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16 of 365

January 16, 2009

The Washing Machine


This morning I went to do laundry and noticed that the load I had out in the wash yesterday morning was sopping wet, sitting in a little pool of water. I didn’t think much of it since the on and off knob is on the front of the washer and we all frequently lean against it and turn the machine off. So I turned the washing machine back on and went on my merry way.

I came by it a little while later and realized that running the washing machine again had not solved anything. The clothing was sitting in a pool of water and the machine wouldn’t spin.

As someone who does endless laundry, I had no other choice than to pull the machine out and attempt to fix it. Even though, honestly, I had no idea how to actually fix it.

Long story short, I pulled the washer out from underneath the counter, took the drain hose off and cleaned it out. In the process spilling water that smelled like an old swamp all over the floor and myself. Then I cleaned out the little pump motor thingy. Turned out the frigid weather had caused some ice to form in it. No, my washer is not outside. Yes, it is located inside an interior room of my house. Imagine me shrugging my shoulders.

I heated the little pump motor thing up with the hair dryer. And then hit it with my screwdriver really hard a few times.

And viola, it began working again. (I’d like to pretend that I typed viola on purpose like it was my own saying, “Violin! Harpsichord!” But alas I really did mean voila, with the little accent mark that I do not know how to type.)

My daughter was fascinated by this process, jumping around just out of the room asking me a million questions.

“How do you know how to do that, Mommy?”

“I don’t, sweetie. Like everything else in life, I am just making it up as I go along.”

And sometimes just smacking the crap out of something with a screwdriver really is the answer.

Posted by Chris @ 11:11 pm  

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  1. Alissa says:

    awesome! improv home improvement at its finest.

  2. Keri says:


  3. Deb says:

    Oh! Oh! Thank you!
    That may be what’s wrong with MY washing machine, it being all of 2 degrees here.

  4. Patricia says:

    Wait, huh…I thought the answer to “How do you know how to do that, Mommy?” is ALWAYS, “I’m the Mama, I know everything — don’t forget that when you are 15, k?”

  5. El says:

    “And sometimes just smacking the crap out of something with a screwdriver really is the answer.”

    Makes life worth living, no?

  6. Kristi says:

    No way! You are just too smart. Or lucky.

  7. Ashley says:

    At least only your washer froze :) … It was -33 with NO windchill here (Ottawa Ontario) and the pipes that bring the water to the house from the well froze which then permitted every other pipe to freeze too. At 11:30 at night. So needless to say other than putting a space heater against the pump so it wouldn’t freeze (and crack) we couldn’t do much about it until today… 14 hours later we had water again which required space heaters, electric blankets wrapped around pipes and blowtorches. Gotta love old country houses

  8. Stephanie says:

    I am VERY impressed, too.

  9. Carol says:

    I love your tile!

  10. The 6-S Ranch says:

    Gotta say I’m totally impressed!

  11. suburbancorrespondent says:

    Ha! I knew it was the pump; but I thought it was because it was jammed with ponytail holders and pretty pebbles and other such things, the way ours was.

  12. Lisa says:

    “And sometimes just smacking the crap out of something with a screwdriver really is the answer.”

    Not only the answer, but also sometimes extremely satisfying! :)

  13. kate says:

    glad you were able to fix it. Sometimes hitting things is necessary!

  14. iris says:

    Awesome… I shall keep this in mind. Haha
    Reminds me of our old television.
    “Dad, I think it’s time we replace the tv…”
    “No, we don’t. All it needs is a good smack once in a while, and it’ll behave again. Just like you.”

  15. Lisa says:

    Way to go………..It is frustrating and whacking it does help in more than one way!

  16. halimah says:

    Excellent solution and explanation! Saints be praised you fixed it ~ I can only imagine the alternative..shudder.

  17. salsaqueen says:

    Or as my dear ol’ dad used to say…when all else fails, get a bigger hammer! Or screwdriver as the case my be!

  18. momzen says:

    You are totally my hero(ine). My response to that problem would be to throw a towel on the floor and call DH.

  19. exile on mom street says:

    “And sometimes just smacking the crap out of something with a screwdriver really is the answer.”

    I usually smack myself with a vodka & orange juice type screwdriver, but it does work for me!

  20. Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah says:

    Wouldn’t it be nice if that were the answer more often?

  21. Suzanne says:

    I just spent $350 to get my washer fixed when it started doing the same thing…wis i had known about the screwdriver thing!

  22. Spinner says:

    I remember that same feeling of awe! I didn’t know I remembered it until I read this post. I remember being amazed at how much my mother knew and could do. In fact, I think I may have asked her the same question verbatim, “How do you know how to do that?”. Mom was a super-hero to me at those times (and still is to a large extent). Probably just like you are to your daughter.

  23. Carolie says:

    Percussive maintenance is sometimes the only way to go.

    Rock on, Woman of Competence!

  24. Kristie says:

    This cracks me up. Who needs the Maytag man when you’ve got a screwdriver??? Good for you!

  25. Tiffany says:

    That is how 90% of things get fixed for me. Just acting like I know what is going on and hitting it a few times whether it needs it or not.

    The disc drive on my computer only comes open when you hit the button and then when you hear the sound like it is trying to open, whack it HARD on the top of the computer. Works like a charm. Hmmm, how did I figure that out. . .

  26. jolyn says:

    Not for a minute do I believe I ever could have figured that out. I would have just stomped my feet and whined a pity party to my husband. You are woman hear you roar.

  27. ChristieNY says:

    Excellent work, Chris! :)

  28. Shannon says:

    You are my hero!!!!

