How To Save Money: New Dishwasher

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Our new dishwasher.

Have you ever had appliances so old that you find yourself planning a party for the day they die? Like, you have a good bottle of wine saved and some money set aside for some take-out to celebrate the death of your ancient appliance. Well, in the iHB household, we have a few of those. You may remember the death of our water heater. It was the first “emergency” that we had encountered in our house, and if we lived in a normal American household, it should have put us further into debt. Luckily, our emergency fund covered the expense and it didn’t impact our budget one bit.

Since our EF covers these types of things, we have actually been rooting for our other appliances to die, because they were most likely hand-crafted alongside the Ford Model-T! I mean seriously, I’m pretty sure the instructions for our washer & dryer were first inscribed in cave paintings along with how to make fire and some stick figure guy hugging a buffalo (not sure what that’s all about). Well, we had a death in the appliance family, and we couldn’t be more thrilled!

The Wrath Of The Dishwasher

Now, there was nothing really wrong with our dishwasher. It cleaned our dishes ok and didn’t leak or anything. Sure, it was about as quiet as a jackhammer, but it did the job. It was also uglier than my brother-in-law. So Michelle and I not-so-secretly hoped that it would soon bite the dust, to be replaced with a newer, sexier dishwasher (can dishwasher’s be sexy?).

Unfortunately, our dishwasher went out swinging. Michelle was running a load of dishes, the baby was peacefully sleeping upstairs (finally!) and she noticed something that smelled like an electrical fire. She looked over to find blue smoke billowing out from behind the angry dishwasher. Think, the pissed off A/C unit in “The Brave Little Toaster” style of angry. In a panic, Michelle thought “this is no time to panic!” (she is dictating this story to me, I’m not going to pretend to understand her unique thought process here). She leaped into action, turned the dial (yes, it has a dial) to the “off” position and opened the dishwasher to make sure the dishes weren’t on fire…(you know….just in case the ceramic plate had burst into flames and was burning while still soaked in the water that had been spraying it like 2 seconds earlier….).

Luckily, the blue smoke stopped coming out and there did not seem to be any sort of electrical fire continuing behind the dishwasher. The smoke did smell as horrible as my other brother-in-law, so she opened all the windows to let the house air out. After we figured out that everything was ok, we knew we had to start looking for a new dishwasher ASAP, or we would have to (GASP!) wash the dishes by hand. And by we, I mean her, and by her, I mean me after she got sick of doing it.

Craigslist: Your Best Friend

So where do we turn when in need of a new appliance? Where else?! Craigslist! If you log on and just start searching for dishwashers, you will find all shapes and sizes, newer and older, working and broken. We knew we needed some criteria for this search, so we narrowed it down a bit. We wanted a stainless dishwasher (which meant it was newer than our old fossil of a dishwasher), something slightly used and it needed to be around $100 (yup, we’re cheap!). So we searched for a stainless dishwasher at a maximum $150, as you can always negotiate down when buying items on craigslist.

We narrowed it down to two dishwashers. One was $150 GE-brand dishwasher that had a big scratch in it, but after a bit of searching about that particular model, we decided against it based on some horrible reviews at various sites. The second model was a Kenmore for $99 that was for sale because the person was upgrading their kitchen appliances, and this one no longer matched. It was a nice dishwasher, but a little bit older than the GE model. I was a little wary of how nice this model was and how cheap the price was, but I emailed on it anyway. They responded promptly and seemed very friendly, so we arranged a time for me to look at it. I borrowed my brother-in-law’s truck and drove to go check it out. It was in a VERY nice neighborhood, and just as the man said, they were only getting rid of it to upgrade their kitchen. I handed him the $100 (he didn’t have $1 change), we hauled it to the truck and I was off.


Being an avid DIY’er, there’s no way I was going to pay someone to install this dishwasher for me, so I just had my brother-in-law come over to help. We fired up the ol’ youtube and watched a couple “how to install a dishwasher” videos. After about 5 minutes, we were pretty much seasoned veterans on all things dishwasher, so we got to work. We shut off the kitchen appliance breaker and started removing the old dishwasher. At one point, we still weren’t 100% sure the breaker turned off the dishwasher, so we completed the circuit on the positive/negative wires by tossing a screwdriver into them, and the lights for the entire floor blinked. OOPS! So I went and shut down the whole downstairs to ensure we weren’t working with LIVE wires.

