If you have three small children and a broken dryer, you have some idea of what hell is like. A few weeks ago we were at my daughter’s house and her bathroom was covered with hangers holding various articles of clothing, while a large fan whirled relentlessly. The dryer had broken and they were waiting fir a replacement part they ordered online. She had not yet resorted to that epitome of despair– taking her wet clothes to the laundromat.
For me the laundromat, always triggers traumatic memories of when I was single and spent a large portion of my life at the “World O’ Suds”. I would s put this off until the last possible minute and then I would schlep down there looking like a hobo in the only clean clothes I had left, in order to spend a fortune in quarters trying to get those darn towels dry.
Just a few months ago our dryer broke down. I decided to save a few bucks by seeing what the internet could offer. I eventually found a website that showed my dryer, and exactly what I needed to do to repair it. It seems that all the fuss was caused by a minuscule plastic fuse that cost about five dollars and takes 10 minutes to replace. I went to the appliance store where I bought the dryer and they sent me to an appliance parts warehouse out near the airport. This place actually had the fuse I desperately needed hanging on a display rack near the cash register like it was a box of TicTacs®.
When I got home I managed to lose about half of the little metal screws that hold the back cover on the dryer, but after 10 minutes— all I can say is “Mission Accomplished”.
Last winter, I used the Internet to fix our furnace. We have an oil furnace, which always manages to run out of fuel on the coldest day of the year. When our oil furnace completely runs out, it requires that you run some fuel through the line before it will start pumping again. So even when we finally got our fuel tank filled, the furnace wouldn’t work.
I looked all this stuff up on the Internet and had decided to try to fix it myself, although I was very worried about what might happen in light of the unfortunate incident of the Coleman® Stove. I was alarmed to find that the process of running fuel through the lines is called “bleeding”, a term which has been often associated with my home repairs. I was also worried because the furnace in the pictures did not look very much like our furnace so I wasn’t exactly sure what I was doing. With ticking parts and colored wires sticking out all over, the furnace resembled a large time bomb that I was trying to defuse. Call it “beginner’s luck” or more properly “dumb luck”, but I managed to bleed the line, only spilling a gallon or two of No. 2 fuel oil over my coat and our basement floor.
I must admit that I usually try pawn off calling the repairman on my wife, Diane. I also make a point of not being around while the repairman is there and I have even been known to take several trips around the block, waiting for the repair truck to leave our driveway.
I think I do this for a couple of reasons. First it seems less than masculine to have another man come to your house to fix something that you should be able to repair yourself. Secondly, repairmen all seemed bent on giving me a lecture on how I can make the repair myself in the future should it break again. Having no intention to ever do so, I nod my head knowingly and have no idea what they’re talking about when they rattle on about broil plates, solenoids, mullions and my personal favorite “the infinite heat switch”. Then I say that I understand perfectly and make a mental note that if it breaks again I will definitely have to get Diane to call another repair guy.
Finally I am embarrassed that they might disparage my lame attempts at fixing the appliance before they came. They might ask what happened to all the metal screws on the back cover, for example, or ask what is all that duct tape doing wrapped around the infinite heat switch.
Years ago I had a van that would stall out all the time because the carburetor’s butterfly valve would not open and car didn’t get enough air. I discovered that if I shoved an object into the carburetor, it would open the valve enough to allow the engine to run. Generally I used a screwdriver for this purpose, but once I couldn’t find one and instead used an old bayonet, I had nagged my dad in buying me at the army surplus store when I was a kid.
A few weeks later the car had other problems and I took it into the garage, completely forgetting about the bayonet. When the mechanic saw it sticking in the carburetor he pulled it out as if he were King Arthur extracting Excalibur. He said “I think I see your problem, someone has engaged this van in hand to hand combat”. I never lived it down.
When we visited our daughter again on, thankfully, her dryer was working again. We knew it was working because we could hear a continuous loud squeal emanating from her basement — or should I say “her downstairs”. She has a walk-out ground floor that she hates to hear us call “a basement”. I’m not sure what was wrong with the dryer, but I told her if should could find me a large dagger of some sort, I’m sure I could fix it.