How to Install a Built-in Dishwasher
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How to Install a Built-in Dishwasher

Install a dishwasher into existing cabinets. Stop using a portable dishwasher

A dishwasher is one of those must have appliances in the kitchen. There are basically two types. There is the portable dishwasher, which is set on wheels. These machines can be rolled up to the sink and connected to the water faucet and then plugged into a nearby electrical outlet. The problem with these types of units is that in small kitchens, storing it when not in use can be a challenge. Not to mention the nightly ritual of rolling it to the sink, hooking it up and then disconnecting it and rolling it back after it is finished washing.

The other type of dishwasher is the built in or under-the–counter dishwasher. This style of dishwasher both saves valuable kitchen floor space and is also much more convenient. Also, built in dishwashers don’t necessarily have to be installed when the cabinets and counters are. In most cases, a built in dishwasher can be installed in your kitchen with minimal modifications to cabinets and none to your countertop. Installing a built in dishwasher is fairly simple and can easily be accomplish by most novice do-it-yourself types.

Dishwasher Location is the first step in this project. The machine needs to be fairly close to but not underneath the sink. You will need to cut away some of the cabinetry later for the installation, so look at the cabinets to either side of the sink and determine which cabinets you can live without. To help visualize the machines location, measure the height and width of the front of the dishwasher. Cut a plastic bag to that size and tape it to the cabinets just below the countertop. Try to locate the dishwasher so that it doesn’t span more than two cabinet doors. Also, ensure there are no permanent obstructions such as pluming in the area chosen.

Make A Template of the machines body. Measure the height and width of the dishwasher itself. This measurement should be from 2 to 4 inches smaller than the face of the dishwasher. Transfer these measurements to a plastic bag or brown paper. Place this template so that the bottom just touches the floor and center it on your selected location. You can tape it to hold it steady. Now mark an outline of the template onto the cabinets and remove the template. This is the section of cabinets that will need to be cut away.

Prepare The Cabinets to be cut out by first removing any doors or drawers that are in the area to be cut out. Also remove hinges and other hardware that may get in the way of the cut. Using a reciprocating saw or jigsaw, you can now begin cutting the cabinet face away. You may have to use a handsaw to get the last little bit at the floor.

To Remove The Cabinet, first pull the face away. You may need to unfasten or cut away braces that still hold the face to the cabinet. With the face removed, cut away any interior structure that would be in the way of the dishwasher. Next, dry fit the dishwasher into the opening. It should slide back far enough that the facing touches the surrounding cabinet face. While you have it in the hole, adjust the floor pads by screwing them in or out to level the dishwasher. Now remove the dishwasher from the opening and set it aside. The last thing to do in this step is to ensure that the water and electrical lines can reach their destination. If there are any cabinet walls that lay between the sink area and the dishwasher, you will need to drill a hole large enough to fit these lines through.

The Drain Line is the next step. Most major hardware stores will carry a PVC drainpipe that is made specifically for a dishwasher installation. It basically looks like a normal drain pipe except it has a smaller barbed line running out of it at an angle, resembling a “Y”. This pipe should be installed just below the P-trap. Next, connect the dishwasher drainpipe to a flexible dishwasher drain hose and secure it with a hose clamp. There should be enough hose so that you can make a small loop in-line to the dishwasher to create a vapor barrier from sewer gas.

The Water Supply installation will vary depending on the type of pluming material used in your kitchen. For the purposes of this article we will assume cpvc as a plumbing material. First, shut off the water supply to the hot water line in your kitchen. Next, cut a section approximately 3 to 4 inches long out of the hot water line. Install a “quick connect” T fitting to the two ends of the hot water cpvc lines. Install the 3 or 4 inch section of cpvc that was cut out into the remaining opening of the T fitting. Next, install a “quick connect” shut-off valve onto the open cpvc line. Finally, install a metal braided water supply line to the shut-off valve.

The Electrical installation process will depend on what you have available for power under your sink. You may have an electrical outlet already under your sink. If so, simply install a plug to the end of the dishwasher electrical cord and your ready. If you don’t already have power under the sink, you will need to wire up a GFCI electrical receptacle. If you need information on how to install one of these, please read an article by my college Jerry Walch entitled “The DIY Electrician’s Guide to Installing GFCI Receptacles”. He provides a detailed guide on the subject.

Connecting Water Lines is the next step. First, slide the dishwasher up to but not in the opening in the cabinets. Tilt the dishwasher forward and lay on its face. Next, connect the drain hose to the dishwasher drain outlet and secure with a hose clamp. Now connect the metal braided water supply line to the water intake and tighten securely. Now, raise the dishwasher back into and upright position and slide it into its opening, ensuring that the water lines don’t get pinched or kinked in the process.

Secure The Dishwasher to the floor now that it has been pushed back into its opening as far as it will go. You should have already level the dishwasher by earlier, but check one last time for level. Along the base of the dishwasher will be a railing with several holes drilled in it. Place at least 4 wood screws through the holes and into the floor on each side.

Plug The Dishwasher into your electrical outlet. Turn the hot water supply line to the kitchen back on. Turn on the dishwasher to a normal wash cycle. As it fills and drains water, inspect to ensure there are no leaks. You’re done! You just installed your own built-in dishwasher.

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