Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Handy Manny's Got Nothing on Me

A few days ago, my washing machine stopped working correctly. It was still washing the clothes, but when the cycle stopped, the clothes were sopping, dripping wet. At first I tried wringing them out and throwing them in the dryer, knowing it would probably take 14 cycles to fully dry them. But the way they were clunking around in there worried me that I was going to end up breaking the dryer by putting too much weight in it.

For a mom who does 7 people's laundry daily, I knew I couldn't go too long without getting it fixed. Unfortunately, I didn't have the money to get it fixed. Soooo, I wrote down the model and serial numbers, and the error codes my washer was displaying, and I called Whirlpool. After being on hold for 20 minutes, the customer service rep informed me that the codes indicated a problem with the drainage system. 

"Just take off the panel and clean out the filter. Sometimes a sock or coins or stuff gets stuff inside there."

"Oh cool! Okay, I can do that! I think. Thanks!"

"No problem. If it doesn't work and you're still getting an error code, just call us back."

"Great, I'll call back soon," I said realistically because really, I've never fixed anything in my life (unless you count duct-taping my car together as fixing something.)

I walked into my laundry room all set to fix my machine. The Bob the Builder theme song ran through my head. Bob the Builder, can we fix it? Bob the Builder, yes, we can! I can do this! How hard can it be? Take off the panel and clean the filter. I looked at my washer. Panel? What panel? There's a panel? How the crap am I supposed to take off a panel when I don't even know where the panel is? Could I say the word 'panel' any more? I posted this picture on Facebook with the caption:


This picture garnered the following advice:

Hint: If you DO venture into DIY territory, be prepared to label all screws as you remove them so you know where they go. Print the schematic diagram from the owner's manual - it will help. Sincerely, someone who is so not mechanically inclined but managed to repair a dryer anyway

Good advice. I, however, didn't follow it. I don't need to label anything. How hard could it be to put it back together once you get it apart, right? (Remember this so you can make fun of me later.)


After this picture, I got the following advice:

Unclamp the black hose.
Take out the screws and remove the metal panel.
There will be a lot of goo when you find the drain pump.
It is disgusting in there. You will gag. And vomit. And possibly faint.

Gag and vomit? Oh man, I so did NOT sign up for this! I unclamped the black hose. A few drips of water came out. It smelled like evil. Now what? That was pretty pointless. Next, I went about the business of removing the metal panel.


This was the advice I received at this point.

A wrench
A ratchet
A socket wrench
A 1/4 inch nut driver
Make sure you don't electrocute yourself
WD 40
A 5/16 socket. Do you have a socket set? (Let me look through my tools. You know, all 4 screw drivers. Um nope, no socket set.)
4/16, 5/16, you know, whatever it takes
4/16? LOL!
I said 1/4 inch!
I have some in my truck, but I'm 1600 miles away. (um thanks?)
What you need is a shirtless hot guy with a tool belt. (YES!)
But what you really end up getting is a nerdy guy from Ace.  (Heck, I'll take a guy with plumber's butt if he'll fix this for me!)

I went to Ace and stared at the tools for a while. I picked up a little wrench thingy and found a guy to ask, "Do you think this will work to remove these weird looking screw things from the back of my washing machine so I can take it all apart and then call Whirlpool when I break it even more?"

He raised his eyebrow at me, shook his head a little, then took the little wrench thingy from me. "Uh no. What you need is this 1/4 inch nut driver."

"Hee hee hee, it's seriously called a nut driver?"

Blank stare. "Will there be anything else, ma'am?"

"No thanks. I'm good. Thanks." I walked away muttering to myself, "And don't call me ma'am!"


This time the comments from the peanut gallery were:

Careful, too many guy tools and you might start scratching places and belching in public.

(I can't even get the stupid thing out of the package!)
For the record, I would have paid a decent amount of money to see you unscrew that with lip gloss.
Man up Dawn, get some scissors and get those nuts off! (Hee hee hee)
(Oh wait. I don't need to remove the packaging. I can just sorta bend it back out of the way.)


The comments continued.

Let's get going and fix it right. Twist and turn, make it tight.

See that white plastic clip next to your hand? The four of them need to come off too.
Do you wear your new clothes with the tag still on them too? (If my clothes had child-proof tags, I would.)


