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Dan St. Yves: Repairman by circumstance

I wish I was handy in a “Tim The Tool Man Taylor” sort of way. I’m much more of a “Tim The Bent & Broken Tool Bit” type when it comes to home maintenance capabilities.

Any shot I had of credibility at mastering impromptu technology challenges was dashed a few years back while staying as a guest at a family member’s home and having to Google how to use their toaster. Mechanically inclined I am clearly not.

However, this seemingly endless pandemic has created a few circumstances during months of quarantine where I was required to step up and at least give some household repairs a try, consequences be damned. The most epic of all my attempts was with a dishwasher that had started to provide error messages every time my wife or I ran a cycle.

With no repairperson wanting to come out to our home, it just wasn’t practical to load the unit into our Mini Cooper to take it into a service centre. So, I watched a YouTube video.

Sure, you might argue that many online resources are questionable at the best of times, but rather than run the risk of a psoriasis flare-up from a sink full of sudsy dishwater, I rolled the dice, watched several seconds of the instructional video, and got on my tool belt. Which is really just an old fanny-pack with a screwdriver and some electrical tape.

First up in the process was killing the power to the dishwasher, which was relatively simple after I found our fuse box.

From there, I followed the tutorial as it outlined removing a metallic side panel, detaching some wires and hoses and wiggling off a rather tiny drain compartment. In the video, this was indubitably the culprit, and should have been filled with debris and sludge of all sorts, impairing the unit’s proper operation.

But upon inspection, the drain compartment was like new, not even a speck of dust or dirt on it. I’m not sure water, soap or food debris had ever entered the unit once over the years. Searching behind the dishwasher in the space under the counter (where the unit typically resides) I could see no water, soap or food debris either – so obviously there was no rational explanation, and nothing further in the video that could be done.

After I cautiously replaced the hoses and wires I had disconnected earlier, then replaced the metal side panel, I pushed the dishwasher back into the under-counter space and reset the power. Feeling like I had nothing to lose, I fired it up to see what would happen.

Miracle of miracles, it ran like a charm! Somehow my natural handyman instinct must have afforded me a successful repair even without finding any flaws or failures in the unit. I rewarded myself with a nice cold beer and a handful of cold meats just to chase that down.

The next morning, I loaded some dirty dishes from breakfast, and fired up the little devil yet again, confident that yesterday’s repairs would still be evident. What was evident instead was a brand new, even more urgent rattling noise throughout even more parts of the operation. Considering my tool belt was somehow missing my roll of electrical tape, I had a hunch I needed to pull the unit back out.

And as I started to ponder doing just that, I wondered, when was the last time I saw my cat?