Installing a Dishwasher Can Get You in Hot Water

So, you’ve finally decided to get a new dishwasher. Now for the fun part; picking one out and installing it. Typically broken down into three price ranges: budget, midrange, and luxury, you’ll find dishwashers can set you back anywhere from $400 to $700. Keep in mind, the closer you go toward the luxury end, the tougher the installation will be.

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When it comes to installation, you have two basic options: do it yourself (DIY) or professional installation. Caution: the DIY option is not for amateurs. If you are replacing an existing dishwasher, installation may include minor adjustments to countertops, wiring, or plumbing. Typical labor costs are $150 to $460, with the typical average being about $315. If you go the DIY route and things go wrong, count on spending more to repair the damage you’ve done and you’ll likely have to start over.

Here are some things to watch out for:

· If you’re replacing an old dishwasher with a new one, the installation will be easier than if you’re installing one for the first time. The dimensions of the cabinet opening for the new dishwasher are of utmost importance. If the opening is too large, noisy vibrations are likely to occur. If it’s too small, the new one will either not fit at all or will be so tight that cramming in all the parts and pieces may do some damage. This can be especially problematic if you’re stepping up from a basic model to a luxury model with more features.

· Needless to say, the power to the kitchen should be turned off prior to installation to avoid “shocking” surprises. The water supply lines under the sink should be turned off for installation unless you want to go for a swim.

· It’s important that the dishwasher is level and in line horizontally with the countertop. There will be metal legs on the bottom of the dishwasher that can be adjusted for raising, lowering and leveling the unit for proper positioning. Brackets are included on the top of every dishwasher for use in attaching the unit to the bottom of the counter top.

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· Almost all new dishwashers will include all the parts you need to install, except for the dishwasher 90° connector which you can purchase at a plumbing supply or home improvement store. Be sure the type and size of the dishwasher 90° connector is the correct one for your particular dishwasher.

· Also, often not included with dishwashers is the water supply line. You can pick that up where you purchased your dishwasher - we recommend a wire mesh line instead of a rubber one.

· An improperly installed drain hose is by far the most common defect found in dishwasher installations. The drain hose coming from the dishwasher must tap into your sink drain line above the P-trap (also called a J-bend). If this is not done properly, sewer gas can enter your home through your dishwasher.

· Another common error is failure to make sure the drain line makes a “high loop” in the cabinet space underneath the kitchen sink. It’s required by code in many states and is a requirement stated by every dishwasher manufacturer. An alternative to installing a high loop is to install an air gap at the kitchen sink – it’s a device that mounts on top of the sink. Some people feel this air gap device is unsightly so the high loop is preferred by most homeowners.

· It’s very important to make sure the clamps securing the dishwasher’s drain line, to the drain line, going to the sink’s drain pipe, are properly installed. If not, you’re sure to have a major leak.

· After the installation is complete, turn the water and electricity back on, check the water flows and run the dishwasher through at least one cycle. With a flashlight, be checking for leaks around and under the dishwasher and the plumbing connections under the sink.

If you’re a real handyman when it comes to plumbing and electrical skills, you might want to try installing a replacement dishwasher yourself. If not, or if you’re installing a new dishwasher where none existed before, it’s a much safer bet to have a professional do the installation for you. Leakage from an improperly installed dishwasher can cause you plenty of headaches and expensive repairs. I recommend checking out South West Plumbing’s website at You’ll be able to read some great reviews and hire a certified, professional plumber to do your job right!

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This article was provided to KING 5 by South West Plumbing