The day my dishwasher died

When I bought my condo in February, one of the things that impressed me about the place was the built-in shiny silver kitchen appliances. They were all so fancy and fun! My parents always had cheap appliances. When Kris and I were married, we too had cheap-ish stuff. (The dishwasher at our last house was almost 30 years old when we inherited it! Kris finally had to replace it last spring.) I soon learned that shiny silver kitchen appliances may be fancy but they’re not always fun.

The Trouble With Fancy

“What’s the deal with the microwave?” Kim asked soon after I moved in. “I can’t just punch in a time and go?” “No,” I said. “You have to press cook time, rotate the little dial to select the timer, press the dial, rotate it again to set the timer, press it again, rotate it down to start, and then press it again.” “Wha–?” she said. “Exactly,” I said.

Why anyone would design a microwave in this inane fashion is beyond me. The most common function now takes about 10 times as long as it ought to. Sure, we can select all sorts of fancy setting if we want to. But we never want to.

Meanwhile, the fancy fridge had its own issues. The plug at the back of the ice-maker bin had fallen out and gone missing before we moved in. Whenever we had the ice-maker make ice, the cubes would cascade down the back of the freezer. (I fixed that, obviously, but it was still dumb. Why was there even a plug in the bin?) Worse, we couldn’t use magnets on the doors.

But most frustrating was the dishwasher. Instead of an easy mechanical dial and push buttons, the controls were computerized. You selected a cycle (and various options) from a control pad. I’d never seen such a thing before. I liked the idea of it, but the reality was different. It was stuck in pot-scrubbing mode. I scoured the instruction manual and the Internet to see if this was normal behavior, but I couldn’t find any answers. So, for eight months, we washed our dishes on this single cycle.

Last Sunday, even that option disappeared. The control panel became unresponsive, constantly flashing “rinse only.” Kind of a bummer since Kim had just spent the weekend making bone broth, which had dirtied nearly every pot in the house. A little research online revealed that I wasn’t going to be able to solve this myself. I called in an expert.

Dishwasher Disaster

Yesterday, a service tech from Sears stopped by the condo to diagnose the problem. “Huh,” he said after a few minutes of fiddling with the dishwasher. “Interesting.”

“I don’t like to hear that,” I said. “I used to repair computers. I know that ‘interesting’ is code for ‘I have no idea what’s going on’ or ‘You need a new machine.'”

“You might need a new machine,” said the service guy.

He spent another 20 minutes playing with the dishwasher and punching info into his diagnostic computer. Eventually, he came to me with the news. “Here’s the deal,” he said. “That control panel is gone. You need a new one. That’ll set you back $460 for the part. Plus there’s labor. Plus there’s the $80 for my visit today.”

“Ouch,” I said. “Right,” he said. “And it looks like there are other things that could fail soon.” (He named the parts, but I didn’t file those in my memory.)

“So, we’re looking at $600 or $700 total to repair this?” I asked. “How much does a new dishwasher cost?” “They start at $600 or $700,” he said. “Plus, if you choose to go that route, I can give you a coupon for $100 off if you buy it from Sears.”

This sounded a little like a slimy sales gimmick, but the guy seemed in earnest. I sighed, thanked him for his time, and took the $100 coupon.

Over-Analytical Man

Now I’m faced with two unpleasant tasks. First, I’m back to washing dishes by hand. This isn’t really that big of a deal. I washed dishes by hand for all of 2012, both at my apartment and at Kim’s house. The dishwasher is a luxury. Still, it’s a luxury I like, which brings up unpleasant task number two. I have to shop for a new dishwasher.

I’ve come to realize that I don’t enjoy shopping for furniture or appliances. I see the process as a necessary evil. I put it off as long as possible. Why? Because it’s overwhelming. There are so many products available and so many places to buy them. Because I’m by nature a Maximizer, it’s too easy for me to get locked in “analysis paralysis.”

Note: Here’s a quick review of the difference between Maximizers and Satisficers (terms I picked up from Barry Schwartz’s fascinating “The Paradox of Choice”). Maximizers want the best; they need to know that every decision they make is the best possible decision. Satisficers settle for “good enough”; they find something that meets their needs and don’t worry about the possibility that there might be something better. As you might guess, Satisficers tend to be happier and more productive than Maximizers, living with less regret. For Maximizers like me, increased choice just means increased suffering. When we have only two or three options, it’s easy to choose the best one. When there are 20 or 30, it’s almost impossible.

After the service tech left last night, I pulled out the July 2013 issue of Consumer Reports to read up on dishwashers. It wasn’t helpful. The article rated 87 dishwashers — 87! — with 10 recommended models and one “best buy.” How do I choose? Should I buy another KitchenAid to match the rest of the appliances we have? But I don’t even like the other appliances, so maybe I should opt for another brand? Should I only go with the models that Sears stocks so I can use the $100 coupon? Or should I browse at Costco? And how much time am I really willing to devote to this process? Ultimately, this is what I decided to do:

  • Set a budget. The dishwashers listed in Consumer Reports range from $260 to $1,800 (although most of the cheap dishwashers get poor test scores). Since it would cost $600 or $700 to repair our current dishwasher, that’s my spending target. (I’ll admit I’m willing to spend a little more than that, but not much — certainly not over $1,000.)
  • Select a store. I don’t have time to install the new dishwasher myself. I’m in the middle of writing a book and prepping for this year’s Financial Blogger Conference. Plus, I don’t want the hassle of disposing of the old dishwasher. Because of this, I need to buy from a place that will deliver and install the dishwasher. I’m not a Sears loyalist by any means, but because I have a coupon and because there’s a Sears close to me, I’m going to start there.
  • Limit my search to certain brands. I realize good appliances can be had from any provider. For my purposes, though, I’m going to limit myself to three brands: KitchenAid (to match the rest of the kitchen appliances we own), Samsung (because I like my Samsung washer and dryer), and Bosch (which gets great ratings from CR while having the best reliability).
  • Set a time limit. I know myself. I could turn this into a two-day quest for the Best Dishwasher Ever. I’m not going to do that. The next time I run errands, I’ll add this to the list. I’ll spend a couple of hours looking at the various models and choose the one that best matches my needs after the end of that time.

