Our dishwasher has rinsed it’s last, and we had to grab a new one. We found our dream model on clearance so we grabbed her and brought her home (see more in Let’s Dish, Part I). Now we’re ripping out our old dishwasher and installing the new one ourselves.
Google “how to replace a dishwasher” and you’ll get tons of videos, step by step directions, and a list of tools you’ll possibly need. Travis and I each watched some videos independently of each other, so when we converged to install the new dishwasher we were like a super fountain of knowledge (’cause if you see it on the internet, it’s true, right?).
According to everyone in the world, it’s not difficult at all.
Let me outline the steps for you here:
1. Turn off electricity and shut the water line.
2. Disconnect electricity, drain hose, and hot water line from old unit.
3. Unscrew old unit from under the counter lip (ours was already hanging there precariously).
4. Yank the old unit out.
5. Reconnect all of the above stuff on the new unit.
6. Shove the new unit in.
7. Revel in your handyman-ship and wash some dishes.
Here are some tools you might need:
2. A screw driver (flat and phillips)
3. Lots of towels and paper towels
4. Wrenches (an auto fit wrench would be your best bet- I don’t know the technical term for those)
6. Some plastic bowls to catch drips
8. A full tank of gas for Lowes trips (we had 4 total for this project)
If you’ve never had the pleasure of seeing the dark underbelly of your dishwasher, brace yourself. It is a sexy, sexy place.
We followed the steps to remove the old dishwasher and it wasn’t that painful. The most difficult part was figuring out what size wrench to use on the hot water line (henceforth referred to as the copper piping), and which valve under the sink actually turned off the line that went to the dishwasher (we have something like 5 water lines going different directions under there).
Once the correct water valve was off (righty tighty, lefty loosey), we disconnected the pipe under the dishwasher. See how it connects to that little 90 degree elbow piece?
FYI, you’ll want to check your new dishwasher to see if it comes standard with that 90 degree piece. Ours did not.
Anyway, we unscrewed the copper pipe (the hot water line) from that 90 degree elbow piece with a towel underneath to catch the water that was still in the line. Again, make sure the power for the dishwasher is flipped off in your breaker box, since water and electricity don’t mix very well.
You can see in the bottom right of the pic above the electrical wires that are disconnected. That’s not difficult to do, but I am not an expert so if you’re intimidated, do what we do: call your dad.
Next we disconnected the drain hose (you have to do this on both ends, one is under the sink and the other is under the dishwasher). We had a plastic pitcher under the sink ready to catch the water from inside the drain hose.
Now the dishwasher was ready to be “yanked out” (the technical term), and we had the perfect helper on hand:
Who wouldn’t want Coleman the Wonder Dog to help with dishwasher demo? He is a great pal, ready to steal the food off of your plate give you the fur off his back.
Here’s my precious the new dishwasher getting ready to go in.
For anyone else who’s OCD like I am, let me just show you the biggest stress of the entire event, the State of the Kitchen.
It was a disaster the whole time, with tools and dirty dishes everywhere. At one point I was going to wash all the dirty ones by hand and get them out of the way, but we had all of the water valves shut off under the sink because we are dumb we weren’t sure which was which and I just gave up.
I don’t have any pictures of us shoving the new washing machine in the hole– that required all four of our hands at once. I will tell you this: leveling the feet of the dishwasher is very important, but you have to time that part just right because first you have to get it partially under the counter. In other words, if you unscrew the feet to make it level before you install it, it will be too tall to maneuver in the space. We got the dishwasher into the hole, then Trav lifted up while I unscrewed the feet to level it out.
Ok here’s where it got nasty. Once we got the washer in place we saw that it didn’t have the 90 degree elbow piece, and we couldn’t get the old one off of the old dishwasher to use, so, we took our first trip to Lowes to grab one. We came home and Travis attached it to the new dishwasher, then we reattached the copper pipe to the elbow, and guess what? It leaked. But not the part where you screw it on, it was leaking on the pipe. Yikers.
