Replace or repair dishwasher

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Replace or repair dishwasher

Post by verbose » Sun Mar 01, 2015 10:06 am

I have a dishwasher that was new in 2007. The dishwasher worked perfectly well until the summer of 2010. As soon as I bought dishwashing detergent reformulated to remove phosphates, the dishes were not cleaned. (I didn't know at the time that was the problem, but eventually figured it out.) We have very hard water in our area. I don't really want a water softener. Only the dishwasher is having such a hard time with the water.

Since then, it's been a battle with this dishwasher. I haven't found any phosphate-free detergent that works. Last year, I decided to rehabilitate it to the best of my ability. I discovered that detergents containing phosphates are not illegal in my state. Apparently, most commercial detergents still contain phosphates because restaurants need to have clean dishes! The performance of the dishwasher improved markedly once I bought phosphate detergent online. But it still isn't cleaning at anywhere near the level that it did when new.

In December, I took apart all of the pieces that could be removed without pulling it out from under the counter and found brown slime everywhere that the spray didn't touch, jammed spray arms, food pieces, bits of plastic wrap, eggshells, nut shells, you name it. (My children have the chore of loading the dishwasher, and this may explain a lot of that.) After cleaning it out thoroughly, I realized that it continued to clog. I clean the spray arms out weekly and they still have food particles in them. Three months after the initial dishwasher take-down, I did it again. The brown slime was coming back and there was food in all the parts again. I know that some of this occurs because the kids run the dishwasher while the disposal is entirely filled with food, despite parental threats.

I have tried banning the kids from touching the dishwasher. I can get it working, but I have to pre-rinse the dishes meticulously. There can't be visible food on them. Eventually, I decide it's time for someone else to rinse and load, and it starts all over again.

So I have several choices now:

- Assume that something more is wrong with the dishwasher and hire a service tech to come out and look at it. This will entail me explaining to the service company that my work hours exactly coincide with their available service hours and no, I am not staying home during my workday for a 4-hour window! Evenings or weekends only! After all of that (and likely excluding the most competent techs due to my schedule), I expect the tech will find nothing wrong with the dishwasher, tell me that our family is using it incorrectly (I already know that), and charge me about $150. What are the chances that something is physically wrong that can be found and fixed? I'm not optimistic about it.

- Replace the dishwasher with one that uses even less water than this one does and is more likely to clog. I assure you my family is not saving on water with this dishwasher. The amount of water used to pre-rinse, post-rinse and re-wash dwarfs any water savings. (In my area of the country, water is plentiful and cheap, I wouldn't save much anyway.) I'm afraid that with a new dishwasher, it will be worse. Every dishwasher I examine on Amazon has at least one review in which the reviewer claims it doesn't clean the dishes. Frankly, I require it to clean the dishes, period. If it won't, then why would I buy a new one?? I am also handcuffed by the color scheme in my kitchen. The refrigerator, sink, range, microwave and the current dishwasher are all bisque (aka almond, biscuit, beige). That wasn't so hard to pull off in 2007 (when they were all new), but it's now very difficult to find a bisque dishwasher.

I know the dishwasher has to be replaced, and soon, but I can't bear spending all that money for something that still won't clean the dishes and might make my kitchen ugly by having to be... black? What do you mix with bisque?? (I despise stainless)

I'm not really that interested in non-consumer reviews (even CR) because those are done on new dishwashers. I want to know that the dishwasher will still work when it's over a year old.

I've thought of just not using the dishwasher. Since I have children (school-age to teen), I could use them as dishwashers. I tried that once, and forgot to include the step of me inspecting every single purportedly-washed-and-dried dish before it was put away. The results were worse than the dishwasher at its least competent.

I realize this is pessimistic. I don't like any of my choices. If I knew a new dishwasher would work, I would buy it yesterday. But I have no confidence that will be the case.

Are there choices I'm missing? Are newer dishwashers better than I think they are?

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Re: Replace or repair dishwasher

Post by stan1 » Sun Mar 01, 2015 10:12 am

How much did you pay for the dishwasher in 2007 (or did it come with a new house -- many builders use very low quality appliances)?

You may need to pay more for higher quality.

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Re: Replace or repair dishwasher

Post by livesoft » Sun Mar 01, 2015 10:18 am

That's quite a long post. I'm wondering what brand the dishwasher is. Food particles in the sprayer(s) is extremely odd. My dishwasher has a small screened cup at the bottom to catch debris which is easily removable. We don't rinse our dishes anymore and they come out clean, but we do have to empty the cup, especially if someone does not eat their onions.

