Archives » February 24th, 2006

February 24, 2006

Appliance Repair For Geeks

Sometimes it’s good to be more than just a geek. Sometimes it helps to be a handyman too, like when the washing machine stops agitating and spinning and leaves all your clothes coming out in one big, soggy, dripping mess. So that’s when it’s good to know how to handle a screwdriver and a wrench and rip the thing open to find out what’s going on.


A naked washing machine.

Of course, I guess a handyman is just another kind of geek. Whether you’re good at fixing computers or good at fixing appliances, it’s still special knowledge and skills that not a lot of people seem to have. I guess the main difference is that the Maytag repairman isn’t staying up until 2am playing World of Warcraft.


The “transmission” exposed.

So maybe I’m lucky to be a geek that is also handy. Or maybe it’s common, I don’t know. I don’t know a lot of other geeks in my real life. But there are similarities in the work. Cracking open a washing machine and removing the motor to get at the drive coupler isn’t too much different than cracking open a tower case and removing the fan to get at the processor. It just takes up more space, and the washer motor hurts a little more when you drop it on your foot.


The washer motor, exposed to sunlight for the first time in years.

But the result of all this careful disassembly was to find that the drive coupling, the part of the washer that links the motor to the transmission, was shredded. You’d think that such an important part, buried deep in the bowels of the machine, and without which the washer just plain doesn’t work, would be made of something more than plastic and rubber. But it’s not. And plastic and rubber both have a way of becoming brittle over time, and failing in interesting ways. Like leaving a pile of black shavings behind on the floor as they’re slowly worn down over the years.


Old and busted.

But at least I was able to find out what the problem was, and it turns out it’s a pretty common one. Imagine that. Did Whirlpool maybe design it to keep the repairman industry in business? But no professional repairman is getting any of my pocket change this time. A quick trip to the parts store, and $19 later, and I have a new coupling that’s ready to be installed. Another half hour of work (or hour – putting things back together is always harder than tearing them apart) and we’ll be back in business, and I can tackle that pile of stinky socks that’s been building up in the corner.


New hotness.

And if this whole computer thing turns out to be just a fad, at least I know I’ll have a career to fall back on. Appliance repairmen charge the same hourly rates as computer techs!