M. Giant's
Throwing stuff at the internet to see what sticks

Thursday, June 22, 2006  

Labor-Saving, My Ass

I wasn't there when the dishwasher door broke six months ago. All I knew is that one day, I went to put something into the dishwasher, and the door swung down in something resembling freefall. I asked Trash if she had a theory. All she knew is that earlier that day, while opening or closing the dishwasher door she'd heard a metallic CLUNK/sproing emanating from somewhere in the bowels of the machine.

What I know about dishwashers is barely enough to get dishes clean, but I gathered my courage and my screwdrivers and started taking pieces off the front of the thing to see if I could figure out what had gone wrong. Before long, I'd gotten as far as I could without dragging the thing at least partway out of its little socket under the counter. And doing that was probably going to ruin that section of the new kitchen floor I'd just installed in 2002. I tried to figure out a way to pull it out without ruining the floor. I tried to actually pull it out without ruining the floor. I pulled it out. I ruined the floor.

But I was able to determine that the problem was the spring that attached the door to the frame. It had broken, leaving the door to swing free in a potentially toddler-crushing way. So I locked the dishwasher door, got right on the Internet, ordered a new door spring, and fixed it a few days later. And then I fixed the floor.

Even though, like I said, I wasn't there the first time the door broke, when I heard a metallic CLUNK/sproing emanating from somewhere in the bowels of the machine, I knew exactly what it was. And I certainly wasn't looking forward to fixing the floor again.

But I got back on the Internet and ordered a new door spring, wondering how I was going to fix this so it didn't happen every six months. Imagine my relief when I got it apart for the second time and found that there are actually two door springs, and the one that had failed was not the same one I had replaced six months before. An added bonus was the fact that I knew what I was doing this time, so it wasn't even necessary for me to wreck the floor again. I replaced the spring, light of heart. And I figured that as long as I was down there and had the circuit breaker shut off, I might as well adjust the height of the thing so the door doesn't hang down as far when it's open. Nothing simpler. I put it all back together and shut the door.

Okay, I tried to shut the door. But in my "cleverness," I had raised the dishwasher the eight of an inch it needed for the door to run into the board that runs across the top of the socket. Not cool.

I suppose I could have taken it all apart again and lowered it, but that would have been admitting defeat. Instead, I noticed that that board wasn't tightly attached to the bottom of the countertop directly above it. Fix that, I thought, and I would fix the problem.

I rooted through my toolbox for woodscrews that were exactly the right size; long enough to go through the board and bite into the wood of the countertop, but not long enough to rupture right through the formica of the upper surface. Eventually I found one. Yes, one. And I put it to work. I screwed that board right up to the countertop, allowing the dishwasher door to swing smoothly home.

What I failed to take into account is the fact that the top of the dishwasher has these two metal brackets coming out of it, which are screwed directly onto that selfsame board. Amazingly enough, the rocking of a sixty-pound appliance turns out to be sufficient to overcome the gripping power of one lone woodscrew. Soon the board was loose again, and I was back to using a spoon handle to lift the board out of the way of the door whenever I wanted to close it.

Now, my mother-in-law happened to be staying here and taking care of M. Small last week, and I had failed to explain to her the complicated situation with the dishwasher door. Fortunately, she either wasn't aware of a problem, or had discovered her own solution, which was to force the door into place, pushing that board back out of the way instead of over. I had to acknowledge the low-impact genius of this solution for a few days. But then we did a load of dishes on Sunday, and a good pint of dingy water ended up on the floor. So clearly it remained imperfect.

I didn't feel like rummaging around for more woodscrews, so Monday night I did what I should have done in the first place: I just ripped that stupid board right out of there. Now the door closed like a dream, with room to spare. Pleased with myself, I pulled the bottom rack out to load it. And the dishwasher promptly tipped forward.

Yes, thanks for asking, as a matter of fact I had failed to reattach those brackets to anything. But putting that board back just to screw the brackets to them seemed a grim process, not to mention the fact that the finesse-free way I'd gone about removing the board in the first place made the prospect of reinstalling it iffy at best (also not to mention that the way it was jammed in there had all the earmarks of the work of Dr. Jellyfinger). So I just screwed the brackets to the bottom of the countertop instead. Imagine my joy when I'd gotten them screwed in tight, and the points of the screws were still not protruding from my countertop.

So it works, as far as I know, as long as by "works" you mean "the door closes." As to its watertightness, I've only done one load, but so far so good. But this time, if anything goes wrong, I'll know exactly what to do. Call a repairman.

posted by M. Giant 9:28 PM 4 comments


Is it ever a good sign when "sproing" emanates from a piece of machinery?

The sequence of events that took place when you tried to fix your dishwasher had no resonance for me whatsoever. It did not sound even REMOTELY like something I would totally end up doing. Or like anything I've actually, ahem, done. Nope. Nuh-uh. No way.

Also, I totally didn't giggle so hard I choked a little.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at June 23, 2006 at 12:10 AM  

Good job! I would have never fixed that!

By Anonymous Anonymous, at June 23, 2006 at 7:37 AM  

Hey, I think I saw this episode of the Cosby Show!

By Anonymous Anonymous, at June 23, 2006 at 9:36 AM  

When I first started reading your post, my initial thought was wuh-oh, this is an awful lot like a major plot twist in Zach Braff's movie "Garden State." Glad it got fixed before any tragic turn of events occurred.

By Blogger Her Ladyship, at June 23, 2006 at 11:33 AM  

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