I am wondering about the connection of the exit hose to the disposal in your kitchen sink. It seems that it is running or siphoning back into your dishwasher and just adding food to the dishes. Perhaps the hose from the dishwasher to the disposal was installed incorrectly?

Note that the above could apply to a new dishwasher, too. Also note that dishwashers are relatively inexpensive. I demand an extremely quiet dishwasher since we have an open floor plan. I have an old Asko which is amazingly quiet (more quiet than a refrigerator), but I have to say that the racks do not last even though the entire stainless steel inside still looks brand new. I'm thinking of a Bosch for the next one.
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Re: Replace or repair dishwasher

Post by ClevrChico » Sun Mar 01, 2015 10:31 am

I went through this exact scenario and replaced the dishwasher last week.

Phosphate free and cheap detergent killed the old dishwasher. Clogged beyond belief, and performance was terrible. Plus it was rusting, paint peeling, etc.

I replaced if with a Bosch Ascenta. It was < $500 with tax/delivered. It specifically recommends Finish tabs and rinse aid, and that's what I use.

The dishes are CLEAN again! The cycles are long, and I believe that's partly because the new detergent is formulated with enzymes instead of phosphate, and that takes time to work on the food. It is also extremely quiet.
Last edited by ClevrChico on Sun Mar 01, 2015 10:43 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Replace or repair dishwasher

Post by TomTX » Sun Mar 01, 2015 10:34 am

Look up the video on how to remove and clean the food/particle grinder. You no doubt have crap accumulated in there, keeping it from working.

After that, do a few runs with 2 cups of vinegar (new vinegar each run)

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Re: Replace or repair dishwasher

Post by wilked » Sun Mar 01, 2015 10:36 am

Replace it with a Bosch

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Post by daveatca » Sun Mar 01, 2015 10:38 am

1. Bosch. Spend over $1000 list price. Have owned two. 8+ years and 3+ years (This one replaced a noisy Bosch Ascenta that was installed by our builder).
2. Run the extended (semi-secret, read the manual) cycle. Two hours. "Extra Dry Heat - With this option you can raise the temperature of the rinse water and increase the drying time for improved drying."
3. Use only the recommended detergent. Use only the recommended rinse agent.
4. Have it installed correctly. Siphoning from the garbage disposal should not be happening.
5. Forget bisque. You won't find it. Go for stainless.
6. Consumer Reports says: replace after 6 years.

25% of kitchen renovations begin with and because of a broken appliance.
Last edited by daveatca on Sun Mar 01, 2015 10:45 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Replace or repair dishwasher

Post by Marylander1 » Sun Mar 01, 2015 10:45 am

Our Bosch is about to celebrate its third birthday. We get the standard Finish pellets from Costco, and use 1 per load. We don't pre-rinse our dishes, and the dishes nearly always come out perfectly clean. Once every few months there's grit throughout the load, and I spend 5 minutes to clean the grinder (most often a bit of plastic is clogging it) and run it again.


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Re: Replace or repair dishwasher

Post by rayout » Sun Mar 01, 2015 10:51 am

Before you go through any effort to replace the machine, first try adding borax to your load to help with the hard water. It's pretty cheap at my local Menards. My dishwasher cleans fine, but I do add it to my laundry: ... detergent/

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Re: Replace or repair dishwasher

Post by 8foot7 » Sun Mar 01, 2015 10:55 am

Bosch dishwashers are the best. I have had two and their cleaning is second to none. Super quiet too, almost "is that thing working because it doesn't sound like it's on" quiet. But both died almost seven years to the day after installation. So plan on replacing at seven years. Still worth it.

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Re: Replace or repair dishwasher

Post by Rainier » Sun Mar 01, 2015 11:01 am

Buy a new one. Even the expensive ones are cheap relative to how much work they do.

Mine runs at least every other day, sometimes more.

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Re: Replace or repair dishwasher

Post by mhc » Sun Mar 01, 2015 11:16 am


repairing the old dishwasher is not worth it. Buying a new one alone will not solve your problem. You have to get your family to treat the dishwasher properly; then, buy a Bosch.

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Re: Replace or repair dishwasher

Post by ShiftF5 » Sun Mar 01, 2015 11:18 am

wilked wrote:Replace it with a Bosch

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Re: Replace or repair dishwasher

Post by TomatoTomahto » Sun Mar 01, 2015 11:30 am

I see many recommendations for Bosch. Some of the local installers (ie, people who would not be selling me the DW) say that they would recommend Miele over Bosch, although they say that Bosch is also a good DW. Thoughts?

