Don't know jack about dishwashers and have to finalize list

BentleyMMay 9, 2012

Man, my head is going to explode with all of the different appliance combinations for my new house. We're getting a Therm range which comes with a DW, but we hate the racks. My MIL has a Bosch unit which is basically the same as the Therm. The lower rack just doesn't work with our plates and bowls.

When we first started looking we were shown a KitchenAid Superba with a pro scrub feature and pretty much have decided on that one. Problem is now I'm starting to hear some not so good things about the KA. What other "American" style DW would you recommend? I was looking at a Miele Classic, but I can't find one locally for me to look at to see if I'll like the racks or not.

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All of the newer Miele dishwashers have pretty much the same racks, except for some pieces that fold or move. So even if a local dealer doesn't have the Miele Classic, asks if they have any Mieles on display.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 4:40AM
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I feel the same. I got to the point where I couldn't even think about it anymore and I felt like I just needed to make a decision. Tonight we are ordering them but I already gave the salesperson the final list. The negative reviews kept making me second guess my decision but fortunately a few stepped forward for me and said they loved their Kitchenaid. My boss's husband does remodeling and I asked her what she had. They have a Bosch and she hates it. She commented that the dishes never got clean and she would never buy another one. It might be one of the US made Bosch dishwashers rather than the German ones. But I have read other negative comments about Bosch and Miele too besides KA. So my decision (unless something happens when we get to the store to change it) is to order the KA KUDE50CXSS. I know how difficult it is since most people that write reviews or comments are unhappy about the appliance.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 5:49AM
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My two cents......

If rack configuration is important, by all means pay attention to that. However, otherwise......

ANY machine you purchase WILL clean your dishes just fine if it's installed correctly, working as it should, and proper cleaning product and dosage used. Even cheap ones. Put it in the bank. If it doesn't, you're missing something. DW's are conceptually simple machines. They all do the same thing the same way: They spray hot water around inside a box. Unless something's wrong, anything you put in there is going to come out clean.

My personal machines right now are Whirlpool Gold...mid-level machines....same guts as KA....they work fine...I'd compare their excellent performance against anything/anywhere. At one location, the machine's 13 years old, works fine, and looks like new. Other location replaced last year after nine years when the circuit board fried a relay. Replaced in-kind. Whether cheap or expensive, there's no way to tell how long yours will last. Some expensive ones have broken early. Some cheap ones are still going after twenty years. It's a crap shoot.

Pay for quiet. All the new machines have longer cycles than they did ten years ago. Whatever noise they make, you'll be listening to longer than before. Quietest machines in any line will have filters rather than built in disposers and will cost a little more. My current machine is rated at 51 db. which I regard as acceptable. It replaced a machine rated at 59 db which I regarded as unacceptable. KA and others offer machines down in the forties.

Learn you water quality and appropriate product and dosage. Soft water, for example will take very little detergent. Harder water will take more. Overdosing will cause etching. This is operator-controlled item so read your manual and be sensible. For example, my box of no-phosphate Cascade Complete powder (which has given me consistently excellent results for many years) says "for best results, FILL both the pre-wash and the main wash cups completely." That's nuts! With my soft water, that would be about 4-6X over-dose. Another reason I don't use pre-measured paks....they would be vast overdose for me, too.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 8:30AM
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Thanks for the input guys. It can definitely get confusing when you hear salesman rave about a product and then find mixed reviews online. The fear of making the wrong decision is almost paralyzing. :( I really like the rack layout of the KA which is why we pretty much stopped looking at DWs after seeing that one.

That's interesting about the water hardness Asolo. I've never paid attention to it before. Don't know if I've had problems or not. We use Seventh Generation, so I'm not sure if that's milder stuff or not. Definitely something I'll need to watch for in the new house.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 9:12AM
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FWIW....any hardware store will have cheap/easy/quick test kits for hardness. They may not be laboratory-precise, but they'll be close enough.

Dosing requirements for DW and laundry are very much affected by hardness as is longevity of water heaters and any/all water-using appliances. It's something every home-owner should know, IMHO.

For example, that 13-year-old DW I mentioned.....the heating element is completely clear of any deposits of any kind. My elderly neighbor lady who just got a new DW last year and has the same water supply as I do but without the softener I have, already shows significant encrustation of her machine's heating element. Her shower heads and faucet nozzles also show deposits where mine don't after twenty years residence. It really does make a difference.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 10:29AM
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Sales incentive programs which offer extra cash payments directlt to sales people for each unit sold are in affect. So do you own research.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 11:51AM
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"ANY machine you purchase WILL clean your dishes just fine if it's installed correctly, working as it should, and proper cleaning product and dosage used. Even cheap ones. Put it in the bank. If it doesn't, you're missing something."

