent me a notice that they intended to subrogate the claim to me since I installed the icemaker line. I, of course, sent their insurance company a response notifying them that their clients failed to obtain a home inspection prior to the sale, so they were on the hook for anything that happened as a result of an issue that would have been caught by a qualified inspector.

        I never heard back.

    • RvLeshrac says:

      AFAIK, no product warranty has EVER covered incidental damages. The extended warranty *MIGHT*, but I’ve never seen one that did.

  3. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    $4,300 worth of water damage doesn’t happen overnight.
    This is also why you have homeowners insurance.

    Yes, Sears and/or the manufacturer should be ashamed and should provide a fully functional replacement, but if they won’t cooperate on the insurance front at least get it handled through the normal channels.

    I recently purchased a range from Sears and was happy with the general delivery – except for the fact that one of the leveling feet was missing its mounting screws. So they called and sent me new ones. A few weeks later, a new foot arrives MINUS the screws. So I call back and receive 3 huge concrete mounting screws for… something, clearly not for my range. At that point, I gave up and used screws I had. As it is, because they could not level it, we don’t have the anti-tip bracket installed so its “unsafe”. At least there aren’t any children in the house.

    • pgr says:

      As a retired general contractor I can assure you that $4300 worth of water damage can be done in a very short time, minutes, in fact.

      • flychinook says:

        Yup. Depending on the type of flooring and age of the flooring, you might not be able to replace only the affected portion. So if you have the same flooring throughout an entire level of your home, you may have to replace ALL of it. That adds up fast. Add in the possibility of damaged cabinetry (fiberboard cabinets damaged by water usually can’t be repaired), plus professional drying services, and I’ve personally seen the total bill for this sort of thing jump into 5-figures territory.

        From a leak that only lasted a few hours.

    • bikeoid says:

      Most people don’t realize that water damage can be nearly as severe as fire. I have replaced all my interior hoses recently with steel jacketed hoses because I personally know of 2 people who had major damage from a burst hose while they were out.

    • who? says:

      Actually, with a dishwasher and a hardwood floor, $4,300 worth of water damage can indeed happen overnight. I had a dishwasher leak under the vinyl floor (no, I don’t know how this is possible), and we didn’t notice that water was getting in between the vinyl floor and the subfloor unil the floor was ruined. It had to be completely pulled out and replaced. You’d probably notice a problem with the wood floor sooner, but the damage would already be done.

      That said, you are correct. They should be going through their own homeowner’s insurance. Let the insurance company deal with Sears.

  4. Blueskylaw says:

    Nachos Grande and his wife Mocha Soy Latte Grande (not his nor her real name)

  5. dogmaticman says:

    If it leaks, you should be able to see water seeping out from under your dishwasher…or one would hope. This is obviously a huge chronic problem and possibly from a faulty installation at hand, or a totally oblivious homeowner.

    • who? says:

      Not necessarily. When our dishwasher leaked, the water went *under* the floor. We didn’t see anything wrong until the floor was completely ruined.

      • Red Cat Linux says:

        This. I bought a house and we walked through prior to the sale with the inspector and he ran the dishwasher with us and him peering at the floor beneath the door. Water never made it out to where you could see it.

        A month later, when the stains on the basement ceiling had turned into abstract art, and the dishwasher was pulled out, the floor sagged in that corner and the subfloor had to be replaced.

    • flychinook says:

      Sometimes people get lazy installing a new kitchen floor, and it only goes up to the cabinets, not under the cabinets as it should. So water leaking out of a dishwasher would run underneath the new floor. If the new floor was installed over vinyl (something I’ve seen quite often with laminate floors), the problem becomes worse, as water will not seep down, but instead goes outwards to other walls in the kitchen or even farther.

  6. az123 says:

    OK, as stupid as Sears can be, I think the OP is a bit over the top in blaming them for the defective product. Now sending you a floor model, that is their stupidity that you can count on

    I doubt the sears extended warranty covers damage to other property, it probably specifically excludes it actually.

    I also agree with the other comment, you don’t get that much water damage overnight, sounds like a long term problem that the OP did not notice. Regardless if the dishwasher is defective then the manufacture should be responsible not the store that sold it.

  7. DrPizza says:

    Bull. It takes a lot of negligence on the homeowners part before a leaking dishwasher could cause more than a couple hundred dollars worth of damage. i.e. Ignoring the problem. This sounds more like someone said “hey, it’s leaking. Payday! We’ll get all new flooring!”

    “My wife and I bought a dishwasher from Sears (Sears installed).

    The dishwasher leaked upon running.”