Since there seems to be a growing consensus that replacement is the answer, I don't feel that I'm hijacking OP's thread. If you disagree, apologies.
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Re: Replace or repair dishwasher

Post by Toons » Sun Mar 01, 2015 11:33 am

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Re: Replace or repair dishwasher

Post by snowman » Sun Mar 01, 2015 11:40 am

I am the type that always tries to fix things before replacing them, and it works about 90% of the time. I am also patient and meticulous, so there is rarely any problem I cannot figure out. Obviously, I would recommend trying to fix it first, especially if money is tight.

I had similar problem in my house about 3 years ago. My wife told me the dishwasher (about 6 years old at that time) is broken, can I please fix it. So I asked what is broken, what are the symptoms. The answer was similar to yours: well, it runs, but the dishes don't come out clean anymore. So I took it apart (I like taking things apart to see how they work, as much as you could expect to do on the dishwasher - there isn't much involved actually). I also read CR's reliability ratings in case we need to replace it.

I cleaned the whole thing, including spray arms, both top and bottom, since they were clogged. Couple days later she says better but not like new, can we replace it? OK, let me look again. Same thing - all clogged, no wonder dishes don't come out clean. I offered to rinse the dishes myself for a week, just to eliminate potential issue from consideration. In the meantime, I switched from liquid dishwasher to Finish tabs based on CR recommendation.

That was it and we still have the same dishwasher. I told everyone to rinse dishes well before putting them in. My wife says the dishwasher is now better than new, which I attribute to using Finish tabs instead of the liquid. That made really big difference. Finally, I still clean dishwasher from time to time, as preventive maintenance, it takes me less than 5 minutes 2-3 times per year.

If you want to go the easy, more expensive route and buy a new one instead, that's fine, just be aware that over time you will be facing the same problem unless you change your rinsing habits. Hope this helps.

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Re: Replace or repair dishwasher

Post by ralph124cf » Sun Mar 01, 2015 11:49 am

Check your water temperature. Most dishwasher manufacturers recommend 140 water temperature for best performance, but many people with small children are concerned about the scald risk, and so reduce the temp at the water heater. Some dishwashers can heat the water for you, either automatically or by setting a control. To get hotter water into the dishwasher, try running the sink faucet until the water comes out hot.

With respect to the food particles, it sounds like the food grinder blade is shot. The only time I have ever seen one, the blades appeared to be plastic (this was a GE). This is replaceable, but you might as well buy a new dishwasher. You mentioned a problem with getting the kids to empty the filter/strainer. Be sure to get a dishwasher with a filter that is easy to access and empty. In the Bosch that I have is the filter is front and center, and very visible and easy to access.

If you pay to have the dealer install the dishwasher, be sure you are there to make them install it right. Braided steel reinforced hoses are optimum, but may be extra cost. Check on these when you negotiate the price of the machine, you may get a break. There are a lot of finicky pieces of sound deadening material included with some dishwashers, which take a lot of time to install. My installer told me that they did not need to be installed, and would not make a difference anyway. I am sure that if I had not been there he would just have thrown them away. Requiring that the installation be done right resulted in a very quiet dishwasher.


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Re: Replace or repair dishwasher

Post by pshonore » Sun Mar 01, 2015 11:54 am

We've noticed major differences in how clean dishes come out when the rinse agent dispenser is full as opposed to being empty.

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Re: Replace or repair dishwasher

Post by PaddyMac » Sun Mar 01, 2015 1:05 pm

We just got a Bosch this week and it's great. Very quiet, and the installer said it uses as little as 2 gallons of water for a cycle. They recommend Finish detergent and rinse aids, so have to get those at Costco.

Shame you didn't post last week as Sears were doing a Presidents Day Sale with a $150 coupon from Bosch to cover the installation.

We also have the Costco water softener on the house; not sure why you wouldn't want it as it keeps all your appliances, faucets, etc. in good condition, as well as remove as lot of junk from the water source. Hair feels really soft too!

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Re: Replace or repair dishwasher

Post by livesoft » Sun Mar 01, 2015 2:09 pm

What is this food grinder that folks write about? I had to look it up: ... 70920.html I love this part:
Q: What are the hardest food items to get rid of in a dishwasher?
A. Dried-on oatmeal (perhaps the only exception to the no pre-rinsing rule), rice, and spinach.
Our dishwasher does not have a food grinder. The metal screen at the bottom is so fine that not even coffee grounds can get through unless they somehow get pulverized to smaller than a grain of sugar.

