Homeowner Stress

I have a new washer and dryer! Yea!

(Enters laundry area with basket of towels. Peers at dials, electronic settings, soap dispenser. Brow furrows.)

Wait a minute, how do these things work?

I search frantically for the instruction manual. I might as well of purchased a new phone, upgraded my software, or bought LED light bulbs. If learning new things will keep my brain young, I’m guaranteed at least one hundred and twenty-three years.

My daughter calls these kind of challenges first-world problems. To us they are confusing, annoying and irritating, but they aren’t the life-threatening variety faced by people of third-world countries. For instance, I have shelter, food, access to medical care, and I don’t walk miles in search of clean water.

I appreciate the roof over my head, but human dwellings and the associated contents require constant upkeep. Think cleaning, painting, remodeling. When one chore is checked off the to-do list, two more seem to pop up. All these projects steal time from other pursuits like writing or napping.

Every new project also presents unexpected challenges. Perhaps in another post I will tell you about our kitchen/bathroom remodel and my resulting case of post-traumatic remodel stress disorder (PTRSD). (No offense to post-traumatic stress disorder suffers intended, but if you haven’t lived through a major remodel, don’t judge.)

One of our most recent projects involved replacing the washer/dryer combo that may have been in the condo since the early 1990’s. The dryer began emitting a loud, persistent screech that seemed unbecoming in a healthy appliance.

The problem seemed simple to solve: research potential replacements, purchase the appropriate model, schedule delivery and installation. Voilà, another homeowner task complete.

The stacked unit was tucked away into a small closet in the second bathroom and enclosed by a pocket door. The first problem became the size of the closet. Most stacked washer/dryers were simply too large to fit into the space. This crushed my hopes for an increased capacity model. (Yes, size does matter!) Our choices became very limited, but-this may not come as a surprise-they cost as much as the larger house-sized models.

The second problem arose when our neighbor’s new washer/dryer arrived. Before we had a chance to talk to him, we received an urgent e-mail from our property manager. An emergency vent cleaning was scheduled. Our neighbor’s new dryer had burned out due to lint accumulation in the ducts. This sent my husband on a quest for a ductless model. He decided the safest alternative would be a European style condensation dryer. During the year we lived in France, I used this type of machine. I hadn’t been impressed either by the capacity or the extended drying time required.

The screeching continued and so the research began anew. Then we found a compromise. A wonderful (American made) commercial quality machine. The salesman assured us it would probably fit in the required location. The purchase was made, and delivery scheduled.

Story over? Ha!

Since we hadn’t looked, we had no idea what lurked behind the old appliance. Delivery day arrived. The helpful installers pulled the stacked unit forward. Problem three appeared. The new appliance required both a 220 and a 110 volt electrical connection. This was unexpected. In most stacked units the dryer plugs into the washer and the washer into the wall. We had one 220 volt plug. Unless we jerry-rigged the cords (NO!) or hired an electrician (another rabbit hole of cascading issues), we could not install the new washer/dryer. The old machine was pushed back into place and the new returned to the store.

With options dwindling and screeching increasing, I reluctantly accepted the European-style appliance. It was the best of the few remaining choices and I would just have to learn how to use it. We ordered the machine, rescheduled delivery and awaited our fate.

Would there be a fourth problem?

Spoiler Alert: YES. WHY WOULDN’T THERE BE?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a grateful to be a homeowner. My husband and I have scrimped, saved, and mortgaged to achieve the American dream. Over the years we’ve done our share of do-it-yourself and home improvement projects. It’s just that our 1990’s era condo seems to be auditioning for its own HGTV drama series.

At some point a metal piece on the old frame popped out of place. The washer/dryer was stuck in the closet. The installers, concerned about damage to the pocket door, refused to proceed. They agreed to return if we could dislodge the washer/dryer but had to make another delivery. They placed the new one in our very small entryway and left in their truck.

My husband was not so easily discouraged. We’d had two delivery failures, and there wouldn’t be another. With his brute force and my judicious wedging, we managed to wriggle the appliance loose. In what might be considered a modern miracle, the delivery guys took our phone call, returned and completed the install.

What’s next? I’m adjusting to the ventless dryer. Do you have one? Any tips would be appreciated. In the meantime, I’ll appreciate my first world problem. At least I don’t have to pound my clothes on a rock.

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