Enter the Dishwasher

BOOM! New appliance #1. Of course, there's Optimus, being nosy. Thank you to who ever dropped this brand-new dishwasher at the warehouse leading to a 75% discount for us. Not only does it looks way fancier, but it actually works! All that happened was some minor damage to the stainless on the top left corner of the door, so it wouldn't seal properly. Nothing that a can't be fixed with a rag, a pair of Vise-Grips, and a FUBAR (there will be a future post describing the awesomeness that is this demolition-specific tool...stay tuned).

Installing a dishwasher is not rocket science. It can be a colossal pain if the one currently installed has incredibly short hoses and wires leading to it. It can be really messy if the insulation installed around the original was just shredded packing peanuts that were apparently the only place in this whole house that has had mice in it. It is really gross when two boards are glued with Liquid Nails over the one tiny access hole to the aforementioned way-too-short hoses and wires in the ceiling of the basement under the mouse-infested playground known as the backside of a 20-yr-old dishwasher. You reach your arm into that hole, I'm not doing it. In a related story, I love run-on sentences.

While we're discussing the first of many major installs in this house, I'd like to discuss exactly why I prefer to plan things by how long I "expect it to take," as opposed to how long "it should take." For those of you not familiar with dishwasher installs, it's pretty simple business. There are a grand total of two hoses, three wires, and 5 screws you have to remove to install virtually every dishwasher. If everything goes to plan, then you can just follow these steps:

1. Locate the breaker to the dishwasher circuit and flip it. Turn off the water to the dishwasher, normally a valve under the sink tee'd into the hot water line. Now it is safe to work on it.
2. Open the door and look up to find the two screws attaching the dishwasher to the counter. Remove them. The dishwasher is now free from the counter.
3. Lay down on the floor and look at the panel underneath the door. Remove the two screws on either side of the kick panel. Set the panel and screws aside.
4. Locate the panel with all the warning labels about personal injury and all that with one screw (possibly will just be a bolt) and remove that screw/bolt. The box will pop open.
5. Under this box will be three wires: black, white, and green/copper. There should be wire nuts on the white and black wires, while the ground will be either a bare wire or green and screwed against the frame by a green screw. Loosen this screw, remove the wire nuts, and pull the wires out of the back of the box.
6. Locate the 3/8" NPT brass elbow on the other side. Remove the hose from the brass elbow, then remove the brass elbow.
7. Locate the the plastic, ribbed drain line with some rubber connector. Disconnect the hoses.
8. Pull out the dishwasher.

You still with me? That was a lot longer than I thought it would be when I started writing, but it seems pretty straight forward, right? The installation of the new dishwasher just reverses all of this, which you can do with a screwdriver and a pair of pliers. That's it. It should take anyone who's used any tools before about 10 minutes to remove a dishwasher.

Here's where the added time comes in. First, in our house, about 1/3 of the wiring is knob-and-tube (if you don't know what this is, you are not alone, I had to look it up when I first heard about it) with old-style screw-in glass fuses. Gross. Luckily, the modern appliances were rewired on a modern breaker box with standard Romex 3-C wire. Unluckily, the breaker box is an unlabeled rat's nest, so I actually had to trace the wire through the floor, across the basement ceiling, to the breaker box, and inside to the specific breaker it was on (for the record, taking the faceplate off of a live breaker box is really, really not safe...but it is possible to do it safely). Just right there it's taken me 6 minutes to shut off the power when it should have taken me less than 1. That's a 500% delay.

Then, this particular old dishwasher's kick plate had actually rusted itself onto the face, requiring me to get my special prying tools (a flathead screwdriver), my persuading device (hammer or FUBAR), and a rag (to prevent damage to the cabinets in this process). Just getting that off took a few minutes, when it should have just been removing two easily reached screws. Then of course there's the shrapnel left behind by the mice all around the underside of this thing, which I have to clean out prior to reaching my arms under to try and wrestle loose the water line and power wires. It goes on and on from there.

Then you get ready to install the new dishwasher and get almost all the way in and find that naturally, the new dishwasher standard has switched to a 3/4" hose fitting instead of a standard 3/8" NPT, so a specific brass elbow fitting has to be purchased, further delaying the install and requiring another trip. It's always something like that. So what should be a 20 to 30-minute job ends up taking a couple hours, because of stupid, simply unfortunate little annoyances. In the end though, we got a sweet, fully-functioning (and Energy Star) dishwasher. In conclusion, DIY-everything is a huge investment of time and patience, but this house is going to be freaking awesome when we're done with it.


Currently watching "The Coup" episode of The Office

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