Archive for the 'Appliances' Category



Amazing quote

For about as long as we’ve been a family – and at least for as long as we’ve had kids who could walk – we have had a family rule that goes like this:  “If you make a mess, you should clean it up.”  Some family members adhere more stringently to that rule than others.

A few days ago, I cleaned out the microwave.  I do this at least once and sometimes twice a week.  It involves removing and washing the rotating glass plate, taking out the little plastic support gizmo that the plate sits on, heating a damp, soapy washcloth in the microwave for 20 seconds, letting it sit there for about five minutes, wiping the crud off the six inner surfaces, and putting it back together.  It’s not one of my more difficult tasks, but for some reason it is one my more distasteful ones.  That might be because while there are several family members using the microwave, I am fairly sure I am the only one who ever cleans it. . .

Anyway.

So I cleaned the microwave at about 10:00 AM, and at about 7:00 PM, I opened it and saw that someone had exploded food all over the inside of said.  That was rather discouraging.  My cleanliness hadn’t even lasted 24 hours!  I even knew who the culprit was, because I could see the person eating the same stuff (ham and has brown casserole, I believe) that was sprayed all over the microwave.  The person – amazingly, My Hero – had clearly done a thorough job of it.

I then put on my bold, confrontational face, and asked Scott to please clean up his explosion.  (Note that these kinds of requests are still difficult for me, but I keep practicing, hoping experience will yield better results on the part of others, and fewer uncomfortable feelings for me.)

Scott was not disagreeable.  He got a damp cloth and started wiping it out.  I was thankful, but as he was finishing up, I wondered if he had tackled the worst part – the inside top of the beast.  It’s not visible, you know, even to a short person like me, and I was pretty darn sure it wasn’t visible to a 6-foot tall man, either.  So I said, “Hey, please clean the ceiling of it, too.  That’s where most of the ham missiles landed.”

And here’s what he said, having lived a half century on the planet and having had a microwave oven in his kitchen since Christmas of 1988:  “I don’t think I’ve ever seen the ceiling of a microwave!”

This thought just made me laugh out loud. . . and now I’m wondering what other features of our home he’s never seen.  = )

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Too hot to trot

After two more days of the water heater not heating (despite Andrew’s heroic deeds and prayers), I called R&H Plumbing, and Jesse, who has developed a long-term and rather intimate relationship with our water heater, came out.  He’s worked on it often enough that he brought a little rug to lie on on the gravel down there.  = )

Some 80 minutes later we had a diagnosis (super dirty burner) and a prognosis (it will live and not die – yet).  Although it’s nine years old and the average life expectancy for its kin is ten years, with disciplined care we can probably extend that somewhat.

After disassembling and meticulously cleaning the burner/pilot assembly, replacing the thermocouple, re-installing the burner/pilot assembly, re-lighting the pilot, letting the burner come on, turning the thermostat down to turn the burner off, turning it back up, and witnessing the burner re-igniting, Jesse concluded that, “Well, you’ll just have to live with hot water.”

This was welcome news! And we’ve had hot water all afternoon and evening.  But the true test will come with tomorrow morning’s shower.

I have arrived at the following numerically-coded descriptions of the water with which one can conceivably shower:

1 – Ice cold

2 – Cold

3 – Cool

4 – Luke cool

5 – Luke warm

6 – Warm

7 – Hot

8 – Scalding Hot

Yesterday, my shower was a (5).  This morning, the burner of the water heater having been off for some 20 hours, with the shower control turned all the way to full hot, I did one of those speed showers.  You may know the kind.  It’s where, in order to conserve the 17 molecules of hot water possibly remaining in the tank, you turn the shower on only in very brief, 8-second increments.  The first lets you splash enough (2) water on you to facilitate lathering.  You then shut off the frigid stream while you shave and scrub, while psyching yourself up for what must come next.  With a deep breath and firm determination, you turn the water back on for a few seconds of rinsing, during which you remind yourself that it’s not really any colder than the creek was the last time you swam in it – so if it were hot and sunny in your bathroom, the (2) water would actually feel good.  Then, in an act of supreme courage, you tip your head straight back into it to get your hair wet.  At least it’s not technically a (1), but it probably will be by tomorrow morning.  You turn off the water while you shampoo your hair very quickly; then you flip it back on and try to squelch a gasp as you again force your head under the “cool mountain stream” to rinse off, after which you slam the shower control off and leap briskly toward your dry towel.

I vastly prefer my shower to be a (7), and I have both faith and hope that tomorrow it will be!

Jesse also explained the various mistakes we were making in draining the beast.  (He had asked if anything had precipitated this round of lighting failures, and I told him it had been drained about ten days ago and hadn’t been the same since.)

