The Saga of the Dishwasher: GE Model GDT655SSJ5SS

We haven’t blogged in a good long while.

Covid has colored a lot of things and a lot has changed in the last two years. For the most part, it has just given us less to blog about due to the nature and topic of this blog, that is, travel, moving country and cultural differences.

That said, one thing that has managed to take up this entire covid period for us is the ridiculous saga of our dishwasher.

I do not believe in curses, but if I did, this machine would surely be one of the most cursed appliances of all time. It has leaked SIX times between March 2020 and this last week (October 2021). It came with the house, so its current age is the same as the house more or less, not even 3 years old.

The first leak was the worst, in that, it utterly destroyed our kitchen island just at the start of the pandemic when it was most scary to let anyone into your house. Despite being in the early days of covid when no one really knew what was going on and most people were wary of being around other humans, we had to let a barrage of workmen into our house. We didn’t have running water in the kitchen for 19 days at one point and we had a very long period of having no dishwasher.

I will say, that as dreadful as the whole thing was, William Ryan did take responsibility for it. They did replace the entire island. It is just hard to do that with people living in a house without it being really annoying.

As a note, the reason the first leak caused such damage is, to save money, most builders don’t put tiles under the cabinets or anywhere else that will not be seen. If they did, the water would be obvious and come out on the floor, but the lack of tiles creates a trough where water can slowly collect under the leaky appliance. We didn’t know about the leak until we saw the damage on the outside of the cabinets.

Another money saver is that not all dishwasher come with leak detectors. This saves the manufactor a bit of money. The one that came with our house did not come with a leak detector and that is how the first leak failed to be detected until it did serious damage. It was the first time either of us had owned a dishwasher as they are quite uncommon in the UK, so we did not think to ask if it had a leak detector. It also just didn’t occur to us that it was likely that such a new appliance would do this. The men who diagnosed it seemed genuinely shocked that it went so badly wrong as it was so new.

From leak to fix, it took a little over 2 months to rebuild the kitchen. So that was 2 months without a dishwasher and loss of use of much of the rest of the kitchen in the process as they replaced literally everything but the granite and the sink:

They had to replace or rebuild all the cabinets and the drywall as they were water damaged and full of mold, plus a nasty, half eaten tortilla:

After all that, in September 2020, it leaked AGAIN:

This time, we were prepared. We had installed leak sensors that both start screaming loudly if there is even a hint of water on them. They are also attached to an app that alerts both of our phones. We had put two of them under the dishwasher, so this time, we knew immediately.

We got GE to come out. That took another month from leak to appointment to ordering of the part to actually fixing it because the parts are all in Kentucky. Nothing is kept locally.

That is a dehumidifier in the photo above, by the way. We must be some of the only people in the Phoenix Valley that have had a strong reason to own one of these here, considering the local climate.

It managed to leak several more times, approximately every 3 months, triggering the same process: cease use, call GE out, carry on not using it for 3-4 weeks and get a part replaced. We got to know the local GE repairmen very well.

Nearly every single part on the thing that could leak was replaced, but last week, both the seal on the door and yet ANOTHER part managed to fail within a few days of each other. We finally gave up and bought a Maytag:

In theory, I want to like the idea of getting things repaired. It is less wasteful and sounds sensible, but it takes so, so long. The current set up encourages you to just buy a new appliance rather than replacing parts if you have the money. Even with warranties, we have seen repeated evidence that you can have a good 3-4 weeks of not being able to use the item in question with the warranty, but you can get a brand new one within a single day. We ordered the Maytag from Spencer’s Wednesday afternoon and we were running it by Thursday night. If you can afford it, going through the hassle of not being able to use a major appliance in your house for a month each time doesn’t feel worth it.

Once your warranty is up, particularly in the case of a dishwasher, the pricing on parts also discourages fixing it and encourages full replacement. It would have cost us half the price of a brand new mid-priced machine and most of the cost of a cheap one. This is because GE would not just sell us a new seal, but rather would make us replace the whole door. On top of the other broken part, this would have totaled up to around 350 dollars. Our new dishwasher cost about double this. Cheaper models were only a couple hundred dollars more and also available for next day delivery.

The appliance industry needs to become more mindful of waste. It should not price things in such a way that it encourages you to throw out a machine and replace it. It should not take a month to replace a part and parts should be available in every major region at least. It’s ridiculous that replacement parts are thousands of miles away in one city in Kentucky when the Phoenix area is the fifth largest metro area in the country and next to the extraordinary highly populated state of California. GE should have at least have one Western distribution center.

At any rate, I live in hope the the Maytag will be better. If it can last 3 years without an issue at this point, we will be happy after this experience.

Just as an FYI for anyone dishwasher shopping, the one you want to avoid is model GDT655SSJ5SS. Personally, we plan on staying away from the whole GE brand forever after this.

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