February 21, 2007

"Calling Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine, Dr. Howard!"


Yes, The Doctor* is in the House for yet another happy and exciting time answering YOUR questions about life, love, medicine, nuclear physics, law, hobos, and ornamental horticulture, among other things.

Do you have a burning question? A conundrum? A quandary? An inquiry? Well then, you've come to the right place. Simply take a moment to write your question down in the comments below, and world famous Dr. Possum will take time out from his busy schedule and give you a personal answer--FOR FREE!

And trust us, it's a bargain at even twice the price!

All we ask is that you please agree not to sue Dr. Possum, because such things rarely go well for him.

SO--ask away, and be prepared for such clarity and succinctness as can only come by asking questions of a slow-witted, prehensile-tailed marsupial!

*The Doctor is to be used for entertainment purposes only. "Entertainment" being broadly defined, and does not necessarily include the emotion of mirthfulness.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at February 21, 2007 10:40 AM

Dear Dr. Possum,

Our Kenmore top-loading washer is slow to fill with cold water. Hot water flows fine.

The hose and connection seem to be fine.

This site indicates that it might be a problem with a clogged screen in the water intake valve.

Have you or any of your handy readers dealt with a similar problem? How hard is it to tackle?

Posted by: Janis Gore at February 21, 2007 10:52 AM

Most washing machine hoses have a mesh screen in one or both ends to trap particles. Have you removed the cold water hose? If not, take it loose and see if the screens are clogged. If there are no screens, it might require taking the back off the machine and tearing into the mixing valve where the two hoses connect. It's possible something is in there causing it to be stopped up, but this is a bit on the heavy side for most home repair folks. A call to your local Sears store might be in order. Also, has this always been a problem, or one that has gotten progressively worse?

Posted by: Dr. Possum at February 21, 2007 10:57 AM

Hard to say. This machine is about five years old, I think.

It's been in the last couple of years that it has become annoying.

Posted by: Janis Gore at February 21, 2007 11:08 AM

Oh, and our water is fairly hard here. I have problems keeping the kitchen sink clean around the faucets, for instance.

Posted by: Janis Gore at February 21, 2007 11:09 AM

It could be then that you've got some lime deposits inside the intake valve that is blocking the flow. I suppose it would be possible to run some CLR into the valve using the hose, let it set for a while, then run a full empty tub of water through to flush out the CLR. This, however, is probably something that is far beyond any reasonable product liability disclaimer that you'd ever want to read for either CLR or for Kenmore washers. Easiest thing would be just to call the repair guy and get him to replace the valve, or if it looks easy enough, do it yourself.

Posted by: Dr. Possum at February 21, 2007 11:17 AM

Hmm--maybe I wasn't so far wrong as I thought. Research really does help a lot.

From the CLR website: DISHWASHERS and WASHING MACHINES: Run empty machine without detergent up to main wash cycle. Stop machine and add one-half cup CLR. Finish cycle. Run one additional full cycle (wash and rinse) with water only to rinse machine fully.

This doesn't directly address cleaning the intake mixing valve, but it should help all the other internal parts be less limey.

Posted by: Dr. Possum at February 21, 2007 11:21 AM

Worth trying, if it won't do damage. I have plenty of uses around here for the rest of the bottle.

I usually use Lime Away.

Posted by: Janis Gore at February 21, 2007 11:39 AM

Dr Possum skipped one important detail. Shut off the cold water valve before removing the hose from it.

Posted by: steevil (Dr Weevil's bro Steve) at February 21, 2007 11:45 AM

I've found first-hand experience to be a stern, but fair, taskmaster.

Posted by: Dr. Possum at February 21, 2007 11:50 AM

When dey says empty in the CLR directions, that means no water nor nothin'?

Posted by: Janis Gore at February 21, 2007 12:25 PM

I believe they mean without clothes.

In the machine.

You are entirely within your rights to be either clothed or naked during the process, but do watch out for the potential for CLR to come in contact with uncovered skin.