For one thing, draining and filling (for the purpose of removing at least a subset of the limescale buildup) is much less effective than flushing.  I didn’t even know there was a difference – ignorant me!  You want to flush it because the force of the water pushing through the tank does a better job of forcing sediment out than merely draining it.

However, this flushing MUST be done religiously AT LEAST every six months.  If you miss a flush, you are basically hosed forever, because if the little calcium particles aren’t flushed out, they – much like women at intermission – congregate all in one place, and this causes them to stick together, forming larger “rocks” that are too big to fit through the drain, and which will therefore reside in the tank forever.

To flush the water heater, you DO NOT turn it all the way off!  You also DO NOT shut off the water to the house.  Instead, you set it to “pilot,” attach a hose, open the valve, and let it flow for at least five minutes.

Now we know, and I’m sure time will tell how religious we really are.

Not a fan?

Scott is working through a book and/or DVD called Not a Fan.  I can think of several things of which I am not a fan.  These would include Quicken 2014, emptying the dishwasher, checking algebra, rodents that are not outside, and meetings of all kinds.

On the other hand, I am a fan of hot showers.  I had one of those this morning, and it was exquisitely wonderful.  Hot showers are assumed to be the norm, but for the past couple days – perhaps coincidentally since our main water heater was drained two days ago – my showers have been luke-cold to downright invigorating.  It’s really quite amazing how quickly one can shower, shave, and shampoo when one has sufficient motivation. My habit of late has been to shower immediately after exercising, while I am still hot and sweaty.

Actually, the second day, just a couple hours after my cold shower, we got our hot water back, and it stayed hot at least through Andrew’s lunch clean-up. . . but then by bedtime it was out again.  The pilot just wouldn’t stay lit, and Scott made many trips to the cellar to re-light it.  However, after many attempts and much analysis, The Brilliant One figured out (remembered?) that there’s a re-set button on the water heater.  He disconnected the electrodes to said item, re-connected them, and voila!, the pilot finally lit!  It has stayed lit for over a day now, and I am encouraged.

I’m pretty sure that if I get hot showers two days in a row, I’ll be ready to move on to something more significant to be a fan of.

 

Free to good home

A man just came to the door and asked about the LG microwave box that’s out at the street for pickup with all the other trash tomorrow.  Actually, I’ve been a bit concerned that our trash service might not be willing to take the old microwave, and then what would we do with it?  This guy was. . . well, rough looking – enough so that I called Andrew to go to the door with me.  He said he’d seen our microwave box at the street and was wondering if we had gotten rid of the old one.  I told him we were because it didn’t work and that it was in the box.  He reckoned that even though it didn’t work, he could probably still use it for parts, and I told him he was welcome to it!

I think it’s nice that even in its death, the 24+ year-old Kenmore will be useful to someone.

All good things must come to an end.

Well, God’s love is a very good thing, and it never comes to an end, but most other good things do.

We shall now all observe 43 seconds of silence in honor of the long and faithful life of a dearly beloved companion:  our Kenmore microwave oven, aged 24 years and 9 months.  Selah.

43 seconds because that’s how long it took said microwave to perfectly heat a Jimmy Dean sausage biscuit.

The microwave was given to us – to the mere two of us – as a Christmas gift in 1988.  That was our second Christmas as a married couple, and although the sensor thing that you plugged into its inside wall and then stuck into your cup of hot chocolate to get it to the exact temp you wanted did die within the first few years, and although the glass insert became chipped in the same place on opposite sides fairly early on, and although through the years it gradually took longer and longer to heat the same things, and although the light passed away forever a few years ago, the good old Kenmore just kept chugging along, faithfully heating up and/or defrosting many, many edibles every single day for nearly a quarter of a century.  Most impressive.

The microwave has been around longer than any of the kids; they’ve never seen our kitchen without it.  It has taken a licking and kept on ticking, and it steadfastly provided not only food-warming services; it was also our main kitchen timepiece.  When we wanted to know what time it was, we looked at the microwave.  We knew the power had gone off when the microwave clock wasn’t illuminated.  If we were leaving at a certain time, or if I wanted a kid to do something at a certain time, the phrase was (for example), “at 8:30 sharp on the microwave clock.”  It was our standard timekeeper.

Thursday evening, I used the microwave to soften some butter for a recipe.  Friday morning, I came down to walk and noticed that the microwave clock was off. We hadn’t had a storm or anything, but there must’ve been some power glitch.  I went over to re-set its clock, but when I pressed “time of day,” nothing happened.  The little screen thing stayed black.   How odd.

