Solved! 5 Factors for Deciding Whether to Repair or Replace a Dishwasher

The decision to repair or replace a dishwasher isn’t always clear-cut. These factors will help homeowners make an informed decision.
Melissa Graham Avatar
repair or replace dishwasher


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Q: Recently, I’ve been experiencing issues with my dishwasher. It’s an older model, and I can’t decide whether it’s worth repairing or if I should buy a new one. How do I know if I should repair or replace my dishwasher? 

A: A dishwasher plays an important role in the kitchen for anyone who appreciates not having to wash dishes by hand. For this reason, it’s important to make an educated decision when it comes to repairing or replacing a dishwasher. Minor issues can be tackled relatively easily with a quick repair, but if the unit is older or breaks down multiple times over the course of a year, it may be worth buying a new one. For those who are still on the fence, there are several factors to consider when deciding whether to repair or replace a dishwasher.

Dishwasher issues?
An appliance repair pro can help you decide on whether to repair or replace your unit. Get free, no-commitment project estimates top-rated services near you.

A dishwasher’s age is an important factor when deciding between repair and replacement. If the dishwasher is over 9 years old, it is likely nearing the end of its lifespan and may be worth replacing.

Typically, a dishwasher will last around 9 to 15 years depending on the brand, how often it is used, maintenance, and build quality. If the dishwasher is getting close to the end of the typical age range, it might be time to shop for a new unit. Dishwashers often break down more frequently the older they get, so rather than paying for frequent repairs it may be more cost-effective to invest in a replacement. If the dishwasher is only around 5 to 7 years old and is experiencing issues, it may still have plenty of life left, so it could be worth consulting an appliance repair specialist. With that being said, if the dishwasher is used daily and has already undergone several repairs, it may need to be replaced.

If the dishwasher is only a few years old, minor issues such as clogs or leaks are relatively simple to repair and do not typically warrant a dishwasher replacement.

Small issues here and there likely won’t warrant a complete dishwasher replacement and can often be repaired for a relatively low cost; the average dishwasher repair cost is between $50 and $600. It’s worth noting that commercial dishwasher repair may be pricier than residential dishwasher repair, and prices may also depend on the model and brand of the dishwasher. The most common dishwasher faults are a lack of water or a clogged drain, both of which can often be fixed fairly easily by a professional. Other common issues include:

  • Foul odor
  • Broken dishwasher door
  • Cracked handle
  • Residue on dishes
  • Door leaks
  • Lack of draining
  • Dishwasher rack repair
  • Dishwasher won’t fill with water
  • Dishwasher won’t turn on or start
repair or replace dishwasher

Some issues may be simple enough for a homeowner to DIY, such as repairing a broken rack with a dishwasher rack repair kit. Mechanical problems or issues with the unit’s motor are often the most costly and are best handled by a professional. The more complicated and lengthy the repair, the more labor will cost, which is typically around $70 to $100 per hour.

Dishwasher issues?
An appliance repair pro can help you decide on whether to repair or replace your unit. Get free, no-commitment project estimates top-rated services near you.

In some cases, it may be possible to replace one part of the dishwasher rather than the entire unit.

A faulty part may not be enough cause to replace the entire dishwasher. Replacing a single part may even extend the lifespan of the dishwasher and help it run more efficiently. The most expensive part replacements can cost up to $600, but at the lower end of the scale, dishwasher filter replacement can cost as little as $50. The older the dishwasher is, the more challenging it may be to find replacement parts. It’s common to replace a dishwasher pump, but other potential replacements include motors, spray arms, rubber gaskets, heating elements, and filters. It will usually be necessary to have an appliance repair professional obtain any dishwasher repair parts and perform the replacement.

repair or replace dishwasher
Dishwasher PartCost Range (Part and Labor)
Filter$50 to $100
Heating element$150 to $250
Motor$400 to $600
Pump$150 to $350
Rubber gasket$50 to $100
Spray arm$75 to $100

If repair costs are expected to exceed 50 percent of the price of a new dishwasher, it may be more cost-effective to opt for replacement.

When the cost of repairing an appliance is close to or more than 50 percent of the price of a new one, it’s often a clear indicator that replacement might be the better choice, financially. This rule of thumb can prevent homeowners from pouring a significant amount of money into an older appliance that could potentially encounter more issues in the near future. Weighing repair costs against the cost of a new dishwasher is a good way to determine the most cost-effective decision and make the most practical choice. Similarly, if the dishwasher has needed repairs multiple times over the course of a year, it may make sense to invest in a new unit since these repair costs can add up quickly.

A brand-new dishwasher is also likely to be more efficient, so it could be worth replacing the unit to save on water and energy bills.

If the price of a brand-new dishwasher feels out of reach, it’s worth noting that some of the cost is likely to be recouped due to savings on utilities. According to Energy Saver, dishwashers that are Energy Star certified use 30 percent less water and 12 percent less energy than their noncertified counterparts. For this reason, newer dishwashers are also more environmentally friendly. If sustainability is a consideration, upgrading to a more efficient model might be a priority not only for the reduced energy costs but also for the benefits to the environment. Some of today’s best dishwasher models include features that use less electricity while still providing a powerful clean. These features include:

  • Energy-efficient motors
  • Sensors that adjust wash cycles
  • Better insulation
  • Eco-modes that minimize energy consumption
  • Water filtration
  • Users’ ability to control cycles on smartphone apps
  • Condensation drying
  • Efficient water jets
Dishwasher issues?
An appliance repair pro can help you decide on whether to repair or replace your unit. Get free, no-commitment project estimates top-rated services near you.

If it’s still unclear whether the dishwasher is best repaired or replaced, an appliance repair service can recommend the best course of action.

Maybe a homeowner’s DIY troubleshooting has come up inconclusive, or they might be torn between paying for another repair or shelling out the extra cash for a brand-new dishwasher. The best route to take may be to have one of the best appliance repair services do a diagnostic test. This way, a tech can examine the appliance, check for any visible issues, and run tests to identify the root cause of the problem. A local dishwasher repair service can also provide insights into how much additional life a repair will give the appliance and whether the repair is a short-term fix or a more permanent solution. It will also be able to provide an estimate for the repair cost and let the homeowner know how long it will take to obtain replacement parts if they’re needed. While a homeowner may be able to tackle simple fixes like dishwasher rack replacement or removing a clog, in most cases dishwasher repairs are best left to professionals. It’s also a good idea to leave dishwasher replacement to someone who installs dishwashers professionally; installation can be difficult for those who are inexperienced, and any errors can result in damage to the unit or its surrounding cabinetry. While dishwasher installation costs about $970 on average, the price of repairs for a botched job is likely to be higher.

repair or replace dishwasher

Purchasing a home warranty with appliance coverage can keep down future dishwasher repair costs.

Most home warranties offer a fixed fee for appliance repair costs, so whether a homeowner is replacing a major part like a motor or unclogging a drain, their service fee won’t change. Plus, most home warranty companies work directly with appliance repair companies, so it won’t be necessary for homeowners to do a ton of research to find a reputable professional. The best home warranty companies like American Home Shield or AFC Home Club may even dispatch their own repair technicians, so there is no hassle with scheduling a third party or contacting them independently. It helps to know that like other machines, a dishwasher may need occasional maintenance. Some home warranty plans even cover the cost of occasional tune-ups so the dishwasher has the longest possible lifespan.