Replacing the dishwasher

I shared the excitement of getting a new dishwasher in my last post. The screaming is over, but I still love it. Now it’s time to share the details on how we removed the old one, and installed the new one.
Installation through Lowe’s (where we bought the new dishwasher) would have cost $150. I remembered seeing that John at Young House Love was able to do the removal and installation himself and felt encouraged that we could do it too. It took a bit of convincing to get Aaron onboard with the DIY plan, but I won him over with assurances that it would be just like changing out a chandelier or a bathroom faucet. I sort of glossed over the fact that it would actually be like changing out a chandelier AND a bathroom faucet at the same time. Minor detail!
For further reassurance, I also looked at This Old house and found this helpful article on replacing a dishwasher. Combined with Young House Love’s dishwasher change-out post, and we were set to begin.
As a reminder from last time, here is what our old dishwasher looked like, in situ.
And here is what it looked like, ex situ.
To get to this point, we had to undo a few connections. Water was shut off by closing a valve under the sink. We have three valves down there: two with pipes going straight up, and one with a pipe going toward the dishwasher, so it was pretty easy to figure out which one to twist closed. (The two with pipes going straight up feed hot and cold water to the kitchen sink.) We then shut off electricity to the dishwasher via the circuit breaker. We have found that the circuit labels in our electrical box are not always reliable, so we figured out the correct circuit breaker by turning on the empty (and now waterless) dishwasher and flipping breakers until the dishwasher turned off. It turns out that the correct circuit breaker was labeled after all, although strangely only with the word “Dish”.
After turning off the water and electricity, we removed a panel at the bottom front of the dishwasher by unscrewing one screw. There should have been two screws to undo, but we only found one. That explains why the front panel kept falling off when I swept the kitchen floor. Oops.
Behind the panel was the water line – it’s the copper pipe in the photo below. This Old House indicated the water line is usually on the left side of the dishwasher, and that’s exactly where we found it.
The water line was easily disconnected by undoing the nut at its end with an crescent wrench. We had a rag underneath to catch water drips.
Next step was to disconnect the electrical wiring. There was a black box on the right side of the dishwasher, also behind the panel that was removed. We unscrewed one screw on the black box to reveal the wiring.
Three wire nuts were undone to free to wires.
I don’t have a photo, but we also disconnected a waste water line that goes from the dishwasher to the garbage disposal under the sink. We disconnected it at the garbage disposal by undoing a compression sleeve that was held by two screws.
Once the water line, electrical wires, and waste line were disconnected, we undid the screws that held the dishwasher in place. These were at the top and connected the dishwasher to the counter.
We shimmied the dishwasher out of its place between the cabinets and PRESTO…dishwasher ex situ.
We used Young House Love’s suggestion of sliding the old dishwasher out on a piece of cardboard so as to protect the kitchen floors.
And then we were left with an empty space in our cabinets. An empty space that looked like a crime scene.
Seriously, how gross is this? Thank goodness it cleaned up easily with a some all-purpose cleaner and a rag. The plywood subfloor had some old water damage, but I probed every inch of it with a screwdriver and didn’t find any soft spots, which would have indicated rotten (aka unstable) wood. With the subfloor still solid, we didn’t have to worry about replacing it, which would have been a huge pain in the patootie. Relief!
From here, installing the new dishwasher was just a matter of doing all of the above steps in reverse order. There was one problem though: the existing cooper water line. We had two issues with it:
Issue #1: The dishwasher’s water inlet is typically on the left front of the dishwasher, as noted above. The water line comes from the back left behind the dishwasher. The old dishwasher had a wide open space between it and the floor – enough to allow the copper pipe to be shaped into a gentle half circle and make the connection. The new dishwasher, though, has a tunnel for the water line to run from front to back, meaning the distance available to make to turn toward the dishwasher’s water inlet was much smaller – from the floor to the height of the water inlet, or about three inches. That angle was too tight for the rather rigid copper pipe; we would have had to bend it into 90 degree angle, which would pinch off water flow.
So the copper water pipe had to go. We replaced it with a flexible stainless steel hose. It made the turn from the tunnel to the inlet with no problems.
Here’s another view of the new water connection, from the side:
Issue #2: Under the kitchen sink, the dishwasher’s copper water line connects to a main water pipe that is also copper but larger in diameter. The old connection was made with some sort of reducer to link the differently-sized pipes. We took the new hose to a corner hardware store and learned that there is no easy way to connect the hose to a larger diameter copper pipe. The solution offered by the hardware store, though, ended up being rather elegant: a few inches the old copper water line was cut off, and two connectors were purchased – one to connect the stainless steel hose to the short piece of the old copper water line, and another to connect the short piece of the old copper water line to the larger copper main pipe.
The end result is unobtrusive and totally works:
Lenore contributed to the project, too. Her role consisted of providing comic relief and soliciting belly rubs.
The most difficult step actually came after all the connections were re-made and the new dishwasher was slid into place…making the darn thing plumb and level. Leveling was done by twisting the front feet to raise or lower each side. Making it plumb involved turning a screw at the front, which raised or lowered a foot at the back of the dishwasher. The screw at the front requires an allen wrench, but one wasn’t provided with the dishwasher. And our vast collection of allen wrenches didn’t include the right size. Grrrrrrr…
But thanks to some needle nosed pliers, we got it done. And the new dishwasher, well, it’s a thing of beauty.
It’s been a few weeks, and I am still super pleased with the new dishwasher. It is impressively quiet…like, it’s hard to tell that it’s already on and running when I’m standing right next to it. The only noises it makes are a low humming sound when first turned on and a charming chime when a load is done. That’s it.
Next steps for the kitchen? We’ll that’s still to be determined, but I have some ideas, yes, I have ideas.

One thought on “Replacing the dishwasher

  1. Hi, I know this is an old post, but we r currently doing te same thing. I have to get rid of the rigid copper pipe as well. i have been told by multiple people there is no way to do this. Can you go over the steps again?

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