If a Bosch only lasts 7 years, then I would consider not buying it. Our dishwasher must be at last 18 years old now. OTOH, I must've missed the recall where it catches fire: ... nces&srt=0
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Re: Replace or repair dishwasher

Post by SimonJester » Sun Mar 01, 2015 2:15 pm

livesoft wrote: I am wondering about the connection of the exit hose to the disposal in your kitchen sink. It seems that it is running or siphoning back into your dishwasher and just adding food to the dishes. Perhaps the hose from the dishwasher to the disposal was installed incorrectly?
I would make sure this is not the case, check the drain hose and make sure there is a high loop in the hose. You can Google that for example pictures. Or if you have the indirect air gap connection make sure its not gummed up with food.
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Re: Replace or repair dishwasher

Post by epictetus » Sun Mar 01, 2015 2:30 pm

I would second the idea of making sure the drain hose from the dishwasher to the disposal is not lying flat. It needs to go up higher than the disposal before it goes into the disposal or otherwise material from the disposal will flow back into the dishwasher.
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Re: Replace or repair dishwasher

Post by rotorhead » Sun Mar 01, 2015 2:38 pm

verbose, before you make any decision to replace the dishwasher, you might want to take a look at Click on the "Get Repair Help" tab, and see how you go. They sell parts, but there are excellent "how to" videos for repairing all manner of home appliances.

I have found them very helpful.

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Re: Replace or repair dishwasher

Post by verbose » Sun Mar 01, 2015 4:10 pm

Thanks for the replies!

This one is a GE. While it was builder-installed, I chose the specific model and paid for an upgrade. In 2007, it was a mid-range model.

There is no particle grinder in it.

I wouldn't be surprised if something is broken. One of the items I found in the sump was a large piece of firm plastic. That might have been a dishwasher part.

My hot water is hot enough. In fact, it was too hot and was causing the plastic fill tubes to collapse (about in 2008, dishwasher wasn't filling and I had it fixed). I had to turn the setting down on the water heater. My kids are old enough not to burn themselves.

The consensus appears to be this:
- this dishwasher is nearing the end of its useful life
- I have to give up on bisque and go with black or stainless
- buy a Bosch
- don't let the kids break the new dishwasher

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Re: Replace or repair dishwasher

Post by AZMax » Mon Mar 02, 2015 12:13 am

I've been through a very similar dishwasher odyssey the past few years. I have a 1999 Maytag that is working like new today due to the following.
I have hard water also (and have refused to get a softener). I had significant residue issues. Everything from the brown sludge to lots of white crusty build up to food particles. This eventually clogged up holes in upper and lower spray arms, filter screens, etc. I repeatedly cleaned them manually, which is the only way to get rid of some particles like bone chips and petrified rice particles.
My water is plenty hot & I have the preheating option, so that's never been an issue.
The first thing was to get away from liquid detergents - they are the worst. I've found that regular Cascade powder (Costco) works well.
Mine was also making noise so I tore it down to the food grinder and found various pieces of solid foreign matter such as bone, small pebbles & glass chunks. Even after I cleaned this stuff out, it still made noise until the motor finally failed. This is when I really did the same soul searching on whether to replace the unit. Something comparable would have run me $500-$1000+. Also, I apparently can't get almond anymore and didn't want to have to replace all my other appliances to match a new DW (not a fan of stainless either). Thanks to the internet for instructions & finding a new/surplus motor for $120, I didn't have to replace it, or even pull it out. I replaced the motor with the unit in place without even disconnecting the water supply. HOWEVER, the reason I decided to go ahead an replace the motor instead of the entire unit was that it had been working so much better since I started using LemiShine. I discovered this in all my search to solve similar problems and it is almost a miracle cure (available at WalMart and most grocery stores). My glasses are even crystal clear now and there is zero residue inside the dishwasher.
So here's my recommendation:
1) make sure you scrape the dishes well. Organic matter isn't a big deal, but no rice, bone, seeds, popcorn kernels, etc. (Even a DW with a grinder like mine will not deal well with this stuff.)
2) Use quality powdered detergent in the pre-wash tub & LemiShine in the main wash.
Do this for a week or two and see if things look better before replacing your DW.
Last edited by AZMax on Thu Mar 12, 2015 4:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Replace or repair dishwasher

Post by livesoft » Mon Mar 02, 2015 6:59 am

Sorry, I'd get a new dishwasher just so I would not have to rinse the dishes at all. That's so 1960's.
Sorry, but I do use a liquid/gel detergent which is against the manufacturer's directions and have hard water, too.