I asked Andrew if he knew anything about the microwave, and he said, “It died, and Dad knows about it.”  SHOCK!  How could it have died without even a gasp?  I hadn’t even been given an opportunity to say a proper goodbye.  Sigh, sigh.  I looked fondly I my boxy friend, opened him up, noted the standard spatters inside, gently wiped the dust off the papers that live on top of him, and went out to walk, but later that day, the fullness of my loss descended.  I wanted a sausage biscuit, but I suddenly realized I had no way to heat it.  What a disappointment.  I guessed I would eat a half sandwich instead.  Not quite as tasty, but sufficient.  I sliced the bread, applied some turkey, cheese, bit of onion, and a slice of homegrown tomato, then turned to put it in the microwave.  (I almost never eat a sandwich cold at home.)  No microwave!  No way to heat my sandwich!  What to do?!?  I took a deep breath, ate it cold, and grieved the loss of our faithful friend.

But a bigger problem soon reared its ugly head.  On Saturday, I would need to make creamy cheese potatoes and a dessert for our church cookout on Sunday.  I know exactly how to soften butter (whether refrigerated or frozen) for basking, and it requires a microwave!  Furthermore, everyone knows that you simply can’t make creamy cheese potatoes without a microwave to soften up those pesky ingredients for smooth mixing.  This was becoming seriously inconvenient!

On the way home from taking Andrew to his Friday VE (homeschool co-op), I stopped at both Target and Home Depot to look at microwaves.  I told Scott I simply had to buy one that day so I could use it Saturday morning.  It was dawning on me that microwave ovens are now in the same category as water, electricity, computers, and internet access; we rely on them so heavily that they are now considered essentials of our modern lives.

That night we went on a date and ended up buying one at Best Buy, where a Labor Day sale on all appliances was in effect.  The LG replacement model is nice.  It’s white (Andrew insisted that it really needed to match our other appliances), has the same interior size as the old one, spins the food (the old one did not, but evidently it is no longer possible to buy non-spinning microwaves), has a bunch of buttons that I will probably never use (because I microwave by time and power setting, not by “popcorn,” or some such), and sports 1100 watts of power.

This latter feature has proven significant.  For example, this baby will cook a sausage biscuit in 32 seconds flat.  Ooooh.  It cooks everything MUCH faster than the old one.  Aaaah.  It also has a button I couldn’t quite figure out called “Quick Defrost.”  There’s a little strip of text on the inside surface when you open the door that says something about this.  I think the wording was that you use it to defrost only 1 lb of something.  I had an 8 oz block of frozen cream cheese to soften (for the creamy cheese potatoes), so I decided to break out of my mold (which, in the old microwave, would’ve been three minutes at power control four) and use one of the fancy-shmancy specific buttons.  I put the cream cheese in and hit quick defrost.  That was definitely the WRONG button – king of like “the WRONG church!”  About a minute into it, I heard something explode, and sure enough, there was was cream cheese all over the inside of my new microwave.  But at least it was softened!

Then this morning, I was loading up said creamy cheese potatoes to take to church.  They should be served bubbling hot, but warm is also OK, so my plan was to put them in my nifty (though very worn, permanently stained, and quite shabby) carrier, along with the hot pack and let them sit in the hot car through church.  That way they’d still be warm three hours later when we got to the picnic.  Normally, I heat the hot pack on high for two minutes and it’s perfect.  This time, I did actually read the instructions on the hot pack.  For a microwave oven of wattage 1000 or more, I was to heat it on high for two minutes and 15 seconds.  However, after the exploded cream cheese incident, I got smart.  No way was I going to explode my ten year-old, one and only hot pack!  I set it for two minutes, assuming it would turn out perfectly.  I guess maybe it would have, but at 35 seconds left to go, I heard a soft “ploop,” followed by something like a steaming sizzle.  I raced to the microwave and threw it open, but alas and alack, I was too late.  The hot pack had indeed ruptured and was oozing hot pack juice.  Sigh.

I still needed to keep those potatoes hot, so I wiped up the tiny puddle in the microwave, shoved the hot pack into a gallon zip-loc, and used it anyway.  (The potatoes were still warm at the picnic and got rave reviews.)  When I arrived home a full six hours after the rupture, I threw out the still-warm but leaking hot pack, and now I have a fabulous excuse to buy a new carrier, which will surely come with its own brand-new hot pack.

So, all in all, I am pleased with the new microwave.  When we were standing there in Best Buy comparing features and prices, two facts dawned on me:  1) the blue-shirted employee answering our questions was probably younger than our dearly departed microwave, and 2) our most important question between the various models really was, “Which one these will serve us well for the NEXT 25 years?!?”   = )

I feel brilliant!

Faithful readers may recall the saga of the ice build-up in the bottom of our cellar freezer.  On spring break in March, Josiah spent a long, messy time getting the ice out.  It was a painful process, involving much boiling of water and many trips up and down the cellar steps.

By May, the ice was back, and he did a repeat performance.  We also had a repairman fix the freezer door that wouldn’t close all the way.  See, when the ice in the bottom builds up, it eventually gets deep enough that it prevents the door, first from sealing properly, and eventually from closing at all.

