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One Cobble at a Time

Evaluating wants and needs

Sandra Tayler's Journal

responsible woman

A cobble by itself is just a small stone, but when many of them lay together they create a path . My life is made up of many discrete parts. I have to find ways to fit them all into place so that I can continue to journey where I desire to go. This journal records some of the cobbles that create my path.

Evaluating wants and needs

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Cobblestone
We've finally settled in to the Fall schedule. Part of the settling in was me evaluating our finances and figuring exactly what it is going to take to make ends meet between now and our next book release. At the moment those ends don't meet, but we have plans for rapidly twisting a new rope to tie in the middle. Part of the planning/evaluation process involve me writing down a list of things we want to purchase or replace. Most of the list will wait until money is more plentiful, but it is a useful reference for when we are struck by a shiny thing. Having the list helps us to think twice and figure out what is really most important to us.

The list was begun, but not complete when I went into our storage room and discovered the water damage. Water had leaked from the ceiling onto several stacks of Schlock books. My first thought was that the ice maker in the fridge had leaked again, but this water damage ran in a different pattern than fridge leaks previously had. Some poking around with a flashlight in both the kitchen and the storage room identified the dishwasher as the likely culprit. $90 and one repair visit later, it was determined that the heating element in the dishwasher shorted out and melted a hole in the floor of the washer. This hole runs like a little faucet if we use the dishwasher and can't be patched because the melting around it weakens the whole structure. The only way for us to have a functioning dishwasher is for us to buy a new one.

Dishwasher was not on that list of purchases. We were quite happy with our dishwasher. Now we must evaluate the purchase of a dishwasher against the other things on the purchasing list while also figuring out how much extra rope we'll have to twist to cover the additional gap. It could be done, but I find myself pondering the issue of want versus need. Having a dishwasher is certainly convenient, but do we really need it? I've read stories of families where the dishwasher broke and the resulting hand washing of dishes provided useful bonding time between parents and children. I like the idea of teaching my kids proper dish washing method while talking to them about their lives. On the other hand, every minute that I spend washing dishes is not spent doing something else. My time can be incredibly valuable. Right now things are slower and so the hand washing of dishes has some appeal, but life is not going to stay slow. I must ask myself if we will hand wash dishes in the midst of a book shipping, or ifthe stacked up dishes will encourage us to eat out rather than generate more dishes. I can picture all the money we saved not buying a dishwasher being frittered away because in stressful moments I decide not to cook.

The next step is tri-fold. First I need to institute a dish washing rotation. Whether or not we buy a new dishwasher, it'll take about a week to get the thing and the dishes can't wait that long. Second I need to start doing some of those rope twisting activities. E-bay auctions here we come. Third, I need to get out and look at dishwashers. We need to know prices and installation costs to make an informed decision. And while I am looking I will continue to ponder want vs need. Sometimes the answer is clear, sometimes less so.


9/17/09 Edited to add: Thank you to everyone who responded with suggestions and information. All of it will be useful to me as I shop around to decide our course of action. Thank you also for the offers of help. We'll be in touch if we decide to take you up on it. As of this date I still haven't managed to get out and go looking at dishwashers, which is step one in the decision making process. I plan to go tomorrow morning.
  • Good luck with your decisions. You are so good at thinking things through and weighing out the pros and cons.

    I remember when I was young and our dishwasher was broken. It didn't work, but made a great drying rack! :)
    • They do make great drying racks! Way more spacious than any countertop rack is gonna be. :)
  • I hope you caught the leakage before too many (or any) of your valuable stock of books were water-damaged.
    • Unfortunately no. We lost about 30 books.
      • Ouch. That's a fair chunk of change. (I'm assuming somewhere around 50% net profit per book.)

        Still, it could have been worse: it could have been 300 books.

        Is there structural water damage to the storage room ceiling, or don't you know yet?
      • We've got water damage in our crawlspace where it leaked in from the front step. We're looking at about $8K to move the front door out, replace the water damaged floor joist, new insulation, and seal the front of the house against more water. It would be more but we're going to retile the front entrance ourselves and do the painting (former owners left us some touch up paint.)

        None of our stuff got water damaged in the crawlspace but some books we were storing for a friend, did.
  • I don't know if this would be an option or not, but when David & I were looking for a refrigerator, we were able to buy a nice fridge at a great price at the Sears Outlet. It has a few cosmetic issues, but they are actually hidden by the wall, so we never notice. It would appear that there is a Sears Outlet in your area via a quick websearch. If you could score a good deal, then maybe a handyman could do the install for you?
  • My wife and I lived a few years together before we had our first dishwasher, and she observed that the number of little sicknesses she has were diminished after getting a dishwasher. But if everyone in your family has a fairly strong immune system (like I do) that might not be an issue for them.
  • To answer some questions:

    1) We lost about $500 worth of merchandise. Another $90 worth can be sold as scratch-and-dent, since it didn't get wet enough to really warp or stick. But the big block of books started turning to mush.