I am going to mildly disagree with asolo on one point, and that is the "ANY machine" part.

My wife and I travel around to different parts of the state routinely. Our last stint was up in Fresno and we rented an apartment there equipped with a GE Hotpoint dishwasher. The performance of the machine was pretty sketchy. While it did okay on plates and glasses and so forth, it could not remove baked-on encrustations from our ovenware anything like our Bosch at home. I chalked it up to its being a loud, el-cheapo POS and thought no more of it.

So now we are lodging at my sister's palatial digs on a contract near her home. Well, she has a 2006 or so vintage GE Profile and I am seeing the same lousy performance. The machine is very quiet, unlike the box we left behind in Fresno, but when it comes to cleaning performance it is the Hotpoint's twin.

it will not remove any sort of baked-on deposits. French Onion Soup leaves the bottoms and sides of her Le Crueset festooned with a latticework of carbonized onion evocative of a Jackson Pollock print: after washing it in my sister's dog dishwasher.

I have examined the spray arms and all inspect-able piping and galleries inside the machine looking for obstructions. It is not a temperature problem, the thing gets plenty hot. But I have a theory about it which I will illustrate for you by way of pictures.

Take a look at the bottom spray arm of this machine.

It looks nice and big, right? It's plastic, but so is the spray arm in our Bosch. No big deal, it seems pretty heavy duty.

But now look at the underside of that same spray arm I have removed from the machine:

Notice the water channel? It is simply a molded plastic gallery and it is incredibly small. Here is a closer look:

The gallery is maybe an inch wide, at best, and it has two ports exhausting water out the BOTTOM of the arm! This is the highest pressure available in a tiny "pipe" and it is being used to bounce off the bottom of the machine. The metal shields you see are not forming part of the channel, they are simply heat shields designed to protect the undersides of the wash arm from the heating element.

Dishwashers work because they pump lots of hot water onto your dishes at high pressure. I simply do not think that the volume of water this arm can deliver is adequate.

The underside of the middle rack arm is the same story. It looks big from the top, but underneath it's just a tiny molded gallery, too. I did not remove it from the machine because it is a pain to get out, but here is a picture of the underside of that:

It looks big from the top and dinky underneath.

Just to get an idea how much water that lower spray arm can hold at one time, I taped up all the spray ports, tipped it over and filled it with water. I then dumped it into a measuring cup and got less than 3/4 of one cup.

If GE got rid of that fake flange affair that makes the spray arm look big from the top, and actually installed the tiny little wash arm that lower spray gallery really equals, nobody would buy the machine.

In my opinion, GE is trying to engineer their water-savings claims by using lower capacity pumps and cheesy, deceptively-molded spray arms to sneak inferior machines past consumers while making them pay high prices for supposedly upmarket gear.

Yes, the stainless tub is nice on the thing, but I just don't think it's got it where it counts.

In any case, my small-water-volume observations are still theory at this point. There could be something wrong inside the pump, which I haven't disassembled yet. But I look at the hot water flow inside the dishwasher sort of the same way I would view it from a circuit analysis standpoint: You need current to do the work. You combine high pressure with lots of flow in order to have lots and lots of hot water molecules striking the remnants of last night's tub of lasagna.

If there is a design feature that restricts a robust flow then I cannot see how it will not impair performance. So personally, unless someone can point out something I am missing here, I am thinking don't buy a GE dishwasher.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 2:15PM
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@ mojavean.....

Not there. Don't know. Certainly can't dispute anything you've shown or the experience you had.

I'm not in the bus. or even close to it. However, have diagnosed many machines for self, family, friends over the years. That's all I've got, anecdotal certainly. My experience has been that IF there is proper fill-level, appropriate heat, pressurized arms (directly related to fill-level and pump volume/pressure but sometimes clogging occurs), clear drain-line, operational control board, appropriate detergent dosing.....every machine I've ever worked with will do the job quite well, essentially identically. If performance was bad, it was always one of those things and, when corrected, performance returned to normal/expected. The only question was cost....circuit boards are expensive; fill-solenoids are cheap; clearing drain lines is free.

I'm not doubting anything you brought forward. Obviously the machines you described weren't performing as expected -- as anyone would expect. And perhaps they weren't doing so for the reason you suspected....which certainly would make that an inferior design.

Then, again, I've noodled a number GE's over the years (not current models, however) and found them very much like all the others. With all of GE's decades of experience it's surprising to think that they would design in such a restriction. I don't see any motivation for it. The machine still has to fill and heat the water. What saving or benefit of any kind would be associated with intentionally restricting the flow in-operation? Obviously something I don't understand.

Thanks for the interesting post!

