'Fixing It' Can Be More Trouble Than Necessary

Published 4:03 pm Thursday, May 12, 2011

I like to try to fix things.

Notice I said “try.”

So there I was sprawled on the back room floor the other evening calling for the wife to fetch a bucket.

I had already gotten the look on an earlier visit. You know the one, guys: “Are you going to be able to put that back together?”

The problem this time was a malfunctioning washing machine and I had the bright idea to take apart. If worst came to worst, I guess I was figuring, there was always the option of buying a new one if this didn't come out in the wash. Like a bad stain on a good shirt, taking another spin couldn't really harm it any more.

The trouble in the Chapman household began on a prior evening when I got the long distance call from the other end of the house.

“Robby,” the wife yelled.

It was, of course, in such a tone that I left the comfort of the office chair in front of the computer and hastened down the hallway with my ten-year-old to check it out.

You just know the sound from your better half when you hear it. It's almost like she's yelling “snake;” you just go.

The belt on our old washing machine was squealing in mid-cycle and the wife had shut it down and emitted that “what else” now look when I arrived. Given our recent history of mechanical failures (heat pump, car, dishwasher), we assumed the worst.

What to do?

Nothing, of course, for the moment, but there was a strong thought to just stop by and pick up a new one on the way home the next day. After all, given that Mother's Day was (then) just around the corner, what could be a better present for the wife than a functioning washing machine?

Yep, I'm sure that would have gotten shot down off the flagpole of ill-conceived ideas.

No, as I previously cited, I opted to tackle it myself. And, while I'm not exactly a washing machine repairman or the son of one, a project that doesn't require typing, wordsmithing or related such activities can be therapeutic if not actually enjoyable at times. I would not be deterred.

Still, I had never taken a washing machine such as this apart and successfully reassembled it, but I figured to give it a try and started by taking out screws.

Sure, the disassembly was agitating at times but perseverance paid off and eventually the sides first came loose enough that I could see just how little actual mechanical mechanisms there were inside.

I slipped off the drainage hoses and checked to see that there was nothing clogging the pump (spilling an ample flow into the floor), made sure that the drain line was clear and eventually found…


Everything, even the belt, seemed to be working as it should be.

There was no watershed moment.

So, I'd created a mess in the house, disassembled the washer, and was no closer to fixing the problem. At least if I had left it alone, I wouldn't have a collection of soaked towels littering the floor.

The only thing I could do was put it back together, of course.

Yes, yes, I know, the wife had her doubts about accomplishing such a feat. But, to her credit, she said nothing and left the man with his troubles.

Piece by piece, it slowly went back together as the time passed and, when it was nearly done and looked whole again, I stood there, gazing down at the emptied tub in wonderment only…

Well, it wasn't exactly empty. A metal screw had found its way out of one of my pockets, aligned at just the right angle during the wash into a drainage hole in the bottom of the tub.

I would soon deduce that it, acting as a wedge, was the sole culprit.

Guess I'll just have to move to something else to “try” to fix.