On Wednesday morning, I opened the dishwasher to grab a mug, and the bottom of the dishwasher was filled with water. Had there been any more water at all in the dishwasher, there would have been a flood, possibly causing significant water damage to both my apartment and the apartment downstairs.
I figured that the dishwasher was not draining correctly, and I started bailing it out. How great that the dishwasher is designed so that the amount of water that is uses is just less than the amount of water that would cause a flood if there was improper draining! It is pretty hard to bail out a wide but shallow extent of water, and since I needed to “go” to work (start working from home), I put Jim in charge. Was the filter clogged? Did the pump die? Jim watched some YouTube videos and took apart most of the inside of the dishwasher in order to get to the bottom of the story. Clearly the dishwasher did not want just anyone to do this, as you need a special star-shaped screwdriver head to remove some of the parts. We have special screwdrivers.
After he had taken apart most of the dishwasher, we poured some of the last of our strategic reserves of white vinegar down into the lowest part of the draining mechanism. We have really hard water here. Enough hard water that the cat’s water dish gets caked with deposits within a day or so.
A few hours later, we checked on the dishwasher. It was filling with water again. Turns out that it was not an issue with it draining improperly. It is an issue with the water inlet valve. The electronics of the dishwasher tell this valve to open and close in order to send water into the dishwasher at various times in the cleaning cycle. This valve had failed, and it was stuck somewhat open. Until we could replace this valve (or the entire dishwasher), the only way to prevent a flood was to turn off the water to the dishwasher. Since we are having a pandemic, we are unwilling to have workers come into the apartment for anything short of an emergency.
We were very lucky that I had not put the dishes away the previous night and that I needed to look in the dishwasher in the morning and that I saw that there was a problem.
Turned off the water to the dishwasher. The same shut-off valve also controls the hot water for the sink. Not only will we be washing dishes by hand, but we don’t have any hot water in our kitchen sink. This is annoying but not an emergency as we can fill up a container with hot water from the bathtub and pour it into the sink to wash dishes. I ordered a new water inlet valve and paid extra for it to be shipped overnight by FedEx.
In preparation for replacing the water inlet valve, I decided to clean the area of the floor around the bottom of the dishwasher because I was going to be lying on the floor with my hands up under the dishwasher in order to install the new valve. Replacing this valve is inconvenient but not particularly complicated. You take off the panel at the bottom-front of the dishwasher, remove the bracket that holds the valve to a support bar that runs along the front of the opening, uscrew the valve from the bracket, unplug the electronic controls, disconnect the water inlet and outlet hoses, and then run all these steps backwards with the new valve. Check for leaks before replacing the front panel.
You can not remove the bottom panel of my dishwasher. Ever since this dishwasher has been installed, whenever someone remodeled the apartment by replacing the floor, no one uninstalled the dishwasher in order to put the new floor under the dishwasher. Every new floor stops just in front of the dishwasher. The dishwasher stands behind what is easily an inch of floor. The top layer of floor is made up of thick travertine tiles. The dishwasher access panel (and the entire dishwasher) is blocked behind a wall of floor. I measured, and it is probably impossible to remove this dishwasher and then replace it with a new one, as the space between the top of the current floor and the bottom of the cabinets is less than the height of a dishwasher. Replacement would involve at least one of the following: Make the floor shorter or make the countertop higher. This requires a contractor and a crew. With a reasonable floor, replacing the valve could be done with me and YouTube (or one appliance repairer). With a reasonable floor, replacing the entire dishwasher could be done in about 20 minutes by a team of people doing appliance delivery and installation. I am not having a construction crew remodel the kitched during a pandemic.
Since we have lived here, the refrigerator has died, the dryer has died, and the handle has come off the microwave. And now the dishwasher leaks. Every day I am regretting more and more my decision to continue living in a small apartment in a cute neighborhood with lots of shops and restaurants (all closed) instead of taking my money out of the stock market and trying to buy a house with a yard in the suburbs.
By Thursday morning I was such an anxious mess that I was worried that the refrigerator had broken again. I put my hand against it to see if I feel the vibrations of it running. I think it was running? It was cold inside. When Jim woke up I made him double-check that the refrigerator was running. It was. For now.
FedEx brought the new dishwasher valve (which I can’t install due to lack of access) on Friday. The FedEx driver rang the bell (not actually a bell but more of a loud blaring noise that upsets the cats), and I went over to the intercom panel to release the gate latch downstairs. The bell rang again, and I pressed the button again. No one came to deliver anything, so I guessed that the driver was delivering something to someone else. I checked my email and FedEx had emailed me about a delivery exception due to lack of access. I went downstairs and had Jim press the buzzer. The gate did not unlatch. Our intercom panel is broken. My dishwasher valve will be redelivered on Monday or I can go pick it up at FedEx (hell no). Whatever, don’t need it now.
Restoring our ability to have hot water from the kitchen faucet would require installing a separate shutoff valve for the dishwasher. Doing this the right way would involve turning off the water to the entire building and replacing the current shutoff valve with one that has a separate shutoff for each line coming out of it. Isn’t this the way that it should be according to the building code? Didn’t we just live through a plumbing debacle that included a code inspection from the city? Didn’t the plumbers put extra holes in the walls so that they could install a separate shutoff for the refrigerator’s icemaker? So many mysteries. Doing this the hacky way involves installing a second valve inline with the dishwasher’s supply line (or a cap on the outlet that leads to the dishwasher’s supply line). At this point it seems like bad luck to try to meddle with things any more.