We threw a headlamp on to finish the job (because it was dark out at this point), removed the old dishwasher and tossed it out in the lawn to confirm to our neighbors that we are, in fact, rednecks. I also parked my broken down car in the lawn in case there was any doubt (not really). The new one was pretty easy to install, and just took some minor adjustments to height to get it settled in. We flipped the breaker back on and voila! new(er) dishwasher installed and working for $100. No need to drop $600 plus taxes and install at a box store. Save yourself the $500 and go celebrate with a good (discounted) bottle of wine and some awesome Thai food (bought with a coupon, of course).

Comments: Have you ever had an appliance epic-ly fail on you? Did you drop thousands of dollars on a replacement? Have you ever replaced your appliances with a good used one from craigslist or other classifieds? Also, does anyone else here secretly wish one of their appliances would die like us? Or are we just freaks (don’t answer that!)

Jacob Wade

Jacob Wade

Jacob Wade has been a nationally-recognized personal finance expert for the past decade. He has written professionally for The Balance, The Spruce, LendingTree, Investing Answers, and other widely-followed sites. 
He’s also been a featured expert on CBS News, MSN Money, Forbes, Nasdaq, Yahoo! Finance, Go Banking Rates, and AOL Finance.

In 2018, Jacob quit his job and his family decided to sell everything (including their home) to take off on an adventure. They traveled the country in an RV for nearly 3 years, visiting over 38 states, 20+ national parks and eventually settling in the sunshine state!

37 thoughts on “How To Save Money: New Dishwasher”

  1. No epic fails like you had, but I did have my dryer die a couple years ago. The good news is we had a spare from our old apartment chilling in the garage. The only thing I had to do was rewire the plug from the modern 4 prong to the old school 3 prong.

    Sooner or later my dishwasher is going to die (pretty sure it is from the 1980s but still going like a champ!). The only hard part will be finding one that we both like.

    To answer your question, yes a dishwasher can be sexy and yours definitely is!

    • Haha, thanks for the compliment. I’ll tell the dishwasher you said so when I get home.

      And nice work on having random appliances just lying around. I need to do that more often…..WAIT! We do have an extra microwave just sitting in the garage! Whaddya know?!

  2. Congrats on the new dishwasher! PARTY!!!

    I think that our most epic fail, so far, was our plumbing. When we first bought our house about 4 years ago, we decided that we were going to go on vacation to celebrate. The house had been vacant for 2 years, but we hadn’t noticed any problems. Well, the night before we were set to go on vacation (in fact about 5 hours before our planned departure time) water started bubbling out of the downstairs shower drain. Then, the toilet backed up. Being a DIYer myself, I grabbed my plumbing snake and had at it. Unfortunately, that didn’t work. It was appoximately 9 PM at this point, and we were leaving at around 2 AM. Of course, the local plumbing guys were closed. We could ask them to come out for an emergency, but that would have cost us several hundred dollars extra…and we had no emergency fund at the time. (We were young and stupid, what can I say?) Long story short, we were able to get ahold of a 24-hour Rotor Router sort of guy and had the problem fixed. Luckily, we haven’t had any problems since.

  3. We are REALLY hoping that our dishwasher never breaks. Whoever installed the floor in our house made a huge mistake. They laid floor on top of floor down, and blocked the dishwasher in like an idiot. The only way to take the dishwasher out is to rip out the floor 🙁

    • Haha! We had that issue. We were able to adjust the little legs on the thing and get it out, maybe you can do that too? You also might just need ot lift the counter up a bit to slide it out….might save some cash?

      • No everything is stuck. When we had our plumbing issue a couple of months ago, both companies that we had come in laughed at us and told us that it really sucks for us! They had to tear the wall out on the other side in order to fix the plumbing, because the floor would be more expensive to replace.

  4. We live in a newer home (I think it was built in ’04) so we’ve been fortunate and haven’t had to replace anything yet. I’m not sure what I’d do here…knowing me we probably would have gone out and bought a new one. I think it depends what situation your in and what you can afford.

    We’re going to be buying a new washer/dryer soon; while we could save a ton of money and buy it on Craigslist, we’re going to buy something that’s new. For a few reasons I guess: (1) we want something that we know hasn’t been used, (2) we don’t own a truck and don’t know anybody that does, (3) we have a ton of credit card cash-back points racked up and that’s going to cover 60% of the cost, and (4) we’ll probably wait until Black Friday to buy it therefore saving another 10-30%.

    • Nice work on racking up the points. We may or may not be semi-lusting after the Red LG washer/dryer combo, but we’d like to find it either lightly used for cheap, or really cheap through an awesome deal at a store (maybe “last year’s model” sort of sale…?)

