Here are four steps to install or replace your dishwasher and a story to follow.

Let us look into the eyes of Call Dora. Call Dora is in his late forties, never home due to a white-collar job, and has two kids that keep the dishwasher running non-stop. He is about to end his week on a good note because it is payday, but he finds out he needs a new dishwasher. His thoughts start racing because, on top of buying a new dishwasher, he knows it will cost a reasonable amount for an appliance repair professional to come out and install it. He has enough for the new dishwasher but will have to dip into the next paycheck to cover the cost of the appliance repair professional. So, Call Dora takes it into his own hands and tries to replace the dishwasher.

He follows a step-by-step guide showing him how he and you can pull out your old dishwasher, slide the new dishwasher in, and make the new water & drain connections. For a time this should take a few hours, and you will need a few essential tools. Call Dora had the essential tools and could still complete the job in less than a few hours.

Step 1: Getting your hands dirty and replace your Dishwasher

In most cases, you won’t need any special tools or skills to replace or install your new dishwasher. Call Dora rarely gets his hands dirty due to working in the office, and he was able to mustard his way into getting the old Dishwasher out. It made him feel accomplished, and he told everyone at work the next day. It sounds too good to be accurate, but Call Dora knew he must get the old dishwasher out. Most dishwashers are 24 inches, so don’t worry about altering your beautiful cabinets to get the new one in. Call Dora recently redid his kitchen after he received his bonus last year, so he was thrilled not to have to mess with his newly finished cabinets.

The only problem was the extra flooring layers in front of his old dishwasher. You may be luckier than Call Dora and not have different flooring in front of your old dishwasher. We aren’t going to lie; this made this a nightmare for Call Dora to remove the old dishwasher and install the new one difficult. In extreme cases, you will have to either loosen the countertop or remove the flooring, but consider consulting with a local appliance repair professional if you don’t feel comfortable. Call Dora was able to remove the extra flooring and not have to touch or loosen his countertops.

So, how did Call Dora protect his flooring when removing his old dishwasher? He tried to use an old rug in the basement, but his wife refused to let him use it. So, he resorted to using a large piece of cardboard. He then gathered two adjustable wrenches, a screwdriver, a tape measure, a pair of pliers, and a level from the garage. You should have seen the dust on top of these tools; probably a good 2-3 years of these tools not being in use. You’ll also need a small bucket and a sponge to collect water that will drain from the lines when you disconnect them. Call Dora forgot the bucket at first, so he used the sponge to get the water off the ground.

Pro Tip: Don’t be like Call Dora; place the bucket first before you disconnect the drain lines!

Turn off the power to the dishwasher and the main panel, or unplug it under the sink. Call Dora was able to turn it off under the sink, which is way easier than turning the power off at the main panel. Also, don’t forget to turn off the water to the dishwasher at the nearest shutoff valve. Usually, the hot water shutoff under the sink will do the trick. You can shut it off at the water heater, but turning off the water under the sink will be easier.  Call Dora tries to make everything complicated, but this will help you work more efficiently.

Step 2: Disconnect the electrical cable and water line

The water and electrical connections are underneath the dishwasher, behind the lower front panel, that you must unscrew. Call Dora wasn’t too happy about getting on the ground to unscrew the front panel, but it does beat paying hundreds of dollars to an appliance repair company. Always test with a voltage detector to make sure the power is off. When removing the electrical line from the box, leave the cable clamp on and reuse it on the new dishwasher. Call Dora almost threw out the cable clamp, so watch out because it is easy to do. Sometimes dishwashers are plug-and-cord connected rather than “hard-wired.” If so, disconnect the cord and reuse it for your brand-new dishwasher. Sometimes the cord may be unsalvagable, and you may need to buy a new one from an appliance dealer.

Usually, the water supply line is a flexible copper or braided stainless steel, which was the case for Call Dora. In either case, remove the nut securing it to the 90-degree fitting on the dishwasher. If the nut and ring are in good condition (no Damage or nicks), leave them on the line for later reuse. You can bend the copper line slightly, but too hard will lead to you kinking the line. Call Dora didn’t have to deal with bending the copper line, but flexible stainless steel lines are a suitable replacement. They should be available at your local hardware store.

Remove the 90-degree fitting for use on the new dishwasher. It is essential to orient it in the same direction on the new machine so that the water line feeds directly into it without any kinks. Call Dora despises kinks, and so should you!

