by Mike Todd
“We are family now, you and I,” I said, watching the blood drip from my finger, forming an unbreakable bond with my silent compatriot.
“What are you doing?” my wife Kara asked from the doorway behind me.
“Just having a moment with the laundry machine,” I replied. I’d never felt closer to an appliance than I did at that moment, with our washer’s bare frame in front of me and its parts spread all over the room. The machine was at its most vulnerable, and it was depending on me, my Phillips screwdriver and all the king’s horses to get it back together again.
“Dude, is that blood?” Kara asked.
“There are some sharp spots in there,” I noted. I hadn’t noticed the cut on my finger until blood smears started appearing on the pump housing. When you’re a big, tough, appliance-fixing person like me, boo-boos are a part of the deal.
Earlier that day, back when I knew nothing about appliance repair, our washing machine decided that rather than wash our clothes, it would prefer to sit there blinking the letters “ND.” From some quick online searches, I found that “ND” is an error code, short for “Not Doin’ your laundry anymore.”
Some web searches showed a few easy things to try that would probably fix the problem. None of them worked, but they still provided a nice respite from watching videos of people dumping buckets of ice on their heads. (Which, by the way, I fully support, but would enjoy some variation to keep things interesting. Buckets of spiders, perhaps?)
I called the manufacturer, Samsung, to see what they had to say, which was: “Unplug it. Now plug it back in. Still doesn’t work? Huh.”
They generously offered to let me pay them to pay someone else to come fix it, but I needed to do more research first. After talking to a local appliance guy, I found that a house call would cost $110 for him to change out of his jammy pants, then another $135 to diagnose and possibly fix the problem, plus parts. But I’d have to unstack the washer and dryer before he’d even look at it, which was the part that had the most cussing, grunting and toe-smashing potential in the first place.
So I turned to the world’s most trusted source of reliable information: YouTube.
“Look, the guy in this video fixes it in eight minutes,” I told Kara. I was feeling confident from my earlier success at patching our roof leak. I was so good at it, I got to patch the same leak three times.
As the video progressed, the guy took the top off the washer, then removed the panel of buttons, then the big rubber seal, then the entire front panel, and then he started playing with the innards. The color drained from Kara’s face, the first time that day that anything in our house had drained properly.
“You can’t break something that’s already broken,” my dad said over the phone, which was encouraging. Not true, really, but encouraging.
So I dug in, armed with nothing but a screwdriver, an iPad and a misdirected sense of self-esteem. (I should also give credit to Kara here because I wouldn’t have been able to drop the dryer on myself by myself.)
To my amazement, after following the eight-minute video for three hours, the washing machine worked. It was the best fix-it job I’d ever performed, but I won’t call myself a hero because people expect modesty from a hero.
The next day, I found a little rubber flange on the counter that had previously kept the flow of water going one-way into the machine’s pump. Or maybe out of it. So not only had I fixed the machine, I’d upgraded one of the pipes from one-way to two-way. You don’t get that kind of service from someone trained and knowledgeable.
Anyway, dad’s advice turned out to be good. I gained confidence, skills and at least $235. And possibly tetanus.
You can try to fix Mike Todd at email@example.com.