Kitchens have been at the top of Americans’ remodeling wish list this year, with homeowners spending thousands on expanding their kitchens, installing the latest appliances and even building outdoor cooking spaces.

However, some homeowners may not have the time or funds to build a brand-spanking-new kitchen. If that’s the case, there’s one simple upgrade that can increase a kitchen’s functionality and value — a new dishwasher.

Dishwasher options and costs

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Homeowners can purchase a new dishwasher for as little as $300, but those models don’t include the digital dashboards, energy-efficient wash options and quiet operation that buyers are accustomed to. In addition to limited features, lower-priced dishwashers tend to have plastic basins, which reduce durability and limit longevity.

At the $600 to $1,000 range, dishwashers will have durable stainless steel basins, digital dashboards, more robust energy efficiency, and additional features that improve functionality and washing power. CNET’s 2021 dishwasher wish list highlighted some of these features, which include wine stem holders, extra water jets along the racks, third racks for utensils and silent washing.

After the $1,000 mark, homeowners can expect an endless variety of finishes, sizes, dish rack configurations and high-tech features to fulfill their luxury kitchen dreams. However, most owners will be more than happy with the models they can find at Lowe’s or Home Depot, as the difference between average-cost and high-cost washers primarily comes down to aesthetics.

Professional vs DIY installment

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After choosing the correct brand and model, homeowners must think about the installation process, which can be done professionally or with DIY methods.

For homeowners with standard dishwasher sizes or who have chosen the same dishwasher size they had before (18 inches wide for narrow spaces or 30 to 42 inches wide for large spaces), allowing an installer to place your new washer is often the best and cheapest bet. Most big-box stores offer free or low-cost installation, depending on the purchase price.

For homeowners who have transitioned dishwasher sizes,  hiring a professional is the best bet, as they’ll have to adjust the counter and cabinet space for a perfect fit. HomeAdvisor said the average installation costs $190 plus any adjustments that need to be made to cabinets ($1,900), countertops ($25 to $150 per square foot) and electrical outlets ($130).

Some homeowners may choose to place their dishwashers inside a kitchen island, which costs up to $2,000 by itself. Lastly, a new dishwasher may require a new plumbing setup, which can tack another $1,270 to $3,200 to the total cost.

How to replace a dishwasher with existing lines

Lastly, some homeowners may choose to go the DIY route if they have the time, tools and know-how. If they have a standard washer and don’t need new plumbing or electrical outlets, then this could make for an easy weekend project.

First, DIYers will need to turn off the sink’s water supply and the home’s electricity breaker, which will likely be in the garage. Second, they must remove the front cover at the bottom of the dishwasher to expose the wiring. An explainer by This Old House suggests using a voltage meter to test the wires before separating them and removing the electrical box.

Third, they’ll access and disconnect the water supply and water drainage lines from under the sink, open the dishwasher door, remove the inner screws mounting the washer to the countertop, and slowly wiggle it out.

To install the dishwasher, they’ll follow many of the same steps — just in reverse. With the water and power still off, attach the dishwasher’s drain line to an inlet in the garbage disposal. Make sure the line is secure by using a clamp.

Don’t forget to tighten the copper wire around the round, green screw to “ground” the dishwasher’s electrical flow, and reattach the water supply line from the sink to the dishwasher. Voila, it’s done!

How to replace a dishwasher without existing lines

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If there are no existing (or outdated) electrical outlets or plumbing, then DIYers’ process will be much more difficult. The beginning process will be the same (with measuring the space, and turning off the water and electrical supply), but it gets much more technical from there.

In a previous Inman article, renovators Bill and Kevin Burnett broke the process down, which includes researching local building codes and getting the proper permits to reconfigure your home’s drainage system.

The duo suggested using the existing drawer banks beside the sink as a guide of where to place a washer. To convert the drawers to a dishwasher space, simply remove the drawers, and use an electrical saw to cut away the cross rails and the bottom of the drawer.

When it comes to the water supply valve, there’s already one below the sink. Simply replace it with a new angle stop valve that will connect both the sink and dishwasher to the hot water supply.

For the drainage, you can install a sink with a garbage disposal and follow the steps listed above. Otherwise, the Burnetts suggested rerouting the waste line underneath the sink by swapping the straight tailpiece that feeds into the p-trap for a tailpiece that’s shaped like a “Y” and securing the drain line to that.

Lastly, to supply power, it’s important to note that some local codes prohibit dishwashers and garbage disposals from being on the same circuit. In this case, it’s probably best to call in an electrician to ensure everything is done safely and correctly.

Email Marian McPherson

IDX Real Estate