Before removing the drain line under the sink, sponge out any standing water inside the dishwasher. We don’t need another Call Dora water incident 2.0. The drain line is the flexible hose clamped to an inlet arm on the sink drain or a garbage disposer. As you slide the old dishwasher out, you’ll have to simultaneously work the drain hose back through the hole in the sink cabinet. Having a helping hand in these steps helps a ton, but Call Dora felt inclined to do it alone.

Lowering the dishwasher gives you more clearance to slide the dishwasher out. Call Dora thought he could turn the leveling feet, but quickly found it was too difficult to turn. WD-40 can make it easier, or if you have to, you can cut the feet off with a hacksaw blade and turn the screw out. If you used the cardboard like Call Dora in the previous step, use it again to avoid gouging your floor when you pull out the dishwasher.

Step 3: Prep your New Dishwasher

Call Dora got a little excited, unboxing his new dishwasher. Call Dora wasn’t excited to see a little scratch on the front panel, but he knew it could have been worse and wasn’t worth returning. So, he decided to install the new dishwasher. First, he had to uncrate the new dishwasher. Once he had it uncrated, he found the manuals and dishwasher instructions inside the dishwasher. That is where it is most of the time, but it could be taped on the side of the dishwasher. Call Dora took the time to review the instructions before proceeding, and you should too.

Call Dora had to tip the dishwasher on its back and attach the 90-degree fitting. Call Dora saw his life flash in his eyes when he forgot to put the cardboard down before he set the dishwasher on its back. His wife takes pride in their glossy hardwood floors, and Call Dora almost ruined it by making a considerable scratch up the middle. To get back on track, don’t use your old drain hose; instead, use the new one that the dishwasher comes with. To prevent future clogs & nightmares, make sure to loop the flexible drain line up to the bottom of the countertop.

The manual will also tell you how to replace a dishwasher and how to adjust the leveling feet or wheels to fit the height of the opening. Call Dora was a little worried about this, but the manual helped guide him through the process. He found that it makes life easier when you set them before sliding them in the new dishwasher. This led him to only make minor adjustments after the dishwasher was installed. If your kitchen floor is built up or higher than where the dishwasher sits, you must adjust the feet after you slide the new dishwasher into the opening.  If your dishwasher is equipped with rear wheels without an adjuster in the back, you may have to set shims to raise the back, so it is leveled. Call Dora didn’t have any shims on standby, so he got lucky that his dishwasher had adjusters. Finally, tack those shims to the floors so they don’t move around when the dishwasher is running.

Step 4: Hooking up the dishwasher and reconnect it

To install the dishwasher, slide the new dishwasher in, grabbing it by the sides to avoid denting the front panel. Call Dora’s front panel was already scratched, so he didn’t care if he dented it a bit. When you set the dishwasher in place, don’t secure it on the countertops. Call Dora got ahead of himself and started securing it to the countertops when he realized he didn’t make any connections yet.

To get the dishwasher up & running, you will need to connect the copper water line, but it may be a little trick. Call Dora found that the secret sauce is to align it, so it slides straight into the threaded part of the elbow. If it is leaning to one side, the compression nut won’t thread on the right, and it will leak. Call Dora learned the hard way the first time, so it is always better to do it right first. You can turn the elbow on the dishwasher slightly with a wrench to align it if necessary.

With the dishwasher water supply line, the electrical cable, and the drain connected, turn the power and water back on, and check for leaks. This is not where to cut corners, so check for leaks with a paper towel.  Recheck the positioning and height of the dishwasher, then screw the dishwasher to the countertop.

Required Tools for this Dishwasher Installation Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project before you install your new dishwasher. Call Dora found his old toolbox in his garage. He was surprised to find his voltage tester in there but was excited that he didn’t have to buy a new one from his local home depot. All the tools that are required and were able to get the job done for Call Dora are listed below:

  • 4-in-1 screwdriver
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Level
  • Pliers
  • Voltage Tester

Required Materials for this Dishwasher Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. You don’t want to go on a wild goose chase trying to find the materials below:

  • Braided stainless steel water line (Optional)
  • Teflon tape

Happy wife, happy life. Call Dora was able to complete the job in a couple of hours. Although he noticed a scratch on the front panel while unboxing the new dishwasher, he was pleased with the exterior of the dishwasher. His wife was astatic about the new dishwasher, but Call Dora’s wallet wasn’t about purchasing the new dishwasher. Although, Call Dora was happy about not paying a large sum to an appliance repair professional to replace & install his new dishwasher.

Call Dora now has built up confidence and is ready for the next DIY project. This may be dangerous because his wife has a lot of projects she wants to be done around the house. So, we will have another story of the next DIY project Call Dora has to complete.