Monday, August 1, 2011

The Perverse Nature of Inanimate Objects

Did you ever feel that your appliances were conspiring against you?  No, I'm not being more paranoid than usual--it's just something I've noticed.  The refrigerator develops a buzzing noise, then the washer won't drain, and next the microwave goes up in flames, all within a couple of days. Something is afoot and it ain't your shoes (sorry).

Here's a secret: household appliances communicate with each other.  The HVAC sends a message to the oven: "It's going to be over 100 tomorrow.  I'm goin' over the wall!"  The other appliances whisper "Good luck, man," and they get the idea.  The oven door drops off.  A day later the dishwasher springs a leak all over the kitchen floor. The vacuum shoots out clouds of dust from its exhaust.

You know what I'm talking about.

I had such a day Saturday.  Four different inanimate objects busted loose.  Fortunately I was able to fix them.

The condensate line of our air conditioner runs into a drain in the floor of the basement and usually backs up a little during the summer if we've had a series of hot days.  I suppose I should have the drain enlarged, but it runs through the basement slab floor and that would be a mess. I just vacuum it up each day for about a week.  Well, it backed up and I got the wet vac out, forgetting that the last thing I used it on was a drywall sanding job.  Since the filter was full of dust, the water couldn't get through to the tank and the vac spewed water out the back, all over the furnace and me.  Fortunately, I figured out that the filter needed cleaning so I did that and I was good to go, if soaking wet.

Then I was going to the grocery store and some citizen didn't see me and pulled out in front of me from a side street.  I crammed on the brakes and tried to blow the horn and nothing happened.  When I got back from buying bananas I tried to find the location of the horn relay but it wasn't listed in the owner's manual. I looked online for an hour before I found someone who said the location diagram it was printed on the inside of the engine fuse box cover.  And it was.  There was also a page online on how to test for a bad relay so I took my twelve-volt tester out and found that, yep, it was a bad relay.  I ordered one online since no one at Advance Auto seemed to know what I was talking about. The part was $15 and shipping was $12.  Still cheaper than a mechanic (sorry, Logan).

We use some portable fans on the upper floor since the air conditioning doesn't reach as well there.  I had not used an old floor fan yet this year but I was cleaning up my study and needed a fan in there.  When I started it up it sounded geriatric, which it is.  I took it apart, cleaned it and sprayed everything with WD-40.  It wheezed and groaned when it started up but the lubricant worked its way in and it took off.

Later on, my special three-headed flashlight started acting possessed.  It came on by itself and went off by itself. That's inconvenient when you're trying to see if the condensate drain is clogged up.  I figured the flashlight had a short somewhere so I took it apart and found some of the battery contacts were corroded. I can't remember the last time I've seen corrosion on a dry cell device.  I poured some vinegar on the offending contacts (didn't have any Coke) and the flashlight returned to normal.

I hope you don't have a spate of appliance problems as I did, but if you do, I also hope they're as easily fixed as mine were!


  1. If I do, I'll be sure to give you a call!

  2. Thanks, Jennifer! My repairs come with no guarantee at all!