Dishwasher FAIL

Back in mid-January I was getting the kids ready for bed when Stephanie started yelling from the kitchen. All I could make out was “water on the floor,” which should cause one to sprint to the kitchen at full speed. But to understand my languid pace as I headed over, you first have to know a little bit about the history of our dishwasher, which had to be one of the worst ones ever made.

Our Frigidaire dishwasher went in as we moved into the house in spring 2005. We don’t have any good pictures of it, but you can just make it out here. At first we loved it. Although it was just a mid-grade model, it looked great on the outside and was so much quieter than any other dishwasher we had had. That didn’t last. Within a year or two, it was whining, grunting and clacking with the worst of them. But that was nothing compared to the water leaks. They didn’t start right away, but after a few years, we would occasionally notice a small puddle of water under the front of the machine after running a load. It was a bit annoying, but a quick wipe with a towel took care of it. Gradually those puddles got bigger, but they happened so sporadically that we just kind of lived with it. In the heat of the moment we’d threaten to rip it out, but it must have been able to hear us, since it’d be on its best behavior for a month or two after one of those conversations.

Last summer I found some parts online that promised to solve the leak problem, and after installing them, we had no more leaks. Problem solved for $40. Yeah!

So that brings us back to the night of January 19th. Strolling into the kitchen, I assumed that it had started leaking again and that I’d find the typical puddle under the dishwasher. Not even close. There appeared to be GALLONS of water washing over the kitchen floor. Holy shit! After the panic and the cutting of the water and power, we figured out that the float valve, a relay or a switch wasn’t working. Essentially it was stuck in fill mode for eternity. Obviously the water had to go somewhere, and this is when I learned about the overflow tube under the dishwasher. I would really have preferred that it just leak out the door gaskets, where it’d have a better shot at moving away from the dishwasher, but this nifty little tube ensured that the water would first get to take a run at the subfloor. Our floor slopes ever-so-slightly towards the wall, so we got lots of water between the subfloor and the plywood layer on on top of it. It actually looked like it was raining in our crawlspace and on the washing machine!

Perfect designed to spray water where we don't want any
Perfectly designed to spray water where we don’t want any (we slid in a plastic bowl to catch the stream)

So that finally made the decision to buy a new dishwasher pretty easy. I did test it out one more time (mostly because I didn’t want to handwash the load that had been started,) but it did it again. So it was time to buy a new dishwasher.

It took us a good week or so to figure out what we wanted, because there are just so many options out there. We were leaning pretty heavily towards one of the Bosch models, but once we saw the design in person, we didn’t like it as much. Also, people’s opinions seem to skew to the extremes on Bosch dishwashers. They are loved and hated passionately. Ultimately, while I like the energy efficiency of not having a drying element, we weren’t sure how it would work out for us. Another factor is that while I believe Bosch dishwashers are good, we have a certain, known bias against Bosch in this household. We ended up picking a KitchenAid that had a design that we felt could blend into our kitchen. So many of the dishwashers have great designs, but they need a modern kitchen and would look out of place in ours.

So now that the decision was made, it should all be smooth sailing. Right? Well I’m sure you figured out by now that I wouldn’t still be writing, if it had gone well. Part 2 of our story is about the experience of actually buying it. Or rather, I should say waiting for it.

Once we found the one we wanted, we did some hunting around online on a Sunday and were excited to find it on sale at a local Lowe’s and in stock. I clicked “buy,” so that we could secure it and run over later to pick it up. After not hearing anything for a few hours, I called the store. The gentleman at the front desk was very helpful and after putting me on hold, said “yep, it’s here and ready for you.” So I headed to the store, very excited about it after doing our dishes manually for over a week at this point. After giving someone at the front desk the order number, I headed over to plumbing to grab a hose while they brought up the dishwasher.

I got a bad feeling when I got back to the desk and didn’t see the box or the sales associate. Whatever hope I was still clinging to disappeared when I saw the clerk walk back with only the invoice. He told me that they did have two back there, but both of them were damaged and couldn’t be sold. I went back to talk to the appliance manager, who told me the same thing. This was the start of the dishwasher drama. I’m sharing the story in bullet points, since it’d take way too long to write it all out…

  • Appliance manager checked his computer and said that another store had 2 in stock.
  • I called that store, and they said they had 3. But they were all damaged. What is with all these damaged dishwashers?
  • It was getting late, so I went home and did the dishes.
  • The next morning I got a call from a different person at the first Lowes. She apologized and said it wasn’t in stock, but they were getting one on a truck that night. (Remember the bit about the truck, because we’ll see it again later.)
  • No word from them on Tuesday morning, so I called to check. No dishwasher, but it might come in on a truck tonight.
  • At this point we were thinking of just buying it somewhere else, but the price we had gotten was really good. I wasn’t feeling excited about trying to haggle and price match somewhere else.
  • On Thursday, I got an email saying that it was ready at the store!
  • On Thursday, I called the store. The person at the front desk confirmed that they had it! I ask him to physically check, but he couldn’t find it. But good news, it looked like one was coming in on a truck tonight!
  • At this point I decide to give up on checking. We’ll just wait for the call.
  • Over the next week I get numerous emails imploring me to come pick it up. I break down once or twice and check, but there is no box waiting for us.
  • Finally on Thursday (11 days after we bought an “in stock” model), I got the call that it was there. I asked them to check again, and they promised that it was there.
  • I picked it up and brought it home. I nearly dropped it down our front steps while very awkwardly carrying it up our 20 stairs. The ones with full stainless tubs are WAY heavier than than our old plastic tub model. I managed to get it up unscathed, though.

The install went pretty well, but I had to rework the cabinet trim spacer a bit, which added a lot of time. Anyway, here it is in all its glory. It’s been working great, much better than our old one in every way. The dishes get cleaner, and it’s a lot quieter.

I will never take you for granted.
I will never take you for granted.
Our poor floor after too many leaks. I screwed down the warped part with some trim screws (not shown), and it looks OK, as it's all in the shadow under the D/W
Our poor floor after too many leaks. I screwed down the warped part with some trim screws (not shown), and it looks passable, as it’s all in the shadow under the D/W. I had thought about replacing the flooring, but I gave up once I realized how many pieces I’ve end up having to redo thanks to the butterfly effect.
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