Laundry Paralysis



Here are a few quaint rules familiar to most baby boomers:

#1 Wear clean underwear; you never know when you’ll be in an accident.

#2 Before swimming, wait at least an hour after you eat; otherwise you’ll cramp up and possibly drown.

#3 Never leave the house with a big appliance running (i.e., dishwasher, washing machine, dryer); if it malfunctions, your house can burn down or flood while you’re away.

Being a glass-half-full type of gal, I’ve blissfully ignored such convention. Who wants to go around anticipating a car accident, drowning or destruction of a house? Not I!

Now, after this week, I want to amend that third rule. Never mind leaving the house. Don’t leave the room when an appliance is running! This wisdom was learned, of course, the hard way.

Tuesday night, I hear a sound that reminds me of Niagara Falls wafting up from the bottom floor. I fly down the stairs to discover water literally gushing out of the washing machine. Quick thinker that I am, I pull the plug to stop the evil, possessed appliance. No matter. The geyser continues, and I feel the water from the floor beginning to drench my shoes and socks. I try to close the valves connected to the machine’s hoses to cut the flow of water. The valves don’t budge, much like a window that’s been painted shut. Finally, Wise Hubby runs down and shuts off the water to the whole house so we can stem the tide of destruction and give ourselves a moment to think.

The next 24 hours are devoted to dealing with the mess: ridding the laundry room of water, moving water-logged boxes and clothes outside so they don’t form mildew and stink up the joint, calls to and visit from the plumber, a frantic search for an appliance part, and literally hours on the Internet reading conflicting consumer reviews of new washing machines.

Despite this flurry of activity, I am no closer to having a working washing machine in our house. For someone who’s usually decisive, I’m stuck! Repair the 20-year old machine or buy a new model? If the latter, how do I decide when I can’t find a brand/model that receives consistently good reviews?

Clothes are still draped in my yard, and a new dirty clothes pile has started in the now-dry laundry room. Tick, tock. I need to make a decision NOW!


  • Sonja Wells Says:
    4-22-2010 08:41:02

    Hi Elaine – in the name of Earth Day today – let go of you 20-year old toploader. Go green and get one of those beautiful front loaders that use much less water and detergent and are easier on your clothes (there is a reason why all the laundrymats have them and all of Europe). Good luck with your decision. BTW I have a consumer report subscription if you care to know their opinion.

  • Barb Says:
    4-22-2010 09:38:03

    I think Sonja gives good advice. Although for environmental reasons I would generally go with fixing rather than replacing when possible, 20 years seems like a really good life for a washing machine and the new machines are so much more efficient. I’d go with the same brand you have — if they have some good options — obviously they’ve been doing something right to make machines that last 20 years. And focus on only the functions that are most important to you when comparing — short wash cycle, super-duper outdoor sports cycle? Good luck.

    PS I agree with you re: keeping an eye on appliances. I once returned home to a (front loading) washing machine in which the clothes were boiling hot and the machine was steaming!

  • Anne Says:
    4-23-2010 09:08:04

    I agree – I think it’s time for a new machine, although I can’t be of any help in directing you. I’m dying to get a stackable washer/dryer, for no other reason than to have more space in the closet where these machines now reside. I have no idea how old our machines are since they were here when we moved in. But I look forward to the day when they break down (albeit, not the way you experienced!)

  • Sharon Says:
    4-24-2010 08:01:04

    Yours is the type of news that sends panic through me…and I confirmed with my husband where all the water shut-offs are in this house. Four years ago I researched a new washer and dryer and decided on the Kenmore HE2, Super Capacity, QuietPak front-load washer and dryer. I have only good things to say about the pair. A year ago I saw the exact same set still available at Sears, which tells me they’ve held up over time. Good luck!

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