The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Fixing the dishwasher

the dishwasher's Mona Lisa smileFor the first five years Danny and I argued constantly.

About the washing up.

I wanted to wash up in the evening after supper. He preferred to leave the dirty stack until the morning.
“I’ll get up early and do it before I go to work.”
I never believed him and he would insist,
“I love washing up. As long as it’s in the morning. I’ll do it. I promise.”
Ahh, the softness of those Irish promises are so sweet that I often forgave him when I came down to plates thick with dried on food in the morning.

But sometimes I got very angry. Especially if Danny was not around to hear my battlecries.

Eventually we twigged that we could buy a dishwasher and most of the daily angst would disappear with the swipe of a credit card.

The streamlined beast was delivered four days before Christmas. A week after Christmas it was plumbed in. This added a certain piquant sadness to Christmas. Like the year when the central heating pump collapsed at midday on Christmas Eve just as our plumber had departed for a week in the sun. We dragged some tree trunks in from the woodpile and revved up the large inglenook fireplace. It was tee-shirts downstairs and fur hats when we retired to bed.

Our dishwasher is our best friend. As you can see from her portrait she has a Mona Lisa smile. She is the sort of svelte and efficient workhorse that happily scrubs and dries pots and pans at the touch of a button. Like any talented helper she has her own particular quirks. She would enjoy dismantling bone handled knives and likes to chew wooden kitchen implements. That’s OK. These don’t take up as much space on the worktop as the entire wash up in the olden days.

This summer she started leaking from the front. This was quite messy. We ran her with a special bottle of cleaner. The leak diminished but she continued to weep softly. I ventured onto the internet and discovered a great DIY plumbing forum on http://www.diynot.com/. Eventually I found the answer to our problem. The seals at the bottom of the door can get bunged up with gunk. I opened the dishwasher door wide and removed the gunk from the internal seals at the base of the door. The daily tears stopped.

At the weekend we heard water trickling behind the dishwasher when she rinsed and flushed. When we shone a torch behind the machines the son et lumiere exposed the blocked waste pipe. and new indoor water feature. This is also the waste pipe for the washing machine. Disaster. We ran an essential wash and, worrying about dry rot, I nipped out to Tesco and bought a pipe cleaning solution. We pulled out the machine and I poured it carefully into the waste pipe as Danny loaded up the dishwasher and sorted out the washing.

It didn’t work.

I asked the plumber at work for some tips today.
“Tap the pipe. If it sounds hollow, continue to tap along the pipe until it sounds dull. That is your blockage.”
He gave me a long hard look. “Can you dismantle pipes, Fiona?”
I dithered. Uncertain.
“Modern pipes are just push and press. They are plastic. Easy.”
Ours are plastic. Definitely not modern. But I didn’t mention the age of our pipes to David. I knew that he would put me off talking them apart without a monkey wrench. I was pretty sure that I could unscrew a U bend. Screwing it up correctly was a different matter. I didn’t ask for his mobile number, instead I concentrated on where the blockage was likely to be.
“You know the bit that bends, after the straight bit at the top? Well, the blockage is probably there. Limescale and grunge. If not it’s probably on straight run into the drain, outside the house.”
We have had a block ther in the past so I took his advice seriously.

I came home from work early. I had found a bendy cord from a net curtain that I though might do the trick. Wrong. It loved exploring the straight bits but didn’t have the guts to cope with making a U turn. Enraged I managed to unscrew the U bend with a massive pair of mole grips. It was totally clogged. I cleaned it out and screwed up the connections. I loaded the dishwasher and ran the machine as I wrote this post. And there are no leaks!


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12 Comments

  1. Susan Martin

    I admire your perseverence and determination. Well done! You may already do this, but if you give plates and dishes a quick rinse in a bowl in the sink before putting them in the dishwasher, your machine will be practically free of gunk-related problems. It only takes a minute and could extend the life of your lovely machine. Have a lovely day. Susan x

  2. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Janice

    To unscrew you should always turn left (anti clockwise). It’s always the same with screws too.

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