Having just bought my way out of Appliance Hell, with both an oven and ice maker clunking out this month, it was with a kind of uncharitable glee that I recalled Mark Skilling’s run-in with his 2003 Whirlpool Gold dishwasher.
Now I know these things are designed to last only a year or two, right? <G> So maybe he’s actually ahead of the curve. But, come on, an appliance rusting from the inside out?
Many modern dish racks are constructed of metal wires with a protective coating (typically nylon or polyvinyl chloride) that protects against the highly corrosive world inside a dishwasher. So when Mark emailed the images of this-dish-rack-turned-rust-bucket, I briefly wondered just how big and sharp his knives are.
Clearly, the coating on the rack had been compromised. But Mark assured me that in the five years he owned the dishwasher, he never washed knives in it because “It’s murder on the blades and handles.” Maybe that explains all the cuts on his hands!
Rusted dish racks are among the most common consumer gripes about household dishwashers. In addition to the obvious scratching from sharp objects, the causes are numerous, including defects in the coating and degradation due to aging.
Polished stainless steel is one (albeit more costly) alternative, but if you’re like me, I have enough chipped and cracked plates, cups, and the like without having to worry about gentle handling in the dishwasher. I like to toss my stuff right in.
Given how common the problem with coatings is, it clearly isn’t an easy, or more likely economical, design problem to solve. In fact, online I found plenty of patents on new techniques intended to address the corrosion issue. Many concepts seemed incredibly complicated (translation: expensive), like this patented concept titled “Dishwasher with electrocoated dishrack” involving a multiple-layer takeoff on the old belt-and-suspenders solution.
Undoubtedly these strategies drive up the price, and that appears to be one trade-off that companies are unwilling to make, especialy in the era of big-box retailers. But I’m betting Mark and a whole lot of other people would be prepared to pay something more to avoid the hassle and cost of shopping for a new appliance (or replacing the racks for nearly the same cost as a new unit) every five years.
This post originally appeared in the MBM blog of sister publication Electronics Weekly.