Frugal Fix-It Weekend

This weekend, I got a lot accomplished. While that may not sound like a big deal to you, it is a big deal for me. You see, usually I head into the weekend with a long wish list of Things I Want To Get Done. Then, I spend all Saturday morning watching The Property Brothers over that second cup of coffee (which somehow lasts two hours). By then, it’s lunch time. After lunch, I finally decide to get to work, but somehow end up taking a nap.

But this Saturday, my daughter had Girl Scout camp counselor training, starting at 10 am on Saturday morning. It was way out from the city, so we decided that we would do a big loop on the way back from dropping her off, and swing through the “fancy” section of town to hit the “fancy” Goodwill stores for Half-Off Saturday. Our main goals were to try to find a microwave to replace ours that died, and a new pair of jeans for both Steve and I. At the first Goodwill, I found some wicked comfy jeans that someone had glitter-painted and bedazzled in a funky pattern for $3.99. Steve found a pair of brand-new looking jeans as well as a nice button up shirt in his style (yes, he has his own style). He also found a pair of shorts for lounging around the house. Altogether, $12. We didn’t find a microwave though.

Side note: My “new” jeans earned an eye roll from my teenage daughter. I love them though. And now I can donate my horridly uncomfortable pair of jeans that I hate.

So we headed to the second “fancy” Goodwill, where we instantly located a small microwave in excellent condition. It just needed some cleaning. Once that we verified that a Fiestaware plate would fit inside, we snatched it up and ran to the check out. Since it was Half-Off Day, the microwave was $4.99! We brought it home, where I gave it a thorough cleaning. Here it is, in the place of honor in our kitchen, all cleaned up and ready to use:

new microwave

And here it is, successfully heating a cup of water:

new microwave - it works

Another side note: We deliberately sought out the smallest microwave we could find that would still fit our plates. The one that died was a behemoth, which is why we had it on its own “special table”, seen in the picture. The new one is small enough that I believe we will be able to relocate it to the kitchen counter, and donate the outsized table.

Sunday was even more successful than Saturday. It turned into a “Fix It, Donate It, or Junk It” Day. The first item on the list was to fix our washing machine. The solenoid on the water inlet valve was one of the victims of the Great Mercury Retrograde Rampage of 2015. This caused the water not to cut off when it was supposed to. So you either had to babysit the washer and manually shut it off after the wash cycle, then run the drain cycle, then the rinse cycle, then the drain cycle again, just to do a wash, OR you could let it fill with water until the door burst open and flooded the laundry room (yes, that happened).

I had already purchased a new water inlet value from Amazon. However, you may remember that our Kenmore Elite front-loading washer and dryer are stacked in our laundry room. To get to the water inlet valve, we needed to remove the top panel of the washer. This meant completely disconnecting the dryer and removing it from the laundry room.

So we concocted a plan to build a platform over the washer to set the dryer on. We figured that we would remove the dryer, repair the washer, assemble and install the new platform, and the reinstall the dryer. That way, in the future, it would be much easier to pull the washer out if it needed repairs. We also figured that both the units would benefit from not being stacked.

I found an example and nice tutorial online that looked pretty easy to assemble using only a couple of 2x6s, some 2x4s, and deck screws. We purchased the lumber and screws on the way home Saturday night, so we were ready to go.

The first thing that we did was unplug the dryer and remove it from the laundry room. This of course required us to move the microwave stand in the kitchen, so that Steve could move the refrigerator, so that we could get the dryer out of the laundry room. And it goes without saying that we had to take the laundry room door off it’s hinges!

With the dryer out of the way, we started looking at the space in the laundry room. It looked like there should be enough room to fit the units side by side. Hmmm. When we had them delivered, ten years ago, the delivery people swore to us that they would not fit side by side. I pulled out the tape measure and measured the room. Then, I measured the washer. Then the dryer. They should fit, with room to spare. Then Steve measured them. Yes, they should fit side by side! We moved the washer into what would be its “side by side” position. The only issue was that the toilet keeps the washer door from fully opening. But it opens wide enough to be able to get a large quilt in and out of the washer. We decided to give it a try, and in the future install a corner toilet. But first we had to repair the washer.

