Gas station without pumps

2016 January 10

Installing a dishwasher

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 21:23
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A lot of my time this weekend was spent installing a dishwasher—much more than I had planned on.

I bought a Bosch Ascenta 2434 Tall Tub BuiltIn Dishwasher White, model SHE3AR72UC, from Best Buy. I chose Best Buy out of several similarly priced companies, because they could schedule delivery on Saturday, because they would haul away the old dishwasher, and because their web site reminded me to buy a power cord and water hose kit with the dishwasher. (If you’ve never installed a dishwasher, you should know that they don’t come fully equipped—most appliances sold in the US don’t—and the necessary accessories kit for doing the installation varies a lot in price from retailer to retailer.)

On Friday night I pulled out the old dishwasher (an older Bosch model that was no longer working well and whose front panel was rusting out), and salvaged the power cord, water hose, and connections between the drain hose and the sink drain. That was a pretty quick task, as there were only a few screws to remove. I’d put that dishwasher in, so I knew how to take it out. About the same amount of time was spent moving furniture and boxes around to make a clear path from the front door to the kitchen, wide enough for two guys carrying a dishwasher.

The Best Buy bots had sent us two phone calls and an e-mail message on Friday, giving us the two-hour window that the delivery should occur in on Saturday.  Surprise, surprise! They came within their two-hour window (albeit near the end of the window).  I can’t remember the last time that a scheduled delivery, plumber, or appliance repair appointment was on time.

The dishwasher and installation kit were delivered in good shape, and I started installation, trying to get everything done before it got dark (we’re having the lighting in our kitchen replaced after about 29 years of not being happy with it, and right now all the old lighting has been removed, but the new lighting is not installed yet).

There was no problem with the electrical connection—I used the same plug and cord that I had used before, since they were the right length and still in good shape.  The installation kit I bought included the necessary strain relief (which the old dishwasher had not had!).

For the water line, the 6′ hose provided was not long enough (a problem I had expected), so I did what I had done last time, and coupled it to a 4′ hose (I reused the old 4′ hose, though I probably should have replaced it). Other than providing only a 6′ hose (when I needed a 10′ one—they may have a different kit that provides a 10′ one), the kit had all the needed parts, including the right-angle connector needed to hook up the hose to the dishwasher.  (The connection kit should really be a standard part of the dishwasher purchase, not an optional add-on.)

Leveling the dishwasher was tricky, because the floor under the dishwasher is not level—there is ceramic tile under the front legs, but only plywood subfloor under the back leg. But the back leg can only be adjusted when the dishwasher is not under the counter.  I had to go up to the attic to find some old off-cuts from the kitchen tiles, to prop up the front the right amount while adjusting  the back.  It turned out the new dishwasher is very slightly taller than the old one, so I had to adjust the front legs to minimum height and tilt the dishwasher to get it under the front lip of the counter.  Once the back foot was past the edge of the tile the dishwasher went in well enough, though the unattached insulation on the top and sides kept wanting to scrunch up.

The drain line, however, presented a challenge.  Unlike the old hose, which ended with a barbed connector, this one ended with a female rubber connector, designed for a 1/2″ or 3/4″ barbed connector.  The branched drain connector under the sink has a barbed connector, so it should have been a simple matter of slipping the end of the drain hose over the barbed connector and tightening the clamp.

No such luck! The problem is that there are two standard sizes for those barbs for dishwasher connections: 5/8″ and 7/8″ and the lazy engineers at Bosch had not bothered to look up the US standards or ask a US plumber for help.  They saw that 1/2″ and 3/4″ barbs were common in the US, and assumed that the standard water line sizes would be used for the dishwasher connection. And no one at Bosch has caught and corrected this error, though they’ve been selling the dishwasher for over a year. I get really annoyed by incompetents, and my opinion of Bosch engineering has gone from moderately high, to abysmal. That’s the sort of mistake I expect from lazy students, not from good students and certainly not from professional engineers.

The old design used a simple rubber connector to join the barbs of the drain hose to the barbs of the drain, and hardware stores stock reducing rubber connectors to join any size from 1/2″ to 7/8″ for about $4.  But the new design has the rubber connector glued onto the dishwasher hose, and it does not include any allowance for 7/8″ barbs!

So this morning I went out to the hardware store, carrying the entire under-sink drain assembly with me, to find a workaround.  First I looked for a branch with 1/2″ or 3/4″ barbs, since the dishwasher had been designed for that. I figured I just had a weird old part with 7/8″ barbs.  That’s when I found out that 7/8″ and 5/8″ were the standards, and that the hardware store only had 7/8″, like the existing one.  (I got a new one anyway, since it had a direct fitting for the bottom of the sink strainer rather than a slip joint like the one I’d been using, which removed one slip joint from the under-sink plumbing—a slip joint that failed a few times a year.)

