Last Updated: January 2021
Your household appliances have a predictable lifespan, and a dishwasher is no exception. Depending on a number of factors, your dishwasher may last longer or shorter than the expected lifespan for the particular model. It is often useful to know what the average lifespan of appliances like your dishwasher is, so that you can budget accordingly for repairs and replacements.
How Long Do Dishwashers Last?
A dishwasher has a life expectancy of 10 years on average. Most dishwashers will last between 8 and 15 years before they finally break for good. With a good maintenance routine and careful use, your dishwasher’s chances of reaching that sixteenth year skyrocket.
There are several factors to consider when trying to determine how long your dishwasher will last.
If you are just moving into a new home, you might know how old the dishwasher is, but you will have no idea if it has been maintained or properly cleaned. Buying a new dishwasher yourself means you are guaranteed to not only get the full lifespan out of the dishwasher, but you also have full control of its use, allowing you to more easily predict how long it will last.
Here are the factors that most affect a dishwasher’s lifespan:
Frequency of use – more use means more wear. An average home runs their dishwasher five times a week. If you run yours less frequently, you will need repairs less frequently and can squeeze a few more years out of your machine.
Quality – not all dishwashers are created equal. Investing in a dishwasher from a brand-name manufacturer is an investment in top-quality parts. Such a machine may last longer than a cheaper model. High-quality dishwashers are also quieter and waste less water.
Maintenance – a clean machine runs smoothly. Occasionally cleaning out your dishwasher can prevent build up, making it last longer than a neglected dishwasher.
Repairs – for when you need an expert. Hiring experienced repair technicians can prevent future problems from inattentive repairs, and while opting for a cheaper repair might be tempting, it often means the repairs are not made with high-quality parts, which can lead to more problems.
Dishwasher Reliability By Brand
A big factor in the lifespan of your dishwasher is the brand. Some brands have been shown to last longer than others, through a combination of better parts, more robust designs, and efficient operation.
According to Consumer Reports, the most reliable dishwasher brands are Bosch, Thermador, and Whirlpool. The criteria was based on which dishwashers are most likely to break during the first five years of use, so these three top brands are the least likely to do so.
Bosch and Thermador were further recommended by users for satisfaction.
Some of the least reliable brands are Viking, Electrolux, and Samsung dishwashers. Out of those, Electrolux had the lowest satisfaction rating of the Consumer Brands survey.
Is it Worth Fixing a Dishwasher?
Budgeting for repeated repairs can seem pointless, and sometimes a full replacement is a better choice. Rather than continuing to shell out cash to keep a broken dishwasher alive, buying a new machine can save you money in a number of ways. Newer models constantly being unveiled use less water and electricity, and are generally more efficient at dish washing. When a repair costs you as much as getting a new dishwasher with cheaper operating costs, it might be time to write off your old machine.
Here are some factors to consider when deciding if a replacement or a repair is the way to go.
If your dishwasher is over eight years old, it is likely approaching the end of its lifespan. Finding replacement parts to repair older models is also more difficult and can have increased costs. A new dishwasher will have lower operating costs than an older model thanks to improvements in efficiency over those eight years, so the potential money saved might be worth upgrading to a newer dishwasher.
Type of Repair
Some repairs are simpler than others. Small, cheap parts that are integral to the dishwasher’s operation are usually worth the repair. These include door latches, soap dispensers, door gaskets, pressure switches, drain pumps, or fill valves. Larger repairs will often require an entire overhaul of the dishwasher, requiring more labor and more specialized parts, so replacing the machine may be more economical. These sorts of repairs include problems with motors, circulation pumps, or large-scale leaks and cracks.
A good rule of thumb is to compare the repair cost to the cost of a new dishwasher. If the repair is less than 50 percent of the replacement, go ahead. Anything above 50 percent of the cost of a new machine, and you should seriously consider spending the extra bit of money to invest in a new dishwasher. Take the age of your machine into account too, because throwing money at repairs for a dishwasher near the end of its life can be a waste of money.
When Should You Replace Your Dishwasher?
Keeping an eye out for the first signs of a failing dishwasher gives you time to plan ahead. That way, when the dishwasher finally cleans its last dish, you are prepared with a replacement already lined up. This avoids having to shop around while dirty dishes stack up. Here are some warning signs to watch for that might indicate your dishwasher is on its last legs.
Dirty dishes: If your dishes come out not fully cleaned, check for easy answers like the soap dispenser not opening or the spray arm malfunctioning. Failing that, or in the case of a steady decline in cleaning quality, it may be time for a replacement.
Water spots: This is usually due to a problem with the dishwasher’s spray arm, which can be replaced. However, take the dishwasher’s age into account. It may be more worthwhile to simply replace the entire machine.
Water not heating or lack of water: When the water refuses to heat up or when there is no water at all during a wash cycle, consider replacing the dishwasher.
Abnormal sounds: These sounds come from faulty pumps or motors. Consider a replacement or repair, but an entirely new dishwasher is also an option.
Draining problems: If water remains in the bottom of your dishwasher after a clean, your machine may be at the end of its lifespan.
Broken door latch: A simple repair may be enough, but this problem can also be caused by long-term warping of the entire dishwasher. In that case, a new machine is the best option.
Leaking water: Puddles on the floor after a clean could be due to a damaged door gasket, but if the leaks are from cracks in the dishwasher body itself, it is time for a replacement.
Rust or cracks: Both of these can lead to leaks, but rust can also indicate problems with water flow and drainage. In serious cases, these can only be solved by buying a new dishwasher.
My Dishwasher Story
In 2009, I needed to buy a new dishwasher. I decided to buy the Bosch Super Silence (model SD6P1B) which cost me around $1,000.
I always buy appliances from brands that are known for their reliability and choose the higher-end models. This costs me more initially, but in the long-term, I’m saving money.
Bosch is a brand that has a reputation for quality, no matter if it’s power tools, car electronics, or household appliances.
I use my dishwasher once a day on the Eco-Cycle, rinse dishes before putting them in to wash, and clean the filter every couple of months.
So far not a single repair was needed. The dishwasher is now 11 years old and it still works like new.
With its high efficiency in water use and power consumption, plus flawless operation in the last 11 years, I’ve actually saved more money than if I had bought a cheaper model from a less quality-focused brand. The cheaper dishwasher would waste a lot more water, require more electricity, and it would probably break down by now.
Buying quality always makes sense.