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What Are the Pros and Cons of an Undercounter Dishwasher?

By Lori Kilchermann
Updated May 16, 2024
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The undercounter dishwasher has many pros and cons, each dependent upon the owner's personal likes and dislikes, from ease of loading and close proximity to the kitchen sink to the heat and moisture rising so close to the counter tops. Built-in or undercounter dishwasher designs allow the appliance to take a visual role in the makeup of the kitchen cabinetry. The physical size of the built-in dishwasher is limited to the available space beneath the counters. There is, however, a certain comfort in not having to roll a portable dishwasher into position and attach the water hose to the kitchen sink. Often, an undercounter dishwasher is also used as temporary storage for clean dishes, which can be a hindrance when the unit is needing to be used to wash other dishes.

A staple of the well-equipped modern kitchen for decades, the undercounter dishwasher has lessened the time it takes to clean up after a meal for many owners. The benefits of the appliance have been weighed against perceived cons from many homeowners actually resulting in the removal of the undercounter dishwasher in favor of a free-standing unit in some cases. Many times, the under-counter plumbing required with the integrated appliance can develop leaks that cause damage to the structural integrity of the counter construction before the problem is discovered. Troubles with a garbage disposer linked with the discharge of the dishwasher have also been behind the motivation for some homeowners to choose a portable machine over the built-in style of dishwasher.

With the majority of undercounter dishwasher designs, the unit expels heat and humidity directly below the edge of the kitchen counter top. For homemakers wishing to use the counter top for other cooking projects, this hot discharge can be an annoyance. The lack of usable cabinet space from the installation of a built-in dishwasher can be an unwanted feature for many home buyers; however, the added counter space on top of a portable unit can often be a plus for some homemakers. When deciding on an appliance upgrade, the added expense of replacing the undercounter dishwasher can often prove to be overwhelming.

The built-in design of the undercounter dishwasher often adds cost to the repair bill in the event of a breakdown. The repairman is required to dismantle the appliance and remove it from its mounting place under the counter in order to properly diagnose the condition of the machine. A portable unit, on the other hand, can be transported to a repair facility. The surrounding cabinet can also aid in quieting an undercounter dishwasher, making the chore of doing dishes practically unheard of for some owners.

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