      Kitchen appliances can be found everywhere on craigslist, you just need to find the person who is “upgrading” to get the best band for your buck.

  5. Our dishwasher did something VERY similar a few weeks ago. My wife had turned it on and within about 15 minutes there was a funny smell in the house…smoke. So, I had turn to turn the dial off as well. We don’t use it very often, so it’s no huge deal, but we’ll be replacing it at some point. I would love to put it in myself, but I’d probably burn our house down. We have a good friend who can help us and giving him a nice dinner is much cheaper than a professional install.
    Great point on using Craigslist. Another place to think of is if your town has a Habitat for Humanity ReStore. All of their stuff is donated and can often find things like a dishwasher for a fraction of the cost. You can find things that have been gently used, or sometimes even new in the box for next to nothing.

    • I didn’t know this, but apparently dishwashers are the appliance mostly likely to catch on fire. You’d think the water-soaked appliance could handle fire a bit better…

      And yes, feed a skilled friend is MUCH cheaper than the cost of install labor. That’s our motto, and has saved us THOUSANDS this year already. I really should add it all up…

  6. That’s a really good price-wow! Our washer stopped working a few years ago when the hot water connection was broken and it kept stopping randomly in the middle of loads–sometimes even with detergent all over your clothes…good stuff! We didn’t have to scour craigslist, because my generous mother called me and said “Do you want to go shopping? Your father and I want to buy you a new washer and dryer.” WOOHOO!! Best parents ever!

  7. We’ve been waiting for our water heater to break since we moved in 3 years ago. For the record, big box stores don’t even install dishwashers for free like other appliances – at least not here. The minimal plumbing involved is too much liability, I think!

  8. Damn I had no idea you could get a dishwasher for so cheap on craigslist. That’s got me tempted to buy one for my rental apartment and just set it up in the dining room. Ok maybe not, but I’ll keep this in mind when I buy a place. I dunno about installing it myself though. I think I’d still want to pay someone to do that. I need to find myself a good ugly brother in law lol.

    • Haha, I was wondering if someone would mention that. I posted this article on his facebook, so hopefully he reads it, LoL!

      Yea, having handy relatives helps a bunch, but so does youtube.

      Better yet, buy a friend dinner and have them help you out. Much cheaper AND more fun! 🙂

  9. Our dryer got replaced but didn’t epicly fail. We decided on a deeply discounted open box model from Sears and it works well. We could have gotten something cheaper on Craigslist but we didn’t want to get a dud and want to keep it for a couple decades.

  10. We bought our washer and dryer for $250 used. We looked on craigs list and went to a town near to us (as in 20 minutes away) At first it was a set but when we got home, hooked it up-the washer wouldn’t stop leaking. We double checked that we had it set up right and gave the guy a call. He came out 20 minutes later, tried to help us get it all fixed, and went back to his house,and immediately brought us out another washer (one that was actually more expensive then the one we originally bought) and helped us move out the other one. Great service and it was a little more than half as expensive as the local stores around here.

  11. We have not had an epic failure yet, but I’m sure the rental house will have one every month. Craig’s list isn’t really that great around here because it covers the whole western slope of Colorado which is about a 5 hour radius, but we could get lucky, so I will check it out if the need arises. Wow, you have some great inlaws. I bet Thanksgiving is fun. Do you sit by the ugly one or the smelly one?

    • Give CL a shot, never know what you’re gunna find (wow…I sound like Forest Gump…)

      And, yes, my inlaws are pretty awesome. “Ugly” is an endearing term we use, though most people are shocked by it’s use in public 🙂

  12. First off, your writing is hilarious. I love visiting this blog.

    In regards to the article, I left a refrigerator in the garage with water in the lines during winter. (big No No, up North) Then I proceeded to sell it on Craiglist the next spring, without knowing all the lines were busted from the expanding ice. Fortunately I don’t have a BBB rating, because the customer was not too happy. I refunded a good chunk of their money and have no 2nd refrigerator. Bad for me all around…

    • Thanks Jason, I enjoy you visiting my blog too 🙂

      Uh oh, bummer about the fridge. I hate it when I sell stuff to people and they get all mad. I once sold a car to a guy, and couldn’t meet up with him to get him the title. So I called him the next day to mail it to him, and he proceeded to threaten to burn down my house and harassed me for a week or so until I had the cops deliver the title to him. Good stuff 🙂

  13. My approach to life is to replace things before they fall apart. Things get outdated and there is no need to keep everything forever. As long as you can afford it, of course!

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