Kitchen Nightmares

Mid-last week, our dishwasher’s latch got stuck in the “closed” position, even though it was open. We cracked open the dishwasher (which has had its fair share of gremlins – I wouldn’t recommend a Jenn-Aire dishwasher) and checked it out. Seemed like a simple fix – the latch somehow got closed, and we just needed to pop it open.

Replaced the latch, screwed everything shut. After closing things up, the dishwasher refused to respond to button presses… about 3/4 of the time. Opened everything up, reseated various connections, same thing. Great. Ordered a new control panel for the dishwasher.

Sometime late last week, there was a sale on a small under-sink water heater. I thought, “Hey, that’d be great for our kitchen,” because our kitchen is all the way across the house from the tankless heater, which means that one specific faucet takes forever to heat up. And so for the dishwasher, or for washing up or whatever, you’d always end up wasting a ton of water waiting for it to warm up.

So I got the small water heater. When it arrived, I went to install it, and as I was pulling thing out from under the sink, I realized things were wet. That wasn’t great. Fortunately, the wood bottom of the cabinet hadn’t warped, which meant we must have caught the problem at the exact right time (well, close to it).

I looked under the sink, and lo and behold – a cracked fitting on the disposal drain pipe. Went to Ace, got some connectors for the water heater and a replacement drain pipe. Got home, realized I’d made a mistake on the sizing of the connectors. Also realized… there was stuff still dripping from somewhere.

I reached up to rotate the disposal, since its drain pipe was in the way of the water valve, and realized my right hand was gunky – that wasn’t right. Turned out the disposal casing had cracked at some point, and it was also leaking. Great.

Back to Ace for new fittings, and a new disposal. Installed the disposal (really, really easy as long as you’ve got the drain flange installed already), replaced the drain pipes, and secured that all so it wasn’t leaking. Great!

Then hooked up the heater. Realized I’d bought the wrong kind of cap for one of the pipes I was capping off, and that the splitter I needed to put on the heater (faucet & dishwasher) was leaking. Great. Back to Ace. Found the right cap, and realized the kind of pipe thread needed teflon tape. Got home, put the cap on, taped the thread, and … still leaking everywhere. The cap was leaking like crazy.

Turns out, if you have a compression fit connection, and you have a compression fit cap, you *still* need a brass ferrule under the cap or it won’t seal. Fortunately, I had one. Cap problem solved. The other one was an NPT connection that needed the teflon tape. Turns out that just needed to be cranked down until it stopped leaking, which it finally did.

So four and a half hours later, and something like five trips to Ace (I think I missed one or two in the description), I finally had it all together.

The next day, I realized I’d put the dishwasher and heater on a cheap power strip, and I couldn’t run one without tripping the breaker on the strip. And the dishwasher leaked on the kitchen floor, because I’d failed to attach the door exactly right.

So finally, almost a whole weekend of kitchen fixing came to a close. We’ve now got a new disposal, a new water heater, and well-functioning plumbing. Hooray!

Also last week, I tried grilling a steak. When I turned on the gas, FWOOSH – huge fireball. Why, I wondered. The flames were totally irregular. After letting it cool off, I popped off the grates & realized that the grill was just toast. The burners had all rusted through, which is why the gas was coming out in a fireball. I’d done some previous part replacement on the grill, but I knew it was wearing out. Turns out, a.) the burners rusted through, b.) the “flame protector” holders had rusted through, c.) the burner attachment points were rusted through, and d.) the edges of the firebox were completely rusted all the way through.

We kept the grill covered, mostly, during the rainy season, but I never really gave it a good solid internal cleaning, which is probably what it really needed. Still, the Char-Broil did a solid job, giving us something like 10 years of wonderful service. But it was dead. Repairing it would have cost as much or more than a replacement of similar quality.

I started looking into grills, and boy – grills are like bicycles. You can really go down the rabbit hole & spend tons of $. And like bikes, options that you start out not caring about suddenly feel necessary as you’re shopping.

I decided that I’d stick with something on the low end. The Char-Broil had been great, and I’d never used a different grill that I thought was so much better. I realized I should check Craigslist. There’s probably someone who bought a grill thinking they’d use it & never did, and if so, they’d probably be among the nicer grills, right?

Sure enough. Found a nice Weber Genesis S320. Used to retail for about a grand. Got it for $300. It’s a lot beefier than the previous grill in almost every respect. Things that were folded sheetmetal on the Char-Broil were cast pieces on the Weber. The frame was square welded tubestock. The charbroil was folded sheetmetal.

The igniter on the Weber was busted (the seller was totally up front about it, so it wasn’t a surprise), so I poked around to see if I could fix it. I took off the button, and realized even if I put a battery in the igniter, there was only one side contacting anything. Huh? I looked up images of the button online, and sure enough, there was a metal bit that went on the underside of the button that wasn’t there. Folded up a piece of aluminum foil, shoved it in where the previous clip would have been, and voila. Works great.

So aside from some minor cosmetic blemishes (a discolored top side burner plate) and obvious previous use, it’s perfect. Fired it up today with the tiny tiny bit of propane that was left post-giant-fireball, and it worked like a champ.

So a weekend spent on fixing, repairing, and replacing various kitchen-related things. End product? Huge success! The process sucked, but compared to having to hire professionals or buy new stuff, it was way cheaper and way more satisfying.

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