This is the advice I got:

Is there a drain in the front of the washer?
Yes, that's the drain pump. 
(I don't think my arms are long enough. And did I mention I have DIRT in my HAIR?)
Don't mess with the drain pump.
Just take the drain hose from the washer to the wall drain and go spray your garden hose through it, watch all the nasty stuff come out. (Um, I'm going to call that one 'Plan B'.)
Good luck. I'll check back later to see what time the Whirlpool man got there. And for God's sake, wash your hair first...maybe he is hot. (Ha, ha, you're hilarious. Of course, if I really have to call him, I'm totally washing the dirt out of my hair!)
If this works, you should write an eBook on it! I just spent $160 that this single mom did NOT have for the same thing. The repair guy was downstairs for 10 minutes. I asked him to stay down there awhile and check his Facebook or something so I felt like I got my money worth. (I feel your pain!)
On my Duet there is a panel below the door that removes with 3 screws. Then unscrew the big plastic white piece under the center of the door. (That would make sense to have easy access on the front, but mine has to be a little more complicated because, well, because it's mine.)

I obviously couldn't get to the filter from the back of the washer. Unhooking the hose - useless. Taking off the back panel - pointless. I tried to figure out how to open up the front. Thanks to some helpful videos, I learned that you first have to remove the top of the washer. Of course. After removing the top, I noticed that I might have accidentally, sort of bent some semi-important looking metal thingys. Oops. I'll deal with them later.

The video told me to remove the control panel on the front and set it up on top of the unit. No problem. Wait, what are these? You have GOT to be kidding me? More screws?! Oh and different kinds now. This is a conspiracy to make people buy more tools! I searched through my tool box once more. 4 screwdrivers, a nut driver hee hee, a shoe, duct tape, and a butter knife. The butter knife will have to do.

I got those 2 screws out, then I removed the rest of the nut things and stood back to admire my manly handiwork. Oh crap, I'm  never going to get this thing back together, am I? What the heck was I thinking?! I can't fix stuff! Oh crap!

Okay, worry about putting it back together later, Dawn. First, see if you can fix it. Hmmmm, when I unscrew that white cap, water is going to rush out and I can't slide anything underneath it to catch the water. I have to find something to lift up the machine. I looked around the garage for something that might work and found a long piece of wood. It had been a slat on the boys' bunkbeds until the boys turned their beds into trampolines. Then they turned the wood into a light saber until I took it away and threw it in the garage.

"Hey Jackson, do we have a saw? Can you cut this into a couple pieces so I can stack it up under the washing machine?"

"Sure!" Jackson and his friend Perry ran over to Perry's house and started sawing the wood. Until Perry's dad came out.

"What are you boys doing?"

"Well, you see, my washing machine isn't working so I'm trying to fix it, but I need something to prop it up. They're cutting some pieces of wood for me to stick under the washer."

Aaaaand, because he's a guy and this is what guys do, he got out his chainsaw. 

Back at home with my washer propped up, I was able to slide something underneath it to catch the water. Yes, it's a heart-shaped cake pan. I asked Jackson to get me a container and this is what he came up with. I can just hear my mom yelling at my dad for doing something like this. "That's my good cake pan! I make FOOD in it! Don't use that! Use something from the garage to catch the water!" At this point however, I really didn't care what I used.

This is what the filter looked like:

It's not supposed to look like that.

I clearly SUCK at checking pockets. There were 5 coins, a barrett, several seashells, a mangled nail file, and the worst things - 2 pads from the inside of a tweens bikini top or bra. Plus all the assorted gunk and hair and sand and nastiness that exists in washing machine filters.

I had to have Austin put this spring thingy around the rubber seal thingy because I wasn't strong enough and I was getting very frustrated and using colorful vocabulary.

I somehow managed to put the whole thing back together again and only have one screw left over. 
Oops. It was probably supposed to go somewhere, but I was pretty sure it wasn't that important. I stuffed it into my pocket and pretended like I hadn't seen it.

All right. It's the moment of truth. I started up the washer and held my breath. Instantly, water POURED out of the machine, drenching my floor and dozens of towels. I quickly unplugged it. If it had been a lighter appliance like oh, say a toaster, it would've gone sailing into the street. But since it weighs more than I do, I just sat down in defeat. I couldn't give up though. I had fixed the drainage problem, I was sure of it. Maybe I just didn't screw that filter back on tightly enough.

I took the whole stupid thing apart again. Unscrew the top, slide it off, remove the control panel, take the spring thingy off the seal, remove the front panel, unplug it, shove the blocks underneath, sop up the water, tighten the filter thing as hard as I can. Plug the front panel in, screw it back into place, get Austin to put the spring thing on again, screw on the control panel, slide the top into place, screw it all together, plug it back in, shove a bunch of towels underneath, and press start.

It worked! It worked! It worked! No water on the floor! It seems to be draining! I don't have any left over screws this time! It actually worked! Maybe I can now wash the dozens of smelly towels I used to sop up all the water today.

