It’s All Connected

The subject of replacing a dishwasher recently came up (and my assisting the hapless fool that was wanting to attempt this daring feat), so I had to post my advice and experience.

Ur . . . yah.

Be careful . . . very careful . . .

It is all connected together you know . . .

So it all started with the dishwasher. The wife points at the floor and says, “It’s leaking a bit.”

So it is. Not too bad, but water will really mess a house up. “I’ll check it out.” I say in my typical male gender role and picturing a minor repair.

I remove the little cover at the bottom and can see that the water ran down the side of the dishwasher from somewhere up top. So I open the dishwasher. I find it likely that it is leaking a bit around the rollers that the top rack runs on, so I remove the top rack and examine them closely. I find a bit of rust around one, so I figure it is likely that is the culprit, and just a bit of silicone will do the trick.

Should be about a 30-minute job.

For good measure I grab the little wheel and wiggle it.

Ker-POP. The wheel, bracket, and about a 4″ X 10″ piece of the wall of the dishwasher comes off in my hand. Seems it has been leaking a while, and the metal shell of the washer has rusted to death on the outside. Only the ceramic coating remains.


No problem. It never washed very well anyway. I hop in the truck and off to Best Buy I go. I buy the best(est) dishwasher I can get that does not have a bunch of computers in it (I work with the computers . . . no way am I buying appliances that contain them).

Should be about a 4-hour job.

I pull the old dishwasher out, and find to my dismay, that the particleboard counter-top above it has swelled over time from the moisture, and it is going to have to be replaced.

No problem. It had a stain on it anyway.

Should be about a 10-hour job to make a new counter-top and install it.

I head off to the HomeOwner Hell and grab a bunch of Formica samples.

Woe is me! None will match what we have! We are going to have to go with a new color.

This means I will have to replace the other counter in the kitchen too.

No problem, we never really liked that color anyway.

Should be about a 20-hour job.

Off to the HomeOwner Hell I go again. I buy 4 sheets of counter underlay, and the contact cement to put everything together with. I buy a really nice spotty-black textured Formica (they make really good stuff nowadays), and some oak to trim the edges with instead of more Formica.

At home I remove the “other” counter-top, as I need to do it first due to cut shapes and such . . . and when I pop the counter-top off the cabinets, they literally fall apart, each of three sides falling in a different direction. Only the forth side did not fall, as it was leaning against the wall. Friggen tract homes. They cheaped out and did not use any cabinet hardware.

No problem. That one drawer never opened correctly anyway.

Should be about a 30-hour job, what with refastening all the cabinet hardware and the oak trim.

Off to the HomeOwner Hell I go to buy about a basket full of cabinet hardware and drawer sliders.

Now to remove the other counter-top, the one over the dishwasher. It has the sink in it too.

Comes right out, but the plumbing under the sink falls apart, the fresh water valves were cheap and have corroded to the point where they will not close, and the drain stuff all crushed in my hands it was so rusty (inside).

No problem. I wanted PVC drains anyway.

Should be about a 40-hour job.

Off to the HomeOwner Hell I go to buy a bunch of plumbing stuff. All the cashiers are calling me by name now.

While trying to remove the sink from the old counter-top, I break the handle on the faucet.

No problem. It was a crappy one anyway.

Off to the HomeOwner Hell I go. The manager buys me lunch and introduces me to his kids, two of which I am sure I am putting though college.

Finishing the removal of the sink, I discover that whoever put it in there used no “sink hooks”–the little brackets that hold it in place. Instead, they glued it in with 3M 5200. Those of you that do not know, 3M 5200 is a marine sealant that is permanent. When 3M says permanent, they mean it.

The manager of the HomeOwner Hell was waiting out front with a new sink when I arrived.

Finally get the new counter-tops cut and the Formica glued on. Blew the switch on my router, and had to get a new blade for my miter-saw. Had to buy a new router-bit too, made specially to trim Formica.

I get free valet parking at the HomeOwner Hell now.

I finally get all the counter-tops installed, and now–50 working hours later–I am right back where I started, ready to install a dishwasher.

Oh . . . and the stove won’t work. Seems all that moving around was too much for it. The wiring fell apart and it caught fire when I plugged it in. Off to Best Buy I go and get a new one. Of course they do not come in the same color anymore and I’ll have to replace the vent-a-hood too.

Got that done. The kitchen really looks fabulous. Well, it did anyway, after I replaced the light fixture that I broke with the box top while I was unpacking the stove.

Finally! Done! I swept all the dust out of the kitchen and put away my tools.

I was standing there admiring the new counter-tops, which are the only obvious evidence of the 70 hour, $1500 ordeal I had just been through, and reflecting on how it was all connected together . . . when . . . and I am not making this up . . . I watched the big pane out of my front window in the living room just fall out and shatter on the ground.

Just fell out!

Two days later, the disposal, which I had painstakingly and with a great deal of trouble removed from the old sink and reinstalled in the new one, burned out with a spectacular screech.

As I walked in to the HomeOwner hell, there was a special counter marked (for Danny) with a disposal sitting on it. They are painting the stripes on my very own parking space tomorrow.

It is all connected together. You can never fix it all, you just have to get to someplace tolerable and STOP.

Although that is not what the manager of the HomeOwner Hell said when he stopped by to show me his new Hummer . . . on his way to the airport for his trip to the islands . . .

And a week later, I see the neighbor dragging a rusted dishwasher out to the curb. He says, “May have to replace the counter-top too.”

I quickly stifled the look of panic on my face and quietly wandered back into the house, locking the door and taking the phone off the hook . . . for a month.

Daniel Meyer

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