Okay, so off I go to the Internet, where surprisingly enough, I find a straightforward, well-made tutorial on how to repair a non-draining dishwasher, starring my exact machine! While this is handy, it also inspires dread--is my machine somehow famous for breakdowns...?
The video tells me that the part that allows the machine to drain is a 'flapper valve', located at the bottom of the sump--now, anything called a 'sump' cannot be a good thing in this scenario, and I am NOT looking forward to visiting it, much less sticking my finger down there to make sure it is working properly, as the video instructs. Doesn't matter tho, because I've gotta take that sucker apart and find out what's wrong.
No guts, no glory. I'm goin' in. Armed with several dishwasher-threatening tools, I remove the racks and arms--this part I've done before two years ago, taking the machine part-way apart to clean it. That's when I found all kinds of dog hair and broken glass lodged in the apray arms, which afterwards worked adequately...as could be expected in a 30+ year-old machine, I believed. I know, I know--what I really need to do is replace the machine, as it is old and inefficient. But since my washing machine, lawnmower and BOTH cars have recently ALL decided to die at the same time, it's just not in the budget right now.
I manage to get the upper spray arms out without breaking anything, and now it's time to delve into the guts of Dante's Dishwasher Inferno. The lower spray arm is first. This is what the bottom of my dishwasher is supposed to look like. In mine that big lower screen is metal, but otherwise identical--minus the gunk.
The lower spray arm...mind you, I've done the baking soda and vinegar thing several times since moving in, so everything you see from here on out is the cleanest I could get it until today. FAIR WARNING: this gets unutterably nasty, really fast.
Weird gray fuzz has attained...chunkiness. Removing it requires some old dental instruments I have and more muttered swears.
We've reached the first filter and the hub nut cover. Inexplicably, this filter is all one unit and cannot be taken apart to remove the gray chunkiness within.
Hub nut cover, top and bottom. As seems to be required, covered with weird gray fuzz, which is getting thicker...
By now I am POSITIVE that the previous homeowners never once took this machine apart to clean it properly.
Time to remove the first filter! First look at the hub, and isn't IT pretty! Gray chunky has given way to a layer of gray...skin. Charming.
The underside of the non-cleanable filter is everything I expected it to be.
The gunk...the gunk is SO VERY THICK. The gunk has thickness. Actual heft and weight. The toothbrush I armed myself with to clean the dishwasher with, is inadequate. I need a bigger scrub brush.
The hub nut. I'm not sure what level of Dante's Dishwasher Inferno we are at here, but let me just
I DON'T WANNA DO THIS ANY MORE.
The gray gunk as achieved sliminess now, as well...and the smell...OH GOD, THE SMELL.
The hub nut is removed...
Wait...what IS that in the center...?!
Dunno, but it's metal. Appears to be some kind of worn-through washer of some sort. Is it important? WHO KNOWS, WHEE!
But now I can see into the depths of the next Ring of Hell. That rectangular sump cover is next. Oh God now I have to remove something called a 'sump cover'. THAT MEANS THAT WHAT LIES BENEATH CAN ONLY BE A SUMP. *more pathetic whimpering*
As a little aside: just a little shout-out and a kick in the nuts to the person who designed this thing. When you are short, reaching the back of things is a real challenge...
This means that when you have to remove a screw from the BACK of the machine you must fully commit and stick the entire upper half of your body into an ancient, grody dishwasher. I experience similar joy when cleaning my oven.
Sump cover off...
ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME.
Even though I thought I was ready to see what was under it...I was wrong. Also, my hands aren't strong enough to get the nasty sump basket out, even with muttering 'Fuck it!' and attacking the thing with heavy tools and fed-up determination. Husband is at work, daughter is asleep. Whoever sticks their nose in the kitchen next loses, and gets to horse that thing out.
I think there may well be something alive lurking down there, like the garbage-masher monster in the original Star Wars movie.
Husband lost, he appeared first. Probably a good thing, since it took all his strength to get that sump basket out...and that man could crack coconuts with his hands.
Just for the sake of reference, this is what the sump basket is supposed to look like. See all the little drain holes?
NOW YOU SEE THEM, NOW YOU DON'T.
My camera refused to focus on the interior of the basket, I figure out of sheer disgust. I don't blame it at all. Let's just say there was at LEAST an inch of gunk down there.
The gunk is well on its way to fossilization.
ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME, V2.0.
The round part is supposed to be a drain that is NOT halfway blocked with gunk. I think we may have found the problem!
Because no quest is complete without the final Big Boss battle, it is now time to remove the metal screen on the bottom of the machine.
...and then I get to go spelunking down there, sticking my finger in to check and make sure the flapper valve is working. And unhappily, that is the ONLY way to check it, I'VE GOT TO STICK MY FINGER DOWN THERE.
I remove the big metal screen and flip it over...
...and I am all out of $2 cuss words for the previous homeowners at this point and have to repeat myself. I heap imprecations on their offspring, neighbors, co-workers and pets as well while I'm at it.
THE BIG SCREEN IN THE BOTTOM OF THE MACHINE HAS GUNK STALACTITES ON THE BOTTOM OF IT.
This thing is supposed to be flat.
Seriously, who shoots themselves in the foot and does this to their own major appliance?!
But all the fun cannot be had just here, and distracting myself isn't going to get that damned sump cleaned out. I have disgusting, stinky, standing water to bail, after all.
Water removed, with the aid of a rag and flowery, exotic, elaborate cussing.
Even after scooping out several inches of gray gunk from The Pit of Despair, I cannot see the bottom of the sump. Gonna close my eyes and think happy thoughts when I go exploring in there.
Welp, the sump and little flapper valve that was the finish to this disgusting quest was every bit as foul as could be hoped. Enough nightmare fodder to last several weeks.
But--hallelujah, brothers, the flapper valve is working! What's more, I FOUND an evil object stuck in the valve and holding it open, causing the problem--surprisingly, it was NOT the 30+ years of gunk, it was this:
A wooden toothpick, snarled up with a twist-tie. I held it up in one triumphant fist ala Lion King, shook it at the sky, and roared 'AH-HA!'
I hope I never have to do anything like this again. Seems I keep saying that, in this house...and I have no doubt that I will, at some point.