Life is never dull in a busy household. This is Part II of my Soap Opera, starring my Washing Machine.
Once again, on a busy weekend, I found myself in need of a new appliance. Doesn’t anyone build these things to last anymore? What ever happened to the lonely Maytag man, waiting for the phone to ring? (Actually, I’ve noticed that Maytag has brought back that image, and is dangling a 10-year warranty on some of their new appliances. Perhaps they are sensing consumers’ frustration.) Every salesperson we’ve approached recently assures us that they ‘don’t build ’em like they used to’. As if we hadn’t already figured that out!
This time, it happened on a Saturday. As I entered our basement office, where my son was happily engaged with his computer, I noticed a strange odour (Nope, not a teenager smell!) and asked my son if he had noticed it. He hadn’t but he turned off the heater next to his desk, just in case it was malfunctioning. Then I entered the laundry room, where the smell was much stronger. It was definitely that chemical-electrical smell of a burned out motor. Uh, oh! I knew my washing machine was slowly shaking itself to death, but I was hoping that it would make it to Round 3 of our renovation plan, when we would be renovating the basement. Apparently, it, too, was jealous of our plans to replace it, and — like our dishwasher — had decided to beat us to the punch. Unfortunately, it was half full of water, with a load of sheets, when it took its final bow. Thankfully, most of the laundry had already been washed, and the sheets had made it to the spin cycle, so they were clean, if a little water-logged. My husband volunteered to wring out the sheets and get them into the dryer, but there was no time to consider a run to the local box store that day.
Now, I’m not one to discard an old appliance at the first sign of trouble, but repairs have to be considered carefully. I had had the washing machine serviced once or twice in the past, when it made sense in terms of cost. (By the way, if you need a good repair company, I like Pro Appliance.) However, the motor is the heart of the machine, and I knew that it would cost almost as much to repair it as to replace the machine with an inexpensive new model. We also had to consider whether it made sense to invest in the ultimate washer and dryer that we wanted when we renovated the basement.
About all I knew of laundry machines was that my next pair would be front-loading, and they would be more efficient than my old machines. Beyond that, I haven’t been keeping up on the world of washers and dryers. Because I had not even begun to draw a floor plan, I had no idea how much space I would have for my new laundry room. For that reason, I thought that there might be a need to stack the machines in future, as a space-saving measure. As it turns out, most of the front-loading machines are stackable, but a ‘stacking kit’ is required to brace them together. Great, no need to worry about that, then!
Next day, we had another commitment, but we made time for a quick visit to Appliance Canada, to get an update on the latest in laundry room accoutrements. After all, we hadn’t put any thought at all into new machines, as we were focused on the kitchen, and the basement reno was still a few years off. Our salesperson, Pearl, informed us that the best brands were Samsung, Whirlpool, and LG, and she directed us to several ‘Hot Buys’ ranging from $1698 to $2488 for the pair. These were a far cry from the $500 models we had considered in the past, but perhaps they would last longer? As it turns out, the typical warranty is still just 1 year, with the exception of Direct Drive motors, which carry a 10 year warranty. We were assured that we still shouldn’t expect our appliances to last forever, and we noticed that the store offered extended warranty plans (of which I have never been a fan!) Nothing says ‘quality’ like the insistence that we need an extended warranty to guard against the inevitable breakdowns!
From Appliance Canada, we moved on to Home Depot, for a look at their appliance offerings. After all, we had done well with our ‘desperation’ purchases there in the past. First, we realized that they offered most of the same products as Appliance Canada, at similar prices. However, they also had lower-priced alternatives without all the latest bells and whistles, but still further along the laundry evolutionary spectrum than our old Maytag. In this group, we narrowed our selection down to a Maytag in the $500 range; I liked it because it didn’t have the agitator, my nemesis in the old machines, around which sheets and towels could become tangled.
What to do? Home to dinner, and another round of dish-towel discussions.
My husband is a great internet researcher, so he took on the task of comparing the machines that we saw at the higher end of the price spectrum. But the final decision really turned on cash flow. How much did we want to spend prior to financing our kitchen reno? As with the defunct dishwasher, we were once again facing a spending decision of $2000 to $3000 before we were ready to do so. However, in this case, I couldn’t defer the purchase, as I had no intention of doing laundry by hand, as were doing with the dishes. So, we had to buy something. Had we felt comfortable that the new washer and dryer would last until our basement reno, and beyond, we may have felt comfortable buying our ‘ultimate’ pair, but given that ‘they don’t make ’em like they used to’, we couldn’t count on this being so.
We ultimately decided on the $500 Maytag at Home Depot, and it is now installed and working beautifully next to my old dryer. We’re just hoping that the dryer doesn’t get any ideas…..
P.S. We ended our search with 2 nagging questions: 1/ Why do I need steam in my washer and dryer? (Isn’t a dryer self-steaming?! You put wet cloth into a heated cavity, et voila — steam!) 2/ Why do I need to purchase a cleaner for my washing machine to get rid of ‘nasty odours’? (Isn’t a washer self-cleaning?!) However, I can’t address all the questions of the laundry universe in this post….