How to replace a dishwasher

Professional repairs are expensive. Anyone who has paid a plumber knows that.

Fortunately, there's at least one appliance in the kitchen that is a snap to replace on all your own: the dishwasher.

First, shut off the electricity to the dishwasher. Just flip off the breaker that protects the circuit. To test, turn on the dishwasher to make sure nothing comes on.

At the bottom of most dishwashers is a panel that comes off easily. Remove it and look for wiring that powers parts of the dishwasher. Before touching any wires, make sure the power is off by testing with a voltmeter. Cap off the wires with plastic wire caps for protection.

Next, turn off any water supply to the dishwasher. Many use a small, separate valve under the kitchen sink. In rare cases, it may be necessary to turn off the house water supply for about an hour.

Now disconnect the drain line, which typically connects to a garbage disposal under the kitchen sink. Also disconnect the water supply hose, sometimes made of copper but just as often a plastic tube. They're typically found threaded through the cabinetry to the space under the sink.

To remove the old dishwasher unit, open the door far enough to see and remove any retaining screws threaded into the underside of the cabinet top. Sometimes the retaining screws are placed into the floor instead. Then just slowly pull forward. Most sit on four adjustable feet that are integrated into the casing. If necessary thread the feet screws to change the height.

To replace the unit is about equally easy.

With the power and water still off, attach any drain line and water supply pipes and/or hoses to the new unit. In most cases, it's advisable to replace them with new parts to ensure that water runs easily and cleanly.

Gently push the new unit back in place while an assistant takes up any slack from the drain hose and/or water supply. It's important to prevent any kinking that can lead to a leak. Re-attach the drain line to the garbage disposal and the water supply hose to the valve.

Re-attach the wires, matching the colors. Soldering isn't necessary or recommended. Just twist them together and twist on a wire cap to keep the pair joined securely and safely. Make sure the unit is well grounded by testing the ground wire.

Turn the water back on before you turn the power back on. Check for any leaks. Some hoses will require that you wrap plumber's tape around the nib. Be sure to wrap it in the direction that causes it to tighten into the threads when you tighten any threaded nuts.

Turn the electricity back on by inserting the wall plug into the outlet and flipping the circuit breaker to the ON position.

Simple. Inexpensive. And fun, since you did it yourself!