Monday, September 28, 2009

Installing the New Dishwasher

(Isn't it so pretty?)

We needed to get a working dishwasher in the kitchen. Since the one that came with the house didn’t actually work (thanks for letting us know it broke, seller of our house). So we measured the width, depth and height of the space in our cabinets. Then went shopping for a replacement that would fit. Notice I did not say that we actually measured the dimensions of the replacement. This will come into play later (thanks GE).

OK so all the shopping is done and we brought the new dishwasher home full of anticipation like kids on Christmas morning.

If you are reading this as a how-to, I STRONGLY recommend that, if possible, you run your old unit on rinse cycle before beginning the replacement process. (More on the importance of this in a moment).

The removal of the old dishwasher was fairly easy. Before doing any work on an appliance always disconnect the power. Since ours is hard-wired that involved finding which one breaker, of the four that supply the kitchen, was connected to the dishwasher. Or, what the hell, kill all the power, we didn't need it since we will be busy with the dishwasher. Plus how long could it take?

Now we moved onto turning off the water.  If your home was not hand-built by a European gentleman, you should probably have a shut off near the unit.  Since our home was built by a European gentleman, we did not have such a luxury and needed to turn off the water to the entire house.  If you also need to do this operation, make sure to drain the water by turning on the faucet in the lowest point in the house. 

Now that you have no power or water running to the dishwasher the unit is safe to un-install. Some units attach under the counter and others, like ours, have side brackets that attach to the lower cabinets. Either way a few screws and the dishwasher was ready to pull out. We pulled it out gently and carefully, taking care to not break any of the hoses or wires attached. Hopefully, you will have te same experience and will be able to pull it out far enough to make disconnecting the 3 things easier: electrical, water supply and drain line.

A caution note about the drain line. If your drain line is run as a “high drain”; meaning it goes up first and then down to house drain, have some towels or a bucket handy to clean up the sewage that falls out when you disconnect that. When you are done gagging you should have a unit that is ready to be removed. (Gagging will be greatly reduced if you run the dishwasher on the rinse cycle to flush out the nasty smelling water and any food reside from the hose.  This is a tip we learned the hard way...after all our gagging.)

Now for the replacement washer. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just take it out of the box and plug it in? Yeah I thought so too. Anyway, follow all the prep steps for your particular unit. If your washer is bolted to a shipping crate don’t throw away the bolts. You’ll need those later. Take care when setting the spring tension for the door. For some reason there are plastic pieces in between the springs and door hinges. If you break one it will cost $3.95 plus S&H. Ask me how I know.

OK, so all prep steps followed and your new washer is ready to hook up. Our instructions were pretty easy to follow. The only cheat I used was to put a little (two wraps) Teflon tape on the supply fitting. Hopefully you have enough length in your supply, drain and electrical lines to connect them before you slide the washer under the cabinet. I would recommend connecting them in this order: Drain then Supply. Once you’re all hooked up cross your fingers turn on the water and check for leaks. After verifying you are not leaking water, now hook up the electric. I may be overly cautious with the electric but I’ve been shocked enough to know I don’t like it.

Now follow the checklist in your instructions to make sure your washer is working properly. If all is well then its time to slide the new washer under the cabinet. Unless of course your “24 inch” washer is actually 24 1/8 inches wide. (thanks again GE). I will expand more on this later.

Once you have the washer under the cabinet you need to make sure it sits level. Our instructions said to use a ratchet to adjust the height of the feet (aka useless shipping bolts). I cheated again and used a small pry bar to lift the washer into place and spin the feet by hand. After the washer is level only thing left is to put on the bracket and toe plate. Viola, new dishwasher without installation charges. Easy, right? Yeah, whatever.

OK for those who want to see the gritty details. Our new washer was actually 1/8” larger than advertised and consequently 1/8” wider than the hole in our cabinet. I used a cordless circular saw with a carbide wood and nail blade to shave it back a bit. I found that setting the depth of the cut really shallow for the first pass gave me greater control. Trying to make a thin shave like this with a single deep pass proved problematic. The reciprocating saw made a very rough cut and splintered the face of my cabinet so I went back to the circular saw.

If the washer had actually been the right dimension, had we not broke a piece and needed to order a new one and wait for it to arrive in the mail, had our cabinets actually had a square opening and had we a shut off right near the dishwasher, installation would have been a breeze. 

Tip of the Project: Use a small pry bar to lift the weight of the washer off the feet and then adjust. This will not only save time but lots of headache trying to reach the feet with a ratchet or wrench once installed under cabinet.


  1. Let's try again. Couldn't seem to post my comment. Please don't blame it on the "European Gentleman". I live in a Florida tract home built by one of the counties "premier builders". It does not have shutoff valves. Only one main one outside the garage. Likewise the condo I owned in Tampa also did not have any ( 2 bathrooms! ) There was even worse. They had to shut off the water to the entire building when someone worked on a sink! So don't blame the European, they have stricter codes over in Europe than you do here in the US of A!

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