Dishwasher Dreams Come True

Ever since we moved into our house in July 2009, I have been dreaming of a new dishwasher. The one in our house was ugly, loud and didn’t do a great job cleaning the dishes.

P1080544Our friends have the same dishwasher in their house, and have the same complaints. In the photo above, the kick panel is missing because (spoiler alert!) it was right before we uninstalled it. That yellow thing under the dishwasher is a piece of fiberglass insulation. I guess someone else also thought the dishwasher was loud and thought that would help?

Recently Jeremy became annoyed with the failings of our dishwasher and we started discussing replacement options. We knew we wanted something quite, with a stainless steel tub, for not a lot of money. We gravitated towards Bosch because Jeremy’s parents have one and it is super quiet and they seem to like it a lot. Also, when we vacationed with our friends at Deep Creek Lake this past fall our rental house had two Bosch dishwashers. Implying to me that these dishwashers can take the abuse of a multitude of users.

We found the Bosch SHE55M12UC in white on the Sears Outlet website. The Sears Outlet is where they sell floor models and refurbished appliances (among other items). This Bosch model had everything we were looking for: stainless steel tub, fold down racks on top and bottom, 47 dBA, 259 kWh/yr operating estimate, 3 gallons of water per cycle, half-load option… and lots of other features. The price wasn’t so bad either, $450. The problem is, that is just the cheapest available dishwasher – and it was in Charlotte, NC. The closest dishwashers were still an hour away for more than $500 to pick up in store for an additional $100 to have it delivered. So, we put that option on hold.

Jeremy searched Craigslist for Bosch dishwashers. Now that we knew what we wanted, it made the search easier. We found a white Bosch Dishwasher in Annapolis for $300, and from the pictures it looked like it was the one we found on Sears. When we saw the dishwasher in person, it was a different model. This was Bosch SH55P02UC, which appears to be the older model of the one we liked. The SHE55P02UC has a stainless steel tub, folding tines, operates at 47 dBA, 259 kWh/yr operating estimate, 2.8 gallons per cycle, and it offers all the same wash options. The only difference I know of is that this model is no longer in prodcution.

New Bosch InsulationLet’s talk about why this dishwasher is so quiet . As you can see above, it is encased by insulation. This is the thick stuff, and it was securely attached on 4 sides of the dishwasher. Let’s compare to the insulation found on our original dishwasher:

Sad Dishwasher with InsulationThis sad insulation was like yellow fiberglass encased in a trash bag. It only wrapped around 3 of the sides, and was not securely attached.

There are other features that make the Bosch run quietly. It has two pumps to help minimize noise and vibration, and a solid base. Our old dishwasher was propped up by 4 little legs, but the Bosch rests solidly on the floor.

Well, as the pictures reveal, we bought the white Bosch and uninstalled our old dishwasher. Here’s how we did it:

  • Turn off the power to the dishwasher. Our fuse box had a switch just for the dishwasher. If you want to be extra safe, turn off all the power in the kitchen.
  • Turn off the water where the dishwasher connects under the sink.
  • Disconnect the drain hose from the disposal. Ours was a white hose attached with a clamp. Loosen the screw on the clamp and pull the hose off. We reused the same clamp for our new hose.
  • Disconnect the water pipe (should hook up near where you turned the water off). Our pipes are rigid copper pipes. After loosening the bolt, Jeremy had to give the dishwasher pipe a good tug to get them to separate. If all else fails, use a hacksaw.
  • Remove the kick panel from the front of the dishwasher. Open the electrical box and un-wire the dishwasher. Of course, if you have a multimeter, check for any electricity before you do this step. Many new dishwashers just plug in to an outlet – both our new and old dishwashers were wired.
  • Look around under the dishwasher. You should be able to see where either the drain hose or water pipe connect. Disconnect them if you can. Our rigid copper pipe attached in the back, and we couldn’t unhook it.
  • Lastly, un-mount the dishwasher from the counter top. Most likely it is attached with two screws on the underneath of the counter.

If you do all of those steps, then your dishwasher should be free from any connections and you can just pull it out.

Dishwasher HoleThere you go – a dishwasher hole. You can see the white electrical wire coming out of the wall, and above that, on the side of the cabinet, the hole for the drain hose and water pipe. Oh, and the filth. I think that dishwasher has been there since 1996.