I had a found a video on the Kenmore site showing exactly how to replace the water inlet value, and it looked to be pretty straightforward. We had already unplugged the washer, so we turned off the water supply lines. Then, we disconnected the water supply lines from the back of the washer. I used a Torx bit and my Ryobi right-angle drill to remove the three Torx screws that secured the top panel, found on the back of the washer. We slid the top panel off the washer. Steve disconnected the interior water line from the water inlet valve outflow. I removed the electrical connectors from the solenoids. Then, I loosened the single screw that held the valve in place and just slipped it out. The old one didn’t show any obviously damage, other than a little wear, but the solenoids are enclosed so the damage might not be visible.

old water inlet valve

Steve connected the interior water line to the new valve, I connected the electrical connectors, then I slide the new value in place and reinstalled the single screw. We checked all the connections, then closed the top panel, and replaced the Torx screws. Then, we reconnected the water supply lines to the water inlet valve. We slowly turned the water back on and checked for leaks. Everything looked good, so we plugged the washer back in and ran a few rinse cycles to make sure that the water cut on and off properly. It looked OK, so we positioned the washer in its new spot in the laundry room.

With the washer in place, we moved the dryer back into the laundry room beside it. Steve reconnected the vent and plugged it in. It powered up and appear to be no worse the wear for its little excursion outside the laundry room. With the washer and dryer in place side by side, Steve and I both stood back and marveled at how much bigger the laundry room looked. It was like having a whole new room in the house!

new laundry room

Now there is a place to set the laundry detergent, and a place to set a clothes basket, and to fold clothes. And the washer and dryer doors open the correct direction, so it’s easy to move laundry from the washer to the dryer. Also, I won’t be hitting my head on the dryer door after I bend down to pick up a dropped sock. Because the units are side by side and lower, they don’t block the window, which gives more light to the room. And I plan to install some shelves on the large empty wall above them, to store laundry supplies and cleaning items. And of course now Bridget can get on top of the washer to look out the window!

Update: It looks like the water inlet valve fixed the issue because we have been successfully doing laundry in our “new” laundry room ever since the repair (sigh of contentment). We returned the lumber that we had purchased for the platform last night for a full refund (I kept the deck screws because we can always use deck screws).

After fixing the washer and dryer, we went through all the items that we had removed from the laundry room. The plastic shelf that we had been using to hold detergent will likely be relocated to the attic. We gathered together multiple half-used cans of paint, stain, and polyurethane, as well as some other home items like buckets and extra power cords for donation to ReStore. Here are some of the things we gathered for donation, atop the old microwave, which is scheduled for delivery to the disposal center.

donations

Several irreparable and unidentifiable items went in the trash or recycle bin. Encouraged by our success, we moved our efforts to the attic, where we got rid of several old fluorescent light ballasts, an indoor greenhouse, a shelf, and a hanging plant basket, all of which will go to ReStore. And we identified other items for future Freecycle or ReStore efforts as well.

By this time, it was dinner time. We were pretty exhausted, so Steve ran our to pick something up, while I finished tidying up. One of the things that we removed from the laundry room was my floor steamer which had a broken switch.

floor steamer

I decided to see if I could fix it. The handle was cracked and the switch had popped out of the handle. I removed the handle, repositioned the switch, then replaced the handle, and reinforced it with duct tape.

floor steamer handle repair 2

floor steamer handle repair

I tried it out, and it’s almost as good as new. The switch is securely in place and depresses correctly. Now, I can go back to steam cleaning the kitchen floor!

All in all, it was a very productive weekend! A new microwave, “new” laundry room with working washer, repaired steam cleaner, and lots of decluttering. Now, next weekend, I can lounge around in my “new” bedazzled jeans and watch The Property Brothers with a clear conscience!

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