“You seem like a frugal guy,” the service tech told me as he was leaving yesterday. “I can tell you don’t like to spend money.”

“That’s true,” I said.

“Here’s what I’d do,” he told me. “Don’t go to the main Sears store at the mall. There’s an outlet center down the road. Go there. They’ll have last year’s models, but that doesn’t matter. They’re still fine machines. That’s your best bet for finding a bargain.”

So, that’s my plan. I’ll start at the outlet store (where my coupon is no good — although I’ll ask if I can use it). If I can’t find anything there, I’ll head to the main Sears store. And then to Costco. But that’s it.

I realize this is a lot of hand-wringing over a broken dishwasher. We each have our weak spots though, right? For me, it’s shopping for furniture and appliances. I hate it. It’s overwhelming. And it hurts to see how expensive everything is.

I’m fortunate to have enough money in savings to cover this expense; a decade ago, this would have been a disaster that set me back deeper in debt! Of course, I’m open to suggestions.

How do you shop for major appliances? How do you keep from becoming overwhelmed? How do you find good deals?

I’m open to any tips and tricks you might have to make this less painful and less expensive.

78 comments

  1. I’m surprised you are even getting a dishwasher. I’ve had one at 3 different houses I’ve rented, and only used it at the first.

    I bought a new fridge 3 days ago. Using an online shopping warehouse site that delivers – and removes the old one. Which they sell as second hand, after a quick refurbishment. This allows them to undercut all competition on price.

    Convenience wise they have a nifty size measurement tool to remove incompatible choices. Punch in the measurements, review the choices that come up. Then buy.

    So much more convenient. Less work and hassle while being cheaper than buying new from anywhere else.

    Online sites will be the death of bricks and mortar retail.

    Being frugal, if I was living by myself I probably would have had it repaired and just gone without a fridge for a week. But with other people, you don’t have that luxury. 🙁

    1. You are an excellent writer and truth be told, I felt that I was reading my own words!!What did you end up buying?

      thanks!

  2. Sounds like you’ve got a good start on finding a good price. I just bought a Bosch last week and installed it myself on Saturday. It’s UNBELIEVABLE how quiet the thing is. Got it for $695 after taxes and everything. Our kitchen is also our dining area, so having a quiet dishwasher is something we’ll be enjoying for a long time to come. Mine is rated at 49 dB, too. Best of luck researching JD!

    1. I purchased a Bosch several years ago (8??). I was equally excited about my new, quiet dishwasher — until I had to replace the control panel. Twice. I ended up purchasing a Maytag this year. I was very disappointed that the Bosch did not have a better life cycle for what I paid.

    2. We bought a Bosch several years ago and I still love it. So QUIET and it does a great job.
      For used appliances, I have read (sorry, no story to link) that it may not pay to buy them since they are often not as energy efficient as new ones. Just something to consider.

    3. When we bought our house it had no appliances, so we bought the cheapest of everything (fridge, stove, dishwasher, W&D…). The only cheap-out we regretted was the dishwasher. Luckily a year and a half later when we bought our duplex, it also had no appliances, so we moved our LOUD dishwasher to the rental, and bought ourselves a Bosch recommended by consumer reports that we managed to get down to about $400 after sales, coupons, discounts, rewards etc. It’s so quiet; we love it.

  3. We replaced out dishwasher a few weeks ago. Out old one was less than 5 years old. The last time, Hubby wanted a stainless interior. No big deal to me. Hubby and I both did a little on line research and we both came up with a model. We have a local appliance store the we like that does installs. We ended up paying about $550 (including install and haul away. We went with one a model down from the stainless, because the old difference was stainless interior and a longer delay cycle. We don;t use the delay… It gets my dishes clean. Hubby really like a model with a lot more jets that the techie in him loved, but I was not willing to spend the extra $300.

    Good Luck.

  4. The control panel on ours similarly failed. You could still run the dishwasher, but only on the default cycle (which is fine), and all of the lights and displays on the front panel are permanently dark. Our appliance guy told us this was a common problem with this model, and that it would fail completely soon. That was almost three years ago.

  5. You remind me of my husband! If he has two weeks to purchase something, he will agonize for two weeks over the decision and read anything he can get his hands on. I am the opposite. I will read three online reviews and buy the item quickly. We are a good balance though – he slows down my overly quick decisions and I speed him up. Good luck! And just remember, if it leaves you with clean dishes you have made the right choice.

  6. So I’m a maximizer? That’s why my major shopping turns into major, brain numbing experiences. I like your approach to set a budget and limit where you shop. Often repair people are full of great tips of what to look for or avoid. But who designs these appliances? I’ve had my range repaired 7 times in 8 years. Always the same failure. The heat vent from the oven cooks the electronic panel! Dah! The eighth repair can’t happen because the sunami in Japan wiped out the parts plant. We opted to pay a monthly fee to our gas utility for a repair service plan. Mostly I avoid these plans but this plan has saved us probably thousands of dollars. It covers appliances, furnace, and hot water heater. It does not replace these items but without these repairs I may have had to buy a few new ranges because of the repair costs. And then there are the little red pumps on our boiler that crash regularly…..best of luck.

