Friday, March 29, 2013

Built to Last...a year or two

I'm going to drive this car into the ground, people say. I've said it with every vehicle before it got annihilated in a car accident a few years later, and what I mean is, I'm going to drive this thing until it can't drive no more.

You don't hear people say similar stuff about major appliances:

I'm going to load this dishwasher into the floor.

I'm going to toast this toaster into the counter.

I'm going to eat this refrigerator into the basement.

But the frugal among us cherish such resolves. We will eek the usefulness out of every major purchase for years, and dare we hope that it will be for dozens of years? We don't replace things simply because they are out of date. No, we replace them when they are falling apart, not functioning at even 1% of their potential and are an indictment against the style choices of an earlier age. We firmly believe that a major appliance should last a minimum of 20 years, even if we are the Arch Queen of Accidental Disaster.

This is why I detest my expensive, energy-efficient dishwasher. It and I do not hold this truth to be self-evident: that all dishwashers were created to wash dishes.

A year ago we had to have an intervention, as it had lost its sense of purpose in life because it was no longer WASHING dishes. The blasted thing was only three years old. The manufacturer's repair man came out (shudder) and thoroughly scrubbed out our dishwasher, all gunked with soap, and replaced all its hoses - gunked with soap. We paid the price of a new dishwasher for this service. In exchange we were given specific instructions for our high-efficiency dishwasher:

Use only the best, most expensive powder dish detergent
Buy expensive dishwasher residue fighter to compliment pricey detergent. Use EVERY SINGLE TIME.
Always use high-temp setting
Run tap water for several minutes to get it really hot before starting dishwasher
Keep water heater at 130 degrees or greater to enable dishwasher to dissolve soap
Stroke dishwasher. Compliment it often. Assure it that it's doing a great job, and wash all nasty dishes thoroughly before loading them into its fancy interior.
Okay, I made up that last one. But I'm understandably bitter, because the stupid thing recently had another identity crisis. The top arm wasn't moving, soap wasn't dissolving and our dishes weren't getting clean. My husband wanted to replace it, but when I pointed out it was only four years old and that we had already invested the down payment of a house on it, he reconsidered. Instead, he called a friend over, and they took it apart bit by bit and found NOTHING AT ALL WRONG WITH IT.
Stubborn, I resolved to die under a crushing pile of my own dirty kitchenware before replacing the damn thing, so I began to hit a special, top-secret combo of buttons before running each load, tilting its door at a 35 degree angle while pouring in the soap, whispering sweet nothings through gritted teeth before setting its cycle, and performing special rain dances for it as it filled with water. All this followed by embarrassing supplication on my knees. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't. 
As I see it, if I finally give up on this thing in which we have invested blood, sweat and tears, there is only one course of action left to me. I must leave it by the curb with a fifty-dollar bill, some homemade chocolate-chip cookies and this note attached:
Please take our dishwasher. Late model, energy-efficient piece of c--p will only run with constant coaxing, flattery, caressing, coercion or by an Act of God. Will gladly accept old, steel-door, last century, water-guzzling dishwasher that actually works in exchange. Delivery negotiable.


  1. Oh, I feel your pain. I can't stand this disposable society we live in- appliances should last a long time. Our current refrigerator was purchased in 1991. I would love an updated model but there's nothing wrong with this one. I doubt I'll ever get that many years out of a newer model. Our last dryer was over 30 years old when it bit the dust. The new replacement washer and dryer are only 6 months old and already I need to use that secret combo of buttons to push, etc. etc.
    My husband last fixed our dishwasher using Youtube. We were able to troubleshoot the problem by typing in the symptoms in an online search, we ordered the part online (a heater element which came with a control panel)and then saw how to get the old panel off on youtube. Anything to avoid a service call!

    1. Grrr - shudder, sneeze, wheeze - the service call!

      Leonora, what kills me is this dishwasher was SUPPOSED to be energy-efficient, and, naive as I am, I took that to mean it was going to require less energy to run properly. Haaaa! Give me the appliances of yesteryear!

      My husband recently used youtube to fix our washer. We'll have to try it for the fancy-schmance dishwasher.

  2. Still laughing.....yep, still laughing.
    Kinda makes me glad I could never afford new appliances.
    Oh, yeah, still laughing.

    1. I'm always proud when I make you laugh! My day is complete.

  3. Great post, Hillary. One of the benefits of always being a renter is that when your appliances die, you call the landlord! Of course, that means that I don't even know what an "energy efficient" appliance looks like. ; ) Maybe you should find out what your local slumlords put in their apartments and try to find a place that will sell you a basic model. (Camille)

    1. I dream of the basic model, Camille! Ah, the good ole' days...

      I love it when you comment, my friend, and I hope all is really well with you and yours :-)


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