Re-align my dishwasher!
September 8, 2010 9:56 PM   Subscribe

My son sat on the dishwasher door. It is askew. Can I fix this?

OK, I'll sketch this out for you. Dishwasher door open, dishwasher empty. 47-pound 4-year old dashes through kitchen, trips, sits down hard on dishwasher door. Current situation: when dishwasher is open, the door is visibly slightly off from level. You have to push it closed pretty hard with two hands to get it to latch. But once you do, the dishwasher works fine, except that it sometimes leaks a little water from the corner which is the "low" side of the door when the door's hanging open.

Is this a) a cosmetic problem I should ignore? b) Something I can fix myself easily? (relevant detail: I am not handy. "Easily" means "I can reach in and bend back a piece of metal or tighten a screw and everything will be fine.") or c) something I need to call the Maytag man for? (OK, it's a Frigidaire, but you get the point.)
posted by escabeche to Home & Garden (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Metal will weaken if you bend it. Repairmen likely aren't going to swing by to replace a bent hinge (if that's what it is).

I'd say replace the dishwasher if it is leaking when closed.
posted by dfriedman at 10:03 PM on September 8, 2010

So, if I understand correctly, with the dishwasher door closed and you standing directly in front of it looking straight at it, the door is lower on one side (presumably the side your son crashed onto!) than the other? To describe it another way - the door has rotated clockwise (or counter-CW) on the body of the machine?

That being the case, most bent things can be "unbent" with the application of force in the opposite direction to that which originally bent it. I'd just grab the door at the top and pull it, I think! If it's rotated clockwise on the machine, try to pull it counter-clockwise. Start soft, and slowly increase force until you feel something move. Close it, step back for a look, and repeat if necessary.
posted by autocol at 10:07 PM on September 8, 2010

Your leak may get worse, and you could end up with a very wet kitchen floor. Without details, it's hard to tell if you can bend the door back. Best case you fix it, worst case you buy a new dishwasher.
The door is a replaceable object, if it were me I would call the repair man to at least find out what he thinks, and if it's a straightforward fix or an expensive one.
posted by defcom1 at 10:35 PM on September 8, 2010

repair man person
posted by defcom1 at 10:36 PM on September 8, 2010

Response by poster: Dishwasher running as we speak.

Does autocol's solution pose any risk of turning my functional-but-askew dishwasher into a non-functional dishwasher?
posted by escabeche at 10:39 PM on September 8, 2010

Yes, it does, but what do you have to lose? You will end up having to call a repairman eventually if you don't, as the door will start leaking someday. You should go for it.

The thing is, almost certainly all you really need to do is to replace those hinges. They can't be that expensive, though a repairman might be a bit expensive. I don't think replacement makes sense yet.
posted by fake at 10:45 PM on September 8, 2010

Bending a bottom hinged door on an appliance back once it has had a heavy load on it: I've seen a repair man intervene in this situation with some success (In this case, it was an oven).

The procedure he did involved putting the handle end of a screwdriver between the open door and the path where it would close. Then, he closed the door with this screwdriver in the way-- bending the hinge in the process. The oven door did close better.

Note: This did not work perfectly, but if stopped your drip, or even stopped it for a while that might buy you some time between now and when you have to really replace the oven.
posted by No New Diamonds Please at 10:58 PM on September 8, 2010

The force your son exerted on that door is pretty large, I think, and amplified by leverage since the effective fulcrum is nearer the hinges than your son was. I doubt I'd be up to exerting an equal but opposite force myself (not that no hysteresis is very likely, 2nd law and all that).

If you're really lucky, there could be slots either in the hinges, the door, or the body of the dishwasher which are designed to allow technicians to achieve optimal alignment of the door at final assembly. If you can see these and you have the tools to loosen and retighten the screws/bolts in the slots, I'd try leveling the door before calling the repair person.

Or the hinge itself may have taken the brunt and might only need to be replaced.

I am a dedicated fixer of old things, but I feel compelled to admit that a repair visit will be a substantial fraction of the cost of a new dishwasher installed, though it might take up less of your time.
posted by jamjam at 1:04 AM on September 9, 2010

If you dishwasher is leaking, the problem is not cosmetic and should not be ignored.

Luckily, your dishwasher works fine and does not need to be replaced! But the hinge (or possibly the entire door) does need to be fixed. It sounds like you could use the advice of a professional who has actually seen the damage. Call one.
posted by Ortho at 1:26 AM on September 9, 2010

I have found a useful resource for do it yourself appliance repair. You might want to poke around there to further diagnose the problem and get an idea of what it might cost to fix. It is really impossible to say what you need without looking at the dishwasher, though. Another factor to consider is the age of the dishwasher and whether it is near the end of its life expectancy anyway. If it is, you might want to look into whether your state has a rebate program for energy efficient appliances; we used our states program earlier this year (although it looks like funds have now run out). Finally, Ortho is right that a leak needs to be fixed sooner rather than later. It might be leaking underneath where you can't see it, and replacing a rotted floor is a lot worse than replacing a dishwasher.
posted by TedW at 5:46 AM on September 9, 2010

Best answer: Had exactly the same situation, except 80lb 9-year-old who fell off a stool on to the door. This is an easy, easy fix, even for non-handyman types. Try here as a starting point for finding your part. For Frigidaire, it looks like your choices are pretty limited anyways.

The procedure for taking the hinge out is basically (1) take the front panel/bottom kickplate off, usually by a few screws across the top and a couple on each side, (2) locate the hinge (take a picture of it before you take it apart, just so you have a reference point) and disconnect the spring, (3) unbolt the hinge (usually only connected at one or two points), and (4) reverse those steps.

This video shows a hotpoint dishwasher hinge replacement, which requires some different steps to complete, but the concepts are essentially the same, and you can see how easy it is to do.

Good luck!
posted by liquado at 7:16 AM on September 9, 2010

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