It’s the little things that count

One of the things God is consistently dealing with about is asking for help.  I HATE to ask for help.  I hate asking for help on big, important, spiritual matters like understanding and becoming who God made me to be, and I hate asking for help on tiny, inconsequential, mundane matters like lifting something heavy or reaching something high. I just hate asking for help.  I am currently learning more about why that is true, and I’m working to change it, but frankly, each time I know I should ask for help, it’s hard to get the words out.

But I did ask J.R. for help on Wednesday.  J.R. is a friend at church who claims that if he can’t fix it, it isn’t broken.  So far, this has proven to be an accurate statement.  The issue at hand was our washer.  It is the old-fashioned kind of washer; top loading with a full-length agitator (and no, Andrew does NOT live in our washing machine), and only a few settings.  I only need a few settings, so that is just fine with me.  I can have hot, warm, or cold washes – all with cold rinses – small, medium, or large loads, and 6, 8, 10, or 14-minute washes.  I think there are a few other odd settings, but I don’t think I have ever used any of them.

I normally use the 10-minute wash, and I have always wondered why it takes about 40 minutes for the full load to run.  I mean, 10 is not equal to 40, at least the last time I learned my numbers.  So, for the past few years, I have been doing one cold load every Wednesday morning, and that load takes about 50 minutes to run.  I did finally figure out that the problem is that while the warm water I use for most loads comes in at an adequate rate to fill the basket fairly quickly, the cold water only trickles in, and I do mean trickle.  The stream of warm water is about six inches wide and one inch deep, but the cold water stream is about the diameter of a pencil.  This means that the filling of a large cold load takes a VERY long time, and since there are two cold rinses (as in fill the tub with cold water) with each load – and this is pre-set and like the law of the Medes and the Persians cannot be altered – having such a tiny trickle of incoming cold water is problematic and slows the whole process to a snail’s pace.

So while were we standing around before church, I asked J.R. if he had any ideas of what I might do to solve that problem, and he did!  He said that back in the day he had had the same problem with his washer; that there is a filter on the intake line at the wall and another filter on it at the machine, and that if one were to clean out those filters, one would probably get a larger stream of water coming in.  Hmmmm…  Furthermore, he said that the culprit on the cold line was probably actually lime build-up from our exceedingly hard water and that while he had just gone to Lowe’s to buy a new filter for his, we could probably vinegar soak the filter overnight with excellent results.

Being on a “request for assistance” roll, having asked J.R. for help, I pressed on to ask Scott to help me do the actual deed.  And he acquiesced.  Actually he did all the work.  = )  He pulled out the washer, and I won’t go into detail about what the vinyl flooring under and behind the washer looked like.  Andrew could give details on that.  He then attempted to shut off the water to the washer, but this was significantly easier said than done.  The handle for that is actually located in a hole in the wall between the kitchen (dishwasher – actually full of light bulbs, but with its water connections still intact) and the laundry room (washing machine).  So grabbed the handle, one of those old-timey, four-prong affairs, and twisted, but it would budge.  I was then requested to retrieve the channel-lock pliers off the porch where they had been used a few days earlier for work on the propane grill, and with those clamped in place, he twisted again and the brass handle broke OFF.  Thankfully above the water line, so we didn’t have water shooting into the wall, but broken, nonetheless, making it impossible to turn off the water to the washing machine.  In 103 year-old homes, NO repair is ever easy or straightforward.

We would have to turn off the water to the house, so, being stuck behind the washer (in order for Scott to get out from behind there, we’d have to pull the washer forward far enough that there would be nowhere for him to stand, so, since gymnastics would be required, he only wanted to execute that particular maneuver one time – when the job was finished), he sent Andrew to the well house.  Once the water was shut off, Scott undid the intake hose and produced something small and nasty, which he handed to me with the instruction, “Here.  Rinse this out, please.”  Ummm. . . and how was I supposed to do that with no water?

The well house has faucet with hose on the outside of the building, and that faucet is not controlled by the shut-off valve to the house, so I carried the little item out back, and on the way I examined it closely.  It seemed to be made of very fine brass mesh, about the size and shape of a thimble, and it was packed completely full of what appeared to be mud.  Doubtfully, I applied the well house’s hose to it, and, lo and behold, all the much came it out and it was shiny and clean!

Back in the house, my man-behind-the-washing machine replaced the filter, re-connected the supply line, extricated himself from his prison, and went out to the well house.  With each of our cell phones at the ready in case of flood, he turned the water to the house back on, and nary a drop oozed out.  Yay!

To test it, we started a cold wash filling, and the stream of water coming into the washer was HUGE!  I have since run a large “10-minute wash” load in exactly 40 minutes, a savings of some 12 minutes per load, which will be wonderful, especially on Wednesdays when I have to run a cold load first thing in the morning.

I told J.R. my good news on Sunday and he rejoiced with me.  I told him I was surprised that the clog was mud instead of lime, and he explained that every time we shut off the water for some plumbing repair and then turn it back on, it flushes some built-up stuff on through the pipes (hence the brown water out of the faucet for the first few seconds after re-starting), and while it just comes out the faucets in most places, that little filter on the washer catches it and it all builds up over time.  It’s actually amazing that we were getting ANY cold water into the washer at all.  And it’s equally amazing that such a little thing can cause such a big problem.

There’s probably some great life lesson in there I need to tease out.

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