How to Disconnect and Remove a Dishwasher

Dishwasher repair
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Removing an Old Dishwasher

Although it can seem intimidating, installing a new dishwasher is well within the reach of most DIYers. But first, you must remove the old dishwasher, a task that involves disconnecting water and power connections, as well as dealing with the hardware bracketing that holds the dishwasher in place. Enlisting the aid of a helper will make this work easier, especially as you extract the appliance from the opening beneath the countertop. 

Tools and Supplies You Will Need

  • Channel-lock pliers
  • Screwdrivers

Shut Off the Water and Power

Dishwasher water supply valve
Aaron Stickley

Before you proceed, be sure that you have turned off both water and power to the dishwasher.

First, shut off the water. Locate the shutoff valve controlling the water line to the dishwasher. Usually, this will be located under the kitchen sink and will be attached to the hot water pipe, or to a two-way shutoff valve that controls water to both the faucet and to the dishwasher. If the dishwasher has been plumbed without a fixture shutoff valve, then you will need to turn off the main water valve before disconnecting the water lines. 

Next, shut off the power. Find the electric cord that provides power to the dishwasher and unplug it from the wall outlet, which is often located under the sink.

In rare instances, you may find that your dishwasher has been "hard-wired" into an electrical circuit, and is not plugged into an outlet at all. In this case, the disconnection involves turning off the circuit breaker controlling power to the dishwasher, then disconnecting the circuit wires inside the dishwasher's wire connection panel, located behind the access panel at the lower front of the appliance.  Unless you have experience with electrical work and are confident in your skills, this may be best left to a professional. 

Disconnect the Water Supply

Two types of dishwasher angle stops
Aaron Stickley

Before you can remove the dishwasher, you will need to disconnect the two pipes that connect it to the plumbing system. The first of these is the water supply tube, which is usually a small copper tube or plastic tube covered with wire mesh that runs from the dishwasher location to the fixture shutoff valve. 

If you have a dedicated shutoff valve, the source of the connection is clear. Use channel-lock pliers to disconnect the dishwasher supply tube from the outlet on the shutoff valve. This may be a single outlet valve; or a double-outlet valve, if it controls the hot water to both the dishwasher and the sink faucet. If the dishwasher has been plumbed without a fixture shutoff valve, then disconnection likely will involve unhooking the compression fitting or coupling nut that joins the dishwasher's water supply tube to the hot water pipe. 

  • Tip: If your dishwasher does not have a fixture shutoff valve, now is a good time to install one. Current plumbing codes require shutoff valves, and installing one will bring your installation into compliance. 

Disconnect the Drain Line

Dishwasher drain line connected to the air gap
Aaron Stickley

The dishwasher is also tied into the plumbing system via a drain line. Locate the rubber hose coming from the dishwasher and trace it to the end connection. It may be angled up to connect to an air gap fitting mounted to the sink or countertop. If so, loosen the clip or clamp holding it to the air gap, and detach the hose.

If the drain hose does not run to an air gap, it will terminate at a nipple fitting on the food disposer or sink drain tailpiece. If so, detach the hose at this point. 

  • Tip: the air gap is a safety device designed to prevent waste water from siphoning back into the dishwasher and contaminating clean dishes. Good plumbing practice requires there to be an air gap, but in practice, it is sometimes omitted. If it is not present, you may notice that the drain hose has been looped up to a point near the top of the base cabinet under the sink and secured there. This is another for preventing back- siphoning, but it is not nearly as effective as an air gap. When it comes time to install a new dishwasher, you will want to install the air gap fitting. 

Unfasten the Mounting Brackets

Dishwasher brackets
Aaron Stickley

A dishwasher is usually held in place by a couple of metal mounting brackets screwed into the bottom of the countertop above the dishwasher. Open the dishwasher door and look under the lip of the kitchen counter to find these brackets. Remove the screws holding the dishwasher in place.

Lower The Dishwasher

Dishwasher legs
Aaron Stickley

Before the dishwasher can be moved out of its location, you will need to lower it by unscrewing the legs.

Start by removing the faceplate that is located on the lower part of the dishwasher face. Sometimes there are mounting screws that hold it in place; on other models, the faceplate may be in held in place with simple spring clips. 

Once the faceplate is removed, you will see the legs of the dishwasher. Twisting the threaded legs clockwise will lower the body of the dishwasher. Lower it down as low as it will go to create space between the top of the dishwasher and the bottom of the countertop. 

Remove The Dishwasher

Removing a dishwasher
Aaron Stickley

Slide the dishwasher out of its cabinet by carefully pulling it straight out of the cabinet. You will most likely need to lift it slightly to clear the edge of the floor covering since the dishwasher usually sits directly on the subfloor. It can help to have a helper under the sink carefully feed the water supply tube and drain hose through the hole in the cabinet's side wall as you pull the appliance out from under the countertop. 

To avoid scratching the floor, lift slightly as you pull the dishwasher out of the cabinet. You may want to protect the flooring with a canvas drop cloth or newspapers and you extract the appliance. 

You are now ready to install a new dishwasher.