From the HuffPost link above where the Consumer Reports' gal was interviewed:
Q: How does rinsing beforehand (or not) affect this process?
A: This is one of the biggest dishwasher myths, and goes back to when dishwashers didn't work very well -- probably when you or your parents first got one. But old habits die hard. Today, you don't have to pre-rinse your dishes before you put them in the dishwasher to get clean dishes. Plus, it wastes thousands of gallons of water per year. Just scrape off big pieces of food. Today's dishwasher can handle the mess. We use very dirty dishes -- and we let the crud dry overnight -- to test for cleaning performance.
I can now guess that dishwashers are squirting the same water around inside on the dishes. If that water is full of debris (bone chips, rice, etc), then I can see how the sprayers and all get clogged. It seems that the solution is to buy a dishwasher that filters out all this food debris in the water before it gets to the sprayers. I would not be surprised if some dishwasher detergent had abrasive sand particles in it to help sand blast dishes, too.
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Re: Replace or repair dishwasher

Post by madbrain » Mon Mar 02, 2015 7:21 am

If you don't want to have a whole house water softener, consider a dishwasher with its own water softener.
Some of the higher end models from Bosch and Miele have them. These could easily set you >$1000 , though.

I have a $1500 Miele and loving it. I would have preferred a $1500 Bosch, except the countertops in my kitchen are 1/5th of an inch too low to fit a Bosch dishwasher (guess how I know this...). My Mile is a Diamante Plus now going on 4.5 years, running almost daily.

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Re: Replace or repair dishwasher

Post by pondering » Fri Nov 13, 2015 6:48 am

Would all of these comments apply if the dishwasher came with a house a year ago, and the dishwasher seems ok, but the electronic panel isn't letting us pick a cycle?

Subject: RE: Owner Support
Date: Fri, 23 Oct 2015 11:56:29 -0400 (EST)
From: NAR_Maytag_CustomerExperience@Mayta <>
To: _____________

Dear ___________

Thank you for contacting Maytag. I appreciate hearing from you.

Your Maytag dishwasher was manufactured in July of 2006. That would make your dishwasher a little over 9 years old.

In reference to your concern with all the control panel lights blinking 9 times periodically, this may indicate that the door has been opened during a running cycle and that the cycle was suspended. To stop the lights from blinking, firmly close the door until it latches. The lights will stop flashing when the door is properly shut. After a slight delay, the cycle will automatically resume at the point of interruption. If a wash cycle has not been interrupted, it would be recommended to flip the circuit breaker off to the dishwasher for 2-3 minutes and flip back on. This is a way to reboot an appliances system. If neither of these recommendations resolves your concern, a technical diagnosis would be advised by one of our local certified technicians. A local certified technician would be in the best position to assist you and has the technical knowledge to accurately evaluate your situation.

Whenever a functional failure occurs with a customer’s appliance, Maytag will do all we can to assist with the repair. When an appliance has passed the warranty period, we always have options to provide our customers in addressing their concerns. Your dishwasher may qualify for a program Maytag currently offers. This program is called Repair + 1, which allows you to pay a specified rate to include repair of the current issue with your dishwasher and provide an additional one year of coverage. Repair + 1 is our best repair plan on major appliances that are out of warranty. It is only available by phone. You may contact us at (800) 344-1274 between 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM EST weekdays to inquire if your dishwasher qualifies for a Repair + 1 Warranty. Unfortunately, if a service call has been scheduled for your dishwasher, or if the unit has already been diagnosed, this option will not be available. Other criteria may apply.

Our intentions are driven by committing to deliver quality products and service to our customers. I have taken the liberty to ensure your product concerns have been documented into your records today.

If you have any additional questions or concerns, I would invite you to contact our Maytag Customer Experience Center at 800-344-1274 between 8:00am to 8:00pm EST weekdays, and any of my associates would be pleased to assist you. Any of these associates would also be able to schedule a service call with one of our local certified technicians in your area if you wish. You may also schedule service directly from our website:

Please accept my apology for the inconvenience this issue has caused. You are a valued customer and Maytag appreciates your business. I wish you a pleasant weekend!


Amalia O.
E-Solutions Specialist
Maytag Customer Experience Center

* If you are interested in purchasing cleaners or accessories for your appliances, please call our Maytag Customer Experience Center at toll free 800-344-1274 anytime between 8am and 8pm EST.

form: Contact Us
subject: MAYTAG general information
model: MDB6601AWB
serial: 33681...

Can you tell me when this dishwasher was made?

I'm having the control panel periodically flash 9 minutes. It usually goes away when I run the rinse cycle, but I think I might need a service call.

Thanks for your help!
--Robert Sterbal | 412-977-3526 call/text

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Re: Replace or repair dishwasher

Post by Luke Duke » Mon Nov 16, 2015 10:45 am

Bosh and KitchenAid were the top 2 brands a few years ago when I was in the market. I went with a KitchenAid because I liked the way the racks were laid out vs the Bosch. I have no complaints. The only way that I know that its running is when the light is on.

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