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Replace a Dishwasher in Seven Steps

A dishwasher is one of the labor-saving devices that most of us take for granted--until it stops working. If you've ever had that sick feeling when you open up the dishwasher and it's full of water, or if nothing happens when you turn it on, you should know how to troubleshoot, repair, or replace it.

Step 1: Troubleshoot the problem. Is the drain clogged? Clear the clog and see if it works. Doesn't run? Check to see if the electrical plug has come loose or the breaker is tripped. If these simple fixes don't work, it may be cheaper to replace the unit than to call someone to fix it.

Step 2: Measure the opening to make sure the new dishwasher will fit. Purchase the new unit. Make sure you have all the plumbing tools you will need to remove the old dishwasher and install the new one.

Step 3: Turn off the water to the dishwasher. You should have a shutoff at or near the unit. If not, you will have to turn off the main water supply. Unplug the electrical cord, unless the dishwasher is hard-wired to a junction box. In this case, turn off power at the circuit breaker, open the junction box, and remove the wires.

Step 4: Remove the old dishwasher. It will probably be attached with two screws at the underside of the countertop. Unhook the water supply and drain lines. The dishwasher will probably drain into the garbage disposal. Have a bucket and rags handy to catch and clean up any excess water that spills. Carefully slide the old dishwasher out of its space and clean any dirt and debris you find in the space.

Step 5: Install the drain hose and water supply line. Use Teflon tape or pipe dope to seal the supply line. Re-connect the electrical power line if it is wired to a junction box. Close the junction box before turning on the power at the circuit breaker.

Step 6: Reconnect the drain hose to the spot where the old hose was connected. Slide the new dishwasher into place and make sure it is level. Use the adjusting screws at the bottom to level it. Attach the flanges at the top front to the bottom of the countertop using screws. Plug in the electrical cord (or turn on power at the circuit breaker if the unit is hard-wired. Turn the water supply back on.

Step 7: Run the dishwasher empty through a full cycle and check for leaks. Accept your family's congratulations on a job well done.