I have dirt in my hair, I broke a nail, the skin is peeling off my thumb, I'm sweaty, I somehow managed to get grease on my face, and I think I still have a quarter down my pants, but my machine works! And it only cost me $5 to fix! I know I should feel a sense of accomplishment, but all I really feel is an overwhelming need to take a very long shower! Right after I finish my beer.

I would still buy a case of beer, bake brownies, provide homecooked dinners, babysitting services, a decorated cake, you name it to anyone who will fix anything that breaks in the future because I really, truly hate 'boy work'!


AlaneM said...

YOU GO GIRL!!! Dawn you are truly amazing, I totally would have given up & cried my head off. And dang if that didn't make for an awesome blog post, thanks for the laughs.

Becky | Apples of Gold said...

You're AWESOME for fixing that on your own!!
And hopefully, after the long shower and beer, you are now basking in your major sense of accomplishment because that is one huge accomplishment!
Congrats, Handy Dawn-y! =)

PamGram said...

But YOU DID IT--YOU DID IT--YOU DID IT! I'm so proud of you,we are all very proud of you. And you should be very,very proud of yourself. Now go take that shower and have another look like crap,LOL...just kidding,you look gorgeous as always. Great job girly.

Frau Mahlzahn said...

Way to go, woman!

That beer was well deserved!

So long,

Mark said...

Good Lord! Your FACE!!! You must have LOST 50 pounds!!
The way I see it, you have two choices: Write a DIET BOOK or
become a MAYTAG repairman(remember that guy? His phone never rang!)
Congratulations on dismantling(and then re-mantling) a very complicated piece of hi-tech machinery..TWICE!! Now,if you want to SHOW OFF a little: the kids were using a HACK SAW..designed for cutting through metal(not wood!) Advise them of their error...and the kid's dad with the happy-snappy might want to BAN your kid from ever visiting THAT house again..Lastly...Why were both kids wearing socks sans that some Florida trend or style? The sock manufacturers would certainly encourage such behavior.
So,Baby Sister: You did GOOD!
Mark in MASS.

Cindy said...

Great job!! And after reading this and seeing your pictures, I'm definitely calling a repair man if my machine breaks down!! You're braver than I am!

BuddyP said...

I am proud of you, never in a million years would I even think about doing this. But I have a question..... WHY did the man that was helpful enough to cut your wood for you not help with this repair? just wondering.

Sharlyn said...

I fixed a washer once. Good feeling isn't it?;-). Awesome post by the way!

kay.lindsey said...

Thank you for giving me ammo for convincing my husband that whether they want to know it or not, our daughters will need to learn how to fix things! I wish I had known how important basic tools and the ability to read a manual was when I was a teenager.I've learner the hard way but am still shocked by how many of my female friends are too intimidated to troubleshoot anything on their own.

Sarah said...

You go girl! So proud of you! Reminds me of my attempt to fix something on my car to save was less gross, but I got dirty, didn't have the tools or any idea what I was doing. In the end, I got really close, but couldn't finish it because my arm was too short. I took it to a garage and they were so impressed, they finished the rest of the repair for me for free! :) Girl power! :)

Laura said...

Boy, all of this was so good up until the last line... this is obviously NOT "boy work". I hope you really don't think it is and you're just making a joke....

Kazza the Blank One said...

Well done!! :):)
And I have to say I love these stories, reminds me of some of the earlier stuff you used to write (pokemon cards anyone? :) )

Kristin said...

You are awesome and funny! And you rock -- nice work! Great accomplishment!! I love it!!!

kimikki said...

Nice going, Dawn!!! See? We CAN do these things! And who needs to know the name of the parts? As long as we know where they are supposed to go, that's all that matters. And you did this for $5!!! That much better! Congrats!

mommeeof10 said...

I knew you could do it!
Doesn't it feel great to know you fixed it?
Hubby does not repair appliances, fix plumbing or anything electrical. That's okay, I can handle all those things. He does the carpentry type repairs, which is a good thing. I can't cut straight with a handsaw, unless I use the mitre box. :)

Heather said...

I'm impressed at your perseverance AND your achievement. Wow.

Bethany said...

You rock!! One time, in my old apartment, I was able to determine what was wrong with my dryer, order the part, take it apart, install, I felt like a rockstar. :) It feels good, doesn't it?!

Who's Visiting My Blog Right Now?

Home About Dawn Blog Books News & Events Press Kit Contact

Dawn Meehan 2008-. All Rights Reserved.
Site Design by Jones House Creative