Posted by: Dr. Possum at February 21, 2007 12:33 PM

Lime Away has similar instructions. The washer's running now.

Posted by: Janis Gore at February 21, 2007 01:13 PM

But is it a brisk sprint, or something more akin to a slow jog?

Posted by: Dr. Possum at February 21, 2007 01:19 PM

If ever there was a need for a w3bcam blog, now is the time.
[I had to replace the 'e' with a '3'.]

Posted by: Marc V at February 21, 2007 01:25 PM

As it's set to regular, rather than heavy-duty, it's more of a jog.

Posted by: Janis Gore at February 21, 2007 01:31 PM

Marc, I have it on good authority that video is never going to be that big.

Janis, is that jog better than the crippled arthritic shambling that it used to do?

Posted by: Dr. Possum at February 21, 2007 01:37 PM

Oh, the machine runs fine. It's the filling, and I don't see any change in that.

Checking the screens on the hose will be next. Then we'll call that nice Mr. Halford if we need to.

Posted by: Janis Gore at February 21, 2007 01:40 PM

Ahem. Hon, we dragged the thing out of its niche, disconnected the hose from the machine, and there was a compact lump of what looks like sand clogging the screen. With the help of a bamboo skewer and a turkey baster we cleaned it out.

The marvel was that any cold water was going through at all.

Where did that come from?

It's running like a top now.

Posted by: Janis Gore at February 21, 2007 03:19 PM

Dr. Possum is glad to have been of assistance.

Posted by: Dr. Possum at February 21, 2007 03:40 PM

So send in that ap for repairman today.

Posted by: Janis Gore at February 21, 2007 04:38 PM

Riveting story of drive and self reliance. I give both Miss Janis and the good Dr. a thumbs up. Now I go to eat Gumbo and taunt my cat.

Posted by: Chef Tony at February 21, 2007 05:24 PM

So what does this incident mean to the hot water heater?

Posted by: Janis Gore at February 21, 2007 09:51 PM

I can't believe I've followed an entire conversation about a washing machine repair job on the other side of the world.

It was rivetting, like a good mystery novel. I also enjoyed the clothing-or-no-clothing sub-plot and the comical interjections.

I'm proud to say I picked the problem right up there at the top - sand or grit in the filter.

My washing machine works fine, but the smaller-than-average plastic washbowl has a sharp inner edge that takes skin off my hand when I reach in to haul out the washing.

Posted by: kitchen hand at February 21, 2007 11:45 PM

Chef Tony, as always I am happy to be of service. I hope the cat gumbo was tasty.

Janis, why do you need a heater to heat water that's already hot?

Sorry--old plumber's joke.

In any event, what the water heater doesn't know about this won't hurt it. (In truth, hard water is hard on water heaters, too. Depending on the age, it might be time to replace the sacrificial anode inside to keep the inner tank from beginning to rust out.)

Kitchen Hand, do not think yourself odd--this story was one that was begging to be told, as it truly plumbs the depths of the entire human condition. As for your problem, have you considered scraping down the offending sharp edge in the washer tub with a bit of sandpaper or knife edge or file? Certainly beats getting your hand ripped to shreds each time!

Posted by: Dr. Possum at February 22, 2007 08:03 AM

I was wondering if there would be sediment deposits in the heater of the same type that clogged the washer filter.

Posted by: Janis Gore at February 22, 2007 11:18 AM

Yes, sediment can collect in the bottom of the heater, which can lower pressure or cause it not to heat as efficiently. It would be rare for it to clog completely up since the water pressure would tend to sweep the sediment to the side, but if it got full enough, I suppose it could. The outlet tube is high enough on the heater that it wouldn't clog (unless the tank is completely full of garbage). There is a drain spigot on the bottom that you can use to drain out the sediment, and it should be done ideally once a year, along with replacement of the anode.

Posted by: Dr. Possum at February 22, 2007 11:31 AM