My Washing Machine

Machovka-Washing-machine-3Our washer quit again.

The little guy has his happy days and his sad days but too many of his days are spent sulking and refusing to work.

I wish I understood his moods better.

For much of this, I blame my wife (a common enough reflex for me) because she likes to fiddle with the settings.

After she has dialed the temperature to cold and the cycle to delicates, I come along with a dozen grease stained jeans and a pile of sweatshirts that smell more like my dog than my dog does – and when I push the START button, the washer gags and shrieks – then in a huff worthy of a petulant teenager, it quits and refuses to start again.

Normally when this happens, I simply unplug it.

In the world of appliances therapy, pulling the plug is the equivalent of electroshock.  It erasers the memory and reboots the attitude of wayward gadgets- but like any treatment, it has its limits and our washer is well past its limits. Eventually something snaps – and then I have to take it apart to fix it.

Which brings us around to an entirely different subject.

All products in our modern world are first and foremost designed to be sold. This is why everything in the showroom gleams, sparkles and whispers impossible promises.  

After everything looks spiffy, the next design criteria is how easy it is to manufacture – the thought of what a customer might do when the product breaks down (which is frequent) does not enter into anyone’s head.

There could be no better example of this than the stack washer.

By definition, a stack washer is built so that something, usually a dryer, can be stacked on top of it – therefore the doors are located in the front. No mystery there.  But it also means that all the important stuff like the hoses, pumps and motor are all located at the bottom of the washer.

I think you can see where I am going.

A thoughtful and competent engineer might simply design an access door and everyone would be happy.  But a simple metal plate door can cost as much as 30¢and the poor folks in production would then be burdened with the task of installing it and we certainly cannot have that.  So the only way to repair a stack washer is to unstack whatever is on top of it, tip it over and remove the bottom.

This is not something a person wants to do frequently, so I made a list of all things I needed to fix… and was surprised by how long it was.

  • The door sags on its hinges, requiring it to be lifted whenever it is closed.
  • The door latch does not catch properly – probably because the door is cockeyed.
  • The washer jams up with suds.
  • It does not drain properly.
  • It has a terrible attitude.

So I scoured the appliance repair forums and what I found did or did not shock me. It seems that everyone who has the same make and model washer as we do has the same difficulties. It turns out there is no cure for the door hinge and the general consensus is that when you order the latch from Amazon, you order three. You go through them that quickly.

The root of my washer’s trauma is a blocked drain – filled with all the things that come out of the pockets of the person who always forgets to empty them whenever he tosses his jeans into the wash.

(Like I say, it is all my wife’s fault.)

So I found an excellent video on Youtube which brilliantly illustrated how to disassemble the washer and clean the drain.  It is amazing what I found in there: loose change, small wood screws, keys, a debt card for Applebees and a small foreign car. 

So I cleaned out the drain, replaced the latch and reassembled the washer.  Wisely, I tested it before replacing the bottom.  I then turned it right side up, hoisting the dryer back into place and now everything works just dandy – except the dryer, who sulks, refuses to work and threatens to throw a tanturm.

Author: Almost Iowa

57 thoughts on “My Washing Machine”

  1. Reblogged this on BOOKS, POLITICS, SIMPLICITY and commented:
    Well. This post explains nearly everything about our consumer economy. Plus nearly everything about the aggravation of daily life. It would probably explain road rage, if it were possible to have road rage when operating a stackable washer and dryer. Thank you to Almost Iowa.

  2. I’ve started a jar for all the things I pull out of pockets when i do the laundry. One day, when it’s full to the top, I’m going to chuck it at the first family member who pisses me off. Then I’ll sew all the pockets in the house clean shut.

  3. Erasing the memory, rebooting, forums and Youtube . . . to fix a washer. It is a whole new world, isn’t it??

  4. When we first got married, my husband and I bought a used washing machine from a coworker that she hadn’t used in ten years. She had no idea if it worked or not, but for $25, we were willing to take that risk. It worked perfectly for the next twelve years. Now, our appliances are all newer and must be related to your washer and dryer: they don’t like work, break easily, and my husband doesn’t have your appliance repair skills. Makes me wish for the good old days, when appliances were built to last!

    1. I doubt it – but it isn’t for lack of trying. Keep in mind, the coyotes that prowl the Minnesota Mosquito Preserve and the fifty pound snapping turtles who lurk in our ditches. The machines will only get so far.

  5. Another laugh at a not so funny problem! It’s amazing how you make humor out of stuff around you house! Plus you fix that stuff! I’ll never look at my washer & dryer in the same light again. I’ll probably pat the both of them and encourage them humming along! Chryssa

    1. “Plus you fix that stuff!”

      Sure, out here on the gravel roads, you want to avoid the following conversation.

      NEIGHBOR: Hey, I see you got something new!
      ME: Huh?
      NEIGHBOR: I saw the truck from SouthCentral Appliance pull into your driveway.
      ME: Naw, they came to fix my washer.
      NEIGHBOR: You called someone to fix your washer?
      ME: Sure.
      NEIGHBOR: Did I get that right? You called someone to fix your washer?
      ME: That’s what I said.
      NEIGHBOR: [Walking away muttering] He called someone… to fix his washer…

      Most of my neighbors overhauled their first diesel at fourteen and those are the girls, they are almost always a year ahead of the boys at that age.