  7. This is precisely why I am hanging out to my old, loud dishwasher for dear life. It might be ancient, but it outperforms newer models. And like you, I don’t like all the flashy, electronic functions on newer models. They are just asking for expensive repairs.

    I doubt this would be the case with dishwashers, but we bought our washer and dryer used eight years ago and they still work great. For $300, we got two older Kenmores that might not be fancy, but they work. But buying used might be unique to washers and dryers. I think for fridges and dishwashers, I would stick with new.

    One pet peeve – it amazes me how much more people will pay for a finish. We recently were looking a fridges and noticed that the exact same fridge in stainless was hundreds of dollars more. That’s a lot of money for a metal panel (that doesn’t even let you put up magnets)! I actually like white appliances. They make small kitchens seem larger and I know when it needs to be cleaned.

    1. I adore white appliances, or painted. I can honestly say I will be happy if I go through life without ever living with stainless steel appliances. For some reason I like other metal finshes, like painted metal, or tin, or cast iron…but cannot stand stainless steel…especially the nickel finish.

  8. MAN…$600 for a basic dishwasher. Funny, I had a similiar experience with a highly rated washing machine that only lasted 6 years until the repairman declared it toast (bad mother board). The privlege of his insight cost me $129. My dishwasher currently has a small leak that I am living with because …well I’m cheap. It’s 18 years old and I’m trying to get to 20. Just for fun get your calculator out and figure how much just the cost of the machine cost you per load.Assume you pay $1K for the machine and use it 3 times a week for 10 years with no problems (like that’s gonna happen)…that’s 1560 washes or 64 cents per wash…add cost of water, detergent, electric and you’re approaching $1 a load easily. Paper plates looking better all the time!

  9. It’s definitely intimidating when shopping for appliances. However, I’m not sure if this is known, but at places likes Lowes, Home Depot, Sears, etc., appliance prices are negotiable. We didn’t know that. We assumed since they were big store names, that you couldn’t haggle, but you actually can when it comes to appliances!

    1. Alternatively, Lowes always lets us stack coupons on top of sales and rebates, and always gives us free shipping and haul away of old appliances…

      You used to be able to get the 5% off lowes coupons at the post office in the “moving packets” available for free… they’re harder to find now, but I’ve seen people sell them online.

      Oh! And if you buy online through your cc, if you’ve got a decent “rewards mall” with your cash back credit card, you can usually get another 5% (or more sometimes) back that way. (Last I looked, our Discover It had a 5% reward at both Lowes and Home Depot when you place your order online, even if it’s an in store pickup. This is what we did to buy our water heater.)

      Sometimes it’s a little bit of a hassle to stack all the discounts and buy online, but it can be well worth it.

  10. I always had a dishwasher until I moved six months ago. We could have had a dishwasher, but it was a galley kitchen and it was a portable one that you had to roll over to the sink (which happened to be at the very end). So we opted to hand wash so we could free up some space.

    Our last place had an apartment-sized dishwasher (about half the size of a regular one). It was on its last legs for the three years we lived there. Our tenants say it is working fine, but in the back of my mind I know we’ll have to replace it soon enough so I have been watching ads and deal sites.

  11. When I bought my house this spring, the one splurge I made was a refrigerator. I HATE shopping, and I already committed enough money to the house. I went to the Sears Outlet on 82nd- the one I’m sure the repairman pointed you to- and got a wonderful, near top of the line fridge for nearly half price.

    I also timed it wonderfully with one of their appliance sales. The only reason this fridge was there was a scrape on the side. Really, who’s going to see that when it’s shoved on the cabinets?

    PS. Thanks JD for giving me the incentive to focus my financial life enough to have finally purchased a house. Hope to see you around sometime 🙂

  12. First off, I’m a little bit saddened by you not wanting to install it yourself… What happened to getting rich slowly?

    Make sure you at least read a few reviews on the model you will buy. I recently bought a SS fridge and figured the reviews were overly critical. Now I have a brand new fridge where the ice maker will drop ice randomly if it even works at all. Don’t even get me started on my experience with Sears. Hopefully your experience will be better – good luck!

    1. Unless he can work with someone who has experience with installing dishwashers, I think it might be the prudent thing to hire someone. A dishwasher that is not installed properly can lead to disastrous results, especially is you live in a condo. Imagine if it started leaking and he damaged not only his floor but the ceiling of another unit. That would cost a lot more than the ca. $100 he is going to pay a professional to install it.

      Plus when is the pay off of getting rich slowly? J.D. doesn’t strike me as the type who would enjoy DIYing this project. When does he have to the right to say – I earned a lot of money doing something I’m good at (writing); therefore, I can hire out things that I enjoy less?

      1. I agree. I think JD is past the point where he is going to wile away a weekend doing something he doesn’t enjoy…and may have to end up calling someone in anyway.

        It would take me days to do it, and it’s one of those things that it’s much more frugal (money and time-wise)to just have someone who can easily do it, and has the tools for less than a couple hundred.

  13. I don’t recommend purchasing from Sears because the service department is unreliable and not timely. When my refrigerator went out, they gave me an appointment that was two weeks out and said they would give me $250.00 for food replacement — for an entire refrigerator & freezer of food. While the $250.00 would have been appreciated, it would not replace all of the lost food.

  14. I always leverage the internet to do most of my research from home. Try to limit my options to 3-4 models before I hit the retail store.

  15. Shopping for major appliances:

    First, because it’s typically been so long since I even looked, I spend a day or two freaking out at the prices.

