Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Ongoing Saga of Dishwasher DIY

When it comes to home improvement, Michael and I are pretty firmly in the DIY camp. OK, so more accurately we're really in the DID (Do It Dad) camp, which, considering my dad is a professional builder, is not hard to understand. But sometimes we manage to go it on our own. Or at least we try. Hence, we did not want to pay an additional $100 for someone to install our new dishwasher. How hard could that be, anyway?

Good question. And I still don't know the answer. Oh, the dishwasher is up and running, all right. And, no, we don't need to go catch it. Although we do, apparently, need a pan to catch drips from the leak that unexpectedly reappeared yesterday.

But let's go back to the beginning.

The dishwasher arrived, a fully formed box with a slick black metal face, on the cusp of a very busy weekend.

"Don't try to install it on your own," I had told Michael. "We can work on it together on Saturday."

After sleeping in following a late Friday night, we found ourselves with a severe time shortage on Saturday morning. This was compounded by the fact that the dishwasher did not, in fact, come with all parts needed for installation. Specifically, we needed a 3/8" elbow with exterior threads. No problem; we'd have time to stop by Ace to get one on Sunday. In the meantime, I attached the dishwasher handle and Michael cut a piece of wood to raise the floor under the new dishwasher an extra inch. Progress had been made.

Sunday found us huddled over the plumbing fixtures at our local Ace Hardware, perplexed as to which size elbow we actually needed. Sure, it was 3/8" where it attached to the dishwasher, but what about the hot water pipe? What size was that?

"Well, let's get a couple of sizes, then we can just return what we don't need," I suggested. Michael agreed, and picked out two options.

Neither option was the right one.

Back at Ace (after all, we needed to take the dog for a walk, was it really such a big deal to head back to the store?), Michael picked out the correct fixture. Soon, we were back at home, ready to roll the dishwasher into place.

OK, that was easy enough. With the dishwasher in place, we reached underneath to fish for the drain pipe and wiring. Where was it? And why was it so hard to reach under the thing, anyway? How did they expect humans over the age of six to be able to reach an arm under there?

Take two. We rolled the dishwasher back out. "Let's tie some string to the pipe and the wires so that we can pull them out that way after we move the dishwasher," I said brightly. And this would have been a bright idea, too, had the string not been too slippery for my double knot, and we lost the wiring behind the motor once again.

Take three. Out came the dishwasher. This time, Michael had the even brighter idea to tuck the wires under the cardboard we had laid down to protect the floor. Success!

At this point, it was time for me to head out for Julfest, but despite a few stressful moments, I was feeling confident again. Maybe I would even come home to a working dishwasher!

Ah, such innocence. When I came home, little had changed. The stacks of dirty dishes and dusty tools that were slowly taking over all available counter space had not budged. Michael pointed out a new spanner in the works: the existing copper hot water pipe could not be bent to attach to the dishwasher. We were at a stalemate until we could determine what to do next. And, of course, the dishwasher would need to be rolled out once more.

Late that night, I brought my dad up to speed about the situation over the phone.

"You can bend the pipe," he told me matter-of-factly.

"With vice grips?" I asked, a little incredulous. "I can't bend this pipe, period, Dad. I mean, I can move it up and down, but it doesn't bend."

"Not with vice grips!" he admonished. "That could cause a leak. You can definitely bend it by hand."

A that point, with Michael at work, I wasn't about to test my dad's assertion by pulling out the dishwasher on my own. The whole situation made me tired. I went to bed and tried not to dwell on it.

Over a quick phone call while at work the next day, Michael explained that he'd discussed the matter further with dad, and wound up buying a special, flexible dishwasher hose instead. Dad, he said, understood.

But come Monday night, the dishwasher was still not installed, although it did get some more exercise as we rolled it back and forth multiple times. Tuesday night, work began again, not made any easier by the fact that the longer the process took, the shorter our tempers grew.

But finally, after the leaks were seemingly fixed, and all attachments firmly attached, we loaded up the washer, pushed the button marked, "heavy duty" (after all, those dishes had been sitting out for days), and marvelled at the pretty blue glow of the LED as the dishwasher almost silently came to life.

"No leaks!" I proclaimed to Michael the next day. "And the dishes are sparkling!"

Gleefully, I reorganized the cleaning supplies and put them away under the sink. Only to have Michael, an hour later, inform me that my celebration was premature. Out came the cleaning supplies from under the sink, and down went Michael, towel and wrench in hand.

Now, tonight, the second load is currently in operation. And the leak, cross our fingers, appears to have abated. Of course, I now have to finish this post and go upstairs and actually test this theory. Let's hope the Ongoing Saga of Dishwasher DIY will finally come to a happy conclusion.

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