  6. I love your funny posts. I always read the comments. They are usually as funny as your stories.

  7. You know dryers are like that. (sulky Sue I call mine) I love those videos on YouTube. I totally removed, sent for repair, and replaced a motherboard in my Thermador refrigerator. The factory said they were no longer available but they would “cluge” one together for $1,600. My total cost was $90.00 plus one-way shipping.Gotta love it. (also I just replaced a 30Amp 2 pole breaker in the box where even the sight of the box causes me loose bowls. Yup YouTube again)

    1. I used to rely on YouTube videos all the time… but now I live too far out in the country for cable or DSL and am limited to 15G a month through Verizon. I am considering putting up a 60 foot tower to capture a microwave beam off a grain bin five miles away… it how we do things out here.

  8. I cannot understand why anyone would ever buy stacked units or a front loader if either could be avoided. Why add one iota of effort to a thankless task?

    When we bought our first house, I bought the same brand washer and dryer that had lasted my mom twenty years before needing repair: Whirlpool. The dryer was still working like new at over twenty when we sold. The washer had needed only one minor repair at around the ten year mark. The marvelous Whirlpool repair person I spoke with listened patiently and said: Oh, it’s just the wig-wag. Costs about ten dollars. If you’re handy, you can fix it yourselves.” My then-spouse did.

    1. I never had problems with major appliances until the last few years with the new ones. They are getting worse and worse, it probably has to do with time-tested companies being acquired by hedge-funds and holding companies who have very short time horizons.

  9. I was dreaming of getting a stack washer, but I think you’ve put me off it. Not that I’d dream of taking it apart if it failed. But where on earth does anyone find room to lift off top pieces and tip up the bottom?

    Reminds me of the day I wanted to clean out the U-bend in the laundry room and first had to cut a hole in the wall. We decided we preferred good old-fashioned, access-paneled English houses to clean-lined American ones – and access-paneled washing machines.

  10. I’ve never been afraid of appliance repair, but I’m not sure I’d attempt a stacked unit. The worst part of appliance is that nobody ever seems to take the extra three seconds to turn metal edges from knife-sharp burrs to things you could safely bump into. Good luck. I hope the repair lasts.

  11. Almost Iowa, you make the “ordinary” extraordinarily fun and interesting to read about. I’m now in an apartment building with a washer and dryer in the basement that are not my own, so the fixing is no longer on me — a big relief.

    1. The late great Minnesota poet, Bill Holm, maintained that one could write well about anything. His book Boxelder Bug Variations proved the point by elevating the lowly Boxelder Bug to the status of literary classic.

  12. I laughed at your nod to redundancy (buying the three latches). I’ve learned, whenever I need to buy a screw of any sort, to buy two extras. That allows for dropping a couple into the water.

    You’re just lucky you still can fix your washer (and, presumably, the dryer). All my knowledge about spark plugs, etc. has become irrelevant. All I get is a stupid light on the dashboard that says “You have a problem! To the dealership with you!” Then, I get there, and they tell me it’s just the warning light that’s malfunctioned. I know better. It hasn’t malfunctioned at all — it’s a ruse to get me to the dealership, so they can sell me a new car that’s even less amenable to being maintained by its owner.

    1. I always buy three of everything and then I place each item in a different place. Since I can never find anything, I figure this increases my odds. It really doesn’t work but it makes me feel more secure.

      As for fixing things, I am an old VW guy. I spent much of my youth pinned under a bug. It is also where I did my finest piece of writing.

      I owned a completely rusted out VW sedan that I wanted to sell to invest in another slightly less rusted out VW sedan. So I put an ad in the classifieds – and didn’t get a single response. Everyone knew by the year that the car was rusted out. So I rewrote the ad to read: “For Sale: VW engine – bug attached.”

      The first call came in at 3:00 am the next morning.

      1. Reminds me of the Fiat I moved out here in. Rusted out so bad you could see the road through the floorboards, and when I tried jacking it up to change a tire it was a rain of rust but no elevation.

        1. Oh yeah…. Do you remember when you could hear your friends drive down the block and know it was your friends from the sound of sheet metal flapping in the breeze?

  13. I love that you have a “dedicate” cycle 🙂 (wink!) Isn’t it true – we can learn anything by watching a youtube video. My son and I watched one the other day on how to cut a mango. We still failed, but their is actually a national bureau of mangoes that developed a video for it! Who needs college anymore?! And I swear engineers do build our appliances and furniture these days NOT to last…

    1. “dedicate” cycle

      Oops… [blush] Thanks for catching that.

      YouTube is a great place to go for advice, though one has to take it with a grain of salt. The best thing about a video is that you get to see what they are doing. Most people are visual rather than verbal and a picture is indeed worth a thousand words.

    2. I am a mango-mangling moron. No matter what I tried, until I stopped trying. Then, while a teacher, we got a Fresh Food grant which had us receiving boxes of fresh produce to our classrooms periodically. Where, to my utter embarrassment, I watched my 10-year-old girl students expertly pit and artfully slice dozens of mangos in seconds.

      1. We still have a refrigerator magnet that reads, “Move Out, Get A Job, Pay Your Own Way While You Still Know Everything!!” The truth is, there is too much truth in that.

  14. A brave man indeed to tamper with such a device! Bet your missus doesn’t shrink woolly jumpers like mine can. Back in my cricketing days she shrunk my much treasured baggy jumper to the extent it wouldn’t even fit an Action Man toy…what I’d have given for a grease stain.

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