    Second, I check Consumer Reports and find out the ones I think are a reasonable buy are crap. More freaking out about prices ensues.

    Third, I whiddle down what features as a minimum I want out of the product and place an absolute upper limit on spending. I’m kidding myself, but it gives me the strength to go on.

    Fourth, I check store policies to see if they include installation and removal and how much. This can result in relief, or more freaking out as I “swear” last time they didn’t charge anything.

    Five, I brave the wilds of chosen stores, enduring the droning treatment of sad eyed sales reps who trot out their ill clothed and starving kids because they need to make a sale this month to keep their job. They almost have me hypnotized into a dull eyed stupor automatically reaching for my debit card when they mention the service warrenty. Warning sirens flash in my mind as righteous indignity effuses my being and I recall “I” am ill clothed (I have no fashion sense) and “I” am starving (well, not really, but my stomach is gurgling) but most importantly they are trying to take my money! I get shrewd and start grilling them, beads of sweat appear on their brow and they reluctantly accede to my demands for discounts and free installation and then just when I have them on the ropes…my spouse says she likes a different unit with more features and more expense. Gutted, my manhood cast upon the cheap store tiles like so much swill I find myself useless as they slide away from my grasp and key in on the spouse, thinking they have an easy mark. I chuckle as she cuts them into little pieces, typically scoring more concessions. Victory and they never saw it coming. HA HA! Still, the dreaded time to pay comes, and for the sake of marital bliss I slice a vein, and purchase the one she wanted.

    It takes about a week or two for me to recover from all the drama.

  16. I am definitely a “Satisficer”. I hate shopping for appliances, and I’m also not too picky. I tend to go for the low-end models and get the cheapest possible one that still has all the features I want. This has worked very well for me in the past. My only regret is my dryer: it only has one heat setting, high heat. Next time I get a dryer, I definitely want more heat settings. It’s still got a few years left in it though, it’s only 16 years old!
    On another note, we have a Bosch dishwasher and love it.

  17. That’s why I’m thankful we still have our old dishwasher. It’s a little noisy, but it gets the job done. I hate shopping for appliances as well, but we do all we can to haggle and get the price lowered. One thing we’ve done is we found out that a store in our town has a ding/dent sale once a week. We got our washer & dryer from them several years ago. They both have very small scratches on the side – which we can’t even see since they’re next to each other and we saved several hundred dollars on each.

    1. Very good point. J.D., if Sears or another big box store has the model you want, ask them if they have a floor model they’re willing to sell at a lower price; it’d have a few dings or scratches, but otherwise should work just as well as what’s already packaged up for transport.

      As a child, we briefly had a dishwasher that leaked all over the floor and left the dishes as dirty as before they were washed; it was my job to give everything a first wash before the dishwasher was loaded, and later when we moved away from the old place and its dishwasher, to simply wash them all by hand which was basically what I’d been doing all along. As an adult, I have never had a dishwasher; I am the dishwasher. 🙂

      Re: buying appliances in general, the last one we bought was a refrigerator when the avocado-colored one in our house gave up the ghost (I was SO GLAD to get basic white!). We bought it off of Craigslist from someone selling theirs for $100 + half the cost of a moving truck for the afternoon (since they also bought their replacement fridge from someone else on Craigslist). I bribed 3 young strong friends with pizza and beer to do the moving. I think I paid $300 total for the day vs. $600+ for a new fridge. It worked because the former owners were upgrading for cosmetic reasons, meaning the old fridge worked fine. My sole complaint is that it’s smaller than our old one. DH’s complaint is that it isn’t avocado. 🙂

  18. Sorry you went through all that. I’ve long ago made the promise to myself to always keep things sweet and simple. Alot of my skepticism when it comes to unneeded technology is exactly because of this very thing. The more we delve into this technology culture, the more tech has become less innovative, and more of a measuring contest of who can pack in the most and the newest. A lot of times the reason why “it’s never been done before!” is because it was a stupid idea in the first place. Form over function and whatnot.

    When I got my AC thermostat replaced, I literally had to spend 15 minutes explaining to the guy why I absolutely did not want a touchscreen thermostat or even a programmable one. He could not understand it and offered to put one in at no extra charge anyway. Again I explained that it was not about the money, but the plan fact that touch-screens do not last as long and I don’t want to have to go through this again in a few years, and that I’ve never once programmed a programmable thermostat even when I had one. The less crap there is, the less chance there is for something to go wrong.

    In all of my appliances my criteria was: EnergyStar, white, basic, reliable brand, cheapest model. That has served me fine so far.

    1. Amen. Try finding a new car without electric locks and windows or air conditioning, much less a salesperson who doesn’t think you’re insane for not wanting those things.

    2. I agree! I would love a microwave with a dial, or just 2 buttons: Add-a-minute and popcorn. I already have banned electric pencil sharpeners and have an old fashioned crank style one like the one we had growing up which lasted for 20 years.

  19. I’m also a Satisficer and just had to replace our fridge. My wife belongs a wholesale club via her union, but we go to a local chain that will match the club’s price (which, the case of the fridge, was $300 below the sale price).

    Definitely try to negotiate, if not on the price then on the extras like the installation. Sears won’t negotiate, but smaller outlets may.

  20. Had the same situation.

    Went to Sears.

    Told them show me the least expensive and the most expensive dishwasher.

    Big price range. For an extra $100 over the least expensive, I got the stainless steel inside and a quieter model.

    Asked the sales guy if I could get it installed for free?

    Not free, but he had a coupon for $150 off and if I put it on my Sears card another $100 off.

