Grandpa Webb's blog

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Oh no! the washing machine has packed up

Find out more about Grandpa WebbIt sounded OK when grandma loaded it with mixed coloureds and pressed the start button. The water could be heard coming in, so, as usual, she left it to its own devices.

Alas, on this occasion these devices didn't include washing the mixed coloureds. The water came in, the water stayed in, and nothing else happened. No wash, no spin, and at the end of the programme, there was just a pile of wet unwashed laundry sitting in water in the bottom of the drum.

That's strange, we said, we haven't had it very long, have we? Maybe three or four years? Surely it should last longer than that?  A look through the paperwork showed the washing machine was, in fact, 11 years old - a virtual Methuselah in white goods years.

In this situation it's best not to panic. According to the handbook, the machine will not drain if it gets indigestion. This happens if the drain pump is blocked and unable to discharge the dirty water. There's a pump filter behind a small trapdoor at the front of our machine, but before you can check it, you must drain the water from the drum. Being a German machine, the manufacturer had thoughtfully built in a small hose to do just this.
To check the filter on my machine, I first had to drain the water into a shallow container
The hose is pretty near the floor, so the only receptacle for any drained water has to be a shallow tray. In 20 minutes, with a fair bit of spillage, I emptied countless trays of water into a bucket, and extracted half a bucket of water from the machine. The filter was then unscrewed and revealed no blockage.

Time to consult Google. There is a forum for almost everything on the search engine and sure enough there was one for our Bosch washing machine. It sounded like the motor had packed up.

The filter was clean. It turned out the main motor had failedMaybe it could be cured by fitting a new set of brushes which cost about £35. However, there was some disagreement on the forum as to whether the machine needed to be tipped upside-down in order to take out the motor and fit the brushes. The last washing machine I had in pieces had a huge block of concrete bolted to the drum casing to dampen vibration, and this one felt just as heavy. I could only just move it, so it was far too heavy for me to turn upside-down.

I could always get a professional in to repair it. People on the forum reckoned that fitting a new motor costs around £180, plus labour – say an extra £60. Time to make a decision. The options are:

•    Get a professional repairer in and – assuming it is the motor – possibly stump up £240, or
•    Bearing in mind it’s 11 years old, not very water efficient and likely to start breaking down again - get a new one.

I’ll let you guess which option grandma favoured.

So here we are in John Lewis, talking to a man with a label saying John Lewis Visitor hanging from his belt. We’ve brought the old handbook with us to show the machine we’ve got, and he steers us to the latest version which, just by the merest chance, is being offered for a £50 discount. Normally £380, yours for £330. It’s also a Which? Best Buy. This is impressive, because 11 years ago the one that’s broken cost us more than £400. We later find out the man visiting John Lewis works for Bosch.

New machine proudly bearing its Which? badge Grandma has brought her list of desirable features. They include the ability to shorten programmes, the option to just spin items that have been washed elsewhere, and the opportunity to change your mind if you start a programme and then find a sock on the floor that should have been in the machine.

It ticked most of the boxes, as they say, so we said we’d have it and arranged delivery three days later. For an extra £9 they would also take away our old machine. 'New machine to be unwrapped on delivery, customer will disconnect old machine, and connect up new one' it also said at the bottom of the paperwork.

The delivery men took out the old machine and put the new one in the same place. It needed to be pulled forward to disconnect the water and drain hoses. It’s very heavy, but if it’s on a plastic floor like mine, what I do is spread a little washing-up liquid on the floor with a damp cloth just in front the machine. Taking care not to slip on the stuff yourself, drag the machine on to the wet floor. Even with just the front feet on the wet bit, the machine will move a little more easily.

Before you can get it working there are four transit bolts to unscrew from the back that prevent the innards thrashing about while it is in the van, then it’s just the water, drain and electrics to connect up and you are in business.

We have now replaced our machine with something very nearly identical.

Except that this one works.

The cheque has arrived!

The cheque that I had to tear up and went missing in the post (read the article here) has turned up at last in an unfranked envelope. I see the unions are predicting that the price of a first class stamp will rise to £1 if Royal Mail is privatised. Maybe I should hang on to the envelope in case that happens – at that price it would be worth peeling off the stamp and using it again.

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