Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The house project (3 word Wednesday - drain, epic, nibble)

Motivation has set in. A couple delivery guys just left my house, leaving behind a brand new black stove and refrigerator. The pristine new appliances in my kitchen make the remainder of the room look drab and outdated. My eyes dreadfully fall upon my dishwasher. Though the new arrivals now match this old machine, the dishwasher has not been functional in nearly three years. I had a plumber called out to the house last year for a separate issue; I asked for him to fix the dishwasher while on the property, but due to time restraints he only assessed the situation. After dismantling the kick plate and scanning the undercarriage, he concluded that I needed to simply replace the drain pipe. Pop that out, put a new one in, that’s that. He looked me up and down, seeing I am physically able to get down onto the floor and back up again, and claimed this job was a “do-it-yourselfer”. I think he just did not want to be bothered in hindsight.

Anyways, I had let this task sit on the back burner too long. Our stove was too slow to heat, due to its age. It had to go. Two weeks ago, the refrigerator compressor stopped doing what refrigerator compressors do. It also had to go. Now here we were with two new sparkling kitchen toys, and a shoddy dishwasher between them. No longer, I think. I roll up my sleeves. I’m going for the hat trick, three working appliances. It is inept handy man versus neglected dishwasher. It’s on like Donkey Kong.

I drive to the local Home Depot, select a universal dishwasher cable, and return home with both the item and a full stomach of fast food. I dislodge the kick plate, and with a struggle I separate the drain pipe from the undercarriage. Comparing like for like, I soon realize my hasty selection from Home Depot will not match. Ugh. Figures. An experienced plumber would have brought the necessary parts with him. I don’t want to take a slimy rubber hose with me to the hardware store. It has been inactive long enough to collect mildew. Gross. I’d wash my hands but the water main is off. An experienced plumber would have gloves on. God, I hate house projects.

I sit on the floor and dwell in my newbie errors. Determined, I thump the face of the dishwasher, “This is not over. You will not win.” I retrieve my digital camera. I snap a half dozen photos, of the connection, of the drain pipe, the clamps that kept it all together, the bent part of the rubber pipe that was dented with nibble marks from a mouse that was long ago claimed to one of my house cats. Equipped with camera, the “universal dishwasher cable”, and my keys, I am off to Home Depot once again.

A bald middle-aged employee is discussing gas pipes with another customer as I arrive in the plumbing department. He seems to be blowing his credentials up his audience’s ass, “I’m certified to work on plumbing and gas powered equipment… I installed these things for years…blah blah blah.” I peer around the two men at the wall of piping. Before I know it, the voice of the bald employee speaks clearly in my direction, “how may I help you?”

I explain the chain of events up to this point, and I reveal my camera. “Ooo, pictures, exciting”, he says. I flip the photos back and forth, at one point flipping too far and quickly changing the photo back before the guy could make out the picture of the KC and the Sunshine Band concert. “I know exactly what you need!”, the man speaks with excitement and leads me over to another aisle, all the while giving his credentials routine. He hands me three items; a 6 foot portion of rubber tubing, and 2 connector “mouthpiece” things. He instructs how to connect everything together. This goes do that, that goes to the dishwasher, that’s that. Uh huh. For a second I think this guy might have been my plumber last year.

I exchange my first purchase for the new equipment and head home. I tape the new rubber tube to the old one, and, regretting my fast food lunch, contort myself into yoga-like positions to snake the tube from garbage disposal to dishwasher. Satisfied with my progress, I connect the mouthpiece parts to both ends, tightening clamps with a flathead screwdriver that I only managed to jab into my fingertips twice. I enable the water main, crossing fingers, and no leaks. I activate the dishwasher, thinking I probably should have killed the power to it before any of my dishwasher surgery commenced. Another newbie error. Oh well, I luckily avoided electrocution despite entangling the flathead screwdriver in the electric wires beneath the dishwasher. I examine my work, no leaks, even with the dishwasher starting its cycle! I tap the dishwasher, I told you I would win.

To the experienced plumber, this task would be “all in a day’s work”. To me, the victory is an epic feat. My wife agrees when she hears about my day, knowing I am typically too clumsy and impatient, and such a task would be one I would not take on alone. She proudly offers to take me for some dinner. Sounds great, this adventure has been exhausting. As we get in the car, she asks, “Do you know what is wrong with the washing machine?”

God, I hate house projects.


  1. That's why I ditched the house and moved into a loft downtown. Something goes wrong? I call the landlord. Sure, I'm renting, but for the time being, it is bliss.

  2. As the world's worst DIY person, I enjoyed that.

  3. I am completely impressed. This year, I would love to become more capable with tools that don't include writing and painting and photography....

    And I am so curious to know how the KC and the Sunshine Band concert turned out....

  4. This cracked me up! I had to pause and re-read it aloud to my husband since we are both currently with a 3 week old dead dishwasher in our home. We had my mom's superintendent husband come look at it and to no avail...we've decided to cave and buy a new one. So we're waiting for pay day. I can't believe the story included a knowledgeable home-depot employee (I never get so lucky) - Witty, fun and so well-written thank you!

  5. Thank you for all the nice comments. TommyG, yes I miss renting. Anthonynorth, I thought I held that title for worst DIY home owner, until this story I suppose. Julie, if I can do this, you can too! I really am "clumsy and impatient" ha ha. Amarettogirl I am glad you found it fun and entertaining. This was an actual account of my day Tuesday, right down to the KC and the Sunshine Band photos. By the way, the concert was great, he still sounds good after all these years!
    (And yes I was surprised Home Depot came through for me as well) :-)

  6. LOL... how true it is! I think my "honey-do" list never shrinks.

  7. I loved it as I own a house and have convinced the world I renovated but have never actually touched anything with my own hands!!!! Just had an "incident" with Best Buy where the technician called in sick and they said they could send somebody in nine days. As I'm paying and made the appointment 2 weeks ago--no, no, now

  8. LOVED this! Hubby is a DIY person and can do all sorts of interesting things. Unfortunately he expects me to be Robin to his Batman and I have learned over the years that anything that he claims will take a half hour at most will surely last all day. He WILL be crabby. Whatever part we forgot to buy WILL be out of stock. Whatever tool he expects me to hand him will NOT be something I can identify. Holy honey-do list. Kudos to you for tackling the project and completing it without committing hari kari :)