    We constantly use the dishwasher, so it being quieter is a big deal.

    Run it after 9:00pm for lower water costs.

    Thanks!

  21. J.D. – I have a story similar to yours. When I first purchased my house, a few buttons on the Whirlpool dishwasher didn’t work. Eventually, the entire control panel failed. I purchased an identical white control panel from ebay for ~$100 and installed it. There were a few screws and a simple connector. Fixing it was faster than shopping for a new one, and also much cheaper and less wasteful. It has worked fine for two years now. If you have the time, this is a fix you can do! It would make a great GRS post, too.

    Related to this — there are useful repair forums (www.applianceblog.com, http://www.fixya.com, etc) where you can get advice about appliance problems and fixes.

    1. I was going to suggest that you check into replacing the control panel yourself. I am VERY not technically inclined, but since everything breaks on a constant basis around here, I replaced my washing machine pump. (Made my reluctant husband help with a clamp that required more hand strength than I have) It was much easier than I would have thought. And you’re ahead of the game because you know what part you need.

      I used repairclinic. I don’t know if they’re the best or anything. But they have a 365 day return policy that set me at ease since I didn’t know if I’d really be able to pull it off.

      Otherwise, my new policy is going to be, buy the cheapest recommended Consumer Report appliance.

  22. I am pretty appalled by the quality of appliances nowadays. We had our microwave die twice, just outside of warranty. First time we replaced the magnatron. Second time we admitted it was a lemon. As we shopped, it became clear that you couldn’t spend more for quality. I’d rather spend more and have it last forever. The fancy brands were the same insides as the less fancy brands, they just had a different control panel.

    While the microwave was out, I pulled in the old microwave that I had from college – which still worked and was reliable (just not built in.) That thing will last forever. I have little faith in the replacement one.

    I don’t think this is true for just microwaves, from what I can tell, everything is built to not last.

  23. My mom’s having a similar problem with an oven. It’s got all these fancy settings except only one works, and it’s been on its “last legs” for nearly a year now. It’s a hand me down from a friend and has already been repaired once, with a $400 price tag.

    Luckily it’s still holding on, but when the time comes we’d really rather just replace the thing than spend another $400 fixing it. There’s not too many times we want to throw that money into the same oven.

  24. Swallow your cool brand name pride and go to the GE Outlet Store dot com. Pick a dishwasher and then pay an installer $100-150. to install it…you’ll still be far ahead of the $800-1500. price of the Chi Chi brands. You can also get an extended warranty from GE if that’s your thing.

    1. I disagree… if only because people with “cool brand name pride” should hold off all purchases immediately and spend their money on therapy instead. 😀

  25. Have you considered going without? I can understand a working mother with kids needing a dishwasher, but it’s just me and the husband. I’ve been using mine as a dish drying rack for years, and it works fine. I don’t want to monkey with a new one, partly because I think they are obscenely overpriced, and partly because of the computerized controls. We have a lot of power surges (we call the local power company “Flicker n Flash”) and that plays havoc on anything with an electronic brain. When we get ready to sell the place I may go on Craig’s List or to the ReStore and get something that I can pop into the slot, but I really don’t see them as a necessity like an stove or a refrigerator.

    1. Just want to chime in and say I agree. I just moved from a place where I had a dishwasher for the first time in years and now I’m without again… honestly don’t miss it. For just my boyfriend and I it takes a while to build up a full load, and I would often find myself wanting a dish that was in the dishwasher and having to wash it by hand anyway. For a larger family I do see how it would be time-saving, but for one or two adults, in my mind, it’s more trouble & cost than it’s worth.

    2. I agree. My family of three (parents) and current family of one (me) has never used a dishwasher even though we’ve had them. It just takes too long to get that many dishes dirty! And then if there are lots of dishes, they’re REAL dirty, enough that I’d be handwashing anyway.

      On reading the title I assumed this article would be about a dishwasher dying and JD realizing he didn’t need a new one.

    3. I’ve never used a dishwater, even though the last 2 apartments and my current house have come equipped with them. I just don’t care.

      On the other hand, I think refrigerator ice machines are the greatest invention since fire and cannot imagine being without one.

      It’s all a matter of taste.

  26. We just purchased a new refrigerator, dishwasher, microwave/hood and range from Abt. I’m not sure if there is an Abt store outside of the Chicagoland area but I would check them out.

    There was definite sticker shock but once we started pricing everything out that came with the purchase, it wasn’t so bad. We live in a fourth floor walk-up and the delivery price, install, and haul away from Abt made the purchase much, much cheaper than the other stores.

    We purchased all Maytag appliances and so far I love them. My refrigerator is the same width but an inch taller than our old one but a much better design and holds more items. The dishwasher also holds more dishes/pots/etc. and it so much faster, quieter and better than our previous dishwasher. My favorite part is the stove top. I have much more control over the heat. Before, it was either flame thrower setting or off, but now I can use a medium setting or simmer without the flame blowing out. Oh, and the microwave is simple. Put in the time and hit start!

    Our old appliances were very old have been fixed numerous times. Once we realized how much time, money and effort we were putting in to fix the appliances, we realized new appliances would be a better route for us.

    Good luck with your search!

    1. Good luck with your Maytag appliances. Maytag was bought out by Whirlpool 6-7 years ago and they couldn’t shut the Maytag factory in Newton down fast enough. ALL new Maytag appliances are just name tags on Whirlpool stuff. Maytag WAS one helluva good brand and I have a old washing machine that is at least 35 years old that runs like a top, to bad a couple of bad CEO’s at the end ran the company into the ground in a matter of 10 years or so. It was a sad day for the whole state of Iowa when Maytag struck the flag in Newton.