    2) Our cost on the lost merchandise is around $100. And since we own the stuff (we didn't borrow money to print books) it's not an out-of-pocket loss. We have plenty of inventory left.

    3) Sandra's time is worth a LOT. Regardless of how we solve the current dish problem, the minions children need to be spending more time helping with the dishes.

    4) The upcoming auctions are going to be very, very cool.
    • Ah, so you have less up-front cost in the ruined books than I expected might be the case. That's all to the good. You've still lost $500 worth of saleable merchandise, but you haven't lost as much investment in it as you might have.
  • We were given an extra dishwasher. It is nicer and newer than our current one, but it is a separate unit that would have to be taken out of the casing to be put under a counter (and thus fit in our kitchen well). It is sitting in the middle of our kitchen, acting as a rolling island at the moment. Supposedly it has a clog in the hose- we haven't checked, but that can be easily fixed. It has only been used twice. Our old one has a few issues, but works fine. Your need is greater than mine. If you can find a way to come get it from Farmington.... Come. Get it.
    • Thank you very much for this offer. I really appreciate it. Unfortunately the layout of our kitchen is such that a free standing dishwasher would constantly be in the way. It is better off at your house where it is useful as an island.
      • Some of the ones with exterior casing are actually normal dishwashers; you just pull it out of the casing like you would pull it out of the cabinet. Might not be worth the effort for you.
  • (Anonymous)
    So sorry about the dishwasher. I will say this. My sister's has broken 5 times in 8 years and they always buy an expensive one to replace it. My mom who lives in their basement, just bought a cheap one when she first moved in and has never had a problem. Yes, all the bells and whistles are nice, but that should go into your want vrs need mode. Good Luck!
  • You need a dishwasher, Sandra. This is not a want. Go buy it ASAP!
    • After today, I'm leaning toward agreement.
      • Dishwasher experience

        (Anonymous)
        Dishwashers are like cars, you can spend a lot for the bling, or get a cheap throw away model that's only good for flipping houses (so you can point and say "Look! There's a dishwasher!"). In my experience, the best place to go to get current information on dishwashers is consumer reports. But before you start drooling over features, consider your location and needs. Most modern dishwashers are geared toward either water or power saving. Water saving tend to use steam and so are very good at getting the baked on grime off. Power saving tend to use higher pressure water and so have shorter cycles. It is worth spending a little extra to get a GOOD dishwasher as the cheaper ones tend to have major problems as soon as the warranty expires. Scratch and Dent aside, I'd spend the extra time and money looking into the options. Just sayin'.
        PS what books are now scratch and dent candidates?
  • After a lot of careful research, we got a dishwasher from a local scratch & dent place and had it installed by a handyman. All in all, we saved about $300 and got a nicer dishwasher than we would have been able to afford otherwise. We did, however, end up being very glad that the scratch & dent place had a 90 day warranty on all their stuff. That warranty was important!
  • Dishwasher

    (Anonymous)
    I agree with the folks who've suggested either Sears clearance/outlet or any other appliance place to get a demo/scratched or dented dishwasher. This will save you $, but go for quality. My wife and I just faced the same situation as you (without the water leakage) and we found a great replacement at our local Sears clearance outlet. And here's the word for you - stainless steel! (OK two words). Our stainless steel unit does not ever smell bad, cleans up really easily, doesn't have "trap" to empty and is much quieter. Also make sure the unit is complete with all accessories, manuals and fittings. We installed our own - I have a little experience - but with some basic tools and patience you can do it too. Happy bargain hunting!
  • (Anonymous)
    My wife and I just recently replaced our dishwasher. We happened to catch one on sale @ Home Depot, and I installed it myself. Removing the old dishwasher was fairly easy- installing the new one was slightly more difficult due to the age of old installation. Installing it myself saved us somewhere in the neighborhood of $120, and took approximately 1.5 hours of my time- so it was worth it for me.
  • Probably a bit crazy, but...

    Do you know anyone who does fiberglass auto body or boat work? That might bring repairs within the realm of "possible".
  • Can I help?

    (Anonymous)
    I work on dishwashers for a living, I do live in Utah, and would be willing to help install (for free) anything you get. For example I could take the sides off that d/w in farmington, and most likely solve it's drain issues as well. I don't have a truck to transport it unfortunately. Let me know if I can help. email me at lord_holder at hotmail.com if I can help out at all.
    • Re: Can I help?

