Dishwasher repairman or new one for a 9 year old appliance?
April 29, 2009 11:01 AM   Subscribe

How do I know whether it makes more sense to get a service call for a dishwasher or bite the bullet and buy a new one?

Our 9 year old Whirlpool dishwasher takes 5+ hours to wash (no dry) when it works at all. Sometimes it won't even start. A service repair visit is $75 just for visit besides any fixes, and pricing a comparable dishwasher is about $290. Is it worth it to have a service guy come out? Is this the average life and is this planned obsolescence?
posted by dublin to Home & Garden (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
There's a few more factors to consider:

+ The energy efficiency of the old vs. new. How much does running the old washer cost vs. running the new washer, tracked YoY?
+ Installation, transportation, and disposal of the old one?
+ Have you checked all the 'simple things' youself? Power source, frayed cords, checking drainage, checking buttons, etc?
posted by unixrat at 11:05 AM on April 29, 2009

You could also try fixing it yourself; I have done minor appliance repairs myself for a fraction of what a service call would cost. This site is a wealth of information if you want to go that route. Consumer Reports has a guide to repair vs. replace, but it requires a subscription to their website.
posted by TedW at 11:15 AM on April 29, 2009

Check the obvious stuff first, as Unixrat suggested.

However, if you do not have a service contract on the current dishwasher, I'd say you're better off upgrading to something more energy efficient at this point. What you're going to spend above and beyond parts and labor for the current dishwasher, you're going to recoup in convenience, energy savings and your own time.
posted by jerseygirl at 11:16 AM on April 29, 2009

are you pricing your service call from someone who sells them as well? if so, you might think about asking them if they would consider cutting the price of the service call if you decide not to fix it and buy one from them.

and we just replaced our 5 year old one, and the new one works way way better than the first ever did. i would guess 9 years in dishwasher years is like 9 years in dog years.
posted by domino at 11:16 AM on April 29, 2009

I'm wondering whether it's a single problem, or several. It doesn't start reliably. It takes forever. It doesn't dry. Unless these are all manifestations of the same problem (a faulty timer / switch module, for instance), I can't imagine the repairs could be cheaper than replacement.
posted by jon1270 at 11:16 AM on April 29, 2009

If you use the Sears repair service in my area, the charge for coming out to check your machine can be put towards a new one if decide to buy a new one at Sears.
posted by bluesky43 at 11:29 AM on April 29, 2009

I just got a brand new dishwasher that retails for $700 for $250 on Craigslist. New dishwashers work much better, are much more efficient, and can be found for pretty cheap. Buy a new one.
posted by Brettus at 11:33 AM on April 29, 2009

a new one may be eligible for an energy efficiency rebate too. the nine year old one is just not comparable to what the new machines can do either.
posted by midwestguy at 11:38 AM on April 29, 2009

For a nine year-old appliance I'd suggest replacing it. Newer models will consume far less water and electricity.
posted by GuyZero at 12:01 PM on April 29, 2009

5+ hours to complete a cycle sounds like a very slow fill problem. When you turn on the dishwasher, you should be able to hear a valve open and water rushing in. It's probably a pretty simple fix-- if you feel up to it, check the water lines leading to the dishwasher and the solenoid operated valve(s) in the dishwasher that open when it's supposed to be filling.

My old dishwasher had a fill valve that was kept closed by the water pressure of the fill line (as well as an internal spring). The solenoid opened it against that pressure.

This is a good system to prevent flooding in case something goes wrong in the washer or when water pressure fluctuates, but when my utility dramatically increased the pressure because of a record high volume of rainfall in the watershed, the solenoid wasn't strong enough to hold the valve open against that pressure, and filling slowed to a crawl or wouldn't happen at all. Sometimes the solenoid would make kind of a screaming sound. Partly closing the tap leading to the washer solved the problem for the period of really high water pressure.
posted by jamjam at 12:24 PM on April 29, 2009

I found that, even when I did the servicing myself, the price of parts equals the value of the dishwasher (to me) after it is about five years old. My experience is that modern dishwashers are cheaply made, and that the plastic parts fail too soon. In additon, the rack begins to lose the rust proof coating at about five years, which leaves rust stains on dishes.

You may also find that the new dishwasher does a better job of cleaning than the old one did.

Finally, there may be a screen at the inflow. This could be covered with particles from the water supply. If so, that could be a simple fix.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 12:32 PM on April 29, 2009

Newer dishwashers require less pre-washing. It's worth it in time and energy costs to just get a new one.
posted by Kimberly at 2:12 PM on April 29, 2009

Consider this a good opportunity to replace your old dishwasher with a more efficient model. Make sure you do your research before you buy a new one as energy use varies quite a bit between models (even for those that are Energy Star qualified).
posted by ssg at 4:20 PM on April 29, 2009

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