Ode To An Old Appliance.

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes, 11 seconds

Old DW

Old Whirlpool Dishwasher

Most folks don’t think much about dishwashers, they have become a necessity of modern life. Most kitchens have them and if they do, the most common decision is what color they will be. Stainless is all the rage right now but black and white are still selling according to my sales rep.

Is this modern contraption over rated? I do remember washing dishes by hand at home for many years and I am no worse for wear. I think dishwashers are a great appliance, they generally use less water than doing the dishes by hand and they use hotter water than we can stand to touch, so in theory do a better job than we can. They allow us to do other things with our time and are usually trouble free for years.

I recently lost my old dishwasher when it went out in a ball of smoke and melting plastic emanating from the control panel. Thankfully no one was hurt. Turns out, that “although not recalled yet…” my hunch is that this model will eventually.

She went out in a ball of smoke

I was at an event when I received a text from my wife that the dishwasher was on fire! Fortunately she got it extinguished before it did more than smoke up the place. After doing some online research, I discovered that the problem was a fairly common occurrence. The theory goes that the escaping humidity interferes with the circuitry causing the door to catch fire, and you know the rest. Another common cause is related to faulty wiring of the rinse aid dispenser.

New Bosch

New Bosch Dishwasher

To be fair my whirlpool gold series with a plastic tub, provided 11 years of trouble-free operation. That being said I would rather it have pooped out and died than try to burn my house down.

Things I looked for in a replacement: Low water usage, Energy Star rated, short cycle option, ease of operation, delayed cycle, quiet operation and ease of loading and unloading.

I ended up up with a Bosch brand, middle of the road unit with a stainless steel interior and all the bells and whistles that I wanted. The sales dude said that they have been the top rated brand for 12 years running so I thought I would give it a try. A caution was mentioned that there was no heating element so drying times may be extended. Rinse aid, I’m told, helps overcome this shortcoming, but I never used the one I had in the old unit.

The Whirlpool safety division folks were nice enough on the phone, they scheduled a service company to respond and evaluate the smoked unit. I hoped they would take responsibility and handle the situation. “Any time you have electrical connections to a circuit board, there is the possibility of overheating and fire” according to the forensic service repair representative that showed up to confirm my diagnosis. In the end they offered me $100 to offset the hassle and they took their old unit back to dissect, hopefully they have already resolved this issue in the new units they have produced over the past decade.

All dishwashers are not created equal

Elevated Dishwasher

Elevated Dishwasher

What differentiates dishwashers from each other? Location of the controls, cost (which seems to be inversely correlated to the amount of sound they emit while doing their thing), water efficiency, energy efficiency, delayed washing cycle, stainless steel tub option, the ability to sense how dirty your dishes are and adjust the cycle time (how the hell do they do that?), and some super dirty or delicate cycles.

One kitchen we remodeled had two of them, one on either side of the sink. A new idea is dishwashers in a drawer configuration. Another recent improvement is an in-line heating element that super heats and uses even less water during a cycle.

The coolest dishwasher install I’ve done so far was placed above a drawer in a higher than normal position. At this height loading and unloading is much easier.

Food for thought

One caveat is that dishwashers use hot water to do their thing, the heat of the water is what sanitizes and allows for proper drying times. If your dishwasher is far from your water heater it would be wise to get the water hot at the sink prior to starting a load. To facilitate that without wasting water there are several recirculating pumps on the market that will take care of that in an instant.

In essence, I believe that dishwashers are here to stay. Wasting paper plates to avoid doing the dishes is not a reasonable thing to do. At a price range from $400-$1000+ I have concluded that they are as necessary a modern appliance as a refrigerator.

Your comments are welcome. To ask questions or get more information about remodeling, click here to email me directly, or call 208-947-7261

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