Part I: The Incompetent Repairman
Early one morning during the last week of February, I was sitting at my desk in the basement. Hunched over my laptop computer, I was distracted by a drip.
Sometimes a drip is a singular random drip, but then I heard it again. And just to be sure, I wasn’t hearing things, I waited to hear the drip again, and I did.
So, I got up from my chair, and moved in the direction of the drip. My ears took me to our three year old washing machine. I looked inside the silent, empty tub, and I saw the pooling of water from a steady drip.
I put a small bucket inside the tub to catch the water. I didn’t want that water to load up the drainage system.
Of course, I went to the internet to search, and in a few minutes, a diagnosis was deduced—a faulty water inlet valve.
I went further, and watched a step by step video that even an incompetent washing machine repairman like myself could do.
In her efficiency, the Commander Supreme, located the owner’s manual. It contained the essential model number and serial number for the leaking washer.
I contacted the parts department at a local retailer. I explained the drip, my amateur internet assisted diagnosis, and provided the model number to the patient clerk.
After a few minutes of his own investigation, he agreed with the diagnosis, and confirmed that he had the part in stock. I requested that he hold the part until I could pick it up.
On the afternoon of Friday, February 25, I picked up the part.
Based upon the internet video, I had the proper tools, and I was ready to start my nonprofessional surgery.
My first correct step was to unplug the machine from the electrical supply. Even with my limited skills, I know that water and electricity are not a good mix.
Next, I turned off the shutoff valves for the hot and cold water. I had placed a towel and a bucket under the stainless steel hoses where they connect to the back of the washing machine.
As I started to unscrew one of the hose connections, I took a shower. Water spewed at me like a lawn sprinkler. Clearly, an auspicious start, as molten words collided in midair with the spraying water. I retightened the shutoff valves, and the shower stopped.
After toweling off, the real surgery started. Somehow, I successfully removed the control panel. I gently leaned it on the lid of the washer.
I spied the water inlet valve. After several minutes of fumbling around, I removed this blue plastic contraption from its secure perch.
The next step was to remove the two wire harnesses that snap into the solenoids. The first one cooperated. The second one failed to cooperate. That harness was as stubborn as a child in a terrible two meltdown.
I pulled, tugged.
I used gentle words of encouragement like a horse whisperer.
I used harsh, volatile words like Coach K burning the ears of a referee.
The Commander Supreme from the top of the basement stairs asked if I was ok. I politely directed her not to come down the stairs.
I called the part supplier. He was baffled. But, he guessed that the harness had been installed too snuggly at the factory.
I decide to wrap the plastic coating of the harness in a rag. With pliers, I gripped the harness and pulled like I was in a playground tug of war, and the harness released. One side released cleanly, the other side failed to budge. I had to pry it off.
It took a few minutes, but I finally was able to get the new inlet valve in place and secured. I reattached the control panel, and screwed it back in place.
I reconnected the water hoses and tighten them to the washer. I turned on the water and I had a leak on one of the hoses. Tightened again, still dripped. It appeared that the drip was from a faulty hose.
So I turned off the water, and quit for the night.
On Saturday morning, I picked up two new hoses at Lowes. I installed them, turned on the water, and no leaks. Also, the new water inlet valve appeared to be working as no water was dripping inside the washing machine.
I know your are dying for this rubbish to end, but I’m sorry to disappoint you.
The Commander Supreme on Saturday had made an overnight trip to North Carolina for a lunch gathering of Pike related women.
After church on Sunday, I decided I would wash a load of clothes to make sure that my repair had been successful. I loaded the washer, selected the proper setting, and pushed the start button.
The control panel lit up, I could hear the tub filling with water, and inside I was quietly cheering. I went back upstairs for a few minutes, and then came back to the basement. I took a few steps toward the machine, and on the floor I saw a stream of water.
I grabbed some old towels and tossed them on the floor to stop the stream. No leaks at the hoses, but the top back corner of the washer was wet with water droplets. The tub was still filling, so I let it cycle through the complete run.
I dried everything off on the surface, and waited for the next cycle of water fill. Again no hose leaks, but water was still leaking from the machine.
When the run finished, I disassembled the control panel, and found a small pool of water where a tiny hose fit into the inlet valve. Everything look to be properly in place. With paper towels, I soaked up the water, and quit.
Part II: The Experienced Repairman
On Monday, I made arrangements for a real repairman to come out. Of course, the next appointment opening was on Tuesday, March 8. Cussing internally, I took the appointment.
I decided to call my former Hermitage High School pal, Bruce Bowen. Bruce is a savvy consumer. Maybe, he knows a repair company that can get to us sooner. Sure enough, Bruce had a name and number.
I called this company, and luckily they had a cancellation for Wednesday morning.
A few minutes before the appointed time, the repairman arrived.
As we walked to the basement, he recapped what had been reported to him about the washing machine. He acknowledged that water inlet valves had been a problem for the manufacturer of our machine.
He plugged in the washer, turned on the disassembled panel. The machine started the fill cycle, and immediately, he saw what was causing the leak.
The narrow hose going into the water inlet valve was not properly seated. He shut down the machine, and asked if I still had the faulty valve, and I did.
He looked at the old valve, and in the porthole where the hose was to properly fit, he removed a tiny “o” ring. He placed the “o” ring into the porthole, pushed the hose connection back into place, started the washer, and no water leaked.
As I beat myself up out loud for not catching the “o” ring, he stopped me.
The repairman shifted blame to the manufacturer. No new “o”ring had been included with the new valve, and the old “o” ring was the same color as the old valve making it difficult for the untrained eye to see.
With grateful thanks, I wrote the check which was also a nice surprise— he only charge us for the trip.
During the whole ordeal, a question had been burning inside of me. I asked the repairman, “Why are you so busy?”
He did not hold back. He told me—“The quality in the manufacturing of household appliances is not what it used to be.”
He further stated, “Unless you are lucky, the consumer can expect something to go wrong with an appliance during the first three years of ownership.”
I thanked him for his honest assessment.
Part III: Acts of you, me, we, us, and love
As I fumbled through the owner’s manual for our washing machine, I read with interest what is not covered in the manufacturer’s limited one year warranty. Number six read: Damage to the product caused by accident, fire, floods, or acts of God.
Interesting to me that in 2022, when as a society we appear to be more removed from God than ever before, yet “acts of God” is still part of an owner’s manual for a washing machine.
I guess that means the author of the manual, or perhaps an attorney who reviews the manual still acknowledges the unseen power, or perhaps the fear of God’s ability to cause problems.
Made me think about my own personal owner’s manual. Do I have one?
Do I have a limited warranty?
Do I have multiple pages of troubleshooting tips to guide me through difficult moments of operating through life?
How was I molded and formed on the assembly line from birth to where I am now?
And most importantly, who creates my challenges—me or God?
Yes, I know, those questions make your head spin.
But, my old noggin has come to this line of thought—you, me, we, us, our county, city, state, country, and world need an act of God.
God needs to grab us, shake us, and say to us—“Hey, you knuckleheads, this isn’t working, this has got to stop, you can’t continue like this, your stubborn hearts are not loving like I constructed them.”
In truth, we don’t need an act of God.
We need an act of our hearts.
Our hearts were constructed to love.
But, we have selfishly moved away from that love.
That inlet valve didn’t work properly without the “o” ring.
Right now, our hearts aren’t working properly.
Our “o” rings of love are missing.
Might be the most difficult challenge our hearts have experienced, but unless we figure out how to love, the messy world is not going to change.
God isn’t going to act.
He is waiting on you, me, we, and us, to change our reluctant hearts.