Adventures in washing machine repair, illustrated edition

11 Sep

OK, so yesterday I called Chuck at work to let him know the washer part came, so he could hopefully come home a little early to repair it because he had other appointments yesterday evening, and as I had already established we were getting into a serious crisis of underpants.  He came home about an hour early and installed our new timer in less than 30 minutes.  We decided to run it through a super short cycle with no clothes just to make sure it was working properly before we through a bunch of clothes in there only to end up with a big sopping wet mess of half-clean duds (I’m liking this duds thing, although, maybe next time I’ll try threads.  Threads would be cool–it’s so Huggy Bear.)

Anyway, we run it through a cycle and it kind of has this extra long pause before the rinse cycle, which is where it was totally stopping before.  It would agitate through the wash cycle and then just stop dead, not draining or rinsing or spinning.  There were a couple of times that I was able to coax it into the other part of the cycle with some creative knob-turning (or so I thought—a little foreshadowing for you there), so we assumed it must be the timer.  We had had to replace the timer about 5 years ago, and at the time when I complained to the repair man about the washer being less than two years old and shouldn’t the dang timer last longer than that, he replied, “You never know about timers.  They could last 30 minutes or 30 years.  You just never know.”

But coming back to the present now (or the not as past past since I’m talking about last night), it seemed like a really loooong pause, so we were worried it wasn’t fixed after all and I was about ready to cry.  I had already sorted 7 loads of laundry and I was ready to go!  I leaned forward onto the washer to hang my head in my hands in despair, and the rinse cycle kicked in.  We thought, huh, maybe we just don’t have an accurate idea of how long each part of the cycle takes.  I mean, it’s not like we ever sit in the laundry room and watch the washer.  I don’t even have one of those cool front loaders with the glass doors so that you can see the clothes swishing around.  I suppose if I did, that might be a tempting pasttime.  So with a great deal of relief I went about my merry way cooking dinner while the washer finished washing all of my underwear.  Success!

With one load of victory under my belt, I decided to tackle the rest of my mountain, and threw in another load.  Well, I went upstairs to tend to this and that, and when I came back downstairs, I noticed that the machine had paused again after the agitating part of the cycle.  I stood there for a full five minutes waiting for it to kick in.  I knew something was wrong.  Terribly, terribly wrong.  Some drama ensued, which included some loud and emotional muttering on my part.  I leaned forward on the washer, putting my weight on the lid while I peered over the back to see if there was something weird going on with the drain pipe or some other washing machine ailment that would miraculously make itself known to me and that I would then know what to do about, and the washer kicked back on again.  Startled, I jumped back a little and it stopped.  I pushed back down on the lid and it started.  I eased back and it stopped.  Push, on.  Pull back, stop.  Hmmmm.  Push, on.  Pull back, on.  Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

I figured it must have something to do with the little sensor thingy under the lid that lets it know if the lid is open or not.  Our washing machine will continue to agitate when the lid is open (I always thought this was strange as our last washing machine always stopped whatever it was doing when we opened the lid), but will stop spinning, rinsing, etc.  I let the washer finish its cycle, because hey, it was working, so better not to interrupt its workingness—I had a load of colors at stake here, including the shirt Mr. T was supposed to be wearing for school pictures today.

After that load was done, I threw in another, and when it stopped this time, I opened the lid and fiddled with the little sensor button thing.  (By this time everyone was in bed, so I was left to my own devices.)  When I pushed it down the washer came back on, but I also noticed that it had quite a bit of give to it.  It was loose, so when the lid was shut, the little pointy thing that was supposed to push on the sensor to indicate the lid was closed was just pushing the whole piece down and thus not making the right connections.  I tried tightening the screws to keep it in position, but the screws just kind of spun.  So I did the next best thing to actually repairing something, and pulled out the duct tape.  My washing machine lid sensory doohickey thing is now being held securely in place with the cure all of home improvement and repair.  The cycle, of course, finished.  And when I threw in another load, it ran all the way through without incident.  I fixed my not really broken washing machine all by myself with a roll of duct tape!

So the moral of the story is threefold:

1.  Don’t call a washer repairman to look at your “broken” washing machine because even though the thing you thought was wrong with it, wasn’t actually and you spent $150 (with shipping) on a part you didn’t need, you have 90 days to return said part, and while you’ll lose the $15 shipping charge (and whatever it will cost you to ship it back, which I assure you will not be any $15 for a 1 lb part!) you will still end up paying considerably less than a $60+ whatever bogus work/part they’d tell you you’d need service call.

