Today on This Jankety Trailer: Replacing Your Dishwasher
September 6, 2011 1:28 PM   Subscribe

Can you help this complete newbie replace the dishwasher in my broken down old mobile home? The plumbing is, to put it kindly, non-standard, and I'm not sure how to proceed without flooding my dwelling.

There are plenty of instructions online on how to replace/install a dishwasher, but they all seem to assume that you live in a house with normal plumbing. Unfortunately, the plumbing in my ancient trailer doesn't quite resemble what I'm seeing in the instructions.

For one thing, there don't seem to be any valves to shut off water to the dishwasher -- the pipes come up through the floor to a "T" junction that directs water to the kitchen sink (there are valves for this), then directly to the dishwasher, so the only way to stop water flow to the dishwasher is to shut off the water main. As a consequence, once I remove the old water supply hose (which is leaking), I can't turn the water back on to the trailer.

The bigger problem, though, is the inlet hose itself. The way it's currently set up, the (rubber) pipe carrying water into the kitchen is connected to another 3/8" rubber hose that leads into the dishwasher. I haven't had the opportunity to disconnect things to see what's what (see earlier issue with the water main), but it looks like there's some sort of connector or fitting between the two rubber hoses, with a clamp on each end. The replacement inlet hose I have doesn't appear to have any connector that would be compatible with that connection.

Nothing I'm seeing online resembles this configuration, so I'm scared to death of disconnecting the hose, only to find that I can't attach the replacement hose, and end up being unable to turn the water back on.

So, I guess what I'm wondering is, does it seem possible, from this description, to replace this inlet hose with a standard universal dishwaster installation kit? Or will I need some special parts to make this work? Thanks for any help!
posted by El Sabor Asiatico to Home & Garden (12 answers total)
water to the dishwasher should be coming from your water heater i.e. is hot. is there no shut-off valve at your water heater? you should be able to shut off water to your hot water heater, which will then shut off water to the dishwasher....

you might not be able to do this with just the standard installation kit (assuming the dishwasher takes the standard supply). but, there will be adapters that will connect from whatever you have to the supply line for the dishwasher.

the first step is to be able to shut off the water... i wouldn't try anything else until you can do this. i'm a little confused about what you are saying about the water main: do you really mean the water main? can you shut it off at all then? why can't you turn it back on if you turn it off?
posted by at 1:36 PM on September 6, 2011

I can shut off the water main, but can't turn it back on with the inlet hose disconnected since there's no valve to turn off water specifically to the dishwasher. However -- it did not occur to me to shut off the valve at the water heater! I believe that would work. Thanks for that suggestion.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 1:40 PM on September 6, 2011

Can you post pictures? This would be easier if we could see the fittings involved.
posted by jon1270 at 1:42 PM on September 6, 2011

Okay, this is very lame, but since I'm not at home to take an actual photo of what I'm trying to describe, here's a rough drawing.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 1:53 PM on September 6, 2011

Often mobile homes have non-standard plumbing. Sigh. I would first see if a very good hardware store has a section of mobile home fittings. Or you may be lucky and find a store that actually caters to MH replacement supplies before beginning. Also check under houses to seen if there is a shutoff there. First turn off power /breaker to water heater.

After shutting of the supply at the main (shutting off supply going into waterheater means the whole heater may drain ) unclamp hose and take it with you to the store. BTW expect residual water in the line to leak out so have towels/bucket ready...gushing means bad thongs are happening.

Explain what you are doing to knowledgeable salesperson and get fitting

While you have water off get a shutoff for the house and install it too.
posted by mightshould at 2:03 PM on September 6, 2011

More questions --

1) Where is the leak in this supply hose?

2) How does the supply hose connect to the dishwasher? I don't mean the connection you sketched; I mean the point where the hose hits the dishwasher itself. It should be easy to detach it there.

