How To Tell When You Need A New Dishwasher

The dishwasher is perhaps the most underappreciated kitchen appliance until it stops working. This is especially true if the daily dishwashing chore is for a large family.

Ever have to hand wash all the dishes used for a holiday gathering? Having to do so has a way of developing a finer appreciation for this too often unsung appliance.

When the old 3-step process of rinse, stack and turn on the machine gets rudely interrupted, we pretty quickly want to know why.

Can it be fixed or does it need replacing? For help with this conundrum, read through the potential trouble signs listed below to know when your dishwasher needs replacing.

Age of Appliance

Somehow we come to think, in part because of the high cost, major appliances should last at least a week or two beyond forever. Hey, they do not.

Dishwashers, like every other convenience appliance, is made up of multiple moving parts. With use and age, they simply wear out, stop working or suddenly break.

Even with regular maintenance and care, they generally need replacing at some point. Extremely hot water, detergents, and vigorous cleansing motion takes its toll.

Seals go bad, sprayer arms clog, and the same thing happens that happens to all metal constantly exposed to water. They rust.

Depending upon the model and frequency of use, they can usually be expected to last anywhere between seven and twelve years. If yours is beyond this use range, you might want to add a new dishwasher to that shopping list.

Frequent Repair

If one of your most frequent internet searches is for ‘parts to fix your dishwasher’, you probably need to replace it.

If your dishwasher repairs are roughly equal to the cost of a new one, it is time to replace it. Often, the argument is that I have spent so much on this one in repairs, it should be good as new.

Pop quiz: if you spend $10,000 on a car that is worth $500, what is that car worth? $10,500 is the wrong answer. It is still a $500 car that you have spent $10,000 on.

The body, frame and older parts are still there. They too will need replacing. The same principle holds true with appliances.

Does Not Start

Failure to start can be a small issue like a door not properly closed, or it can be a major repair like a motor replacement. A dishwasher that is fickle to start is one on its way to never starting again.

Cold or Unclean Dishes

If your dishes are not hot or at least warm to the touch after the final cycle, you need to skip the ‘parts to fix your dishwasher’ search. The heating source, either an element or coil has failed. Often, this repair cost can justify the cost of a new one.

Unclean dishes are likewise a potential replacement signal. If the filters are clean, the washer arms clean, and the seal is not harboring debris, a more serious issue probably exists.


Faulty latches and water retained in the bottom of the unit after a completed cycle are also other telltale signs a dishwasher divorce is imminent. It is best, and often cheaper, not to delay those decisions foisted upon us by appliances that have run their usefulness course.