DIY Appliance Repair: What I did When My Dishwasher Start Button Stopped Working

When, in the middle of a terrible head cold last week, our dishwasher stopped working I had a meltdown. In my worst display of “first world problem” privilege ever, I actually fell to my knees and wailed. Then I calmed down and asked Dr. Google for advice.

In recent years, Dr. Google has become much more knowledgeable about the intricacies of appliance repair. Back in the dark ages, the internet only provided Beanie Baby prices and Nyan Cat memes. Now the internet’s coverage has expanded beyond the geeky and into the more mundane world of home construction and repair.

What to do when your appliance stops working
So when a major appliance breaks down I would suggest first consulting the Appliance Blog discussion threads. Even if you’re going to hire the job out it’s good to know what the problem might be and how much it will cost to fix. In my case I was able to figure out that the control panel had a bad switch.

The next step is to head to a parts supplier such as Parts Dr. I picked up the control panel for $137 including shipping.

Appliance Repair 101
The last step, actually doing the repair, is where YouTube comes in. You could probably learn to pilot a jet with YouTube instruction these days, and there’s now a decent amount of appliance repair porn to watch. I viewed the thrilling video above multiple times before attempting the repair.

It took less than ten minutes to swap out the control panel. Then I took a victory lap around the living room with much fist pumping. In the end, I probably saved at least $150 by avoiding a service call.

The interior of my Whirlpool Silent Partner III dishwasher has nicely designed modular parts that are easier to access than many other appliances I’ve opened up. But I have to say that, like many modern gadgets, I wish it had fewer features. All those buttons and circuits end up being a repair liability over time. We need to start a #fewerfeatures movement!

The Primitive Technology Guy

I mentioned last week that episodic TV, YouTube videos and a recliner are an important part of Kelly’s open heart surgery recovery process. Our breeches are still deep in that Jas. Townsend and Son 18th century YouTube cooking hole, where we’re learning about cleaning pots with brick dust and how to make Norfolk dumplings on the go.

Australian reader Jampotts reminded me of another wildly popular YouTuber who just goes by the handle “Primitive Technology.” The anonymous creator of the these wordless videos, shot in northern extreme of Queensland, Australia uses a “show me don’t tell me” philosophy of film making that I greatly admire. No long, babbling intros!

Kelly was especially impressed with his pump drill fire starting technique:

He has a blog that describes the content of his videos in more detail.

People like John Townsend and the Primitive Technology guy are the good side of the internet, producing quality work that’s a lot better than mainstream television. If you have a favorite YouTube channel let us know about it in the comments.

How to Block Telemarketers

telemarketinghellIf you’re in possession of an AARP card, you also probably have a land line telephone. If, like me, you are taking care of an older relative it’s likely that your elder depends on a land line that rings every few minutes with offers and pleas from dubious charities, political parties and Elmer Gantry types. In my opinion, there’s a special level of Dante’s inferno for telemarketers who prey on the elderly, but I won’t be able to fix that problem in a blog post. Let’s just take care of those unwanted calls.

At my mom’s house I tested two solutions: the Sentry Call Blocker and Nomorobo.

51sxnaptccl-_sl1000_Sentry Call Blocker
The Sentry Call Blocker is a piece of hardware the goes between your phone and the wall jack. It sells for around $40 on Amazon and has no monthly charges. The way it works is that you manually enter a list of approved callers. Unknown numbers get forwarded to a recorded message (oddly, a man with a British accent–an out of work Shakespearean actor, perhaps?). You can also scroll through a list of previous incoming calls and either put them on the approved list or block them. It did a great job of blocking unwanted calls. Unfortunately, it also did a good job of blocking wanted calls. After using it for a few months I had to disconnect it. Important calls from health care agencies as well as some of my mom’s friends were not getting through. And the interface is too complicated for an older person to operate.

cmfuwjawiaajvq6Nomorobo
Nomorobo is a call blocking service for VoIP phone lines. Nomorobo maintains a large database of telemarketers that they’ve culled from the FTC, crowd-sourced reports and their own “honey traps.” When a spam call comes in the phone rings once and then, satisfyingly, automatically hangs up on the helpless boiler room employee. I’ve been using it on my own line (it comes free with Spectrum VoIP service) for around six months and in that time not a single telemarketer has made it through. Not even an election related call! Nomorobo offers a version for iPhones for $1.99 a month that I’m considering using to stop the student loan calls (I don’t even have student loans!). If you’re a Spectrum/Time Warner subscriber you can activate Nomorobo through the web interface for your account under “VoiceZone/Peace and Quiet.”

There are numerous apps for Android and iPhones that also promise to block telemarketers that I have not tested. In my experience the National Do Not Call Registry is a joke, but I’ve listed my numbers anyways. At least until the telemarketers find a workaround, Nomorobo gets my vote.

Deep Frying in a SolSource Solar Cooker

We did a little deep frying test of the SolSource Solar Cooker (provided to us by the manufacturer) and made us some beignets this morning. As Kelly says in the video, a little known fact is that solar cooked deep fried dough pillows won’t make you gain weight. Never! Really!! (Not.)

But they are mighty good! The test worked out really well and now we want to do something fun with it, like take the solar cooker to the streets and make donuts for The People!

We’re also really pleased to find that we can hit deep frying temperatures with the cooker, even in November. We’ll be doing more videos about solar cooking in the coming weeks.

The beignet recipe we used comes from King Arthur Flour. Note that we have a new Youtube channel. Please do us a favor and subscribe!