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How to install a dishwasher yourself

How to install a dishwasher yourself: Man loading dishwasher
(Image credit: Getty)

Find out how to install a dishwasher yourself so that you can save time and money. If you’ve just bought one of the best dishwashers, you might be surprised to find out that these machines are relatively simple to install yourself, meaning you could save on installation costs. 

A little time and some basic tools will soon have your new appliance up and running,  and if you take on the installation yourself, it means you can carry out the job at your own convenience. You don’t need to be a DIY king, either, as modern dishwashers are simple to connect as long as you have the correct kit. 

We’ll be running through everything from how to measure up for a new dishwasher to running tests once you’ve finished the installation, so just keep reading to find out how to install a dishwasher yourself. 

How to install a dishwasher: measuring up 

First things first – do you have space for your new appliance? Dishwashers tend to be a standard size so if you’re replacing the old with the new then there’s a good chance you’ll be fine – but it is definitely worth checking. Nothing is more frustrating than choosing the perfect new appliance and finding that it won’t fit in the space.

As well as measuring the width, depth and height of the space where your new dishwasher will be positioned, measure any doorways or narrow corridors your dishwasher will need to be carried through so that you don’t end up with a dishwasher that can’t fit through the door. 

Are all dishwashers the same size? 

A standard dishwasher measures 24 inches high by 24 inches wide by 35 inches deep, while a compact model made for small kitchens measures the same height and width but only around 17.5 to 18 inches wide. Larger models aimed at big families can be up to 42 inches wide, so it is important to check what you’re buying. 

If you haven’t got the space for a standard dishwasher, consider one of the best countertop dishwashers

How to install a dishwasher yourself: spanners and tools

(Image credit: Getty)

What pipes do you need to install a dishwasher? 

Dishwashers require three connections – electrical, a water pipe, and a drainage pipe. If you have removed an old dishwasher from the space, then the infrastructure should already be in place. 

Many retailers will install your new dishwasher for a small additional charge, if you prefer, so that may be an easier option, especially if your DIY skills are a little rusty! If the retailer isn’t removing your old appliance, then you’ll also have to consider how to dispose of your old dishwasher

Installing your new dishwasher 

Every model can be slightly different, so check your instruction leaflet for information about your new appliance ahead of starting.  

After your old dishwasher has been removed, start by checking that you have the right tools available to install your new one. You will need screwdrivers, an adjustable wrench, an electrical cord, and a dishwasher connection kit. You can get a kit from any hardware store but check that the one you’re buying contains the correct options for the existing fittings you have. Check your existing fittings and measure them if necessary first. Turn off the water shut-off valve under the sink, just in case. Turn the power off at the fuse box, as well. 

  1. Your dishwasher should have an access panel at the front so that you can get to the connections easily. If you don’t fancy lying face down on the floor, you’ll probably find it easier to spread some old towels on the floor and gently lower the dishwasher onto its back. Remove the access panel, and you should see the water inlet solenoid valve, the electrical connection unit, as well as the drain connection. 
  2. Start by wiring up the electrics – you will need to consult your handbook first as models differ. You should already have a cable in place from your old dishwasher – check it for damage in case it needs replacing though. Simply push the loose end of the electric cable through the opening in the connection unit, match the colored wires to connections of the same color and tighten the screws.  
  3. Your connection kit should contain an elbow joint called a ‘dishwasher 90’ (because it bends at 90 degrees). Screw it onto the water valve with your fingers until you can’t turn it any further, then use the wrench to give it an extra quarter-turn (don’t force it too far). Take the braided steel pipe from the kit and thread the coupling nut onto the 90 joint. Again, finger-tighten it then finish off with the wrench, being careful not to overdo it.  
  4. Turn the dishwasher upright again, then push it back into position, taking care not to damage any pipes in the process. As soon as you have enough play on the pipes, feed the water and drainage tubes through the hole at the side of the cabinet. Line the appliance up with the center of the cabinet and use the adjustable legs to even it up (your handbook will tell you how to do this if it is not obvious). Finish pushing it back into position.  

     

How to install a dishwasher yourself: dishwasher controls

(Image credit: Getty)

Finishing off installing your dishwasher 

Once you’re completely happy with where your appliance is positioned, you can fix it into place using the mounting tabs, which need to be screwed to the top of the new dishwasher. Screw the anchor brackets to the underside of the countertop then fix the tabs to the plates.  

Attach the unconnected end of the braided steel water pipe to the water supply shut-off valve under the sink. Turn the valve back on and check both ends of the pipe for leaks. If you spot anything, then the fittings need to be a little tighter. 

In order to prevent dirty water from flowing back down the drainpipe and contaminating your dishes, dishwashers are required to either have the drain pipe looped up high or to have an air gap as a fail safe. Before you reuse the same method as your old dishwater, it’s worth a quick check of your local building and plumbing codes to see if anything has changed. 

To use the ‘high loop’ method, bend the drain hose up and secure it to the underneath of the countertop with a strong loop of wire or string. Connect the free end to the garbage disposal if you have one or sink drain tailpiece if you do not. 

Not all areas allow this method, so you may need to fit an air gap that prevents the build-up of pressure needed for dirty water to siphon back into the system. 

Testing your new dishwasher installation 

Once you are happy with your work, turn the power and water back on and run the dishwasher through a cycle on empty to test it make sure there’s no water anywhere it’s not supposed to be! Once everything looks good, you can put the access plate back in place and you are ready to go. 

For tips on how to make the most of your appliance, read our feature on how to load a dishwasher (properly)

Sara Walker

Sara is an experienced magazine journalist and commercial copywriter. Writing helpful home-related content for Top Ten Reviews, Sara splits her time between the UK and France, alongside her Springer Spaniel.