2.  Sometimes when it ain’t broke, you still have to fix it.

3.  Never underestimate the power of duct tape.

Chuck offered to look into replacing the sensor, but I’m thinking it’s not that it’s broken, it just doesn’t want to stay put, and since I’ve already remedied that with the duct tape, what would be the point?  And I do apologize to all of you who may feel I’ve betrayed our sex with the employment of the infamous duct tape for a home repair project.  But I’m really having a hard time feeling too badly about it, sitting here in my soft as a summer’s breeze and fresh as the morning dew undies.

Do you have any home improvement/repair success stories to share?  Or maybe some stories about being totally wrong about something and feeling kind of dumb and that you’d wasted a bunch of money and time and energy being stressed out about the something and even devoting a number of blog posts to said something that wasn’t even an actual something, but just a kind of something yet it all worked out in the end so you guess it doesn’t really matter to share?

Little pointy thing:

Duct tape repair:

Non-broken timer Chuck will be putting back in this weekend so we can return the non-necessary timer:

Paper towel I used to wipe down my washer before I took the pictures:

Some of my happy, little piles of clean laundry:

Some of my laundry still waiting to be ready for placement in a happy, little pile of cleanliness:


9 Responses to “Adventures in washing machine repair, illustrated edition”

  1. cheryl September 11, 2008 at 11:41 am #

    Don’t feel dumb. It happens, you know. Not to me, but you know…

    Just kidding!

    Except I can’t think of any examples right now, so maybe it doesn’t happen to me. But other stuff happens to me. Loads and loads and loads of other humiliations –galore! –happen to me. So, we’re even, right? And yours isn’t even humiliating. Just frustrating. And gave you the chance to use one of the best run-on sentences I’ve seen in many a year.

    Long live the Duct Tape!

  2. madhousewife September 11, 2008 at 1:06 pm #

    That’s awesome! Duct tape! It doesn’t get any better.

  3. kamillivanilli September 11, 2008 at 1:08 pm #

    You’ve got me wondering if what I need is a new timer or just a duct-taped doo-hickie thing on my washing machine…as mine is also on the fritz and more often than not, does not go through an entire rinse and spin cycle, and I too am greeted by a wet, soggy mound of clothes in my washer. Hmmmm….I have been too lazy to look into it and have just been doing the second spin cycle thing that you referred to. You may have just saved me a $150 repairman fee if I can figure out how the hell to fix this thing by myself.


    So glad it all worked out in the end. Seriously can’t tell you how many times Hamburglar has bought new parts for things that just needed a good shove. Seriously. All the time.

  4. flip flop mama September 11, 2008 at 2:21 pm #

    I love duct tape….works wonders! Sorry you had to wait so long to fix something that wasn’t really broken after all though…

  5. Leslie September 11, 2008 at 4:16 pm #

    Go Bythelbs…You Rock!!! Seriously…you are woman! I firmly believe that duct tape and superglue are a mama’s best friends!

  6. Alison Wonderland September 11, 2008 at 8:04 pm #

    What’s wrong with fixing things with duct tape? I thought that was the preferred method of fixing anything. At least it is at my house

  7. Mother of the Wild Boys September 11, 2008 at 10:38 pm #

    Oh man, how I wish that I could go back in time with this knowledge. We had the same EXACT problem, and it was that sensor thingy. Somehow it got ripped away from it’s place, although it was still dangling there. So we paid a repair guy $75 in part and labor to put in a new sensor. And to think, I could’ve just duct taped it!

  8. thewoobdog September 15, 2008 at 8:06 am #

    HA HA HA HA HA!!!! “A serious crisis of underpants” HA HA HA!!!

    Hey, if the threads (um… screw threads, not duds-threads) are stripped, you could try wrapping them in teflon tape or lock-tite… Although, if duct tape works, why change it?

    Speaking of duct tape – when I built my house a ‘friend’ of mine insisted – despite my repeated and vehement protestations – on wiring the house for full sound/phone/AV/etc in all rooms so that I could have a state-of-the-art setup, all for the price of pizza and beer. Yeah. So, needless to say, 3 years later we (I switched from “I” to “we” since I wasn’t married when I built the house but am now, btw) would still have various and random holes in the ceilings, tops of walls, and bottoms of walls were it not for the fact that I bought ‘dummy’ plates to cover the spots where phone hookups should be (yeah, the house isn’t even wired for phones, thanks to my good buddy) and to cover the holes in the tops of the walls where speaker hookups should be, and white duct tape to cover the holes in the ceilings (for whatever the heck those were for). Yup. My ceiling is patched with white duct tape (and no one ever even notices…. muahahahahaha!).

  9. thewoobdog September 15, 2008 at 8:09 am #

    Did I mention he even wired the BATHROOMS? For TVs, no less. Just in case I wanted to watch TV while in the tub. Sheesh. AND NEVER FINISHED ANYTHING. Didn’t put in a single terminus or hookup. Just left wires poking out of holes everywhere.


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