Sunday, July 08, 2007

Basic appliance requirements

So we're getting a new dishwasher. The old dishwasher has at long last given up the ghost. Instead of pumping water, it makes a terrible noise that we have interpreted to mean that there will be no more dishes washed until a repairman shows up. There will be no repairman. Rather, there will be a delivery and the old dishwasher will be added to some mountain of trash somewhere.

This is a bit of a relief. The dishwasher is 11 years old. I'm not sure of the ratio of kitchen appliance years to human years, but I would say that it would be eligible for the senior discount on Cascade if such a thing existed. However, that's not why we're relieved by it's refusal to wash dishes. You see, three years ago, we did call the appliance repairman. The dishwasher was leaking water on the floor. And the timer sometimes stuck partway through the cycle and would run indefinitely if not manually moved on to the next stage of the cycle.

When the repairman walked through the door, I realized that I had already incurred some sort of financial obligation whether the appliance was repaired or not. After an examination, the diagnosis was given -- $275 to fix the water on the floor, another couple of hundred to fix the timer. I considered the matter. The repairman was standing there. I owed him money already. Life was crazy and did not include time to shop for a new dishwasher. However, fixing the old one completely would cost more than buying a new one. I compromised and had him fix the leak but not the timer. My husband was not thrilled with that decision but we were back in the dishwashing business with less pain than any alternative fix.

Time passed. As my husband and I headed out to shop for a new dishwasher a couple of weeks ago, we were discussing what features we wanted on the new one. As we considered shelf arrangement and noise and number of cycles, I decided to throw in a dream feature. Would it, could it, be possible that we could find a dishwasher that would wash the dishes completely unattended? Would we be able to find one that required only a push of the button and no further attention? Could we start a load of dishes on our way out the door or to bed? If it had a delay start, could we use it?

For just short of three years, the routine has been: 1)start the dishwasher; 2)set the stove timer to 20 minutes; 3)arrange to be within hearing range of the kitchen in 20 minutes. 4)at the sound of the buzzer, return to the kitchen to turn off the stove timer and nudge the dial on the dishwasher to move on in the cycle.

In the days before the dishwasher quit working, the stove timer seemed to tire of this constant babysitting of the dishwasher and was going off less reliably. It looked like we would need to recruit the microwave timer to take over. The dishwasher had become a burden to the entire kitchen. Only the refrigerator was spared. (It has its own issues.)

We're still washing dishes by hand at this point, but the order is in and the new unit should show up this week. The report is that it does indeed require no human intervention once the button is pushed.

Life is good.