August 9, 2007

Tool time

We are geniuses! El Jefe and I have been patting each other on the back like crazy lately. In the past two weeks, we have repaired some appliances that have been broken literally for years!

Neither one of us are particularly mechanical − me especially! My eyes glaze over whenever I have to delve deeper than the on-off button or cleaning a filter.

El Jefe repaired the ice dispenser on the refrigerator that has been broken for a year and half. I tried to find a part for it on the internet and really couldn't even figure out what part I needed. It seemed that the only thing available was the whole electronic control panel for the dispensers − at $100 or so. Sure, an ice dispenser is a luxury, but given the amount of ice tea that we drink every day, all day long, not having one and opening the freezer door 15 times a day was also running up our electric bill.

El Jefe took the panel apart again and figured out that a tiny piece of plastic had broken. It was a little arm about the size of a toothpick. I would guess that it was about $0.00001 worth of plastic holding the electronic switch in place. Apparently, excessive force was used on the dispenser to "make it go faster," despite my repeated warnings to others that it had two speeds, on and off, and that pushing harder will NOT make it go faster. With that little piece broken, the switch couldn't make contact. I couldn't figure out any way to glue or tape the switch in place because of the position, but El Jefe got the brilliant idea to wrap a plastic tie around it. Bingo! Flowing ice!

Then the washer quit working. It would stop mid-cycle and just sit there full of water. We had this problem last year so we knew that even though the inlet hose filters at the faucet looked clean, the filters at the other end of the hoses would be clogged with gunk from our unfiltered water. Our washer is so smart that it knows when there isn't enough water pressure and stops itself in protest. Yup! Cleaned those babies out and it started working like new.

Oops. A week later, it stopped working again. It would wash, but not spin out the water. I spent 14 hours repeatedly trying to wash one load of clothes and finally had to take the clothes out, wash them by hand, and scoop all the water out of the washer by hand. I knew the water filters couldn't have clogged up again that soon, so I was fearing doom this time. El Jefe opened up the back to check it out and immediately noticed that a wire to the pump had unattached itself. He hooked it back up and Wallllah!

Our clothes dryer, which is supposed to have 3 temperatures, has had only one for the past 3 years − blazing hot, about 230 F degrees. That kind of heat really makes a mess of your clothes, especially anything with elastic. The clothes weren't dried, they were baked. I spent a zillion hours on the internet and determined that the cycling thermostat, one of two thermostats, must have been bad. I ordered one, El Jefe replaced it, and Wallah! Three temperatures again.

I thought the iron was broken but it turned out it was the outlet. This is around the fifth outlet to go out and we've only been living in the house four years. On most of them, a wire came loose!?! My house in Dallas was 50 years old and I never had an outlet go out or a wire come loose. If the outlet is bad, it will take us a month to get it from a store in San Pedro Sula. A branch of the same store is here in La Ceiba, but even though they carry this brand, they don't carry this style, and they WON'T ORDER IT FROM THEIR SAN PEDRO STORE for us!

We haven't figured out this problem with the stove. Every time I try to bake something above 450°F, it shuts off and then every light on the display blinks and flashes and the oven won't come back on until we turn the breaker on and off two or three times.

We also don't know how to fix the dishwasher, but from what I've read on the internet, it seems that it is a very expensive New Zealand lemon and may need a $400 electronic control panel. For the past three years, I have had the most expensive dish drainer in the world.

Now, you might ask why we didn't just call a repairman and I have to remind you that this is Honduras! Even if the repairman could figure out the problems, they wouldn't have the parts. What is worse is that they often do irreparable damage in their lame attempts to fix something. It is completely normal for repairmen to throw away parts of your appliances that they determine you do not need.

I wrote some (too long) examples to prove the above statements and decided to just delete them. Obviously, I haven't adjusted properly if I think that three months is too long for someone to keep your appliance or car. Obviously I'm too demanding if I get upset when something is returned to me more damaged than it was to start with.

Anyway, we are happy with what we've accomplished. Now, if we only knew how to fix transmissions....

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