Well, it’s July now, and guess what?  The ice is back.  It seems that no matter what, it’s going to have to be boiled out every two months.  Sigh.  I figured I could force Jo to do it one more time, but after that, it will be the responsibility of Walnut Shade Mom alone, or possibly with the Lemur’s assistance.  I don’t even know how the Llama does it, so today I made a request:  Would he please get the ice out once again and this time show me step-by-step how to do it?

Josiah started explaining the process to me.  First, you boil water.  A LOT of water.  Like six or seven big kettles of water.  Ugh.  That would take a LONG time.  Then you use a small pot to scoop the water out of the big kettle and pour it over the ice till most of it is melted.  Next, you have to target more boiling water along the little “ditch” across the back.  Once the ditch is ice-free, you work on the actual round drain in the center of the ditch.  When the center drain is open as far down as you can reach with your finger – and be it noted that his fingers are surely longer than mine – you begin to vigorously attack the drain with an untwisted metal coat hanger.  Persist until water runs freely through the drain.  Sheesh.  Isn’t this why we keep men around?

I then asked him how long – assuming I already had a huge supply of boiling water prepared – would it take to do the actual de-icing of the freezer.  An hour?  Thirty minutes?  He said maybe 15 minutes; that the big time-consuming part was just getting all that water boiling and hauling it down there while it was still hot.  Hmmm. . .

I thought to myself, “There’s got to be a better way.” 

And then it hit me.  Ten feet from the freezer is our. . . water heater!  It holds 30 or 40 gallons of water that, while not boiling, is quite hot; maybe hot enough to do the trick.  If we had a short hose  – one that was NOT 50 or 100 feet long and that we DIDN’T have to haul in (and later back out to) either the garden or the well house – maybe we could run it from the water heater to the bottom of the freezer and use the hot water that’s already in the cellar. 

And that is exactly what we did!

Although Jessica had already gone to Wal-Mart once today and had picked up a few things I needed, I got back in the Durango and went again.  I bought a 15-foot hose for $6.97 plus tax – and Scott’s shampoo, my lotion, and a bunch of cilantro. . . to make the trip seem more worthwhile, you know – and brought that puppy home. 

We then faced our challenge.  Josiah carried down the hose and a flat-head screwdriver (“To scrape out the glacier?”  “No.  you’ll see.”).  With my brute strength, I carried the coat hanger and joined him.  He screwed the hose onto the drain.  I held the hose in the freezer while he used the screwdriver to turn the drain valve.  Lo and behold, out came a most lovely stream of very hot water!  In less than five minutes, all the ice was gone and the drain even popped open on its own; no coat hanger required.  WOW!

I closed the valve, disconnected the hose, drained it, and hung it up over some PVC pipe in the cellar ceiling.  I left the coat hanger down there, just in case, and now Andrew and will be able – with the greatest of ease – to de-ice the freezer whenever we please.

Beavers truly are brilliant mammals.

Bungeed no more

It is momentous.  Our freezer door in the cellar is no longer bungeed.  Au contraire, mes amis!  It now closes with a perfectly vacuumed seal, and even with the door loaded, no bungee is needed!

We’ve had the freezer for nine years, and for probably seven of those years, we’ve had problems with that freezer door.  Some of the problems have caused on-going strife in the marriage:

She:  Everything’s melting down in the freezer AGAIN because someone didn’t bungee the door!  Clearly, I’m going to have to bring up whatever I need.  If you want it done right, you have to do it yourself.

He:  That door doesn’t close right because it’s loaded too heavily with stuff.  You really need to put the stuff in the freezer and not in the door.

She:  But if I shove it all in the freezer, I can’t even see what we have, much less get to it!

~~~~~~~~~~

She:  This freezer is full of frost because the seal isn’t against the freezer at the bottom.  You guys have GOT to start bungeeing this thing more tightly!

He:  That door doesn’t close right because it’s loaded too heavily with stuff.  You really need to put the stuff in the freezer and not in the door.

~~~~~~~~~~

She:  There’s a layer of ice in the bottom of the freezer, ’cause it’s not draining right.  Do you think the defrost timer is on the fritz?  That layer of ice is keeping the door from closing all the way now.

He:  That door doesn’t close right because it’s loaded too heavily with stuff.  You really need to put the stuff in the freezer and not in the door.

Etc.

So, after Josiah got ALL the frost out and ALL the ice out and opened the drain ALL the way, and the silly beast was full of frost again six hours later, I had had it.  I called an appliance repair guy, who came out, confirmed that the seal was intact, took the door off, found a too-tightly-bent piece of metal that was making it impossible for the door to close properly, took the metal out to the shop, put it in a vise, beat the way out of it with a hammer until he got it back to a proper 90 degree angle, re-installed the door, proved that it closed perfectly, packed up his tools, charged us $40, and left.

That may be the most satisfying $40 we’ve ever spent!


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