« Marathon joke post | Main | A society in turmoil? »

December 30, 2003

Sentient appliances?

I become ever more convinced that some household appliances are sentient. They must be. How else would they know the exact moment when it is financially and physically the worst possible time to break down?

My washing machine decided to do this to me over Christmas. Naturally, I had a guest staying, and naturally, I was a bit behind on the laundry. So, halfway through the second load, it stopped. Now there is a procedure for getting a front loaders door open when it is full of washing and half full of water. It is easy if the machine is standing in the open and you can get at the drainage pipes and all the associated valves, etc. It is not easy when, because my kitchen is of a limited size (ie; typically compact - this is the UK!) it is actually built in under a worktop and between cupboards.

After half dismantling the cupboards and much sweating and swearing, the machine was extracted and the relevant pipes disconnected so that it could be drained. Naturally, this happens on a Friday night, and equally naturally, it happens in the run up to Christmas. Repair or replacement is going to cost. Getting someone who can repair said appliance in the week before Christmas is a bit like looking for hen's teeth! So, first task - find out why the pump is not working!

After a great deal of effort, I finally had sufficient water drained to actually open the door and retrieve all my shirts, still full of soap and in dire need of rinsing! Shirts removed to bath filled with clean water - cold, naturally! Find two different sizes of Phillip's screw drivers (there are two different sized screws holding on the back plate!) and remove the cover plate, locate pump and attempt to dismantle it so it can be removed. Another two screw drivers required for this task, plus some fancy Mole Grips and a circlip clamp, and bingo! - we have the offending object removed. Also the filters to see if that is blocked and affecting the pump.

The filter proved to be clear, apart from a deposit of soap silt that would make an African river look clean and clear, so it has to be the pump. Remove the retaining clips from the volute housing (OK, technical term from a Fire Pump - it's probably called something else by the washing machine fraternity!) and the problem becomes obvious. There isn't a heck of a lot of the impeller (the thingy that spins around and moves the water along!) left, and the shaft that is supposed to connect it to the motor which turns it, is also decidedly reluctant to turn. Right, new pump required. Problem, this machine is 8 years old, are there still spare parts available?

Move scene to the following morning. Yellow pages to the fore, Domestic Appliance Repairs, Washing Machine Repairs, track local technicians, try numbers, eventually one answers. "Nah, sorry Guv, can't do anyfing 'til after New Year." Try another number, and another, desperation is by now starting to set in - this is beginning to look like a major damage to the credit card to buy a new one! Finally, success, a man who says cheerfully, "Pump gone? That's unusual for that model, but, no problem, I can fit a new one for you. Monday OK?"

He did too! And without charging an arm and a leg. So washing machine sorted, we move to lunch preparation.

Place food in microwave, set controls to defrost, start microwave. Microwave starts - and stops without warning. Nothing persuades it to restart. Move to stove, stove refuses to heat up. Check all plugs, check all connections, check mains board.

The fuse for the stove circuit is loose. Don't ask me why, it just is. No one has touched it, no one has been near it. Push it back. Bingo, stove heats up, microwave starts.

Go out and buy burgers. This is getting spooky.

Posted by The Gray Monk at December 30, 2003 11:48 AM