      (Anonymous)
      I have access to trucks and dolly, as well I am well trained manual labor, (I follow directions really well).
      The only cost would be fuel.
      My help beyond the cost of fuel is free as I know how things can be and I respect you guys and the work you put into your business and family.
      • Re: Can I help?

        Doh! Forgot to log in. Sorry Sandra, that last was from me.
    • Re: Can I help?

      Thank you for the kind offer of help. We'll contact you if we decide to take you up on it. (I still need to do some shopping around to decide what we're going to do.)
  • You have three backup dishwashers:)

    And someone else mentioned autobody fiberglass. Clean the unit well, WEAR GLOVES, slap on a big patch and match it inside with a blob of same or epoxy.

    Our "scratch and dent" appliances were near new when we got them and installing a dishwasher where one previously existed takes a hose, some wrenches and a few minutes. I can even talk you through it.
    • The big problem is that if the heating element shorted out, it may be fried on its own.

  • You can decide on the new or used... Myself, I'd find one with a Stainless Steel inner tub, as you can see the molded plastic ones have "issues"...

    (I run the water heater at 160F so the booster element never has to run. But you can't do that with small children around.)

    But after you pull the old DW out, and before you put the new DW in, get a sheet-metal shop to make you a drain pan (with 2" side and rear lips) and slide it in under the unit. Caulk where it overlaps the kitchen flooring.

    If the DW ever leaks again, the water goes out onto the kitchen floor where you'll see it immediately - not run under the cabinets or through the floor and sub-flooring, and on the basement ceiling where it makes a huge mess before you notice.

    For bonus points, rig a drain line to the pan headed outside (or to the basement sump/drain).
  • Dishwasher options...

    (Anonymous)
    I would not recommend using fiberglass to repair the dishwasher liner. Epoxy sometimes has issues sticking to some plastics (Polyethylene and Polypropylene being two of them..which dishwasher tubs are usually made from) The tub is likely a thermoset plastic, so could conceivably be welded, but it'd be temporary at best.

    There is something to be said for paying for a better unit over the bean cans; but as one that works in the apartment industry, the bean cans aren't as bad as you'd think. The property that I work at had a phase that is around 25 years old. I'm fairly certain there are no original machines left, but there are many in the 10-15 year old range. We use the $200 GE that Home Depot sells. They are pretty easy to install, have few "moving parts", and seem to take a great deal of abuse. Granted they are feature limited, but generally speaking they're not bad.

    The catch pan idea is a great one. I'd be leery about making one from tin though. Depot sells a sheet product called FRP board. It's the same stuff that you see as wainscoting in the restrooms at fast food places. It has a number of fittings to make corners and the like. Just shoot silicone into the joint and push it together. A friend I worked with created a home business making drip pans for sink base cabinets.

    Good luck with that.
    • Re: Dishwasher options...

      (Anonymous)
      You might be able to use a washing machine pan instead of a custom sheet metal pan. You can find them at Home Depot, Lowes, hardware store or look on Amazon ($16.50). They are designed to catch leaky washing machines. Some pans even have a place to pipe in a drain so that if there is a big leak, there isn't a big mess. In some municipalities this is now building code required to prevent water damage to the subflooring. I found this out when my washing machine leaked. Arrrg.
  • (Anonymous)
    I highly recommend looking at Home Depot in your area. Here they have a deal where if you buy an appliance of $300 or more, they come and install it with delivery and take the old one away. That ends up being very useful compared to buying one which 'fell off a truck' when you add up all those hidden costs. Of course, it does still depend on your budget.
  • dishwasher repair

    (Anonymous)
    Dear wife of my favorite web comic;
    As a person with a limited budget I offer this suggestion; epoxie putty. It is waterproof, very hard, and sticks to anything. It may be a temp repair for your dishwasher. I hope it works. It comes in a tube and you cut off the ammount you need and kneed it until the two parts are evenly mixed [all gray]. It dries quikly and can be painted, if you want to paint your d/w.
    Cheaper than a new machine, and costs less than ten bucks.
    Best wishes.
    Stephen E. Walton
    • Re: dishwasher repair

      (Anonymous)
      I have a Frigidaire (not sure of the exact model, but it looks like this one) FDB520RHB. It works okay, but has become louder and louder.
      I cleaned out trap, ect, no change, continues to get louder and louder.

      It came with a blue plastic coating all over it that is impossible to completely remove since its tucked away behind the front bezel.Breaking a button is not worth the little pieces of plastic sticking out. I could use a art/xacto knife but I don't want to scratch the front/expose bare metal.

      I was at a friends house, who had also had the same design/brand and they had the same issue, blue plastic sheet on the front that was impossible to completely remove. Theirs was also a bit loud.

      It gets the job done, is cheap, 250-300, but I believe there is better out there.
  • Who Knew?

    Who knew there would be so many comments about a dishwasher?
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