      1. It is unfortunate what happened to the factory in Newton but I do like that Maytag(Whirlpool) is still made in the US.

        Also, Whirlpool is a corporation that I support. They have a huge diversity network and receive accolades from the LGBT community and the HRC. I wish every company could be perfect and never layoff people, shut down plants, and align with my values but alas, that is near impossible.

  27. If you hate appliance shopping that much, you can hire someone to do it for you. Seriously, just outsource it. You’ve already done the hard part anyway: narrowed down the three brands you want, narrowed down the three stores you will go to.

    Ask an unemployed friend or family member to go to the stores and do the comparing and the buying for you. you. Give them the money to buy it, obviously. Voila. You no longer have to spend a weekend looking for a new dishwasher.

  28. I’ve been ogling a fridge at Costco– the plain white one. Which is what I need. $400, plenty of room. I’ll still check out CR online (free w/ local library card) and look at other online reviews for maybe better deals (e.g., Home Depot has the better freezer for less, right now).

    Unlike the silver fridge with the bells and whistles for the aspirational set that costs more than triple, the white one doesn’t waste space with absurdly bulky drawers, failure-prone ice makers, TVs on the door, massive handles, and other ridiculousness that makes it look inside like a Gaudí cathedral plastic imitation and outside like a very ugly boat.

    The simpler the design, the fewer points of failure.

    I make my ice directly in a freezer bag (flat). Comes out chunky and beautiful and doesn’t taste weird at all.

  29. We used to buy new, but now we go the used route. We can usually find perfectly good appliances on Craigslist that people are selling just because they are remodeling their kitchen.

    Coincidentally, our dishwasher died last month. A couple days later, I noticed that our new neighbors, who were remodeling, had a fancy-pants stainless steel model (Kenmore Elite) on their driveway. I started talking to them and couldn’t believe my luck: “When we moved in, this one smelled a little musty, so we just decided to replace.” They said I could have it for $50. DEAL! I took it home and installed it in about 30 minutes.

    The icing on the cake is that it’s the best dishwasher we’ve ever owned. It cleans very well, but the really nice thing is that it’s very quiet. Some of the dishwashers that we’ve owned in the past sound like a 747 taking off.

    So, never underestimate the power of buying used or doing it yourself. A dishwasher is very easy to replace.

  30. Very shortly after purchasing our new home we had almost the same problem. Our machine only worked on one setting from the time we bought the house as well…We kept using it and sure enough one night it OVERHEATED. Melting many dishes. It was frighening an potentially very dangerous. Our repair man came out and we opted to replace the moter & control pannel. The repair guy suggested I ask the company for a discount on the parts, which I did & managed to get them for 50% off. Ok, I first asked for freebies due to the extremly dangerous condition their machine caused, not expecting free parts to really happen. Who knew those parts could be so darn expensive! We also had to fix an outlet behind the unit in order to slide it back so we would not have a reoccurance of the problem…apparently with controls being on the top it is possible for water to slide off the counter into the control panel if the machine is not far enough back. This may have been the cause. In the future if I ever have to buy a new machine I will not get one with control panels on top.

  31. Hey, everyone! Here’s an update with how everything played out.

    So, I went to the Sears Outlet store to look at what they had available. The salesmen were a little pushy, but I showed them I was armed with my smartphone and two recent issues of Consumer Reports and wanted to be left alone. They left me alone.

    I looked at the 20-or-so models the store had, matching them against the CR ratings and Amazon reviews and reviews from the Sears website. I also tried to focus on the “ding-and-dent” returns, since those have served me well in the past. (Kris is still using the ding-and-dent fridge we bought in 1993.)

    I was intrigued by a KitchenAid drawer-loading model (who knew such a thing existed?), but it was expensive and the reviews were terrible. Instead, I opted for a Kenmore Elite 12763, part of the CR #1-rated trio of models (also including 12783 and 12773). Sticker price: $900. Floor price: $839.93. This is where the fun began.

    First, I asked if they’d honor the coupon the service tech gave me. “We don’t usually,” the manager said. “But I could probably honor half of that.” Then he noticed I was carrying the Consumer Reports. “Can I see those?” he asked. I gave them to him. “Do you mind if I make photocopies?” he asked. I did not. He went into the back room. When he came out, he smiled. “I’ll honor the coupon,” he said.

    Next, I asked about the 5% off deal if I applied for a credit card. “Yes, that applies,” the salesman told me. The card has a high interest rate, but I don’t plan to carry a balance. Since there’s no annual fee, I signed up. In the end, I paid $662.93 for my dishwasher (plus $184.97 for parts, installation, and haulaway).

    I stayed within my budget and got the top-rated dishwasher for about 25% less than list. I’m okay with that. The process was painless (and actually a little fun).

    1. I am so glad you got to “Page 2 and the rest of the story” as Paul Harvey would have said. It was like reading a serial story with new chapters printed weekly.

      We are doing a kitchen remodel and it is amazing what fancy feature on this appliance or that is grabbing my attention crying “buy me, buy me!” Hubby wants dual fuel, and I want dual ovens–that’s sending the price up!

