If you have a dishwasher, you know just how life-changing they can be. Having a reliable helper to take care of the dishes saves a lot of time—and prevents pruney hands—when life gets busy. And for those who don’t live alone, the benefits multiply with every family member or roommate.
Unfortunately, dishwashers run pretty expensive, costing anywhere between $300 to $3,500 (not including installation).
To help you get the most out of your household investments, this article covers:
- How long dishwashers usually last
- Factors that affect dishwasher life expectancy
- Tips to lengthen your dishwasher’s lifespan
- When to replace a dishwasher and when to repair it
Let’s dive in.
How Long Does a Dishwasher Last on Average?
Some sources cite that dishwashers last anywhere from 9 to 16 years, with an average lifespan of 12. According to Consumer Reports, however, the average life of a dishwasher is about 10 years. Dishwashers wear down over time due to extreme exposure to water, acidic foods, and harsh cleaners.
The good news is that you can help your dishwasher last as long as possible by practicing proper maintenance. Many homeowners don’t know how to care for their appliances, so if you bought a used dishwasher or inherited your dishwasher when you purchased your home, you may not know its care history.
While a dishwasher’s history can impact its life expectancy, it’s never too late to start taking better care of your appliances.
Factors That Affect Dishwasher Life Expectancy
Many factors affect the life expectancy of a dishwasher. Here are the ones you can control to get the most use out of yours.
- How often you use your dishwasher
Frequency of use has a significant impact on the lifespan of a dishwasher. The more you use it, the faster it will wear down; however, rarely using it isn’t great either. Like a car, never using an appliance can result in its own problems.
So, how often should you run your dishwasher?
The average household runs their dishwasher five times a week, but everyday use is a lot to take. If you can, run your dishwasher regularly with a day or two in between.
- The quality of your dishwasher
High-quality dishwashers have nicer parts that last longer, and they tend to run quieter and more efficiently. You don’t need the most expensive dishwasher you can find, but check out product reviews and brand history to choose a quality manufacturer. Looking into dishwasher lifespan by brand and spending a little more upfront can protect you from costly repairs or needing an early replacement.
According to Consumer Reports, some of the more reliable dishwasher brands include Whirlpool, Bosch, and Thermador.
- Professional installation
We highly recommend having a professional install your dishwasher when you buy one. Professional installation will ensure that everything is connected correctly, so the dishwasher works at full efficiency and all parts remain in working order for as long as possible. It also prevents hidden leaks that could lead to future dishwasher problems, water damage, and mold.
- Timely, professional repairs
Any time you notice something is wrong with your dishwasher, hire a professional to inspect it as soon as possible. Timeliness is essential to prevent minor issues from turning severe. You’ll also want to use a service that you trust to repair your dishwasher correctly and use quality parts when parts are needed.
Dishwasher repairs can be expensive, so it’s common for homeowners to ignore the problem or try to fix it themselves. Unless the issue is a dirty filter, it’s always better to hire a professional to ensure the right problem is fixed and avoid making the situation worse. If you’re concerned about cost, consider buying a warranty that covers future repairs and replacements.
- Proper maintenance
Taking proper care of your dishwasher is one of the best things you can do to extend its lifespan. We dive deeper into maintenance in the next section.
Maintenance Tips to Lengthen Dishwasher Lifespan
Unsure what dishwasher maintenance looks like? Here’s what you can do to help make your dishwasher last longer.
- Clean it on a regular basis.
When food residue builds up in your dishwasher, it can result in clogs and other issues. Cleaning your dishwasher will help keep it in good condition, and a clean dishwasher will do a better job of washing your dishes.
To clean your dishwasher, start by wiping down the door seals and the inside every month. Use white vinegar on door seals instead of harsh chemicals that could wear them down prematurely. You should also clean the filter and food trap every month and remove any food clogging the holes in the spray arms every few months.
- Scrape your dishes off before loading them.
Scrape any food or grease on your dishes into the trash before loading them into your dishwasher. Doing so will help keep your dishwasher clean (less work for you on cleaning days) and prevent food from clogging drain hoses or damaging the pump.
- Don’t overload your dishwasher.
It’s easy to cram in as many dishes as possible to get them all done, but it’s best to avoid overloading your dishwasher. Not only do you want to leave enough space between dishes so that they can all get clean, but doing so will also put less strain on your dishwasher.
Various dishwashers have different loading capacities. Check your owner’s manual for loading advice specific to your appliance.
- Use hot water for every load.
While you may avoid using hot water to save energy, hot water is actually better for your dishwasher and dishes. Hot water cleans dishes more effectively by killing germs and bacteria, and it protects your dishwasher by breaking up the food and dirt that finds its way in. If you’d like to save energy, consider investing in an energy-efficient dishwasher instead.
- Let your dishes air dry.
You can also save energy by letting your dishes air-dry instead of using the heated dry cycle on your dishwasher. Heat drying puts more strain on your dishwasher, so if you have the time, letting your dishes air-dry will allow it to work less and last longer.
- Be careful what you put inside.
Some homeowners use their dishwasher to clean items other than dishes, but it’s important to be careful what you use it for. Using your dishwasher in ways other than what it was intended for could put unnecessary strain on it or cause it to break. Even certain dishes aren’t dishwasher safe and could melt—threatening your dishwasher and creating quite a mess.
- Keep an eye and ear out for problems.
Knowing the signs of a dying dishwasher will help you know when it may be time to replace your long-time helper. The following are common indications that there’s a problem worth looking into:
- The door won’t latch shut.
- It’s humming or making other unusual sounds.
- It’s rusting or cracking on the inside.
- There’s a leak of any kind.
- There’s poor water circulation.
- Dishes aren’t getting all the way clean.
- Dishes aren’t drying properly (if you’re using a heated dry cycle).
- It’s not draining properly, even when filters and food traps are clean.
Should You Repair or Replace Your Dishwasher?
You might be wondering if it is worth fixing a dishwasher when it’s having problems. Whether you should repair or replace your dishwasher depends on how old it is, the severity of the problem, and how much it would cost to fix. Start by getting a repair quote from a professional.
If your dishwasher is pretty new or the repair is small, it’s probably worth fixing. If the repair is semi-costly and your dishwasher is older, or if the repair is almost as much as the machine itself, it’s better to replace it.
Should you need a new dishwasher, the good news is that your new one will be more energy-efficient, can lower your electric bill, and you can use the tips in this article to lengthen its lifespan.
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