A Guide to Safely Installing a Dishwasher

Important Information

  • If you possess some manual skills and have experience using a screwdriver, replacing a dishwasher that is already installed is a relatively straightforward task.
  • However, if you are installing a new dishwasher for the first time, there are specific guidelines that must be followed to ensure a safe and legal installation.
  • Freestanding dishwashers typically have a height of 85cm, but you can easily remove the worktop to fit one into cabinetry that is only 80cm tall.

A dishwasher is a fantastic device that helps save time in the kitchen by eliminating the need to hand-wash dishes. Additionally, it is an environmentally-friendly option as it uses water and energy efficiently.

The good news is that installing a dishwasher is a relatively simple task, especially if you are replacing an old one that is no longer functional. However, as with any appliance installation, there are important factors to consider to ensure a smooth process, particularly when it comes to installing a new dishwasher where certain rules must be followed.

On this page:

Replacing an existing dishwasher

If you have taken accurate measurements and your new dishwasher fits perfectly in the designated space under your countertop, replacing an old dishwasher is quite easy. All the necessary infrastructure, including power, water, drainage, and space, is already in place. The process largely involves removing the old dishwasher, connecting the new one to the drain and inlet tap, plugging it in, and you're good to go with your new appliance.

What you will need:

  • A screwdriver and/or a driver drill.
  • A dropsheet or cardboard for optional protection.
  • Tape for optional use.
  • A mop and bucket to clean up any spills.
  • The mounting hardware, inlet and outlet hoses that came with your dishwasher.

Step-by-step guide to replacing a dishwasher

  • If your old dishwasher is still functional, consider turning off the water and running it for approximately 30 seconds to remove any remaining water at the bottom. This helps minimize messy spills during removal.
  • Turn off the water supply and disconnect the power, water inlet, and drain hoses under the kitchen sink.
  • Lay a drop sheet or cardboard on the floor to prevent any damage and be prepared to clean up spills resulting from disconnected piping.
  • Remove any screws or bolts securing the dishwasher to the countertop or cabinetry and gently slide the unit onto the drop sheet or cardboard. Make space for the new dishwasher by moving the old one out of the way.
  • Check for any damage inside the cabinetry and clean the floor beneath the old dishwasher. If there is water damage, address it before installing the new dishwasher or make a note to fix it later.
  • Unpack the new dishwasher and keep the cardboard to protect the floor as you position it.
  • Refer to the manual of the new machine for any specific installation instructions or tips.
  • Measure the height of the opening in your cabinetry. If you have a freestanding dishwasher, remove the worktop using a screwdriver if needed to ensure proper fitting.
  • Adjust the feet of the dishwasher to ensure stability and a level position. Further adjustments may be necessary once it is in place, but it is easier to achieve an approximate fit before sliding it under the counter.
  • Thread the power, water, and drainage lines through the hole in the cabinetry and connect them below the sink.
  • When connecting the waste water hose, create an arch by looping it up and over. Utilize the provided U-bend to achieve this. Ensure that the end of the hose is elevated as high as possible in the drain pipe to prevent potential damage to the appliance. Secure the hose with a clamp.
  • Carefully slide the new dishwasher into the cabinetry, making sure to guide cables and hoses through the cabinetry to prevent damage. Alternatively, before sliding it into place, secure everything to the floor with tape along the centreline of the dishwasher to prevent tangling with the dishwasher's feet.
  • Once the dishwasher is in position, readjust its feet to ensure a level and stable placement. This should require minimal adjustment since you pre-adjusted them earlier.
  • Turn on the power and test the dishwasher to ensure proper connection and functionality. Be vigilant for any leaks.
  • Securely anchor the dishwasher to the cabinetry. Dishwashers are stable when closed, but if not properly secured, they can tip forward when the drawer is pulled out, potentially causing injury or damage. Although the anchoring process varies based on the dishwasher model, it typically involves driving screws to secure it in place, so it should not be overlooked.
  • If you are installing a dish-drawer-style dishwasher, such as one from Fisher & Paykel, you may need to remove the drawer from the chassis before sliding it into place. This can make installation slightly more challenging as you will need to thread the cables and hoses, which are connected to the drawer, through the chassis to their respective destinations. Ensure that the drawer is close enough for the cables and hoses to reach, but also leave enough room to install the chassis.
  • Installing a dishwasher for the very first time

    If your kitchen currently lacks the necessary fittings to accommodate a dishwasher, you will require the services of a certified electrician to install the power outlet, as well as a licensed plumber to handle the drain and water supply.

    This requirement isn't solely for your peace of mind; it is a legal obligation that only authorized professionals are permitted to interact with the electrical wiring, sewer lines, or water pipes in your home. Attempting to take on these tasks yourself could result in substantial fines, and your insurance provider may reject any future claims arising from potential issues down the line.

    Dishwashers pose a greater risk of catastrophic outcomes in the event of malfunctions or mishaps compared to most other household appliances, given their reliance on both electricity and water.

    Essential Materials

    • A screwdriver and/or a driver drill.
    • A dropsheet or cardboard (optional).
    • Tape (optional).
    • A mop and bucket to handle any spills.
    • The necessary mounting hardware, inlet and outlet hoses that were included with your dishwasher.
    • A drill, hole saw, or any other appropriate tools for creating a 100 x 150mm opening in the side of your cabinetry.
    • A prybar or similar tool for removing cabinetry.
    • Sealant for safeguarding your benchtops against steam and water damage.
    • A brush or roller for applying the sealant.
    • A new tap connection (supplied by your plumber).
    • A new drain connection equipped with an attachment for the dishwasher drain hose (supplied by your plumber).
    • A new power outlet with the correct wiring (supplied by your electrician).

    Getting Started

    Begin by deciding where in your kitchen the dishwasher will be positioned, typically within the cabinet spaces on either side of your kitchen sink. This location ensures convenient access to both water and drainage systems.

    Separating Power Outlets and Water Pipes

    According to the Building Code of Australia, it is not permissible to install power outlets and water pipes in the same cabinet cavity as your dishwasher. Instead, your drainage, power, and water supplies must be situated in the adjacent cabinet, with hoses and cables passing through a small aperture (approximately 100 x 150mm) to connect with the appliance. Have you ever wondered why the plug for your dishwasher is located beneath the sink rather than behind the appliance? It serves the purpose of minimizing the risk of electrocution in the event of any leakage.

    Additional Crucial Considerations for Dishwasher Installation

    If you are retrofitting a dishwasher into an existing kitchen, you will need to eliminate the cabinet unit occupying the designated space. Although you may attempt this task independently, it would be prudent to hire a professional to avoid inadvertently damaging other components of your kitchen in the process.

    Furthermore, it is imperative to give thought to your countertops. Steam and water spillage from the dishwasher can cause harm to laminated benchtops, so it is essential to ensure that the undersides of your counters are adequately sealed to mitigate the risk of water damage.

    Finally, bear in mind that most dishwashers, particularly those designed to fit under countertops, are substantial appliances with unwieldy shapes and sharp edges. To ensure your safety, it is advisable to handle them with care and wear durable gloves to protect your hands. Ideally, enlist the assistance of a friend or family member when transporting the dishwasher into the kitchen.

    Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.

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