  32. I am a maximizer so I feel your pain. When I remodeled my kitchen, I needed all new appliances. I picked one store and one store only, Albert Lee, which got rave reviews from my friends and contractors. I knew I wanted a Bosch dishwasher but didn’t worry about matching all the appliances; I just wanted the best option in each category — meaning it would be reliable, came in stainless steel, and fit the space restrictions. I ended up with a Fischer & Paykel fridge, Frigidaire stove and microwave, and Bosch dishwasher, and I love them all. My Bosch does take a long time to clean dishes (due to the energy and water saving features, I think), but it’s incredibly quiet.
    One tip my installer gave me: if you live in an area with soft water (I’m in Seattle, it’s probably similar in Portland), use a VERY small amount of dishwashing liquid, about a tablespoon. Otherwise the dishes won’t rinse cleanly. Avoid the pre-measured blobs and use your own liquid instead, so you can control it. He said this can also add years to the life of the dishwasher.

    Good luck!

  33. When we needed to buy a fridge after shopping online at multiple places and at best buy, ended up buying at Sears. They were having a sale and we could get a discount for opening up a card, so it was cheaper than anywhere else I looked for what we wanted.
    My only mistake was that I did sign up for an extended warranty, but after noises from the forum here, was able to cancel it over the phone.

  34. My best friend and I both had terrible experiences with Bosch dishwashers. With mine, the dishes do not get sparkly clean, the dryer cycle is a joke (nothing is ever dry), the bottom rack doesn’t roll properly when full and the wheels are constantly coming off. Finally, it emits a noxious odor and I have to do the vinegar rinse occasionally to eliminate the smell but it always comes back.
    My friend wasn’t aware that mine was a Bosch and purchased one. She had so many issues that she returned it to Lowes a few weeks later. They were super nice and swapped it out for a different one.

    Good luck!

    1. Not sure if this extends to appliances but I have a BOSCH car part story– my mechanic installed a new Bosch water pump on my truck last year. It failed after a month.

      Upon examination of the broken stuff, we noticed that the bulk of the pulley , which is a heavy, fast-spinning hunk of metal, had been holding to its own center by a paper-thin metal edge. So it just broke and spun off like a helicopter. TERRIBLE MANUFACTURING. They’ve been outsourced for some time now. E.g.: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Where_are_bosch_power_tools_made
      or http://forums.tdiclub.com/showthread.php?t=63989

      Mechanic paid for the towing and replacement and installed an AC Delco pump that’s rock solid.

  35. When my dishwasher broke, I decided not to buy another. It’s still sitting there, but I now use it to store my plastic containers (‘cos you know they can get out of control)!

  36. First of all, dishwashers are not high on my list of appliance must-have’s. I have lived without one for 25+ years. That being said, when I need an appliance, I find out who is getting a divorce and start there. Very often, people who are divorcing are looking to liquidate quickly, and nice stuff can be had for bargain basement prices. My last two washers and dryers have been purchased using this method, and each one has lasted at least 10 years.

  37. I would probably look and see what is on clearance then research to find the best option. I would also look for coupons or maybe use a new credit card yo reach the minimum spend for a sign up bonus. I am a Maximizer though so it would take forever for me to make a decision.

  38. What a bummer. Shgopping for appliances in not fun at all. Having just bought a new camera after ours died two months ago, I feel your pain.
    Re appliances – we bought a Smeg fridge – one of those pricey, retro-looking ones – two years back.
    I really wanted one but couldn’t afford it – till I found a scratch ‘n’ dent’ shop on eBay selling them. Same fridge, but ex-display because it had a tiny scratch on the side – which I promptly covered with a fridge magnet. Job done – half price fridge!
    Outlets like these might be a good bet for you. The stock is new – just ex-display etc but in perfect working order. Good luck!

  39. We were almost there. The panel on our dishwasher went out, like yours – first only a few settings showed up and then the whole thing went dark and wouldn’t work at all. The repair guy said it was a simple fix – then called around and found the part was no longer made. However he happened to have an old machine he’d pulled out of a remodel – and it happened to match. Sold me the part for $75 and installed it for the cost of the original service visit.

    Much better than a new dishwasher.

    However I’m glad you went through this as I am sure we are not far behind with one appliance or another. I place a high value these days on not being hassled – I will probably not buy from Craigslist again, or try to install things myself, as I would rather pay to save myself the trouble and get a product – and an install – I can count on.

  40. We’re the exact same as you, but with refrigerators. We’ve had several over the years that always seem to have something wrong with them at all times.

    The prices rage from $700 to close to $3,000. Who the hell buys a $3,000 box to keep your stuff cold?!?!?

    1. We did. Well, almost. We just bought a new house with a lovely custom kitchen. The counter-depth refrigerator needed to fit in the existing space and match the rest of the stainless-steel appliances cost nearly $3,000 and holds about 25% less than its regular depth counterpart. WTF???
      We searched hard online and found the same model for about $2,350 all in. We were nervous about dealing with a company on the other side of the country, but needn’t have worried. They delivered it exactly when they said they would, unwrapped it and set it up in no time.
      Did I mention how much I hate cleaning five SS appliances? Oh yeah, that’s another story.

  41. J.D., good luck with whatever dishwasher you decide on buying. You probably already know this, but if you charge the appliance on your Amex card (and I’m not sure Sears accepts them) you will automatically get an extension on the extended warranty you buy (that is if you decide to buy one). For example, if you buy a 2 year warranty, American Express will pick up the remaining 2 years after the original expiration. They will do this up to a 4 yr. extended warranty period. Imagine 4 years additional coverage for free! If you only go with the original manufacturer’s warranty and say, it’s only one year, they will extend it for one year after the original expiration. I just recently learned this when my camera died and the extended warranty had expired. The Amex guy told me that a lot of people are not aware of this “free” coverage.

