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My dishwasher flooded my kitchen, requiring the removal of the flooring and eventually the lower cabinets. I turned off the water supply to the dishwasher right after the flood, but couldn't unplug it because there wasn't a receptacle anywhere I could see. I was worried that it was hardwired, and the flood remediation guys quickly discovered that a) it was, and b) there was only about 8 inches of slack in the cable.

I am not especially pleased about this. The dishwasher isn't on a switch or a dedicated circuit, and I have no idea which circuit it is on (none of them is labeled "dishwasher", it's not on either kitchen receptacle circuit, and the breaker panel labeling in general is pretty bad). Right now, I have no knowledge of how to de-energize a major appliance that uses water. Even when I figure out which circuit it's on, this setup will needlessly complicate future dishwasher installation and service, so I would much prefer to have a receptacle for it.

I had two contractors come out today to measure for estimates on the rebuild. Both told me that the dishwasher was supposed to be hardwired and they couldn't change it, though one said he could lengthen the cable. I live in New Castle County, Delaware, which follows NEC-2014 as near as I can tell. The selected answer in this previous question directly quotes NEC-2014 saying that dishwashers can definitely be cord-and-plug provided some relatively simple requirements are met. And while this is the first house I've owned, I'm pretty confident that I've seen the cord-and-plug setup in other houses I've lived in. So why might two contractors have told me they couldn't put in a receptacle for the dishwasher?

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    Turn your DW on, start flipping breakers until it turns off. Now you know which breaker protects the DW. Mark it in the panel.
    – JACK
    Jul 10 '20 at 21:46
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    While it's true that generally dishwashers can be cord-and-plug connected, there are two situations that might override this. 1 is if your locality has adopted an amended code that forbids it, or 2 is if your specific dishwasher has instructions that indicate it must be hardwired.
    – Nate S.
    Jul 10 '20 at 21:50
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    @JACK The DW is on a circuit labeled "Rec./Lights Family". I thought this was actually for the sunroom, which I couldn't test until we both stopped working for the day (the cable router is in there). The DW seems to be the only thing on this circuit. The sunroom circuit is labeled "Lights".
    – Aurochs
    Jul 10 '20 at 22:39
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My recent dishwashers have all been corded. If not, I just purchased an appliance cord (14 ga. or 12ga) and connected it to the terminals on the DW before I installed it. Normally the outlet for the DW is under the sink next to the DW. That may be an issue if the cable feeding the hard wired DW isn't long enough to get to an outlet (surface mounted is fine, you won't be seeing it) in the sink cabinet. Any splices need to be "permanently accessible". I "think" if you had to extend the cable and connected in a box behind the DW that would qualify, but I'm not sure on that.

Also, you need to identify which circuit supports the DW and what else is on it. DWs are supposed to have a dedicated circuit. Would it be possible during your repairs to run a new cable from the main panel to the DW?

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  • DW's don't necessarily need to be on a dedicated circuit.... Jul 11 '20 at 0:49
  • @ThreePhaseEel Yeah, that's why I said "supposed to have a dedicated circuit". These days everything from a microwave to a garbage disposal to a dishwasher seems to be code required for a dedicated circuit. That stupid 50% rule for hard wired appliances with convenience circuits. Jul 11 '20 at 1:02
  • Yeah -- it's usually the 50% rule for hardwired appliances on convenience circuits that bumps them over Jul 11 '20 at 1:10

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