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I was removing my dishwasher today, and to my surprise I saw that it was hardwired directly to a switch box with the switch taped in the on position with electrical tape. Any ideas why on earth it was done this way?? It's already on its own circuit (which I turned off before uninstalling the DW).

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  • Why did they do it? You'd be surprised how many people know what things "should look like" but don't understand why. It likely never crossed the original installer's mind that the reason cords aren't supplied with dishwashers, ovens, dryers, etc. (beyond saving a few pennies) is that manufactures can't know what the outlet you're going to use looks like (they know what it should look like, but read the second sentence again). Faced with just the power box on the dishwasher and what looks like no outlet box on the wall, this is what they came up with. I like to call it "illogical logic."
    – JBH
    Nov 19, 2023 at 19:49

2 Answers 2

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A sequence of people who did not 100% know what they were doing. There is a reason why many places restrict electrical work to licensed electricians.

One likely possibility: Disposal.

A disposal is normally on some sort of switch (a normal toggle switch like this, an "air switch", something). If someone was adding a dishwasher where none existed before (quite common for a house built in the 1960s or earlier) and had a disposal but didn't really need it, then they might decide to disconnect the disposal and connect the dishwasher to that circuit, which is perfectly acceptable.

If that person did not understand how to hardwire an appliance, they might not realize that the proper thing to do is:

  • Remove the switch
  • Splice the wires together in the switch box (now just a "junction box") with wire nuts
  • Install a blank cover plate on the box

which you should do now.

In addition, the box should be mounted securely to a wall, floor, or permanently installed cabinet surface. That is almost always very easy with a metal box. If it is a plastic box then that may not be so easy, in which case I recommend replacing it with a metal box.

The NM cable (dishwasher to box, box to next box or through the wall or floor, etc.) should be secured to wall, floor or permanently installed cabinet surfaces such that it does not get moved when using the cabinet for storage and also that nothing should be on top of the cable - normally this means securing it to the back wall of the cabinet.

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    Heck, they could have replaced the switch with a GFCI outlet and put a cord on the dishwasher. At least around here that's allowed.
    – KMJ
    Nov 19, 2023 at 4:48
  • Or a GFCI deadfront and put the dishwasher on the load side and continued with the existing NM instead of switching to cordage. Nov 19, 2023 at 4:49
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    Yep. Want to bet they didn't have wire nuts? Because this reeks of saving a trip to the hardware store.
    – KMJ
    Nov 19, 2023 at 4:53
  • They'd have had to run the cable through the cabinet side to install the GFCI, and bored another hole for the D/W cord.
    – Huesmann
    Nov 19, 2023 at 14:12
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Hardwired dishwashers need a disconnect switch.

It appears to me the installer did not understand "in an accessible area" and just stuck it in a junction box (if even) and stuffed it behind the dishwasher.

The right place is on the kitchen backsplash. To avoid bad user-interface / consumer confusion, I recommend using a GFCI switch there. Which also provides the required GFCI protection.

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