New Bosch InstalledTo install the dishwasher, you just do all those steps in reverse. Jeremy wired the dishwasher to the power while I connected the pipes. Then we turned the power back on and ran a half-load of dishes.

Inside the DishwasherIsn’t it beautiful? The main criticism we found in reviews is that the tub is too small. I think the tub is a reasonable size for Jeremy and I. We ran a full load after three days of dirty dishes. I will admit that I am having trouble loading it though. After 3.5 years I knew how to load our old dishwasher, we had a good systems for what dishes fit where. These new racks have tines going in different directions and I just haven’t mastered the art of loading this dishwasher. Our largest dinner plates do fit in the bottom rack, but depending on how you pull out the top rack, the spinning arms on the top rack hit the dishes.

Oh, and it is nice and quiet. We can have a conversation in the kitchen and watch TV in the living room at a reasonable volume while it is running.

What upgrades have you made recently? In the market for a dishwasher? Fan of the Bosch?

Adventures in Plumbing

While working on our half bath we encountered some issues with our sink plumbing. First, we broke the original plumbing of off the wall pipe. Then, it seemed that the pipes that we needed to attach the new sink didn’t exist.  We went to Home Depot at least three times, talked to two different guys, and tried to figure it out ourselves. I even drew a picture to show the sales associate. Still somehow, we came home with the same wrong part. Twice.

They look different because the one on the left uses an adapter to perform the same function as the other. The threaded/nut side fit perfectly on the 1-1/4″ p-trap we bought, but the other end was too big to fit on the wall pipe. Finally, I took the original pipe configuration to Home Depot to get some help. Why wouldn’t I just do that to begin with? Because I love going to Home Depot (it’s two miles from our home).

I went early on a Sunday morning and talked to an older gentleman. I showed him my broken p-trap.He took it into his hands and turned it over.

“Oh yea, we don’t have ones like that anymore. Why did you break this off of the wall? Once you glue them together they’re not supposed to come apart.” I tried to explain that the pipe broke off when we removed the original sink and vanity. He had lots of advice for me:

  • When removing the cabinet, cut the backing so that you can remove the cabinet without disturbing the plumbing
  • If you want to remove the existing plumbing, cut it off at the wall pipe
  • You cannot remove the pipes once they are glued together and cured. The primer and glue cause a chemical reaction that causes the PVC to melt together, creating the seal
  • My bathroom’s wall pipe was 1-1/4″, the standard is 1-1/2″
  • It’s not “Old”, it’s “dated”
  • When coming to Home Depot, pick an associate that has some grey on their face

So, since they didn’t have exactly what I came with, he helped me find the pieces to build what I need.

That’s right, it’s going to take 4 different pipes to recreate the broken p-trap. Really 5 pieces, because the long PVC is to be cut into 2 smaller tubes (about 1-1/2″ long each). The two small pieces of PVC are necessary to attach the coupling (wall pipe fitting) and male adapter (sink fitting) to the p-trap.

Here’s our new p-trap after cutting and fitting the pieces together (but before gluing). We needed some extra length on the back of the trap, because we were cutting the wall pipe.

We wanted to cut off where the adhesive was previously applied. Having fresh(er) pipe to connect to should enhance the seal. You can see me trying to use the hack saw to cut away at the pipe. I was able to make good progress, but you can see the Hot and Cold water valves are in my way! Jeremy had the brilliant idea to use the dremel to cut the pipe. We got these blades for cutting wood and metal back when we were installing the cork floor. Using the dremel, Jeremy had the pipe cut in less than a minute. We also used the sanding adapter on the dremel to sand off burrs on the PVC pipes (from my hack sawing).

We then glued all the pieces together, following the instructions on the primer and cement.

Success! The p-trap looks pretty legit, even though it’s Frankenstein’s monster. The cabinet looks a little stout in this photo, but it is actually taller than the original one.

The biggest lesson I have learned from this adventure is to get the right help the first time. The other associates at Home Depot might have been able to assist me properly if I had just brought them the broken pipe to begin with.

Do you have tales of plumbing adventures? We’re lucky our plumbing isn’t really all that “dated”. Have any experience working with copper piping?