I also looked for a 3/4″ barb-barb coupler so that I could connect the drain hose to the coupler, producing a 3/4″ barbed end that I could then connect to the 7/8″ drain with the old rubber coupling.  But they seemed to be out of barb-barb couplers, so I went to another hardware store, where I got the 3/4″ coupler, plus some other under-sink plumbing parts (like a branch drain with a 5/8″ dishwasher barb), in case my first fix didn’t work and I had to try something else.

It took me a while to reassemble all the under-sink plumbing, because I had to do everything twice.  The first time I hooked up the water hose, for example, I had managed to tangle it with the sink sprayer hose, so that the sink sprayer could no longer be pulled all the way out.  Replacing the drain connection from the sink to the steel drain pipe in the concrete wall is always a problem, because they are a long way apart and don’t line up well—there is always a bit of stress on the trap, and getting everything lined up well enough to tighten all the slip joints is tricky.  If I do them in the wrong order, there is too much of an angle at the remaining joints and the threads won’t line up well enough to catch.

I did eventually get all the parts back together and tightened up enough so that there are no leaks.  I’m running the dishwasher now to make sure that it doesn’t shake anything else loose.  The dishwasher has drained a few times now with no detectable leaks, so I think we’ll be able to put all the under-cabinet stuff back tomorrow morning.

The new dishwasher is somewhat louder than the old one, and this one has a drying cycle, which increases its energy use quite a bit.  The old one never did get dishes dry, unless we popped it open as soon as the cycle finished and shook the water off any plastic dishes, so it may be that the new one will be better, despite the higher energy use.

I’ve got no future as plumber—it took me several hours to install the dishwasher, and the installation fee charged by the big companies is only $160.  But at least this way I know where everything is and how it goes together, and I can fix it if it fails, without having to wait days for a plumber to have time.

 

2013 January 3

Plumbing karma

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 18:42
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A couple of days ago in Is coding for everyone?, I wrote

Atwood makes an analogy to everyone learning to do plumbing, as if that were a ridiculous idea.  Personally, I think that everyone should learn a little plumbing: enough to clear a toilet or sink trap, or replace a faucet washer, and to know when to call in a professional plumber.

So, naturally, yesterday the kitchen faucet started dripping for the first time in about 15 years.  I figured I knew how to change a faucet washer, and that it would just take a few minutes today. Ha!

The first problem was that the faucet had not been opened up in so long that the threads had seized, so it took two people to get it apart: one under the sink holding onto the valve body with channel-lock pliers, the other using a lot of leverage with an 8″ adjustable wrench.  Even that wasn’t enough, so I had to go down to the hardware store for some penetrating oil and let it soak in for a while.

The Grohe faucet cartridge from the kitchen faucet.

The Grohe faucet cartridge from the kitchen faucet.

Eventually, the threads eased up and the the faucet came apart.  But there was no washer to replace.  Instead what I had was a Grohe washerless faucet cartridge.  The Grohe cartridges are pretty good (which is why I hadn’t had to do anything with the kitchen faucet in so long), but when they fail, there’s not much you can do but replace the cartridge.

I tried smearing everything with vaseline and replacing the cartridge, just in case the problem was with the rubber gaskets, but the drip continued as before.

Unfortunately, the local hardware store does not carry Grohe parts (too upscale for Ace Hardware), so I had to bicycle 3.7 miles across town to Bay Plumbing, the closest place I could find that stocked the part.  I was pleased that their prices were essentially the same as I would have paid online (cheaper than some of the online places), and I could get the part immediately, rather than waiting 3–5 business days for delivery.

I was not so pleased that Bay Plumbing had no bike parking, so I told them about the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission bike parking program.   Unfortunately, I found out when I got home that SCCRTC no longer has the Bike Secure parking program.  That’s a shame, because there are still a lot of businesses that need bike parking!

In other news, the Arduino Leonardo that I had ordered arrived today. I ordered the Leonardo to test whether the data logger code worked with the Leonardo’s different way of handling the serial interface and different pin mapping.  But I goofed—despite my admonitions to the students in the circuits class to make sure that they got the right USB cable to go with the Arduino board they bought, I had not checked to see if we had a micro-B USB cable in the house.  We had so many USB cables sitting around, that I was sure one of them was a micro-B.  It turns out that they were all either B or mini-B, not micro B, so we were unable to test the data logger code on the Leonardo until I got a new cable.  (Actually, we had one micro-B cable, but it was a power-only cable for recharging my son’s bicycle headlight.)

I ordered a couple of the cables online earlier in the day, but they won’t come until next week, so after buying the faucet cartridge at Bay Plumbing, I stopped in next door at Santa Cruz Electronics to pick up a cable. Unlike Bay Plumbing, their prices were about three times what the online price would have been, so the only reason to buy there was to get the cable immediately. I’ll report on the status of the data logger software later, when I get an update from my son on the code he’s been adding today and when we’ve had a chance to test the Leonardo.

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