If you tuned in on Monday, you were fortunate to read part 1 of the exciting adventures of Gregg (that's me!) trying to fix our washing machine. In that episode, Gregg (that's me!) realizing that the malfunctioning washer's problem are most likely caused by plumbing and/or some mechanical problem does the most logical thing that came to his mind. Gregg (that's me!) began researching new washing machines. Yes, technically, the washing machine repair guy could be called. BUT AT WHAT COST? The washer was over 15 years old, and didn't cost much to begin with.
As part of Gregg's research into a new washer, Gregg (that's me!) asked some basic questions of an engineer at work (who used to work at Maytag). Questions like "why do those little pedestals cost as much as my original washer when all they do is hold the REAL washer up a little teeny bit higher?" Yes, Gregg knows how to get at the heart of complex and technical issues.
Unfortunately, despite Gregg's history with plumbing and/or mechanical things, he allows the engineer to guilt him into trying to fix the washer. Imagine. In phase one, Gregg (that's me!) checked all the filter screens for blockage as suggested by the ex-Maytag engineer. Finding none, he ended the blog post.
Finally, the thrilling conclusion can be told!
Sure, as it turns out, the brilliant ex-Maytag engineer was wrong about the filter screens being clogged. However, at this point the guilt he started in me was growing. How could I let a box of folded metal and some simple plumbing get the best of me? I'm an ELECTRICAL ENGINEER for goodness sakes. I could probably design a device that could clean clothes entirely by playing old 45 records backwards at 78 RPM, thus eliminating the need for the washing machine (and plumbing) altogether! I wasn't going to let that dumb washer get the better of me, or it was going to be replaced by my Shaun Cassidy 45 collection and some electronic wizardry.
Da Doo Ron Ron THAT!
I truly believe that one of my greatest strengths is my ability to find nearly anything. One of my primary partners in crime for this activity is my trusty friend, The Internet.
I knew that I could find the drawings AND PARTS for a 15 year old washer. No problem. ( <- sarcasm) In fact, it really wasn't much of a problem. I did find them, almost immediately. What I learned was that both the hot and cold water entered a single valve, called the "mix valve" and there was a single exit hose that ultimately filled the washer. Since the hot water was working properly, it was entirely likely that this mix valve was the problem.
I felt I had a solution.
Here's the trick. Amana/Whirlpool had stopped making (or providing) that valve QUITE A WHILE AGO. I wasn't going to let THAT little detail stop me though. Lessor men, of course, would have stopped right there. I was not a lessor man!
Ultimately, I found some shady, back alley internet appliance parts store located right behind a shop that sold conspiracy theories for $9.95 a month. They pretended like they had the right part. "Genuine Whirlpool", it said. "In stock", it said.
Still, the picture DID look pretty close to the drawings I'd found earlier. Also, the price was right, the part was only $23 or so, plus shipping. That's a lot cheaper than a new High Tech washer and dryer. I decided to risk buying the part, even knowing I'd have to battle TWO of my arch enemies: Plumbing and Mechanical Devices. I'll usually do almost ANYTHING to avoid plumbing and mechanical devices. For similar reasons, I'll sometimes go DAYS without going to the bathroom.
In any case, to make an already too long story that probably interests no one even a teensy bit shorter, I'll get right to it. The part actually came in after about 10 days. I was mildly surprised. It did in fact look VERY similar to the drawing on the Internet I had found. That was encouraging. Still, I was a little afraid that there would be some kind of difference that would end up requiring some metal-work on my part, and maybe even some welding. Though spectacular, welding seems scary to me. I didn't want to weld.
Next step was getting the washer properly disassembled. This was actually kind of tricky, but since I had previously solved the Rubiks cube (though with some direction) and also was pretty good at the "Professor Layton" series of puzzle games on the Nintendo DS, I figured I was well equipped. Also, there was the Internet. It wouldn't be fair if I didn't mention the Internet's help.
So, I got the washer taken apart. It was not NEARLY as nasty as I was expecting inside the washer, after 15 years, and I didn't find any clan of critters living in there, certainly not raccoons or squirrels and not even spiders or a family of Midland Brown Snakes. However, in unrelated news, there DOES happen to be a Midland Brown Snake living in our basement. It's fast. I haven't been able to catch it, yet. Don't tell anyone. However, strangely enough, I DID find a single acorn inside the washing machine case. Weird.
As it turns out, my internet searching and back alley appliance parts dealer all came through for me. The valve I had purchased was EXACTLY the same as the one in the washer. EXACTLY - even down to the last dimple in the castings and the metal plate holding the solenoids together. I don't like to brag, but goodness gracious I'm good at finding things...even things I know nothing about. Psychic Hotlines have nothing on me!
I was able to replace the valve, reattach the proper plumbing and electrical connections and even reassemble the washer case without any difficulties. I could even do it with my available tools. No trip to the neighborhood Ace!
To top it off, replacing the valve did the trick! The washer is back to normal, now. So, hopefully now my wife WILL brag to all her friends and they will throw me a party and it will include banana cream pie. I like pie.
Also, now that I've proven my ability to repair trivial plumbing and mechanical items, my ego and self-confidence are temporarily inflated. So, I've now compiled a list of plumbing projects I plan on completing, starting with a leaky original outdoor faucet to our vintage home.
Yep, I'm a real man's man.
Pray for my household.
ANNOUNCEMENT: In completely unrelated synchronicity with my first real electro-mechanical plumbing success, this so happens to be (by my possibly inaccurate count) my 500th post on "One Dad's Life!" YEAH ME! If you've missed a few, now might be a good time to go back and catch up. You've got all weekend. I'll see you on Monday.