Dirty Thoughts

This is a rant. You have been forewarned! 🙂

In May 2015, I was preparing to leave the country for a few months. In preparation, I bought some new clothes and accessories, and I ran around trying to figure out what to pack. I also went through my wardrobe and washed a lot of clothes, setting things aside in piles, until it came time for me to pack it all up and haul it half-way around the planet (to the Philippines.)

I did my last load of laundry in my washing machine just before I left. I thought the machine was a little cranky when it stopped, the inner stainless steel tub wasn’t moving as freely as it should have.

Then I left my apartment for months, and when I came back, it turned out that the slightly cranky inner stainless steel tub of my washing machine was in full revolt – it wouldn’t much move at all.

My local gas and electric company offers something called a “Worry Free” contract on individual appliances. You pay a little bit each month, and then if you have a problem, you call the company and they send the repairman out to fix it. If you need parts, and it’s covered under the warranty, they order them (free to me, the customer) and then install them (labor is also free.) It’s a good system, and I’ve used it for several years.

So when I returned home, in September, I had some laundry to do. I realized my machine wasn’t working and began to haul my clothes to the local laundry mat to wash. In the meantime, I called for the repairman to come and diagnose the problem so the machine could be fixed.

Well, it turns out that my machine couldn’t be fixed. It was a front loading washing machine, about 9 years old, and the outer tub and ball bearing got locked up, which is why the tub wasn’t spinning on the inside. This is, apparently, a common thing to have happen with these machines. Also, because it’s an extremely difficult part to fix (you’d need to take the entire machine apart inside a machine shop, then re-install the outer tub and the ball bearing…) it’s not covered under the warranty. And, the repairman told me, when the part is not covered, the labor to make the repair isn’t covered either.

And how much would the labor be, if I wanted to proceed with the repair anyway? Oh, about $270 AN HOUR, the repairman informed me.

Argh. No, it’s not worth it to repair a machine that’s 9 years old when the labor is $270 an hour and it would take at least 4 hours to make the repair.

Alright, I thought, then I guess I need to buy a new washing machine. I’m all for doing my best to repair appliances where possible, but this washing machine was kaput.

Off I went to Sears, Home Depot, PC Richards and a few other appliance places. Boy, was I shocked when I got there!

It turns out that in the past few years, washers and dryers are now the size of a small car!

My 750 square foot apartment has a small, 27.5 inch wide and 32 inch deep “closet” to house BOTH my washer AND dryer – one stacked on top of the other. That’s all the space I have for the machines. I can’t create more space in a 100 year old brownstone.

Appliance manufacturers aren’t interested in accommodating apartment dwellers. They want to sell “SUV sized” washers mounted atop a gigantic platform.

If you have the space for an SUV washer, good for you. And if you haven’t been out shopping for such appliances recently, you may also be in for a shock. As of January 2016, the starting price of many washing machines is at least $700 USD, but most are more than that.

And once you purchase the washer, your costs aren’t done. Then you need to pay for taxes, delivery, installation and a stacking kit.

Hmmm, wait a minute. A stacking kit. To stack my 9 year old, perfectly functioning dryer on top of the brand new washer?

NO. It turns out that you can’t do that. Maybe you could do it, but you’re not supposed to do it. Why aren’t you supposed to stack an old dryer on top of a new washer? According to people that SELL washers and dryers, it’s because the little bracket that attaches one unit to the other won’t work with non-compatible machines.

And why should I care about that? Because the new washing machines turn at least 800 RPM (and many of them spin much more rapidly than that, with the highest end machines spinning at 1400 RPM. Trust me, that’s very fast!)

The manufacturer doesn’t want to provide you with a warranty on the new machine unless it’s attached to another brand new machine that is its mate, with their blessed bracket of choice. This helps ensure that the vibrating washer doesn’t push the dryer on top right off the machine. (That can’t really happen inside my 27.5 inch wide closet, but that’s beside the point.)

Does this sound like a scam to you? It does to me!

Many of the older sales and repair people I’ve spoken to about this tell me that these new machines cost a lot more, and their expected life span is a lot less. An old machine might have lasted 10-12 years, and the new machines might last about 7. For that privilege you will pay triple the price of a better made machine produced 8-9 years ago.

BLEH.

It’s taken me months of research (and procrastination) to figure all this out. And at the moment, the only thing I’ve settled on is that I need to buy a new washer AND a new dryer to replace my broken washing machine.

But in looking for a new machine, 95% of what is offered is much too big for my tiny closet.

My old washer had a 2.65 cubic foot capacity, which represents the amount of clothes it can wash. If you did a search for washing machines today, you’d find most machines have over a 4 cubic foot capacity, which is great if you have room for your SUV-washer. We of the apartment dwelling tribes cannot house 4 cubic feet of washing machine (let alone the SUV dryer that can’t stack on top!)

Instead, manufacturers are making smaller machines.

To summarize: my 2.65 cubic foot washing machine broke. As a result, I need to throw away my perfectly functioning dryer. When I buy a new washer and dryer, it will wash and dry FEWER clothes. I will pay a LOT MORE MONEY for these machines than what I paid for the ones I had, and the new machines will have a SHORTER LIFESPAN of use than the machines I had!!

Yeah, that stinks!

 

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