Sunday, January 30th, 2011
10:21 pm - Clean Dishes...  
I didn't manage to get the dishwasher installed last Sunday as planned, but by Wednesday night it was up and cleaning dishes. I certainly tried to get it all done Sunday, but you know how it goes.

It started out well enough. The first thing that needed doing, of course, was uninstalling the old machine. I made sure the circuit breaker was off, then I crawled back into the under sink cabinet and disconnected the water feed and waste tubes from their respective connections. The machine was fastened to the underside of the counter with three screws, so I removed those, and then I pulled the whole shebang out of its cubbyhole. Even that was easy because whoever laid the vinyl flooring had thought ahead and extended it into the cubby, making it easy to slide the dishwasher out.

Huh?
Well, except for the fact that most dishwashers, including this one, are hardwired to the house. There was enough slack in the cable so that I could pull the machine out enough to clear the counter by a couple of feet, but when I looked for the connection on the back of the machine, I discovered it was all the way up in the front of the machine, impossible to get to from the back. It's tucked in behind the sheet metal kick panel. The idea is that you get down on your hands and knees, with the side of your face plastered against the floor, figure out where exactly the fasteners for that kick panel are, remove them and the panel. Now you should have access to the wire, which turns out to be inside a little metal box that also needs to be dissembled. This seemed like way too much work, and since I didn't have to be especially careful with a dead dishwasher, I figured I could just tip it onto its front and work on it from the bottom.

So I tipped it, forgetting that it hadn't completed its cycle. In my defense, there wasn't any water visible in the tub when I'd removed the dishes, but apparently there was plenty that wasn't visible. But the rapidly spreading puddle spilling out across the vinyl was certainly visible. There was a lot of water. I grabbed every dry towel I could find, and started setting up dams to staunch the spread of the puddle. I couldn't do much more than that yet, because the kitchen was crowded with the two dishwashers and the various other stuff I was using.

Now at least I could see where the cable entered the little metal box, and rather than fool around with getting into the box and disconnecting the wire nuts, I just clipped it off with a pair of wire cutters. I also discovered the broken belt that was the apparent cause of death. That done, I dragged the old machine outside to await its trip to the transfer station. I moved the new dishwasher to a dry spot, and set about swabbing up the water, then hauling all the soggy towels down to the washing machine. Afterward, I sat with a cup of Earl Grey while the floor dried, and contemplated my next move.

Fixed
The next move involved some spelunking. If you look at the picture above, you'll notice a couple of things. First, the cabinet that was installed in the corner next to the dishwasher had hitherto unsuspected and, more to the point, uncovered openings for a door and a drawer. It even had drawer slides. The space between the opening and the side of the dishwasher thus became a potential rabbit hole for anything pushed to that end of the cabinet. I found a small skillet in there that the previous owner of the house probably wondered what the hell happened to. Second, the cabinet doesn't extend to the back wall, leaving a large empty space. Now, my kitchen has no heat of its own. There is no place to put a baseboard, so it only gets whatever heat drifts in from the other rooms. Not really a problem, but in the winter it gets cold inside the dishwasher when not in use. Off to the Depot for some supplies.

I stapled a scrap piece of ¼" plywood over the door opening to keep things from disappearing. I filled the cavity between the cabinet and the wall with fiberglass insulation, and I also cut a piece of ¾" foam insulation board to fit the area directly behind the dishwasher. Then I called it a night.

Monday was a planning night. I was trying to figure the best way to wire the dishwasher. I could simply wire it directly, as the old one had been, but the new machine also has its connection up at the front of the machine, so I'd be doing everything while prostrate on the floor. No fun. The installation instructions mentioned wiring in a standard power cord instead, but I'd need to install an outlet. I picked option 2. It was a little more work, but it would be easier work (or so I thought), and it'll be a lot easier if I ever have to do this again.

Finished
Tuesday I picked up the hardware for the outlet at Lowe's. The first part WAS easier. I took the existing cable, connected it to the outlet, and installed that into an electrical box with a plate attached for mounting to a wall stud, or in this case, the side of the cabinet. Then things stopped being easy. When I went to drill the holes for the screws to mount the box, I discovered that the combined length of my drill and bit was longer than the distance available between the side of the cabinet and the back wall. Bother. I wound up having to drill the holes with a Dremel tool, and even that I had to start at a slight angle to get it to fit in the space. There was no way to use the drill to drive the screws, either, so I had to do them by hand like the cavemen did. Boy there's nothing like trying to drive screws into solid oak whilst laying on your side in a wooden cave. But I persisted, and soon there was an outlet. Then I went to bed.

Wednesday was the final install, and that was pretty easy. http://pics.livejournal.com/dxmachina/gallery/0002bf9k These new fangled dishwashers have plastic rather than steel tubs, making them not all that heavy. I cut the outlet end off an old, heavy-duty appliance extension cord, and then connected the rest of the cord to the electrical connections on the machine. Then I attached the inlet hose and waste tubes to their proper spots, and put the machine back down on its feet (and wheels in the back—so much easier to move around). I plugged the cord into the new outlet, then fished the water hoses through the holes in the side of the sink cabinets, and attached them to their respective connections. Not without a little trepidation, I ran a quick rinse cycle, and it all appeared to work splendidly. Whoot!

Now I just need to get used to the different internal arrangement of the new machine. And I do miss the black and chrome trim on the old machine. The new one looks rather bland.