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Dishwashing Dilemna

September 2nd, 2009 at 09:15 am

Last Thursday, my husband pointed out that the Kenmore diswahswer light was blinking. Turns out that it had run a half cycle and died. Gritting my teeth, I found a repair place that would send someone to look at it for $50. (Sears wanted $123 to look at it, which included labor, but not parts). The repairman finally figured out that there was a short in the control board, which would cost $250 to replace.

Enter the dilemna. Repair or Replace? We bought the dishwasher in late 2005 after the old one that came with the house actually caught on fire. Consumer Reports had highly rated the Kenmore brand and we bought a highly rated middle of the road model on sale for about $350. Less than 4 years later, the dishwasher is broken, and the repairman helpfully adds that 1)he can't be sure that the shorting out of the control board didn't cause other problems or won't happen again and 2) in his experience, dishwashers only last 3 to 8 years.

So, trying not to think about the financial damage I'm inflicting, I decide to go with a new dishwasher. Besides the fact that it is broken, I have a couple of concerns about the unit that had surfaced in the last year or so (mold in unusual places, soap doesn't always dispense, occassional odd smells that disappear and re-appear with no discernable reason), and I suspect that this repair would have been the first of many. I decide to cut my losses.

Of course, Sears is having a promotion on dishwashers, but I'm not really inclined to buy another Kenmore, and we've had some bad experiences with Sears in the past couple years. I looked at Best Buy, Lowes, Home Depot, and a regional appliance place. I read Consumer Reports and all the consumer comments on every dishwasher model. I drove my husband crazy.

In a last-ditch Hail Mary effort, I called a very local appliance store -a no frills kind of place. They didn't have the model I'd settled on, but they had the next model up. The base price of both models was cheaper than anywhere else I'd looked. The salesman gave me a 5% discount, and the model came with a $50 factory rebate (they are switching to the new model year). The dishwasher is an Energy Saver, so we qualify for a $50 rebate from our town's utility department. We managed to get the old one into the SUV, so no delivery fees, and my husband is going to install the new one.

I ended up spending less on the better model than I had planned for my original choice -although in total about $200 more than the cost to repair the old one. The new model is more energy efficient and uses less water (which is good, since we have been running the dishwasher daily now that both kids are eating grown up food). It is quieter than the old one and has a better repair rating.

I still don't like the hit to the budget. We're in a position to pay for it (although it means a little belt tightening), but it feels like a move backwards for us. I've met my savings goals for three months and replaced the money in savings that we had spent on car repairs -but we're going to have a horrible financial weekend with this wedding (we have to pay for the tux rentals, wedding gift and hotel) and the dishwasher. Sigh.

6 Responses to “Dishwashing Dilemna”

  1. mrs. Says:


    Be happy it was as small as a dishwasher.

    My biggest budget snafu came in Feb when I found out we needed a new roof. Couldn't repair it because the shingles wouldn't match. That was a $6,200 hit. We didn't use the credit card and it took four months to save/pay for. It certainly taught me patience and I thought it was my karma getting me because as soon as we got serious about tackling our debt there was a huge expenditure!

  2. pretty cheap jewelry Says:

    3-8 years?! The dishwasher that came built in our home 14 years ago is doing ok, a 6 or 7 on a scale of 10.

    Put on your 20/20 hindsight glasses. You will be relieved and satisfied on the longevity and return on the investment.

    One more idea: I wash most of the pots/pan/frequently used items by hand and run ours only about 3 time/week.

  3. Ima saver Says:

    I think you were smart to buy a new one. I had mine repaired to the tune of $300 and it did not work, so I had to buy a new one.

  4. monkeymama Says:

    Our "unexpected expenses" have been running about $3k per year. Last year our fridge needed a repair and our newest computer died - which will cost down the road since we usually hand them down. Ugh. It just throws everything off. Though we keep getting $2k random expenses every year in addition (lately).

    It does suck, but these things happen all the time, to everyone. When you plan ahead, it doesn't bum you out "as much."

    The dishwasher comment is interesting. I've only had new ones (though ours is 8 years old at this point). Come to think of it, I only recall my parents ever replacing theirs once in 30 years. (Could be twice?).

    We have only personally bought Kenmore. I believe the dishwasher that the builder put in was GE though. We run that thing every single day!!!

  5. princessperky Says:

    I think you made the right choice on a new one, but I wonder at that 3-8 years remark, ours came with the house and with only minor repairs by my father in law it runs just as poorly today as it did 8 years ago.

    Either I am about to lose ours, or lousy dishwashers last longer than good ones. (it is perfectly acceptable, just not good)

  6. Emerald Rings Says:

    The post shows that the writer has done a thorough research and very knowledgeable about this topic. I hope to read some more of your post in future.

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