By Dennis P. Aures
My wife recently emerged from our basement and hit me with one of the two things I most hate to hear. The first being, "The sewer is backed up again!" Thank God it wasn’t that! And secondly, "The washer/dryer isn’t working!" Still bad, but doesn’t trigger thoughts of murder, suicide.
As for the sewer, an early indication of much future "fun" came on the first Thanksgiving in our "new" home. With a house full of dinner guests, we were treated to a lovely surprise when I went down to the cooler in the basement to get more beer. The cooler was floating! My dad calmed my panic when he said he’d call the Roto-Rooter guy in the morning and pay for it. Love you, Dad!
After pulling out clumps of roots, the serviceman said: "You’re gonna have lots of problems. If I were you I’d sell this place!" Nice! Just what you want to hear two weeks after you moved in. We didn’t sell and he wasn’t wrong.
On to washer/dryer fun and games. The washer decided to quit not too long ago, and despite my valiant efforts, it wasn’t repairable and we had to replace it. I thought "Sticker Shock" was reserved for automobile shopping. Wrong! This washer cost more than our first car.
So, on a recent Saturday morning with nothing but pessimism about the fixability of our dryer and spasms in my wallet, I headed for the basement. But then I thought: "Hey, it’s a gas dryer maybe it’s just the pilot light!" Armed with a screwdriver, flashlight and a new positive attitude, I commenced.
The screwdriver allowed me to pry off the access panel on the bottom of the dryer, the flashlight illuminated the guts of the machine and immediately extinguished my newly acquired positive attitude. No pilot light! It had an electronic ignition. RATS! (Or words to that effect.)
From previous experience I knew an electronic ignition would have an element that would glow red hot to ignite the gas. So, still on my hands and knees I hit the start button on the dryer, pressed my cheek to the cold basement floor, peered into the dark interior and waited for the "glow." No glow! Obviously the "igniter" was faulty and had to be replaced. No sweat! Piece of cake!
Yes sweat! No cake! After working mostly by feel in that tiny space I eventually had the offending part out and with an aching back, aching knees and much effort I was back on my feet. Just as a precaution and before I went looking for a new one, a quick electrical test revealed the igniter wasn’t defective after all! Really? Are we having fun yet?
A Google search led me to a site that basically said: "You shoulda checked the thermal fuse, Dummy!" and told me how to find it. It wasn’t easy, but eventually it was in my hand and I was on the phone with my last hope of getting a new one that day. When I asked if he had the part I needed, the appliance guy said, "I’ve got one in my pocket, but I’m on a job so you’ll have to come and get it." After getting the address I asked, "How much?" "Bring a 20!" was his response.
After what must have appeared like a drug deal going down between two old guys on a side street in Kenmore, he had his 20 and I had my fuse. There is more to the story and another 30 changed hands, but eventually we had a working dryer again.
Our next dryer is gonna be a rope with those wooden things to hold the clothes on!
Dennis Aures is a committed do-it-yourselfer.