  29. Lorie says:

    Good for you for fixing it!! I love fixing stuff. I figure if it is broke you can’t really hurt it too much!!

  30. crockpot lady says:


  31. Melanie says:

    Just in case it acts up again, I had the same thing happen last year to my front load washing machine. Turns out it was a switch in the door when you shut it. It had shorted out. It didn’t make much sense to me, but just a little FYI.

  32. Heidi says:

    that’s my philosophy also :)

  33. bex says:

    you rock!

  34. clarkie300 says:

    Good job! And maybe relieved some stress at the same time??

  35. Lucinda says:

    Call me impressed. I don’t think I would have figured that out. Good job!

  36. Heather's Garden says:

    I love that your daughter got to see her mother with tools fixing ‘a machine’ and that at the same time you taught her the lesson that it’s okay to jump in and try something without knowing exactly what you’re doing. On the days when you’re doubting what you’re doing over there remember that you’re raising a feminist princess and doing it well!

  37. Dodinette says:

    hi Chris,

    as a long-time yet francophone reader, I now feel I have to tell you something


    you have to spell “VOILA” (O-I), not “viola” (I-O)

    I hope I don’t seem like the cranky school teacher… :)

    thanks for all the inspiration you are to me every single day!

    Chris says: Nope, you don’t sound like a cranky school teacher! I mis-typed :-)

  38. Kristi says:

    Yup, that’s what we call “percussive maintenance”. It’s definition is the fine art of whacking the crap out of some device that desperately needs it. The scary thing is how often it actually works!

  39. Monique says:

    Good job:)
    I hate when appliances break.I love when we can fix them:)

  40. lizinsumner says:

    Wow - you’re my hero, I’d be afraid to even try! But it does conjure up memories of a time when I wasn’t too much older than your daughter and our old chev wouldn’t start and my mother lifted the hood, grabbed one of my father’s tools in the garage and started hitting the battery, and then the engine started……I had the same awe for my mother then that your daughter has for you now. Sadly, my mother is gone now - but I still have that memory. Here’s to hoping that your daughter will always have THIS memory of you as well……

  41. Annette says:

    Bravo! Nothing frozen here, actually expecting temps in the 60’s today. Nevertheless our washer pump went out too–burned out because of the bobby pins and rocks and nails that found it. I got close, but needed hubby to finish the job. I can unclog the dishwasher by myself though!

  42. Anna says:

    “And sometimes just smacking the crap out of something with a screwdriver really is the answer.”

    We call that “percussive maintenance” around here.

  43. Ruth H says:

    The only other answer to fixing things is WD 40 and duct tape. But hitting with the screwdriver is always the first thing to do. Glad your daughter has learned that lesson this early in life! Now she is ready for the world, question is- is the world ready for her?

  44. maggie madison says:

    “smacking the crap out of something”

    Bad washing machine, bad, bad!

    So we were able to put a man on the moon and still can’t make washers that self-fix? WUWT?

  45. melissa from girlymama says:

    I’m super impressed!

    my go-to fix-it is:
    1. unplug it.
    2. plug it back in.
    3. repeat.

  46. Courtenay says:

    too funny. you can fix most anything w/ a couple of good whacks.

  47. Frugal Carol says:

    I wish this method would work on many more things in life!! Maybe I just need to try it more often!!
    Anyway Gloria would be proud of you for this one!! I hope you also did this braless to make her even more proud!!

  48. Suburban Turmoil says:

    See? THIS is a classic “How Chris Inspires Me” post. Up until this moment, I was really proud about how I’ve learned to take my Dyson apart, clean it out, and put it back together so that it’s actually working better than it was when I bought it. But my washing machine? I totally won’t touch anything but the knobs! Bravo! Viola!

  49. kate says:

    ok so where were you 3 weeks ago when my VERY SAME washer started doing the same thing. only it did spin and made horrible horrible noises ending in soppy water filled clothes. i am not as clever. i bought a new washing machine!

  50. Jenny says:

    Ah yes, the Fonzi method of home improvement.

  51. Laura says:

    I bought a new washer on Jan. 13th. After a $62 consult. Spent 720 on new machine. DH had back spasm that mimicked a heart attack (no kidding) at appliance store and we ambulanced him to ER. Am waiting for medical bills. Wish that frozen line was the answer. But it was 50 degrees here.

  52. Yannayoga says:

    I had that EXACT same washer, and mine just died. Leaking from the bottom. I paid a sears guy to tell me that the soap had built up and ruined the washer. Apparently you have to use a tiny tiny bit of HE soap in it. Good luck with yours.

  53. Katie in MA says:

    I LOVE that your daughter was so interested! Too cute! Next time you should let her help. :) ‘Course…then she might start chasing after her brothers with a screwdriver, but…

  54. Cindy says:

    Something like that happened to us on Sunday. The tube/pipe that takes the water away from the washer was clogged up with ice. Ours, too, is in an interior room of our house, however, the pipes go through an unheated crawl space and with temps at or below zero for much of the last week….we have ice.

    You daughter is so cute! That’s awesome that she was so interested! :)

  55. robyn says:

    I, too have the same washer and so I’m glad for yannayoga’s tip, but I’m such a cheapskate that I only use a tiny amount of detergent anyway!

  56. Byron says:

    And, when smacking it with a screwdriver doesn’t work…clear the room and curse it really loud! Always worked for my Dad.

  57. Jennifer says:

    I loved this post! I do that a lot at my house. My kids come to me if anything is broken and think I can fix it. I love my cordless power drill and ducktape! They call me Martha MacGyver. haha

    Great job!! Hope your week is going well!