August 5, 2011

Just Call me the Maytag Man

About 2 weeks ago something terrible happened at our house.  The dishwasher broke. 


I realize that in actuality a dishwasher is a luxury item, and that thousands of people live without them everyday.  In fact, millions of people across the world don't even have electricity or clean water, so it is ridiculous and self centered of me to make such a big deal out of our having to wash our own dishes by hand.  I know it, and I'm owning that.  But let's set that aside and let me get back to my selfish rant, not having a dishwasher sucks.  Big time.

We started by calling an appliance repair man.  The water and ice dispenser has been broke in our fridge since we moved in (remember those frozen pipes we mentioned?  Well they weren't limited to our plumbing, the fridge lines froze and busted too.  Awe-some.)  Apparently our threshold is 1 semi-broken appliance, ok.  2 broken appliances- time to give in and call a guy.  The guy we found charges $60 for the consultation, which he puts towards the cost of the repair if you decide to get it fixed.  Good news on the fridge, $80 total with part and labor, and our $60 applied, so it would only cost an additional $20 to get the fridge fixed.  Bad news on the dishwasher, $175 part, another $100 to install for a total of $275.  We're thinking at that point- we can buy a dishwasher for that!

That was a dirty lie, I know because we tried.  There are dishwashers out there for $275, but in comparison to the Kenmore Elite we have now with the stainless steel insides and my favorite feature for a family with young kids, the hidden control panel.  After spending an afternoon with Ry dishwasher shopping, I decided that I'd rather spend $275 to fix the dishwasher that I wanted, instead of for a new one that I didn't like. 

Then good things happened, I stopped in the Sears parts and repair office, and asked them to look up the part.  They had it, and it would only be $100.  I took a gamble that if I can install electrical and build couches, I can figure out how to fix a dishwasher. 

Once home I opened up the broken piece of pooh and noticed the screws that held the inside of the door on, I removed those.

Which gave me this:

Nice little access to my malfunctioning control board.  As soon as I grabbed the camera, as always, Ry jumped in front and started to yell, "Cha-eeeeze!"  He's a regular Paris Hilton I tell you.  I mean, look at him here poising with his tools.

Once I got little Vanna away from my work space, I dug in to see what we were dealing with.  It was surprisingly really simple, and I just had to unplug 4 things from my old control box, which made it easy to remove.

Here's my old control box and the new one.

The new one went in as easy as the old one came out, I closed the panel back up and turned the baby on.  Here's where I'm supposed to tell you that everything worked, I did a party dance and moved on with my life.  Not so fast.  I pushed the button and nothing happened.  Still dead to the world.

I had no idea what to do next, being new to this whole appliance fixing thing, so I did a little Google search and came across It's a super helpful site where techs will help you diagnose the problem, and then send you a link to the part on  My helpful tech Jake said it was the control panel I was looking for, not the control board, so I purchased and had the part sent to our house 3 days later. (3 long and agonizing days of a dirty kitchen.)  Once the part came, I took off the inside door again, and within a few minutes figured out how to get the new piece in.  I closed her up, pressed start... no dice.  Next I tried putting the new control board back in too (I hung onto it just in case it was the combination of both parts that was needed), but still, as unresponsive as a politician's press conference.  Lucky for me's parts are 100% returnable for 365 days, so I went back on line to chat with Jake, and he suggested this time that it might be the electronic board.  That's this little green gadget up front. 

3 more long and agonizing days later, the new part came, and I'll get straight to it- Fail.  Neither the new part, nor all 3 parts, would make this sucker run.  I was just about ready to type furiously to my buddy Jake, when I took a step back for a moment to cool down.  I decided to at least pull out all the new parts (so I could return them and get my money back), and put the old ones back in so that I could at least close the dishwasher up.  You're never going to believe what happened next... it worked.  I have no idea why, it doesn't make any sense, but for some reason just putting Humpty Dumpty back together again with all his old parts made him work!  Now cue the embaracing celebration dance in the kitchen!  Whoop-woop!

 Since I was in a much better mood, I went online and asked my buddy Jake why this could be and he had a couple of valid reasons that I won't bore you with (mostly just reconnecting pieces that may not have been attached firmly).  The best news, I got to return all the parts that I purchased for a full refund, and was only out the shipping charges (and about 2 weeks of a messy kitchen.)

The lesson learned here- diagnosing a problem with your appliances might be a little tricky, but the actual fixing of them certainly isn't.  At least not in my make/model.  In fact, with the help of the interwebs and blogs like I would totally fix my own appliances in the future, if God forbid the universe turns against me and something breaks again.  This project totally supported my theory that there's really nothing you can't do yourself with some bravery and the help of the internet.  Really!  There's no way 5 years ago I ever would have though that I could install electrical, build furniture or repair appliances, but when you take a little time to do the research, you find out that these things aren't nearly as tricky as you think.  How about you guys?  Anyone else fix an appliance ever?  Or taken on a DIY project that you never thought you could do by yourself?  Please share!  Brag about it a little in fact... go on with your bad self.


  1. I made a wool coat for my mom but it ended up being a lot smaller than the pattern claimed. It's gorgeous though with designer wool and a striped silk lining. Oh well.

  2. I've replaced dryer drum wheels several times....sure beat buying a new dryer :)

  3. I fixed my washing machine with help from the internet. I felt so awesome when I was done and it worked!