Thread Number: 77857  /  Tag: Vintage Dishwashers
KitchenAid KDS-20--truly dead?
[Down to Last]'s exclusive eBay Watch:
scroll >>> for more items
Post# 1018931   12/23/2018 at 18:26 (183 days old) by drh (Silver Spring)        

Hello, and thanks for any help to the newcomer. When we bought our house in the Washington, DC suburbs nearly 25 years ago now, the kitchen came fitted with a KitchenAid KDS-20 dishwasher, already old then. It's continued doing yeoman service since until a couple of weeks ago, when it began neither getting dishes clean nor even dissolving all the detergent. We had a service outfit look at it (older repairman, experienced in these machines from when they were still in production or not long out of it). He diagnosed that the timer has failed, noted that new ones are no longer available, and advised he would not work on the machine even if we could scare up a replacement timer on eBay. "It's time to join the 21st century" was his advice. I called another, similar, repairman to consult by phone for a second opinion; he opined that the first one, whom he knows, knows his stuff and is right. Guy no. 2 also refuses to install parts from eBay or such. Guy no. 1 gave us an improvised routine, involving turning the machine on and off with different selections in a sequence, with which we can nurse the thing along in the short term, but it's definitely no long-term solution.

I really, really HATE the idea of buying a "21st century" dishwasher. My dad ran through three of the things in the last decade of his life. My mother-in-law has gone through at least two in a similar period. Everyone I've read or talked to agrees, modern dishwashers are built to save water, not to hold up or clean dishes.

On the other hand, our KDS-20 certainly shows the signs of having lived a long and faithful life. The tub rusted through in one spot; I patched it with caulk, which has held up for some years now, but still--it's a patch. The lower rack has a number of fingers that have rusted off or are in the process of doing so. One of the two detergent doors broke off; I have a replacement dispenser, but it would need to be installed.

I should add that the machine worked wonderfully until it was pulled from service for a couple of months when we remodeled the kitchen last year. It never worked the same after the remodeling guys reinstalled it (with much protest; they desperately wanted me to buy a new one then).

So: should I just junk the KitchenAid? Part it out? Try to revive it? If the last, assuming I could find a working replacement part somewhere, is installing a timer something a rank neophyte could readily accomplish? Any thoughts? My apologies to be the stereotypical "guy you never heard of who joins a forum to ask questions," but this is my last resort before yielding to my wife's practical "we need a dishwasher; let's just buy a cheap one at Home Depot and be done with it." Thanks for any advice!

Post# 1018933 , Reply# 1   12/23/2018 at 18:56 (183 days old) by turbokinetic (Northport, Alabama USA)        

I would investigate the issue with the timer and see if it is repairable. It is probably something simple like the grease dried up in the timer motor.


Next, look for a good used timer or a motor which can be adapted to your timer.

Post# 1018935 , Reply# 2   12/23/2018 at 19:25 (183 days old) by Lorainfurniture (Cleveland )        

There is a time in life when it makes sense to retire an appliance. It sounds to me like yours has reached that point. You can part it out, some of those parts will fetch good money on eBay.

Also, you donít have to buy a brand new dishwasher, you can find one athat is newer, but still old. Around 2008 they really started to go downhill.

Post# 1018936 , Reply# 3   12/23/2018 at 19:46 (183 days old) by RP2813 (Too many people know the way)        

rp2813's profile picture

Craiglist is a good source for a donor machine.  I'd venture to say that considering the shape your machine is in, if you find one on craigslist, yours could end up being the donor for the machine you might replace it with.  If you can find a KDS-20 or an older KDS-18, more power to you.  Beginning with the 21 series, KA dishwashers offered only a single rinse after the main wash, which some do not consider adequate, and a 21 and later series will have fewer parts -- including the timer (but perhaps not the timer motor) -- that are compatible with a series 20.

Post# 1018940 , Reply# 4   12/23/2018 at 21:13 (183 days old) by whirlykenmore78 (Prior Lake MN (GMT-0700 CDT.))        
As you are in the DC area

whirlykenmore78's profile picture
Talk to John LeFever from ALCO appliance. His handle here is Combo52. He would know for sure if the machine has reached the end of it's useful life or is worth fixing. His brother Jeff may also be able to help. Otherwise our resident Hobart tech Stevet would know.

Post# 1018946 , Reply# 5   12/23/2018 at 22:23 (183 days old) by askolover (South of Nash Vegas, TN)        

askolover's profile picture

Lots of people will be getting new dishwashers for Christmas so older models that still work just fine might show up on craigslist.   Some get replaced just to "upgrade" (downgrade) to new stainless.

Post# 1019015 , Reply# 6   12/24/2018 at 17:59 (182 days old) by drh (Silver Spring)        

Hello, many thanks to all who have replied, and all the best for tomorrow's holiday! I'll follow up on some of the leads after the giftwrap blizzard has settled.

Post# 1019025 , Reply# 7   12/24/2018 at 21:47 (182 days old) by Tomturbomatic (Beltsville, MD)        

Alco Appliance 301-595-3266 and Jeff's Appliance 301-937-6003 get top ratings in Washington Consumers' Checkbook, a non-profit ratings service to which members subscribe. When I looking to replace my storm door, I chose the only vendor with a 100% rating and he provided the quality of service that John and Jeff do. I mean, I knew nothing about storm doors or installers and trusted the ratings in Washington Consumers' Checkbook. I only told the man who came to my house promptly that I wanted his best door. He helped me choose the model, advised on color and trim and told me that he would send the estimate as soon as he got back to his business. Sure enough, I had the email in 20 minutes and the door is perfect.

John has a warehouse of parts he has saved from older appliances and neither John nor his brother Jeff will tell you that an appliance is too old to be repaired if it is still in good shape. They do their best to return their customers' appliances to service.

Post# 1019027 , Reply# 8   12/24/2018 at 22:23 (182 days old) by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        
KA DW Repair

combo52's profile picture

Hi Tom, the phone # you listed for Alco Appliance is incorrect, our # is 301-937-6996, Thanks for the recommendation.


John L.

Post# 1019038 , Reply# 9   12/25/2018 at 09:09 (181 days old) by drh (Silver Spring)        

Hi, John,

I'll drop you a call tomorrow to consult about our KDS-20 (was planning to anyhow, but now it'll be easier, because I have the phone number). Thanks again to all, and to all a Merry Christmas!

Forum Index:       Other Forums:                      

Comes to the Rescue!

The Discuss-o-Mat has stopped, buzzer is sounding!!!
If you would like to reply to this thread please log-in...

Discuss-O-MAT Log-In

New Members
Click Here To Sign Up.

Discuss-o-Mat Forums
Vintage Brochures, Service and Owners Manuals
Fun Vintage Washer Ephemera
See It Wash!
Video Downloads
Audio Downloads
Picture of the Day
Patent of the Day
Photos of our Collections
The Old Aberdeen Farm
Vintage Service Manuals
Vintage washer/dryer/dishwasher to sell?
Technical/service questions?
Looking for Parts?
Website related questions?
Digital Millennium Copyright Act Policy
Our Privacy Policy