We played around with this for a while doing lots of tests (which included Travis getting soaked) and we just couldn’t get the leak to quit. It was a slow leak, but we had no intention of leaving it there. We were concerned we would have to replace the copper piping, but then we called our friend Luke (mentioned here) and he told us about this braided metal piping stuff. He said we could get a small piece to connect the copper pipe to the elbow and it would take some of the tension off of both, and our leak situation would probably be fixed.
So we took trip 2 to Lowes and grabbed one. Here it is installed.
Success. We are done! All that’s left to do is reconnect the drain hose under the sink, and wire the sucker. I had visions of clean plates dancing in my head.
Travis got all of the electrical wired in and we leveled everything. It was looking good. Then, we noticed something. Something awful.
The copper pipe, the thing we just fixed the leak on…it was leaking again, but on the other end. The end under the sink.
Imagine the swearing.
But, we do our best work under pressure. As we considered calling in a professional to re-install the copper plumbing, Travis had a brainstorm. That little braided metal rope, it was working perfectly. Why couldn’t we just buy 8 of them and stick them all together? Or do they make one long piece? We had no idea, but this little ray of hope excited us enough to make us hop back in the car for Lowes trip number 3 at 7 pm, a mere 8 hours after this project had started.
We have very sophisticated list systems. For example, we needed some wood screws so we could screw the dishwasher into the bottom of the countertop (they all come with brackets for this), but our screws were too long, so I laid the screw on our list and drew a line so we’d know what size to get.
Then in the plumbing section, the heavens opened up and the angels sang.
An 8 foot dishwasher connector would work perfectly. And, notice anything? It COMES WITH the 90 degree elbow that we went to grab on our first trip to Lowes. If only we hadn’t been so naive. If only we’d had some guidance. If only I could find some Taco Bell.
So we left Lowes feeling pretty confident and slightly delirious. Travis saw a magazine and grabbed it after a headline caught his eye about dishwasher reviews, and wouldn’t you know our very model was in the top 10 (number 8, in fact). I felt pretty darn good that we’d snagged a top 10 review for such a deal. This was just the morale boost we needed.
And it was great that we had a morale boost, because this project was not over yet. We were now going to use the 8 foot braided hose to bypass the copper altogether, but we didn’t know if there was a hole big enough in the counter to allow us to run the metal hose under the dishwasher. The new washer was already leveled, the electricity and drain hose were both hooked up, and Travis reeeaalllly didn’t want to have to unhook all of those things and pull the dishwasher out to drill a hole in the counter to run the new hose. Are you with me? We needed a lucky break. And we got one.
The existing hole for the copper pipe was almost big enough to run the metal hose through too, but not quite, so Travis used a kitchen knife (aren’t we classy) to widen the hole a bit without damaging the brand new perfect dishwasher just on the other side of the wall. Once he got it through, I used my super long skinny arms (go go gadget arms!) to reach under to the very back of the dishwasher and pull the hose forward. And after a few tense moments, I finally got it out. And oh the joy, people. We could see the light at the end of the dishwashing tunnel.
From this point we simply attached both ends of the metal hose, one end to the water valve and the other end to the dishwasher. We crossed our fingers, turned the water on, and guess what?
We used the patented “paper towel test” while we ran a cycle of dishes, just to make sure we weren’t missing anything. We didn’t install the kick plate at the bottom of the dishwasher until the next day, because I checked under the dish washer obsessively every 10 minutes during the first load, watching for leaks. I’m ecstatic to report there were no leaks, and we didn’t have to replace any copper pipes since we’d bypassed them completely. The icing on the cake was that the 8′ metal supply hose was only $16.98, and I can only imagine how much it would’ve been to replace the copper pipe. What a relief.
So that’s how we installed our new dishwasher and conquered the world. It was a sweet, sweet, victory my friends. And now you can come eat at our house without fear of leftover food stuck to your fork.