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 4:22PM
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Just ordered the Kitchenaid but got the 30 one with the food grinder. DH preferred that. Actually ended up ordering all KA appliances - great deal with rebates. Feels so great to not have all the appliance stuff in my head going back and forth. Decision is made! Maybe I will sleep tonight.

Hope you get your decision made soon so your head doesn't explode.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 8:22PM
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I think the thing you "gain" by restricting water flow is you can get away with a smaller "sump" or intake reservoir, which equates to less water. Less water means less power required to heat that water to a given temp. If you have a high volume circulation pump then the drawdown on the sump can result in cavitation. Restricting the volume of water moving through the pump is one way to avoid starvation on the intake side of the pump.

It allows you to put a smaller, cheaper-to-manufacture motor on that pump, also drawing less current. Energy star targets are easier to hit while saving money on the parts in the first place.

Those are a few things that come to mind, asolo. Again, I am just working on a theory here, but out of curiosity I did a search on the current generation wash arms on the GE Profiles. They look the same on the underside as the pictured example.

I looked at circulation pumps from several different brands by using an image search. Without actually looking at rated flows, it's a little hard to tell, but the best looking pump I found was Miele, next Bosch and Whirlpool. GE's look cheap and ratty, but that could be because I am the one who has had to wash the baked on stuff off by hand one too many times. :)

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 10:03PM
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Thanks for all of the responses guys. Mojavean, I actually have a GE DW now and my spray arm is the same way. Guess that's why I have to hand wash all of my casserole dishes. That's kind of what drew me to the KA with the pro scrub option. It's supposedly built to handle those tough jobs if I'm to believe the marketing.

I finally got a chance to check out a Miele today. While the racks are definitely more usable to me than a Bosch/Therm I still feel like it won't suit my needs. That said, I think I'm going just get over my paralysis by analysis and stick with the KA for now.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 1:23AM
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I have a Miele from two years ago, but have seen the new rack design on the newer models. For me, I think the bottom rack on my unit (Diamante Plus) is more accommodating than the newer design, as it looks like it can't "hold up" cookie sheets or casserole bake ware. But then I've never tried the new model so can't say for sure.

Everything I've put in my Diamante Plus comes out clean. I've tried lot of different detergent over the past two years, including the original and new Miele tabs, Method Smarty tabs, Finish Quantum tabs, and Cascade Complete packs. Out of all of them, I like using the Method tabs best. It is strong enough to clean well, but not overly strong (like the Quantum Finish) that discolored some plastic cups. The original Miele tabs also worked great, but the newer ones aren't that good and make a lot of suds (I posted images of this in a thread last year).

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 6:25AM
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Hey Fauguy, I have no other option other than to use Seventh Generation. My son is sensitive to chemicals, so we try to keep things as chemical free as possible.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 9:29AM
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Thanks for the interesting post, mojavean. I do see some water mineral build up on the heating element, and there is also some signs of hard water in the stainless steel tub. Perhaps a better detergent, adding a little STPP along with the detergent, and/or increasing the amount of rinse agent would help.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 4:40PM
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Hi Joe,
The machine is 5 years old now so a little scale is expected. She doesn't have a water softener installed and this model doesn't have one built in. Scale does not appear to be an issue as far as I can see inside the washarm galleries or feed tube outlets. One of the pictures I posted has a little something that might look like one of the ports is obstructed; it wasn't. It's a drop of water hanging on the orifice. They are clear.

I switched her over from Cascade gel to Finish Quantum and it gives us better performance now than when we were using her brand.

STTP is out for us as I don't want to add to the phosphate load if I can avoid it. They banned it for a reason. Plus, I use Finish tablets in our Bosch and it doesn't seem to care a lick that they took the phosphates out. It isn't perfect, but it's way better than this GE.

She does have a rinse-aid dispenser that she keeps filled, but I have never heard of rinse agent doing anything other than preventing spots and deposits on drying glassware. That doesn't seem to be an issue with her machine as the glassware and dishes come out okay. It is baked-on deposits that this thing can't hack.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 7:37PM
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The range of "baked on" deposits is vast. I've never known any machine that takes care of everything every time. Sometimes the baked-on stuff comes off; sometimes it doesn't; sometimes it comes close but not quite.

There aren't any little elves in there with wire brushes. The "pot scrubber" and various other euphemistically-named cycles that claim to take care of such things typically do so via: #1) more time and/or #2) higher heat and/or #3 more detergent. Any/all of those cycles certainly will do a better job on the baked-on stuff -- maybe complete, maybe closer to complete -- but the result will come at the expense of EVERYTHING else in the machine with the baked-on items.

For those folks who have such cycles and use them, I strongly suggest not including glassware or any close-to-delicate items in the same load.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 7:55PM
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