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We recently purchased a house with a REALLY old dishwasher. The inspection report says that it "appears to be in working condition" but I'm paranoid of having a plumbing mess if we start using it. What should I check for before turning it on? Water line condition? Subfloor condition?


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up vote 6 down vote accepted

Check the water line connections. I would open the bottom access panel, and watch for any leaks while you run it the first time. Often the parts used are not of the greatest quality, including the solenoid valve that controls the water.

On that note, make sure there is a manual shut-off valve, so you can turn it off quickly if there is a leak.

Beyond that, just make sure you run it through a cycle to ensure it's clean.

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Or manually scrub it out. The previous owners of our house treated theirs like a garbage disposal. Actually, I take that back. They treated it worse than we treat the garbage disposal. There were large food particles crusted on the bottom when we moved in. That was fun to clean out. – Doresoom Nov 18 '10 at 13:27
You can thank the extreme greens for that. I keep running across articles about "don't rinse or wipe dishes, just throw them in with all the food on it". The claim is that the dishwasher will actually clean the dishes better that way while also saving water. I went ahead and tried it a couple times, never again. All it does is gunk up the dishwasher and the dishes come out dirty instead of clean. – Brian Knoblauch Nov 18 '10 at 15:07
Agreed on the shut-off... any dishwasher that's not been used for a while will have its seals dry rot (what BJQ mentioned), but I have no idea if all of them are easily inspected, so being prepared to shut off the water is important. An old dishwasher that's been used will often be in better condition than a relatively new dishwasher that's been sitting unused for months at a time. – Joe Nov 19 '10 at 15:30

Check the rubber seal around the door. It may well have deteriorated to the point where it's unable to provide a proper seal and needs replaced.

If that seal dry/cracked this is probably the case. Or if you run the dishwasher, watch for water leaking from where the bottom of the door meets the main unit.

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Find a water shut off valve for it and know where it is in case you need to use it (even if the only one that will work on the dishwasher is a main shut off for the whole house). Then turn it on and look everywhere around it for leaks. :)

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