  42. I did not see anyone mention it here. We bought our appliances on line from A.J. Madison.
    Pros:
    -Best prices we found, even after shipping
    -Inter-state purchase so no tax
    -Nice database selections to refine search (cost, color, size, mfgr, etc.)
    – Nice selection

    Cons:
    -Limited customer support if and when something goes wrong. If there is a problem after install, you are referred to a third party. Thankfully, we have not experienced that.

    In all, we are pleased with our internet purchases. Cheers.

  43. Funny…..my dishwasher died 5 years ago and I haven’t replace it. It was only 7 years old (kitchen aid). Do not buy GE (I used to work for them), they are cheap and don’t last).

  44. When I moved into my condo last year, it came with the original 25yr old appliances….first to die was the washer, which had an oil leak. I bought an inexpensive top loading washer with no bells and whistles – all I need to do is change the water level and temperature. Next was the dishwasher which had a leak from the motor. The stove was fine but only had one rack. Someone at work was selling a KitchenAid dishwasher ($100) and convection stove ($150) that have now been in for a year and are working fine. The fridge was okay but it was tiny with door racks that would fit something only the depth of a can of pop. I bought a top mount fridge without bells and whistles – I can’t have one that makes ice or filters water because it’s on the wrong side of my tiny galley kitchen (the water is with the dishwasher!). I’m happy with my choices…if I get a few more years out of the stove and dishwasher, it was definitely money well spent!

    One BIG thing I learned when shopping for a new fridge – make sure you not only measure the size of the space where it will go, but also measure the doorway into your place to make sure that your 32″ deep/wide fridge is not trying to get into a 30″ wide door opening! Fortunately, I read this somewhere before I bought and I’m so glad I did! I shopped with a measuring tape and quite easily eliminated quite a few fridges because they wouldn’t fit in the door (and consequently saved a lot of money because typically a bigger fridge costs more money!).

  45. Hi,

    Nice post since we all come to that situation where we do not want to pay more than expected. We had a few experiences with this, first we ordered a nice electrical kitchen 50% half the price! Wow! but when the delivery came home it was all broken so we had to reclaim our money back and go to shop for it somewhere else real quick to be able to cook.
    Buying major appliances on line can be a pain!

    We also bought a new dishwasher and this time we went to the store when the stock was low, if they don’t have too many units then they’ll make a good offer for you to buy it, then we bought it online as the store was close to our home and we got a good deal.

    The thing is if you spend too long time trying to get a good deal then it is not such a good deal any more!
    We just need balance.

  46. I hate dishwashers. Never understood why everybody else likes them
    so much. Washing dishes by hand keeps your fingernails clean!
    A little rough on the hands in winter, admittedly, but I will only buy
    one if we sell our house, in capitulation to the majority’s “needs”.

  47. $600-$700 seems like a lot for machine that didn’t work for very long. When we bought out house it was a foreclosure (no appliances, but $15,000 instant appreciation). We spent a few weeks looking at appliances online on store’s websites. Most websites now have community reviews so we focused on appliances with 4 out of 5 stars or more. We ended up with Whirlpool Gold appliances. Even then when we went to the store to look at one model, they didn’t have it in stock, and it was actually cheaper online than anything else they had in stock. We had the model number and told the guy, and he said, Oh you can get free shipping if I order it online from the store, so that’s what we did. And my husband installed the dishwasher with some help from a friend who had installed one before, he doesn’t think it was that hard, so maybe a you tube video would help. I think we spent under $1500-$2000 for fridge, stove, dishwasher, and over range microwave/hood. They all work great and our dishwasher has been used at least once a day for the past 3+ years because we have little kids at home. And they are highly rated for energy efficiency too.

  48. I had a similar issue with my fridge: control board have failed. The repair tech offered to replace it for $500. I declined. Went on-line and bought the board for $100 delievered and replaced it myself (2 screws and 15 minutes of time). Wasn’t that difficult at all and there are detailed instructions on-line.

  49. We usually go to locally owned appliance stores. They have the name brands, and are more willing and able to give discounts.

  50. Having spent years hand washing dishes, including baby hundreds of baby bottles, I like dishwashers. You’re right about avoiding fancy, especially with dishwashers. Get one with as few settings as needed. Maintenance agreements can be a good deal especially for dishwashers and refrigerators with ice makers. The agreement from Sears includes an annual “tune up” that you should take advantage of.

  51. For what it’s worth, we went through this a few years ago and ended up with a Bosch. We paid more than I wanted to ($700 was the top side of my consideration), but I’ve been very happy with it.

  52. When my dishwasher broke (control panel as well, coincidentally), I received a letter from the manufacturer around the same time trying to sell me an extended warranty. I bought the warranty, washed dishes by hand for the 90 day grace period and then got it fixed. total savings: about $300.

  53. Well, I am definitely a Maximiser! … buying a cheaper 2nd car recently almost had me in tears – until I found a way around it. I did my research, comparing new with near new vs 2nd hand. And then comparing brands, with availability and delivery options. When I had my short list of 5 brands/models that I would consider buying, I stopped looking. I gave myself 3 months to not think about it at all (I did already have a second car in case of emergency, but did not use it often). I then waited for ‘luck’ (my belief that luck is when preparation meets opportunity) – sure enough, a dear friend decided she needed an upgrade, and mentioned that she had just secured a car loan – and alas, problem solved! I have had the car 6 months now – and it’s still awesome!

    Doesn’t solve every ‘maximiser’ issue I have, but it does save me from doing the freak-out thing.

    And we are now expecting our first child – it’s amazing what solutions are available (even if it’s just hand washing dishes for 3 months) if we just wait a little for ‘luck’ to happen.

  54. I faced a similar problem but with the help of my friend finally recovered my dishwasher. It worked well for 7 more months then I had to get another one.

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