Friday, March 16, 2018

Fixing Our Dishwasher All By Ourselves

In the summer I posted about our new, practically free dishwasher, which really excited me. Washing dishes is the bane of my existence (that and laundry). We moved over all the things that were kept in the kitchen cabinet that got replaced with the dishwasher and found new homes for them, and Mike installed the dishwasher on his own (with just a little help from me) and we ran the first few loads with it. Yay!
And then we had problems.
Ok, to be honest, we had problems from the start, because the dishwasher got stuck at a certain point in the cycle and didn't continue unless you turned the knob to go on to the next cycle, and it didn't dry the dishes so well.
But then we had bigger problems. Each time we ran the dishwasher, we had water pouring out from somewhere, and our house became a flood zone.
So much for being excited about the dishwasher...

We decided to call a repairman, to see if we could discover the source of the leak, and if it would be an easy fix. Remember my post about sunk costs? That was in our mind when it came to the repair- since we knew the machine wasn't perfect, and we may need to replace it at some point, we put a cap to how much we'd spend on repairs for it.
The repairman came, took the machine apart, and discovered the source of the leak. There was a little hole in a pipe that helped the water cycle in the machine, and the repairman offered to help find a replacement part, so we had him do that. Just for the visit, taking apart the machine and diagnosing it cost us about 70 dollars. We put a cap at fixing the machine at 150 dollars, because we assumed that for 300 we could buy a new one (I was actually wrong with that estimate- it's a little more than that, but we didn't know that at the time). A few days later the repairman got back to us, and the new part would cost at least 100 dollars, but he offered to patch up our machine for another 70 dollars, by using silicon to close up the leaking area.
At that point, my husband and I just decided that we're not investing any more money into a peice of machinery that already had other problems and would need replacing at some point, so we considered the 70 we already spent as sunk costs, and then just left the machine there, unused, until we had spare cash to replace it.

I had it at the back of my mind that Mike, handy guy that he was, would be able to fix the dishwasher himself, but his work hours have been beyond ridiculous since August (though now they've "normalized" and he "only" has 14 hour days, overnight), and it just never happened. Finally the other day he had a few hours free (that he wasn't sleeping) and I asked him to use it to attempt to repair our dishwasher. Since I watched the repairman the first time, I was able to instruct him how to take it apart to access the inner workings, and what exactly needed to be repairs.
With a lot of skepticism on my part that it would work (silicon doesn't fix everything), Mike put the dishwasher back together, plus a good amount of silicon, and I washed a load and no leaks!!!

Or so we thought.

The cycle had stopped at a certain point, and I thought it was fine and done there, so I just left it... but after I emptied out the dishwasher, apparently something happened to make the cycle continue for just a tiny drop, filling up the dishwasher with water, but not emptying it out, and just sitting with water in it. For some reason that was enough of a reason for it to start leaking so badly (one drop at a time, but at a quick rate) and our entire kitchen was flooded.

Mike diagnosed the issue, and noticed that there is a problem with the power button on the machine, that it doesn't stay on past a certain point unless something is wedged in, keeping it pressed in, so the fact that there wasn't anything there made it stop once it was filled with water. He wedged something in, and now it continues on the cycle.

I was skeptical if it would work, because something was making it leak... I've since run 3 loads with the dishwasher, and as long as I make sure to move it past that certain point once it stops, it finishes the complete load, gets my dishes clean, and best of all, doesn't leak!

I know this isn't a permanent solution, and at some point we'll need to replace this dishwasher (especially since the fact that it doesn't finish drying means that I have to leave the dishwasher open for it to air dry once the load is done), but for now, I'm appreciating every single load that gets washed in this machine, and the fact that my husband was able to do the repair himself, beyond the initial diagnosis from the technician.

Do you have a dishwasher? How often do you run it? How much did it cost you to buy it? If yours broke, would you pay someone to repair it, attempt to repair it yourself, buy a new one, or do without?


  1. yup- got it used on the local secondhand site for $128 last fall and hauled it home on top of my car. it changed my life. we paid to install it and i replaced the plastic filters and one basket wheel (wheels for that particular model are expensive and i don't think i will buy any more). it's german-made and looks very simple inside and i have some documentation for it so i imagine i'd try and fix anything myself before calling someone in. if it broke irreparably i might replace with used, as we wouldn't have to pay for installation anymore. depends on whether the last one actually offset the cost of disposable dishes all-in.

  2. We have that same stupid dishwasher at our new house!! It always stops just before number 5. Do you know how to work it and what number to put it on for a general wash?


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