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Plumbing Improvements for Your Decatur or Hartselle, AL Home: The Dishwasher

In the midst of your dream Kitchen Makeover, let a general contractor handle the granite countertops and backsplash and look to a Decatur or Hartselle, AL plumber or contractor to help you with the plumbing appliances.

In this post we take a look at dishwashers and plumbing because, well, dishwashers today are not your mother’s dishwasher of the ‘80s, ’90, or even ’00.

A True Story

Recently a Decatur or Hartselle, AL plumber was called into a home to hook up a new dishwasher. The homeowner, proficient with most things do it yourself, took his time to carefully assess connections underneath the sink.

Having successfully disconnected the old dishwasher — without flooding the kitchen floor — carefully scooted the appliance out of the opening and removed it from the kitchen,

After unboxing the new dishwasher, he actually read the installation instructions and made sure he had the right tools for the job on hand. Then he started to slide the appliance into place when . . .

It wouldn’t fit.

Or, maybe, he thought, he would fit with a little push.

Something wasn’t right. Prior to buying the new dishwasher, he measured the opening and assumed the appliance would fit without incident.

But as he found out, dishwashers today are much different than dishwashers yesterday.

There was a kick plate that extended ever-so-slightly beyond the edge of the dishwasher and caught the opening when he tried to push the appliance into place.

It wasn’t level. In fact, the floor under the dishwasher opening wasn’t level.

And connections were different. There was copper tubing. He needed flexible tubing and compression fittings.

Suddenly installing a new dishwasher had become much more complicated. Rather than cut the kick plate to size and force an unleveled dishwasher into place with old connections, the homeowner called the Decatur or Hartselle, AL plumbing contractor he had used for other jobs and asked for help.

Yes, it cost him a few bucks.

No, he didn’t screw up the new dishwasher or his kitchen floor.

Key Elements to Consider When Choosing a Dishwasher

Some of these relate directly to your plumbing. Others are the aesthetics or functions of the dishwasher itself. Added up they impact your overall satisfaction.

  • You can call your Decatur or Hartselle, AL plumber or plumbing contractor and ask for recommendations, if he has any, or things to consider before going shopping.
  • Most of us, however, do a little searching on the Internet, go to Amazon and read reviews, and wing it.
  • Carefully measure the opening under the counter for the dishwasher. Record width (side to side), height (floor to under the countertop), and (if possible) depth.
  • Look at the connections coming from the dishwasher and where they go, what they connect to. Take a picture with your phone so you don’t forget. Pay attention not only to the type of connection but the quality — are they old and in need of replacement?

Now go shopping.

Be aware of the options you are considering like water softening and in-line water heating. These sound great, but will your existing plumbing infrastructure accommodate or will modifications be needed? Can you make them, do you even want to mess with them, or would you prefer to use a Decatur or Hartselle, AL plumber and be done with it?

Note that most manufacturers websites do a poor job of illustrating their dishwashers, making a visit to a showroom nearly a requirement.

The elements of a dishwasher that affect most decisions are the basics:

  • appearance
  • price
  • how well it cleans
  • reliability
  • ease of loading
  • quietness

Other features like the number of cycle choices, delayed start, number of spray arms and stainless steel interior may also be a factor but for most people features just sell them on the choice they have already made.

Dishwasher Features

Stainless Steel Tub. Stainless steel tubs look sleek and clean. They will theoretically remain stain free, although different grades of stainless steel perform better than others. The higher cost may be justified because stainless steel interiors improve a dishwasher’s efficiency. Stainless steel reflects heat allowing the use a lower wattage drying element. It will also improve performance over a plastic tub because hotter water can be used. Stainless steel is also quieter than plastic tub models.

Tall Tub. Some models boast a tall tub. This configuration compacts the equipment under the dishwasher to take up less room. The room gained allows the floor of the dishwasher to be a bit lower. This increases the overall capacity of the dishwasher. Some models add a third rack for utensils and baking sheets. Other models accommodate bulky items that wouldn’t fit in standard dishwashers.

Integrated Controls. This feature moves the dishwasher’s controls from the front to a position on the top of the door and out of sight. Open the door, choose the cycle, press “start” and the controls disappear as you close the door. Once a high-end feature, integrated controls are now available at nearly all price points. The chief advantage is the sleek look.

Waste Grinder. In the past, you had to practically wash the dishes before you washed the dishes. This was especially true as the dishwasher aged. Now you can put the dirtiest dishes into the dishwasher and get sparkling clean dishes out. At least in theory. A waste grinder processes the dirty rinse water, turning everything into manageable debris that can go down the drain. There is no longer a need to even rinse your dishes if your dishwasher has a built-in waste grinder.

In-Line Water Heater. Hot water is key in getting dishes clean. A water heater is not essential for the dishwasher, it can use hot water from the your home’s hot water. However, your home hot water may not be quite as hot as is ideal and there is also the problem that it takes a while for the hot water to actually start flowing to the appliance. A built in water heater will raise to water temperature to the optimal level and will preheat the water so it is available at the beginning of the cycle.

Multiple Spray Arms / Jets. At one time, there were spray arms at the bottom of the dishwasher and that was all. If you put something that was too dirty on the upper rack, it wouldn’t get clean. It is much more common now for there to be a spray arm under both the top and bottom basket. This is important for good cleaning results. Many models go beyond that and add various sprays and jets to scrub even more thoroughly. For a quality clean, look for a unit with multiple sprays to get at all the dishes.

Soil Sensor. A soil sensor monitors the waste water and adjusts the cycle length based upon clarity of the water. Extra soiled dishes will take longer to clean, the dishwasher will sense this and wash them longer, until it senses the water is clean.

Dishwasher Drawers have gained in popularity over the past few years. They fit into the same space as a standard dishwasher but provide an upper and lower drawer which can be operated independently. The chief advantage of a drawer dishwasher is the ability to do a small load and use less water and energy. Another advantage is the upper drawer is easy on the back for loading and unloading.

Dishwashers, including the drawer model, don’t have to be near a sink, although many are. As long as they are plumbed in, they can be put anywhere. A dishwasher drawer might be a good choice for a location away from the sink. If you won’t be scraping and rinsing dishes (rinsing is rarely necessary for most dishwashers these days and is a giant waste of water) then using a dishwasher drawer near the cabinet where glassware and dishes are stored could be very convenient.

If you are doing a major overhaul of your kitchen, this is something to discuss with your Decatur or Hartselle, AL plumber or plumbing contractor.

Be aware that the chief complaint for drawer model dishwashers is the limit on the size of dishes that can be placed inside.