Friday, 29 November 2013

The Appliance of Domestic Science

Tots100 got me thinking with their blog post about domestic appliances and how much we rely on them these days.

We were having dinner with some friends recently and got chatting about what we could live without in this increasingly material world.  What would we give up if there was a choice between two things?  I knew straight away that if I had to choose between my washing machine and dishwasher, the dishwasher would definitely stay.  There's a great local launderette (with a cosy coffee shop right next door) hard would that be a few times a week (after all, I managed it in my twenties!), but give up my dishwasher - NO WAY!!!  All those pans, plates and pots cluttering up my kitchen waiting for "someone" (ie, usually me!) to wash and dry them? NO THANK YOU!
I breathe a sigh of relief when they are stacked safely in the machine and I press the button, pure bliss.

Most appliances usually last quite a long time, but they always seem to break down just at the wrong time. That was the case with our oven a couple of years ago.  It was Sunday, I was preparing our traditional family Sunday roast dinner (a 52 week affair in our household) and switched on the oven.  Everything seemed normal, lights came on and whirring noises from the inside, but when I opened the door to put the pork in 20 minutes later, it was still cold!  ARGH!  Husband, who is quite handy with everything (except cooking!), came to assess the situation and declared that the oven heating element was not working.  Disaster for that Sunday roast - it's impossible to cook a fabulous joint of pork with crackling without an oven
....I love my microwave and slow cooker (and indeed, survived with just a microwave to cook on for over a year when we were renovating our house and the "kitchen" moved from room to room as we tried to find somewhere without dust and grime!) but they do not cook a proper Sunday roast!  We had to cut our losses and went to the pub for Sunday lunch that day.

As I said, appliances seem to have a knack of knowing when is the worst time to break down.  Not only was it a Sunday, but our bank balance was woefully low (read negative) and we certainly couldn't afford to replace the cooker (even though it was already a good age).  The aforementioned Handy Husband did some searching online and found PartSelect who had this really helpful guide on what to do when your oven isn't producing any heat. He followed the simple instructions and concluded that he had been right before, that the heater element was indeed kaput!  After reading how easy it was to replace, he decided that it sounded like we could fix the oven ourselves so ordered the part which arrived just a day later.

I was "Chief Tool Passer" and Handy Husband had the element replaced in less than an hour, it really was very simple.  SO simple, in fact, that when exactly the same thing happened eight months later when Handy Husband was away on business, I managed to replace the element on my own (with just the Young One as the Chief Tool Passer!).  It did take me a bit longer, but it wasn't rocket science, you just need to be methodical and always adhere to the safety instructions.  PartSelect produce step-by-step videos which are really helpful if you're a bit nervous.  We now keep a spare oven heating element in a kitchen drawer, we don't want any more Sunday roast disasters!

Following on from our oven success, we had a go at diagnosing a fault on my beloved dishwasher when that broke down, but found that it was a problem in the electronic circuit board which was not repairable (by us or an engineer) and a replacement would cost almost as much as a new dishwasher.  Of course, the dishwasher WAS replaced pronto! ;)

Now, whenever an appliance stops working, we try to fix it ourselves.  We're very keen on recycling and trying to reduce our impact on the planet as much as possible, and this is a great way of making a big difference (to both the planet AND your own bank balance!)

This blog post is my entry into the Tots100/PartSelect "Love Your Appliance" competition