Dishwashers are an essential kitchen appliance for people who hate doing dishes – and there are sure a lot of them out there! They take time out of scrubbing and rinsing, so you can enjoy cooking and eating more. Installing one of these appliances may seem daunting at first, but it’s relatively easy.
The steps to install a dishwasher are: gathering the appropriate tools and materials, removing the old dishwasher, preparing the new dishwasher, and installing the new dishwasher in place of the old one.
We will be going over how to install a dishwasher in an easy-to-understand fashion. If you are looking to incorporate a (new) dishwasher into your kitchen, keep reading to learn more!
Is Installing a Dishwasher Hard?
Many people don’t want to deal with installing appliances when you have to break out some tools and learn the said appliance components, which is perfectly understandable. Not everyone enjoys being a DIY-er, either due to time constraints or simply not enjoying it.
Installing a dishwasher is an intermediate or advanced level DIY task depending on who you ask. If there are any extra accommodations, you have to consider them (more on that later).
Still, it can save you a good amount of money if you are willing to go through with the work. Consider the labor cost that you aren’t paying someone else. Most dishwasher installations cost anywhere between $110 to $270, with the average price being $189. This cost can be worth it if you simply don’t want to go through with the task, but the cost savings are real.
Think of what you could do with that money instead. Perhaps you could buy additional appliances such as a toaster oven, crockpot, air fryer, etc., for the cost of someone installing your new dishwasher for you.
How long should you expect installing a dishwasher to take? It should take approximately one to two hours, depending on how quickly you can go through the steps. Admittedly, a video tutorial will likely make the process go quicker if you are new, especially if the model demonstrated is similar or the same as yours. See the video below for more information.
What to Know Before Installing a Dishwasher
The dishwasher you are installing or replacing must meet the same size criteria as the cabinet where your appliance will go in. The vast majority of dishwashers are 24 in (61 cm) wide, so it is likely that you will be able to install your desired dishwasher model.
However, if you want to opt for a larger size than this, your cabinets will need to be adjusted for this, which requires carpentry work that we aren’t able to go over today since that is an entirely new can of worms.
It’s also possible that you’ll have to do more work than you bargained for. Sometimes extra layers of flooring can be installed that block the dishwasher from easily sliding out. If this is the case, then flooring or the countertop covering the dishwasher will have to be removed. If you aren’t comfortable doing this, then it is good to call a professional to avoid frustration or accidental damage.
Once you are ready to go, then you can move on to the steps on how to remove the old dishwasher and install the new one.
Gather Your Tools and Materials
First, you will need the proper tools to get started. If you don’t already own these tools, be sure to purchase them in advance.
In total, you will need six tools and four materials.
- Adjustable wrenches
- Tine cutter
- Screwdriver set
- Safety glasses
- Hole saws
- Drill with interchangeable bits (optional, but recommended)
- Dishwasher parts
- The dishwasher itself
- Dishwasher connector
- Wire connectors and wire terminals
You can find these tools at your local hardware stores such as Home Depot or online stores such as Amazon. Ensure you are purchasing the right thing, and don’t be afraid to ask questions if you are not completely sure if you are buying the right tools/parts.
Remove the Old Dishwasher
Before you can do anything, you will have to get the old dishwasher out of the way. Providing that extra flooring layers aren’t blocking the appliance from sliding out, this is a relatively easy process.
You’ll find the electrical and water connections underneath the dishwasher, and to get to it, you’ll need to remove the panel located on the lower front of the fridge.
However, before you do anything, make sure the appliance is powered off. For safety purposes, test it with a voltage detector like this TACKLIFE AC Voltage Tester Pen. Additionally, you’ll have to ensure that the water supply is also shut off. After you’ve confirmed that both are off, then we can move on.
In addition to cutting off the power and water supply to the dishwasher, you’ll also need to disconnect both the fill lines + drain located underneath the sink. Once you’ve done this, you can remove the dishwasher’s front panel by unscrewing all of the hinges and unplugging the electrical cords. From there, just unscrew the toe-kick to remove it.
Once you have access inside the dishwasher, cut off the electrical lines connected to the back of the appliance, and disconnect the fill lines and drain from the bottom of the dishwasher.
The electrical wires, drain, and fill lines, can be used with the new machine, and so if they are undamaged, it is best to leave them so you can hook them up to the dishwasher you plan to install.
From here, simply unscrew the cabinet-mounting screws, and the dishwasher should slide right out of the cabinet.
Before moving on, it is important to check the fill lines + drain for any cracks. These will need to be replaced if they are damaged, or you risk unwanted leaks.
Prepare the New Dishwasher
Dishwasher manufacturers try to keep their appliances as quiet as possible. One way they do this is to have a layer of insulation that wraps around the machine. If you don’t know that this is supposed to be here, it will look like something that needs to be removed but leave it be. It will help soften any rattling as the dishwasher operates and helps silence all that engineering that is happening on the inside.
To begin preparing the dishwasher for installation, very carefully put the dishwasher on its back. Ask for help if you need it since you do not want to slam down your expensive purchase and potentially break it before it even cleans your first set of dishes.
Next, remove the panel located at the bottom of the machine, and attach the elbow joints to both the fill valve and drain lines. To create a seal, wrap the joints in Teflon tape. You’ll want to wrap the tape clockwise to prevent it from unraveling when connecting the elbow joint.
It’s a good idea to have the elbow joints point towards the unit’s front just in case you need to service the dishwasher later or if you are getting another dishwasher.
Install the New Dishwasher
At this point, you are almost done. You just need to reconnect everything and fit the dishwasher in its cabinet.
