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Dishwashers are not usually the things dreams are made of.

That is until they crap out and start dripping on the floor in the middle of the night tell-tale heart style.

Talk about a nightmare.

I wish I could say I realized our dishwasher was on the fritz right away. In fact I would have preferred to wake up to a swamp of water in the kitchen and rectify the problem immediately but instead an insidious dripping went on unnoticed for several weeks.

Since I load the dishwasher at night before going to bed the cycle would run, soak the floor, but then dry up before any of us noticed in the morning.

The result?

Lovely black water stains and mildew on the hardwoods.

I have yet to decide how to deal with the floor (suggestions are welcome DIYers!) but our new dishwasher arrives on Saturday.

In hindsight there were plenty of signs the dishwasher was on its last leg – signs I chose to ignore because life is busy enough without having to fuss about shopping for appliances on backorder. Be smarter than I was and don’t wait to buy a new dishwasher when you notice any of the following happening with your machine.

Your wallet and your floors will thank you!

You See Rust

Most dishwasher racks succumb to corrosion eventually. Tiny nicks and tears pierce the rack’s vinyl coating, allowing water and air access to the metal underbelly and voila, rust. I know first hand how rusty baskets can lead to chipped, chewed up dishes. The good news is that dishwasher racks are easily replaceable.

Dishwasher door hinges or internal components? Yeah, not so much.

If you start noticing flakes of rust on the floor around your dishwasher or rusty elements in the machine, that’s a sign water is getting where it’s not supposed to. Maybe the rubber door gasket is shot (YUUUUPPP) or something else has broken – either way, rust is never a good sign.

In addition to being a potential health hazard to you, rust particles can clog up your machine, cause excess friction, and eventually stop the dishwasher from working altogether.

Depending on the nature of the rust, a new dishwasher may be in order.

You Hear Loud Noises

I had no idea how quiet dishwashers had become until I started shopping for one. Most entry-level dishwashers these days start at about 50 dB. For those of us further out of high school physics than we’d like to admit, dB stands for decibels and they’re a unit of measure used to measure the intensity of a sound.

If your dishwasher is more than ten years old then it’s likely putting out about 60 dB, maybe more. Thanks to how logarithmic scales works, that means your old dishwasher is actually TWICE as loud as the current entry-level models.

That’s nuts!

To think of all the quiet afternoons I could have enjoyed while washing the dishes instead of putting cleaning off until the evening…

If your dishwasher is exceptionally loud or making exceptionally angry sounds, it’s time to start shopping for a new model. In addition to reduced noise (some new dishwashers like this one from KitchenAid emit as low as 38 dB which is practically silent), newer models offer better water and energy efficiency.

You Find Water Where It Shouldn’t Be

On the floor.

Pooled at the bottom of your machine after a wash cycle.

Dripping from the ceiling in your basement.

When you start finding water where it shouldn’t be in and around your kitchen, there’s a good chance your dishwasher may have something to do with it.

And remember, just because you’re not finding puddles of standing water doesn’t mean water damage isn’t happening. If you can hear dripping, smell something musty, see new stains, find rust, or notice your utility bill increasing unexpectedly, those are all signs water is going somewhere it’s not supposed to in your home.

As soon as you suspect water damage, be proactive about finding the source and fixing the problem. If that means buying a new appliance then so be it.

Why You Shouldn’t Wait to Replace Your Dishwasher

Aside from the obvious potential damage to your home from water leaks, a busted dishwasher can take its toll on your mental and physical health.

If your machine isn’t cleaning your dishes properly there’s always a chance you and your family could get sick from ingesting harmful bacteria. This is especially true if the water in your dishwasher isn’t getting hot enough (150 F for residential dishwashers according to the National Sanitation Foundation) or if it isn’t dispensing soap properly.

As for mental health, dishwashers on their last leg have a terrible habit of going caput when you need them most.

Like during holiday parties.

Or play dates.

Or while you’re away on vacation and not home to shut off the water you don’t know is now pouring out of your dishwasher after that last cycle you kicked off when you left so you could come home to a clean kitchen.

Sounds like fun, right?

I swear it’s a cosmic law that dishwashers must break at the most inconvenient time possible.

If you suspect there’s anything wrong with your dishwasher, don’t procrastinate – fix it or replace it right away. Doing so will save you peace of mind and afford you more time to allow for shipping, meaning you’ll be more likely to get the exact machine you want rather than have to settle for the one that’s available.

Now if you’ll please excuse me, I need to sand and refinish our kitchen floors as penance to the dishwasher Gods.

Wish me luck.

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