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The Big Dishwasher Debate: Is it Time for a Fix-Up or a Trade-Up?

by Ann Ferguson

Washing the dishes is as easy as loading the dishwasher and pushing the start button. But what happens when the dishwasher breaks? Uh oh, it's back to handwashing.... or is it? It might be time to repair or replace it!

While dishwashers can have issues like any appliance, deciding whether to fix or replace, it can be quite a dilemma, especially with so many factors to consider. But don't worry; we've got you covered! With our comprehensive guide, making the decision will be easier than you think!

How old is your dishwasher?

Side view of an open and empty dishwasher

Dishwashers, like any household item, have a limited lifespan. On average, you can expect your dishwasher to last around 8 to 10 years, 13 if you're lucky. However, according to Consumer Reports, up to 30 percent of new dishwashers require some repair within the first five years.

So, is it worth repairing? If your dishwasher is within the five-year limit, it's definitely worth fixing. But if your dishwasher is closer to ten years, finding replacement parts might be too expensive, so you'd be better off replacing your machine.

Pro Tip: Remember the 50 percent rule: if the dishwasher is five years old or older and the repair costs are more than 50 percent of a new dishwasher, it's time to replace it!

Is your dishwasher efficient?

Closeup of hand choosing the eco mode on the dishwasher

Another consideration to remember when repairing or replacing your dishwasher is the water and energy efficiency of the machine. Older models tend to use more water and energy, so they cost more to run yearly. Meanwhile, Energy Star-rated dishwashers cost around $35 per year to run and can save up to 4,000 gallons of water in their lifespan.

So, if you don't currently have an energy- or water-efficient model, replacing your machine will be worth the investment.

Common Dishwasher Problems: When to Repair or Replace?

Dealing with dishwasher issues can be frustrating, but are they worth repairing? It depends on what the problem is and how extensive the repair is!

  • Leaky Dishwasher: Leaks are often due to a loose hose or broken gaskets, which are usually a straightforward fix and don't cost much to replace the parts.
  • Broken Heating Elements: The heating element is a vital component for the drying cycle, so the earlier you detect the issue, the easier it'll be to fix. But if you're not sure, contact our appliance technicians for assistance!
  • Clogging: Pooling water at the bottom of your dishwasher indicates a clog in the drainage system. Thankfully, you can usually unclog these yourself.

These are just a few examples of common dishwasher problems, but thankfully most are easy fixes that won’t break the bank!

A Glitch or a Call for Help? Other Issues to Consider

Service tech inspecting the inside of the dishwasher

Let's be honest; sometimes, your dishwasher's hiccups aren't just minor inconveniences. They're warning signs and figuring out whether to fix them or not is crucial:

  • Water Trouble: If water isn't draining or heating properly, it's usually a more serious problem. In most cases, a professional can fix these issues, but if they keep recurring, consider a replacement.
  • Strange Noises: Odd or loud sounds often indicate a broken motor or pump. These can be expensive to repair and might signal it's time for a new dishwasher.
  • Broken Parts: Visible damage to the door, latch, or other parts often means more internal problems. Depending on the severity, replacing may be more cost-effective than repairing.

Remember, understanding these distress signals can save you money in the long run. When in doubt, always consult a professional (like our team) for the best course of action.

Knowing When to Say Goodbye to Your Dishwasher

Unfortunately, even with all the maintenance in the world, dishwashers can't last forever. Sometimes replacing it is the only option that makes sense! So, if you see these signs, it's time to wave goodbye:

  • Mid-Cycle Shutdowns: If your dishwasher regularly conks out in the middle of a cycle, it indicates a severe internal problem. Continuous repair efforts might just be delaying the inevitable.
  • Repeat Offender: Just like a car that's always in the shop, if your dishwasher keeps having issues even after several repairs, it's a sign you might need a new one.
  • Old Age: If your dishwasher is over a decade old and requires frequent repairs, remember the 50% rule. When repair costs start approaching half the price of a new model, it's time for an upgrade.

Making the Decision

Mother and daughter unloading the dishwasher

Repair or replace — it's a tough call, right? But being familiar with these indicators can really help narrow down the decision. And if your dishwasher needs a fix, don't forget our skilled service team at Culligan of Le Mars is always ready to lend a hand.

Got questions or need more advice? Feel free to call or stop by. We're all about helping you make the best choice for your kitchen and your wallet!