Sunday, August 26, 2012

Appliance Wars

I'm getting kind of tired of these. It's not so much that I'm fighting the appliances as they're fighting me.

It started with the dehumidifier in the basement. Well, that's not the true start, but the first one to actually get replaced. I kept thinking all/most of my stuff is moving out of there to a dry climate in a couple months, so why fight this battle? I don't even go down there with my knees. But the mold is almost audible, it's getting so thick. When Paul brought it to my attention, I let him replace it. He did. I have enough expenses with the upcoming move, and this appliance will be his to keep.

The true start, had we been clued in, was the washing machine. Do you know laundromats charge $1.75 a load these days? I'm trying to locate a good supply of quarters.

The first symptom was the dark streaks getting left on the clothes. OxyClean didn't help get them out. I had gone out and bought some special. One of the first wastes of throwing money at the problem. Next wash cycle just moved the streaks around, which was a good thing as it indicated they weren't permanent. But still...

Next symptom was an increasing noise level during the spin cycle. Paul of course blamed his brother. Not that Rich was actually around doing the laundry, but he had been for months and years past, and Paul figured he just way overloaded the machine. Perhaps. Perhaps it was just the design of the thing, a water-saving energy-saving front loader. The last straw was a load with endless spin and no extraction. Plus lots of noise, of course.

We declared it broken.

Paul pulled the back off and investigated, thinking it was something in the belt. There was a funky spot, and it seemed to want to slide off the post it turned around. Not all the way off, at least not yet.

I called Sears. All my major appliances come from there, have for years, usually last decades. This one, not so long. Seven years. No warranty, of course. I am used to dependability. Why spend money on something that's going to last practically forever?

Sears could send a repairman out in a week and a half. Add two days because it had to be a Friday when Paul would be home. The cost to give a diagnosis would be $75. That included a quote to fix it, and they'd wait for approval before starting. Plus she assured me I could buy a warranty contract for less than $400. No thanks. Or the repairman could tour the house and give estimates on other things needing replacing for only $_____ since he was already there. No thanks, again. Paul would have to be up and dressed by 8AM, since they could be here that early. On his days off, that's a sacrifice.

I got his call shortly after 8AM. I'd asked him to let me know because I had a price in mind of what I'd be willing to pay. After all, I knew replacement costs, both new and via auction, and washers come through on a regular basis. One even was listed for this weekend, condition unknown. Paul hadn't even asked me before sending the repairman on his way. The problem was a bearing - both problems, actually, spin and streaks - and a diagnosis glaringly obvious in hindsight. Cost to fix? $1200.

Yikes! One tiny piece, that much? Or was this just the way the repairman had of letting us know he didn't really feel like fixing this machine this day? Whatever: he wasn't invited to fix it.

Yesterday's auction washer was a rust bucket, untried by the consignor who found it in the house he moved into when he arrived with his own new appliances. I wasn't up for the gamble and dropped out of the bidding. No sense asking the garbage company to haul two of the things away. There will be more.

But the appliances aren't done with me yet.

Last night I stayed up way past my bedtime reading a book Steve handed me. Sandpaper eyelids and all, I was determined to finish. That's rare for me these days. Not the finishing part, the losing sleep part. Lucky I did though.

I heard the icemaker water running. And running. And then I heard dripping noises, and got up to check. The filling part always seems to drag on forever, so it took a new noise to really get my attention.

We had a flood in the kitchen!

I yelled for Paul, thinking it would take him to shut the water off. He did, but simply by pulling the plug out of the wall for the whole 'fridge.

I'll have to remember that.

I raced (yeah, at my speed?) to the bathroom where we keep clean rag towels in a laundry basket at the bottom of the linen closet. Dumping an armload on the floor, I saw inside the freezer where the flooding had taken place. A few remaining ice cubes floated in the overflowing bin, there was a half inch of water on the bottom floor of the freezer section, and water was running down the door and all over the floor.

And running, and running, and running.

The towels were soaking much of it up, and Paul was squeezing them out in the sink to lay down again. I put the dogs out so they wouldn't think it was playtime, or just track-it-all-over-the-house time. Rolling the dishwasher out of the way, we determined it hadn't flowed under there, one piece of good news. Another is that the laminate is vinyl, not particle board. Mopping up was the only needed cure, floor-wise. Bonus is it had needed a good wash anyway. Eventually a load of towels went down to the dryer, and after a bit, making sure any previous ice cubes weren't stuck in the compartments, the fridge got plugged in again, with no further problems.

So far.

I can hear it dumping cubes and reloading now, and I'm listening very carefully. Water only squirts in for a couple seconds. Maybe it needed a quick defrosting. But I didn't sleep very soundly last night, for it could have been a true disaster had we (I) not been right there to catch it. Paul was in his room with enough noise from his video game to be oblivious. I made  him promise to recheck it just before he went to sleep, and I woke twice to go out and see what was happening.

Besides sleep, there was one other small casualty. We "lost" a Klondike bar, not big enough to keep its temperature through the shut-off. Knowing that would be the case, and having met my carb limit for the night ( another peach - yummmmmm!), I insisted Paul eat it before it went to goo. He graciously manned up and finished it on the spot.

What a guy!

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