Thursday, May 22, 2014

Solenoids in the Basement

Down the path to homeownership. I am taken by the similarities between a new baby and a new/old house.

I walk past one of our big, beautiful windows, and I am joyful at the sunlight that comes through. I then note the lingering tobacco smell that has otherwise been painted over or sanded away on most other major surfaces on the house. I then try to open one window - a bit sticky. Another window opens easily but drifts slowly closed, a sentient being.

A stinkbug crawls across our bed nightly. A wasp, or two, is observed in the attic. A slight leak under the bathroom sink is caught by an old yogurt container. A bad or clogged solenoid on the washing machine.

As a renter, I hardly thought about so many things. I was hardly motivated to household repairs. It's not mine, and after all, I am paying a lot of money. As a homeowner, I consider my options - stretch my do it yourself skills to the brink or call a repairperson or contractor? That is, after I call my father.

I think of some idle chit chat to start off the conversation, but once I hear the phone pick up, my mind jumps to my washing machine problem.

"Hi Mom. Is Dad there? Hi, Dad. I have a question for you. So, when I turn on the cold on the washer nothing happens." My Dad asks if I've checked the solenoids. Solenoids? It sounds like something you'd sit under at a tanning salon. "Umm. No?"

I try to be patient, but I've just dumped a couple gallons of water on the basement floor after filling the washer with the hose for the third time. I try to pretend I know what a solenoid is because I'd like my father to not consider me a dunce.

I've long been a renter, sorry. I spent my precious time elsewhere as our former landlord tinkered with the furnace, leaky chimney, and possibly a solenoid or two. I could ask Google, but I've asked Dad.

We don't get very far on our first conversation. How do I check a solenoid? What do I need to do? They seem like simple questions. They're not. I wish I had a pencil and paper. I try to listen and remember what I'm supposed to check.

He calls back a couple hours later, given time to consider the options. He tells me to switch the hoses. "You just want to do cold water laundry, right?" I just want to do laundry, cold is perfect, if it works.

Days later, when I have time I switch the cold hose to the hot input. I turn on the washer. I feel for a click when the machine turns on. Water trickles from the cold water input. I call Dad again. I explain what I've done, and that water comes out of the back of the machine.

"Switch the hoses," he repeats. "It might be a mixing problem."

I talk to my Mom who tells me that my Dad will over on Wednesday to check out the washer and some other things he thinks need looking at. I'm slightly embarrassed and completely relieved.

 Is my homeowner's insurance company reading this? 

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