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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Washer Died


The Washer Died

The washer died.  On Saturday, of course.  Just as we were about to begin a week’s worth of washing.

Why?  Appliances die on weekends when repair calls would be more costly.  How do they know?

We waited until Monday to call for help.  The repair person came, took a look and within five minutes was tsk-tsk-tsking.  The washer was ill, expensively ill.

We bought it 8 years ago, the newest front load, high efficiency type we could afford.  It has worked well, (fairly well) until now.


Though it is supposed to save energy by spinning the clothes into a dryer state before finishing the wash cycle, it takes much longer to wash the clothes.   The front load washer requires special laundry detergent; “He” = high efficiency but this doesn’t cost any less than regular detergent.  It is difficult to add clothes to the washer once it is going without getting my feet wet; front opening remember.  Yes, I am supposed to be able to set the controls to allow this but the washer doesn’t always co-operate.  The controls are computerized and somewhat finicky, you see.  And the repairs to this wonder of a washer are expensive, prohibitive, and ridiculous.

To repair our washer would take a four hundred dollar replacement part, and three and a half hours of labour, bringing the bill to over eight hundred dollars.  Is the easy solution to buy another washer?  Yes and no. 

Just before Christmas is not the best time to purchase a new appliance.  Dissatisfied with the front load options, we wonder what else is out there; less complicated and yet would wash the clothes.  But wait, I’m not ready for a ringer washer or a washboard; I want the luxury of throwing the clothes into something that will do the work for me.  Also, there is the issue of appliance re-cycling and adding to the waste at the landfill.

I asked the repair expert what he would buy, if he needed a washer.  Usually a good question, yes?  No.  He said he didn’t know.   He reiterated that front load washers were expensive to repair and didn’t seem to last as well as simpler models. 

Well, where could we buy a simpler model?  Again, he didn’t know.  The one he would recommend hadn’t been manufactured for over 6 months and he didn’t know of any place where we could find any.  I felt my stomach knot as visions of unwashed laundry piled up in my head.

He suggested we try to find a re-furbished top load washer with direct drive and named a couple of brands he’d rarely ever had to repair.  Hmmm.  Where would we go to find such a thing? 

After he left, we sat down with the phone and the yellow pages and started calling appliance repair locations and appliance stores.  Gary likes to do plenty of research before he purchases anything, particularly anything costly.  Armed with a list of possibilities, he left in the car, set off on the adventure of tracking down a re-cycled washer.  Within three hours, he’d located one, called me for a quick consult and purchased it. 

These folks will take our ailing washer and refurbish it so that it can be re-sold and will not end up in landfill, a bonus for us.  They’ll deliver the new-to-us washer this morning; all for less than the price of the replacement part on the old washer…something of a miracle?  Yes, indeed.

The washer died.  We’ve discovering that sometimes the old stand-by is better than the latest must-have new thing.  I don’t like having to buy a replacement appliance because the one I have is too costly to repair.  This isn’t good for our finances or good for the environment.  The experience has been a reminder to be cautious about the enticing hype and the temptation to buy the newest version of any item.  It's a timely reminder especially at this season of the year.

And, I’m looking forward to being able to wash clothes again.

Words are copyright ©Carol Steel.

The image is 1902-04, a young woman washing clothes in a wooden basin on a washstand with a washboard and a wringer, from John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.  The image is now in the public domain because its copyright has expired according to the Australian Copyright Council (ACC).


Gwen Buchanan said...

Carol I'm sure you will be better off with the old tried and true washer/dryer team.. I never ever switched to the new and improved versions, too expensive.. but I have bought new models of the old versions. anyway I rarely use hot water wash so the cost of using them isn't very much ..
I also read that the front loaders can develop mold around the big rubber gadget. yuck! just doesn't seem right to have mold occur where you are trying to clean things. I just don't think they have all the bugs worked out of them.

Carol Steel said...

Thanks Gwen. Yes, it's a lesson learned. The repair person recommended sticking with the old stand bys as they are sturdier and cheaper to repair. The washer arrived yesterday and is chugging out clean clothes as I write. Ah, the smell of fresh laundry...