    How did you know that the dishwasher leaked upon running? That’s the point at which you should have done something about it. Either you ignored that problem, or you’re exaggerating the damage. Would tipping over a mop bucket once cause $4300 worth of damage? No, it wouldn’t.

    • pgr says:

      Stick to pizza Dr.! Water damage can happen instantly. It only takes a short while to cause a flood and expensive repairs.

      Now, it is very possible it was the installation that cased the water damage, not the DW and in that case it’s up to the homeowner to prove who & why it happened.

      • DrPizza says:

        I agree that $4300 worth of water damage can happen quickly. But, $4300 worth of water damage won’t happen from a leaking dishwasher quickly. It’s possible that $4300 worth of damage might have occurred from a faulty installation – a compression fitting over tightened that pops off and unleashes a torrent of water for an hour or so. But, if that were the case, why would they replace the dishwasher, rather than repair the installation.

        As a general contractor, are you claiming that one mop bucket worth of water (about the same volume as used by a dishwasher for a single load) will typically cause $4300 worth of damage to a floor? That’s ridiculous. And, the $4300 figure is just for flooring – no drywall replacement and repainting of an entire room, etc.

        I agree that flooding could easily cause that figure for damage. But, there’s no indication of flooding – just the opposite – just a little leaking in the ceiling in the basement directly below the dishwasher. Does that sound like flooding to you? Or does it sound like very localized damage that occurred over a larger amount of time and was ignored by the homeowner? As a general contractor (I’ve done a lot of construction and repair work, though I don’t really make a career out of it) you should be able to figure this one out.

        • who? says:

          When our dishwasher leaked, we couldn’t see that anything was happening until the damage was so extensive that the entire kitchen floor needed to be replaced. And even then, it just looked like a little bubble under the floor about 3 feet away from the dishwasher.

        • RvLeshrac says:

          Ceiling: $1k. Hardwood flooring: $1k. Subfloor: $1k. Mold prevention: $1k. And I’m being *VERY* conservative with these estimates.

    • NanoDog says:

      You’re wrong… Start the dishwasher and go to bed.

      With a Hardwood Floor Kitchen and a room below..$4,300 isn’t that unreasonable… The floor will have absorbed the water and buckled and water will have rained down on the room below… possibly taking the ceiling with it as well as water damage to furniture, furnishings and any electronics it comes upon.

    • Charmander says:


  8. Jerry Vandesic says:

    Call your insurance agent, and get them to process the claim. They will pay for your repairs, and then they will sue the dishwasher manufacturer. I had the exact same think happen with a Kitchenaid dishwasher I bought from Lowes, but in my case the damage was $20K. It took them about nine months of legal maneuvering, but Kitchenaid eventually settled for $15K.

    • FatLynn says:

      This. Right here. Go through your Homeowner’s insurance, and let THEM deal with Sears.

    • Jawaka says:

      …and then they’ll drop your coverage.

      • flychinook says:

        If your insurance company drops you after one claim, f**k ’em. Any insurance company that does this probably won’t be willing to cover you when you really need it.

  9. Peggee has pearls and will clutch them when cashiers ask "YOU GOT A WIC CHECK MA'AM?" says:

    So I urge you, informed consumer, next time you’re in the market for a new appliance, consider an independent dealer. We certainly will be.

    I understand people want to lash out when they’re angry and “I’m taking my business elsewhere” seems like the only way, but if you think independent dealers are any less shady, you’re wrong. It’s also a lot harder to sue one in small claims.

    Small claims would be appropriate here. You might get lucky and they won’t even show up, but either way I highly doubt you’d lose.

  10. MooflesThaCat says:

    Was the dishwasher installed by a Sears installer, Their own installer, or themselves? I’m pretty sure that it’s going to be hard to fight their case if Sears didn’t install it either. I don’t doubt the OP’s claims at all as I managed a Sears and have seen it all. Sears is by far the most disorganized retailer I have ever worked for. Not a single shit was given on any day by any person during my entire tenure there.

  11. Red Cat Linux says:

    I actually read that whole +5 Wall of Text posted on the blog.

    I think the break down occurred the moment that Whirlpool requested a Scheduled Work Order showing the defective part and manufacturer’s p/n. At which Mrs. Grande attempted to schedule a work order.

    I am fairly sure that Whirlpool needs the original work order from the original service call for the original, defective dishwasher. After all, what good would it do to schedule a work order on a replacement that is not malfunctioning*?

    She needs a copy of the one that was written describing the defect in the original. She shouldn’t have to schedule anything for that. Get that, send a copy of it to Whirlpool. Claim moves along.

    * Seriously, if this is a manufacturer’s defect, and not damage that occurred in shipping or installation, then unless the unit, or the part in question, is of a different hardware revision, I absolutely would not ask for the same unit in replacement. It is likely to reoccur.

