Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Tale of the Missing Bulb

One of the things that a good Southern Homeowner likes to be able to do is keep the equipment and gadgets around his home working and operating efficiently.  Up Nawth they tend to flip to the Yellow Pages when something breaks, or the local handyman's professional listings but us down south like to do things ourselves. 

Now, I have to tell you a story.  We begin some time ago.  Flash back sequences don't annoy me, but instead of any clever visuals, let's just close our eyes and imagine it all. About a year and a half ago, the bulb went out on the microwave. (My lovely wife says that the bulb went out a lot longer ago than a year and a half, but I'm not going to admit it.) As you can tell from the photo above, our microwave is an old unit, non-digital and only three power settings: High, Medium and low, which really should be labeled:  'Normal', 'Not Enough' and "Is it Even On?"

When the  bulb went out, I dutifully got out the 'implements of the trade' (screw driver, light which attaches to my forehead, tool belt, pith helmet, gloves and protective goggles...I am nothing if not fully prepared to do battle with the errant microwave.)  I took off the vent you see at the top and - nothing.  I noticed an easily removable plastic panel in the top of the oven proper so I used a kitchen knife (AKA: The Southern Man's All Purpose Tool) and popped off the plastic rivets, to discover - nothing.  No bulb.  I got out a high powered light and checked carefully - no Bulb.  I even tried to remove the control panel at the right to find evidence of a bulb, but it wouldn't come off easily so I left it rather than break it trying to fix it. 

At this point, I was at a loss.  Being the modern communications savvy man that I am, I turned to the internet for assistance. I looked everywhere for a manual, but it's just too old. At a forum for handymen, and handymen of appliances, some guy told me that there are older microwave units that were poorly designed and that you had to remove the unit from the wall in order to replace the bulb.  I cannot repeat the words I used when I read that.  

So, for the last year and a half (maybe longer), my wife and I have had a  microwave that was lightless.  It cooked (ok, it heated things) but when you opened the door, or ran it, the interior remained dim.  Each and every time I used the microwave, I felt rather like a fool not being up to the task of replacing a bulb.  Periodically, I'd again take off the plastic panel in the oven, peer intently into the vent, hoping against hope for a glimpse of a bulb - somewhere

This last weekend, sitting with a cup of coffee I again became agitated at the microwave. (Ok, I was agitated at myself again.) Something inside me said that the idea of removing the unit from the wall was downright ludicrous.  (Yes, big vocabulary, let's come back to that another day, shall we?) 

I again took up a light, this time a hand held bright LED flash light and methodically began my perusal of the possible locations of a bulb, starting with the vent.  Nothing, nothing and noth- wait a minute!  Standing far to one side, I had turned the light so that it shown the opposite side of the vent from an extreme angle, and I noticed a curved hole.  More than a hole, it appeared to be some sort of a track with the far end of it disappearing into the depths of the vent, out of my sight.  Intrigued, I took off the vent and examined the area, finding not one but TWO tracks opposite one another.  

Removing another screw (I swear it wasn't there before!)  I pulled and the BASE of the vent came toward me.  However, the curve of the track made it move upwards at the same time and there, fastened to the underside of the vent base - THE BULB!  

I danced around, whooped and hollered and even ran into the bathroom to show my wife the bulb while she was in the shower.  She was impressed, but busy, as you can imagine.   

The new bulb is now in place, shining brightly each and every time we open the door and each and every time the microwave is used.  My wife even admitted that the light startled her the first couple of times as she was used to the dimly lit interior.  

I like to open the door now and then just to see the light come on, sort of a testament to the repair abilities of the Southern Handyman.  We won't mention the year and a half (or more) it took to accomplish.  

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