Sunday, October 17, 2010

Dishwasher Day Part 1

A few weeks ago, I observed that all of the dishes coming out of the dishwasher were less than clean. I used Angie's List to find a reputable, affordable repairman, and he had bad news: the dishwasher motor needed to be replaced entirely.

We were disappointed to say the least, as we purchased the dishwasher in February 2006 based on the Consumer Reports recommendation at the time. (It's a Kenmore Elite, if you care to know.) We have run the dishwasher once a day on average for less than 4 years, so we were very surprised to learn that it needed such an extensive repair--$350!

My first thought was to replace the dishwasher entirely. It doesn't make sense to me to invest an additional $350 into a machine that cost less than twice that amount in the first place. When I asked the repairman for dishwasher recommendations,the repairman recommended the mid-range dishwashers because many of the low-price dishwashers have a one-piece motor identical or similar to the one in my broken dishwasher. I hopped online to research and determine which dishwasher would be the best replacement.

Many hours of research and deliberation later, I was confused and overwhelmed. The dishwashers rated highest by Consumer Reports (and the dishwasher repairman) were the ones that had the most positive AND negative reviews by individuals on the various store web sites. Most of the time it was difficult to determine whether the reviewer was writing a review for the specific dishwasher I was looking at... or an older/different model.

The entire research process left me as uninformed as when I started, except as to the high cost of a new dishwasher. In addition to the $1,100 dishwasher I was considering, I would need to pay an installation fee, anywhere from $200 to $400. After reading about the mixed experiences people were having with the various dishwashers, I felt like it would be taking a risk to purchase a new dishwasher.
These conclusions led me back to the option of repairing the current dishwasher. Not the glamorous choice by far, especially after seeing the special 3rd rack my potential new dishwasher came with. The deciding factor was the recycling factor. It seems like a crime to dispose of a practically new dishwasher, even if the entire motor doesn't work. If I succumb to temptation and buy the sparkly new dishwasher (with stainless steel interior), I will be reinforcing our culture of discarding appliances at the first sign of a problem to replace them with the latest and greatest (energy-saving drying cycle!).

If the old dishwasher lasts another 4 years with the repair, we will have saved money.

If the replacement motor dies in 12-18 months (as happened to numerous reviewers on the web), we'll kick ourselves and wish we had gone with the new dishwasher. And then buy the new one.

If we're lucky, the new motor will last longer that our wildest dreams and I will never get a chance to enjoy the new-fangled one. I don't know why I care; ask me how often I load the dishwasher in our household? I'm the chef of the house, my husband is The Loader.

Anyway, I have been spending way too much time thinking about dishwashers recently.

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