  12. wade says:

    Laura Northrup Can’t Come Up With Any Other Catchy Verbs That Indicate Indifference To Use In Headline, Shrugs

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    Amazon Puts Your $1000 Kindle Library ‘On Hold,’ Apologizes, Shrugs
    By Laura Northrup on November 23, 2011

    UPS Knows Where Misrouted Package Is, Shrugs
    By Laura Northrup on October 28, 2011 9:30 AM

    Walmart Sends Me Cheaper Bed Frame Than I Ordered, Shrugs
    By Laura Northrup on October 19, 2011 9:00 AM

    Groupon Refunds Me Extra $20, Shrugs
    By Laura Northrup on August 23, 2011 5:00 PM

    Google Deletes Last 7 Years Of User’s Digital Life, Shrugs
    By Laura Northrup on July 22, 2011 8:00 AM

    Alienware Sells Marine $6,000 Paperweight, Shrugs
    By Laura Northrup on July 18, 2011 3:05 PM

    AT&T Wireless Acknowledges Their Crappy iPhone Service, Shrugs
    By Laura Northrup on June 23, 2011 9:00 AM

    Hotels.com Leaves You Without A Place To Stay In Beijing, Shrugs
    By Laura Northrup on June 15, 2011 9:30 AM


  13. dush says:

    Your home insurance should have a claim filed and they can go after Sears’ insurance.

  14. MwMike says:

    I’m going along with the warranty excluding any damages, and insurance being needed.

    Take it up a notch, if your electric toothbrush shorts out and burns down your house…

  15. dush says:

    If they put their cat in the dishwasher then no wonder it leaked all over.

  16. SirWired says:

    I’m no big fan of Sears, but I’ve never thought an appliance manufacturer was routinely liable for damage caused by routine failure of a product, even under warranty. Sometimes they’ll cave for the appliance burning your house down, but that’s about it.

    This is what Homeowner’s insurance is for. File a claim (or not), but neither Sears nor Whirlpool is going to pony up here.

  17. Costner says:

    File a claim with your homeowners insurance – then continue to seek remedy from Sears (or Whirlpool… or whoever).

    The eventual conclusion will be a need to seek reimbursement via court, and depending upon the requirements in your state it may exceed the max you can seek via small claims, but if you have a $500 deductible on your homeowners policy, you should be able to recoup it plus costs via a small claims action.

    • SirWired says:

      Actually, if warranted (which I doubt) your HO insurance will take care of that for you (including the deductible refund), via the subrogation process.

  18. axiomatic says:

    “I’ll never get over Macho Grande.”

  19. ifixrjs says:

    He should absolutely change his name to Nachos Grande. Heck I am thinking about it already.

  20. B says:

    This EXACT same thing happened to us 2 years ago with a whirlpool dishwasher purchased from Sears. We had just put new wood flooring down before we purchased the new dishwasher. We also had purchased the 5 year extended warranty. The insurance company rejected our claim based on the repair person not being able to duplicate the leak. They directed us back to Sears who again put us back to insurance company. The insurance company made no secret that their objective was to find was to not pay a claim. The leak occurred again about 4 months later and we had containers under the dishwasher to catch the water…..AGAIN….same process…same results. All the while wearing you down and you are wasting valuable time with the many forms to file and calls to make etc. About the 14-15th month of owning the dishwasher, the digital control panel began to malfunction. A repairman came out didn’t have the part he needed, had to be ordered. Waited week for delivery of the part to our house, then called for installation of the part….wait a week for them to have the time to do the installation…same problem occurred a few days later….FINALLY they replaced the dishwasher based on the control panel issues…never the leaking issue. We bought a rug to put over the damaged floor area. The replacement dishwasher we chose is a Kitchenaid and we love it. But I can assure you, we will not darken the doors of Sears ever again when we are in the market for appliances.

  21. SearsCares says:

    Good Afternoon,

    My name is Brian H. and I’m with the Sears Cares team. I’ve just read the post regarding Mr. Grande’s dishwasher leaking and I can completely understand why he and his wife or anyone else experiencing a similar issue, would be upset. Mr. Grande, if you see this post, we would certainly like the opportunity to speak with you and assist in resolving this issue as soon as possible and to your complete satisfaction. Please email SMAdvisor@searshc.com with your contact information and a dedicated case manager will call you to assist. Please be sure to include the phone number you purchased the dishwasher under as well as this screen name (NachosGrande) so we can reference your issue. Also, please know I will attempt to reach you on your blog. Again, we apologize for any trouble we have caused and we hope to hear from you soon.

    Thank you,

    Brian H.
    Social Media Moderator
    Sears Social Media Support