Dishwasher Drama!

I was all excited this week, because my friend and coworker burnt her house down (yes, on purpose – long story) and I get her old dishwasher. Seeing as our previous one was a 1970-80’s model (fake wood paneling on the front and everything: only two switches, “off” and “on”), I was really excited to get her 1990’s hand-me-down (it has buttons on the front that blink! It’s white and shiny! It’s got different wash options! It’s got a sprayer inside that rises up during the wash and sprays the upper level!). Besides, we don’t happen to have a spare $400 on hand right now, so our chances of getting a brand new dishwasher are pretty slim.

Anyway. The dishwasher is great, and everything went together like a dream. One hour after I’d started the task I was done with the hard-wiring and the waste line attachment: except for one niggling problem. The input line was a size bigger than the valve it was supposed to attach to.

No problem, I thought. I’d just go to Lowe’s – the nice one in Laurel – and they were sure to have an alternate-sized coupling, or something like that.

Oops #1. So I go, and get what I think will work. Except it doesn’t. I’ve measured the pipe wrong – at the nut, instead of the actual pipe. I know, I know, DUH: but the pipes were at difficult angles and I figured I could extrapolate sizes from the nuts attached to the pipes they’d have there… except that when you’re dealing with fractions of an inch, guestimating just isn’t good enough. We went back home to measure.

Oops #2. We arrive at Lowe’s again (keep in mind it’s a 20-minute drive each way, so we’re already peeved that we’ve made the trip 3 times now) with new measurements. We talk to their plumbing “expert” that hands me this three-way valve that he swears up and down will work, except that I’ll now have to replumb my faucet, and the package says that all the nuts are 3/8″ instead of some 3/8″ and some 1/2″… but he swears on his mother’s grave. -sigh-

Oops #3. Back at Lowe’s. Again. This time I bring in the old copper input tubing. The same guy says “Ah!” and hands me a length of tubing with a 3/8″ nut on one end and a 1/2″ nut on the other. I get a feeling of elation through my whole body.Yes! This is it. It will work. I apologize to Josh for my frustrated snappiness during the last few trips.

Oops #4. The purportedly 1/2″ coupling is frickin’ huge. I am once again plunged into despair. I didn’t see any 7/16″ fittings at the store. How can my new input tube be a non-standard plumbing size? My peevishness reaches new heights. I groan and breathe hard and stub my toe really hard by kicking the old diswasher. I dent it. This does not improve my mood.

Interlude: Loading the car for tomorrow’s fair, which at this point is the last thing on earth that I want to do.

Finally. I decide to go to Lowe’s one last time, and pick up food on the way back (since we have no functioning kitchen sink, preparing dinner will be difficult at best). On a whim I decide to check in to the local semi-ghetto Home Depot, and if they have nothing, go on to the posh Lowe’s as planned. This time I bring the old copper tubing, the new vinyl tubing, the non-fitting things I’d bought at Lowe’s, and the wrench I had been using to measure them all this time. I march in with a sense of purpose and resigned gloom.

At Home Depot I meet Donna, who spends the rest of her time working as a plumber. She rails against the stupidity of whoever set up the new dishwasher in the first place (apparently all dishwasher input tubes are 3/8″ standard, and whoever did this had to go out of his way to do so). Apparently the problem I’d been having with sizing is because (why could no one have mentioned this previously?) sizing is not standard. (“Yeah, we know it says 1/2″, but it’s this particular kind of piping, see, and so that 1/2″ doesn’t really mean that, you have to buy an entirely different size and nothing designed for the sizes of the other kind of pipe will fit”). There’s “compression tubing”, and then there’s “piping”. Or something like that. And how anyone is supposed to be able to tell the difference just by looking is beyond me.

Oh, and did I mention that the new input hose was made out of some kind of material that wasn’t meant to withstand the pressure and heat of the dishwasher? Uh-huh.

But Donna fixed me up! In ten minutes she’d solved all the stress that had plagued me for the last two days. God bless all Donnas, and her in particular. I’ve 3/4 … or is it 3/8 … or maybe 1/2 … a mind to write to her supervisor about how awesome she is. And ten minutes after I restarted work on it, the dishwasher was snug, tidy, dripless, and churning away in its new home.

I plan to find a home for the old one on FreeCycle. After I fix the dent in the front. And my toe.

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