Reattach the water and electrical supply lines. From here, you can stand the dishwasher upright again and begin to move it into the cabinet (and remember to ask for help if it is too heavy).
As the dishwasher is backing up, feed the fill lines and drain in the area beneath the sink. You might need to adjust the dishwasher’s legs if you find a large gap between the appliance and the top of the cabinet. As long as you bought the right size of a dishwasher, you shouldn’t have any extreme gaps on the sides.
Next, you’ll need to secure the dishwasher by screwing in the clamps located at the top of the unit.
Now, you are officially done! All that’s left to do is turn the water and electricity back on and run a cycle. You likely won’t hear a sound first, and this is because dishwashers will start with a drain cycle. After you have ensured that everything is functioning, you can reattach the toe kick and front panel.
Throughout the process, you should double-check everything to ensure you are doing things properly. There is no hurry here, and it is best to do this on a day you have off if you are doing this for the first time. It might take you a little while on your first time, but it is worth it in the end if you can avoid accidental water damage later on.
Below is a video so you can see the process:
Tips When Installing a Dishwasher on Your Own
Likely, we have at least a few people who are completely new to all this. As we stated earlier, installing a new dishwasher isn’t the easiest thing globally, but it is doable as long as you follow the instructions. With video tutorials being available, there is less of a chance of things going wrong.
However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t risks and everybody should try to do it. Mistakes can end up having drastic consequences, and so it is important to be aware of these things before diving into it as a newbie. We are not trying to discourage you (which is why we have written a guide), but these are just things to consider if you aren’t too sure about it yet.
Remember That You Can Potentially Void Your Homeowners Insurance
If you have homeowners insurance, it is important to understand what it covers and what it doesn’t. Most people understand it’s there to cover fire, theft, and natural disasters, but there are things that it won’t cover if it is your fault.
Dishwashers need lots of water to operate, and if things aren’t connected properly, you can be in a world of a bad time if your home suffers from water damage. In our step-by-step guide above, we kept stressing to ensure that any pipes and hoses don’t have any cracks and to wrap elbow joints in Teflon tape. You shouldn’t have problems as long as you are careful by following these instructions, but this is something to keep in mind.
Consider Future Repairs
Your dishwasher’s warranty only covers repairs that are needed by the cause of a faulty unit or a licensed professional installing it improperly.
If you end up messing up the installation and causing long-lasting damage down the road because of it, you’ll need to pay out of pocket for repairs or even a new dishwasher entirely. You are essentially paying more than you initially would have if you hired a licensed person to do it for you.
Remember when we were stressing to ask for help when laying the dishwasher down during installation? If you happen to drop it accidentally and break something, that will be all on you.
Weigh if Saving the Installation Cost Is Truly Worth It to You
As we mentioned earlier, the average cost of dishwasher installation is around $189, but this can be more or less depending on who is doing it.
Regardless, that is a decent chunk of money; it may even be nearly half the dishwasher price itself. If you did buy a more budget-friendly model, there is more of an incentive to save that money and just do it yourself, but even so, consider what you are paying for.
- Regained time: You don’t have to take a significant amount of time out of your day towards this project—the time is money, after all. All you have to do is just sit back and let someone else do the hard work for you.
- Peace of mind: The professional installing your dishwasher has likely done this many times and could do it in their sleep. The job is almost guaranteed to be done correctly, and if not, that is on the company and not you. As long as you go with a reputable company, you shouldn’t have issues.
- Quality and durability: Consider how many years and how often you will be using this dishwasher. They are expected to last approximately ten years or so before they start having problems, and considering that 68% of Americans use their dishwasher six times per week, it isn’t a stretch to say that spending that extra $189 isn’t as bad as it initially seems to be.
Sure, you are spending a lot for someone to do something that you could do, but over the long haul, that tacked-on price isn’t so bad for such a useful appliance that you’ll rely on to clean your dishes and not fail.
Should You Install Your Dishwasher Yourself?
If you still want to install your dishwasher yourself, go for it! Every professional starts not knowing anything, but they get into it because that’s what they want to do. Being proficient in home improvement is a valuable skill that can teach you a lot while saving you money in the long run.
On the other hand, if you are still saying to yourself, “I’m not too sure about this,” then don’t feel bad about handing over the cash to have someone install it for you. There is a reason why professionals exist, sure they want your money, but there wouldn’t be a market for them if everyone wanted to be a home improvement guru.
Installing a dishwasher involves working with both electricity and plumbing, which isn’t the cup of tea for many folks – and that’s perfectly OK.
You have an even bigger incentive to have a professional do it for you if you paid a lot of money for your unit, some very fancy dishwashers can cost over $1000. It should feel exciting for you to get a high-end appliance, not stressful. Additionally, the cost gap between the dishwasher and the installation cost has a much bigger gap than if you had bought a cheaper model.
In summary, do what you feel the most comfortable with!
Installing a dishwasher can be a fun and moderately challenging experience. It can also save you from expensive installation bills that can run as high as $270. Furthermore, you’ll be able to gain confidence in working with plumbing and electricity, which can lead to other DIY home improvement projects down the road.
If you don’t feel comfortable with this, then there isn’t anything wrong with saving time and having peace of mind by hiring a professional. After all, that’s what they are for, and not everyone is going to be comfortable working with the ins and outs of dishwasher installation.
- Family Handyman: How to Replace a Dishwasher in 4 Easy Steps
- DIY Network: How to Install a Dishwasher
- Absolute Draining and Plumbing: 3 Reasons You Should Hire a Professional to Install Your Dishwasher
- Home Depot: How to Install a Dishwasher
- Angies List: How Much Does Dishwasher Installation Cost?
- WSPA: Most have dishwashers but few actually use them, survey shows
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