I'd probably detach the hose at the T fitting and right at the dishwasher. Replace that whole length of hose, including the fitting you sketched.
posted by jon1270 at 2:06 PM on September 6, 2011

Oh you probably have pex piping from your description. That would have to be cut but I bet you can disconnect at washer. You don't need to buy the crimping tool since there are twist fittings available. You may be lucky and have something normal.
posted by mightshould at 2:07 PM on September 6, 2011

From your sketch it looks like someone has used a piece of copper pipe to join two lengths of flexible hose together. A hose collar on each end clamps the hose to the pipe. If you are lucky, the replacement hose you have will have the same inside diameter (ID) as the existing hose. Alternatively, it might be a hose barb rather than copper pipe, but same same.

OK, first thing first. Shut off the water wherever you can. Then bleed of any pressure by opening a tap. Hopefully, the existing hose collars are adjustable and not crimped on. If they are adjustable use a flat blade screwdriver (or 1/4" or 5/16" wrench depending on the hose clamp (assuming you are in the US (7 or 8mm if you are in a metric country))).

Next, pull the leaky hose off the copper pipe (or hose barb). This might be difficult b/c the rubber hose has been there for years and has set onto the fitting, you may have to cut the hose off the fitting. Then, cut the threaded fitting off the replacement hose and push the new hose over the fitting and re-attach the hose collar.

BUT, if your hose is a different size, you may need to do one of two things. Leave the water off to your trailer while you make a quick run to the hardware store, or, if you really need to get the water up and running, you could use a pair of Vice-Grips to clamp the existing supply hose and then turn the water back on while you run the the hardware store. But, sods law, that won't be perfect.

By the way, this would be a great time to install a shut-off valve on that water circuit that supplies the dishwasher and replace all the flexible hoses in the circuit, b/c if one has gone the others won't be far behind.
posted by pandabearjohnson at 2:12 PM on September 6, 2011

1) Where is the leak in this supply hose?

The leak is in the inlet hose that connects to the dishwasher.

2) How does the supply hose connect to the dishwasher?

Now, that part appears to be fairly standard. Removing it wouldn't be a problem -- I could just cut off the clamp on the "weird" end, and I'm tossing the old dishwasher so that wouldn't be an issue. The problem would be how to fit the new hose to that odd connection.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 2:17 PM on September 6, 2011

Alternatively, it might be a hose barb rather than copper pipe, but same same.

From looking at images of hose barbs, from the ridging it does look like it could be one of those connecting the two hoses. There appear to be hose barbs that are threaded on one end; I wonder if I could use one that would fit a standard inlet hose? The ones in the installation kits I've seen all seem to have metallic hoses, so I couldn't slice off the end to match the current connection.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 2:29 PM on September 6, 2011

After reading all these suggestions, it seems like the thing I've gotta do is as follows:

(1) Remove old inlet hose;

(2) Install shut-off valve, with -- if I can find it -- some sort of hose barb that will attach on one end of the valve so that I can connect it to the water supply hose;

(3) Connect standard inlet hose to the other end of the shut-off valve;

(4) Attach inlet hose to dishwasher according to standard instructions.

If I'm missing something here please let me know, but this is the plan I'm going with. Thanks again for the help!
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 3:38 PM on September 6, 2011

One thing that occurred to me that I haven't seen mentioned, since you're likely to at least partially drain the water heater (intentionally or not) during this process, make sure you shut it off before you start draining any water from your pipes. (Not just turn off the water supply to the heater, I mean actually flip the breaker/turn off the gas supply.) They're designed to be full of water, and thus never get that hot inside, but if you drain part of the water, then they're partly full of air, and can end up getting a lot hotter inside than they were designed for.

I know that this is an issue for electric water heaters--the top element will merrily cook itself to death exposed in the air--but I assume that it's a concern for gas heaters as well. Other mefites will certainly correct me about that.
posted by yuwtze at 5:35 AM on September 7, 2011

« Older How do I tell my blog readers that we've broken up...   |   How to best allocate my unexpected bonus? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.