Monday, August 04, 2008

Sick AND Busy AND Irritated

What a crappy combination.

So, I started coming down with something, 'round last Thursday (or at least I started noticing it anyway). S'okay because Friday was a light day, and I didn't get much worse.

Unfortunately, Friday evening, our washing machine crapped out.


That'd be the third time. The first time I fixed it myself, the second time, we had to get an appliance repair guy in (failed bushings and worn drive belt - $180), this third time... well it's a $350 POS washer, and it's out of warranty. Frankly, it's just not worth fixing it again.

So, we needed to do a MAJOR clean up on the house this weekend (or rather continue our ongoing major cleanup and re-organization, which keeps getting interrupted by life events); and it's kind of hard to do that without laundry facilities. Yeah, we could do the laundromat thing, but that's a lot of dead time that we could be doing something else with...

Saturday I wake up, and it's coming down worse. I can already feel it's a sinus infection; which I get a few times a year, as the dust and humidity cycle up and down around here.

So, Mels dad is taking the girls for the weekend, and we're going to have all that time toget things done around the house... In Theory.

He's an A&P (airframe and poweplant mechanic), and usually flies in an out of the airport he works at (1/2 mile from his house) to one of our local airports about 20 minutes away.

It's better than the 180 mile round trip drive, and most of the time actually uses about the same amount of fuel or less, since it's just over a half hour flight (about 75 miles, plus taxi etc...) and he's burning around 10 gallons an hour (he's usually in a C210 or a Comanche 260, and either
will easily do about 190mph at around 14gph, or around 160mph at around 10gph) . Oh and of course, he can write off the fuel costs because they're trips made for his business (check rides, picking up parts etc...). Given that his primary vehicle is a pickup truck with no A/C that gets 16 miles per gallon, it's a much better trip all the way around.

Anyway, in actuality what happens is, he files in around 11 and says "hey, do we have time for lunch"... Sure, OK. It's always nice having lunch with family. Of course he has some things to do around the airport and with two planes first, so by the time we're done with lunch, it's about 1:30.

Oh, and he needs to run some errands while he's here. Like a trip to Costco, and a trip to staples...

Honestly, we don't mind. Since his wife passed on he's got a lot more to do, and no-one to help him with it; and it's the least we can do; especially since he takes the girls every couple of weekends.

... but it does take time.

Ok, so we finally pack him and the girls off around 3:30, and head off to shop for a new washer and dryer.

Yes, technically we only needed a new washing machine, but I was tired of having both pieces of junk sitting there. We're actually giving them to her father, because he does his own appliance repair (he does his own everything repair) and he needs a new washer and dryer anyway. His are about 30 years old, and just about shaking themselves to pieces.

My personal philosophy on medium to large purchases is, buy quality and value, and you won't go wrong. You pay a little more in the short term, but over time when you pay for quality, you get better value.

Unfortunately, there seem to only be three price ranges for washer/dryer sets. Utter crap that goes for around $750-$850 or so, halfway decent for $1350 to about $1700, and then "luxury" from $2000 on up.

So, Mel wants front loading, jumbo capacity; and we want decent quality, from a good manufacturer, with a decent warranty. That puts us into the mid range right away anyway; and they have several nice sets around $1350 to $1699.

They also had these:

That would be a GE WCVH 6800 washer and DCVH 6800 dryer; the former top of the line models that were recently replaced by the new profile series.

List price for the set would be about $1900; but these WERE a premium model, until the new premium models came out about a month ago. Hell, they were originally around $2300 (when they were the top of the line and new, about three years ago)... and because the new models are out on the floor, they are SERIOUSLY discounted, down to $1400 for the pair.

I can't believe I'm spending $1400 on a washer and dryer... I've had cars that cost 1/3 that... but there it is; and actually, given the market, it's a good deal.

With that, I get 4 and 7 cu.ft. respectively, ultra quiet operation, all the bells and whistles, and a decent warranty from a reputable manufacturer; vs spending $500 less, but getting far fewer features, and probably having to replace them again in three years...

Yeah, OK, I'm getting value... but ouch.

So we load'em up and get them home; but by this time it's past 6, we're both exhausted, and I'm really feelign the sinus come on; so I leave the seup for Sunday morning.

I wake up yesterday, every joint in my body aches, my head feels like wood... Overall a happy happy joy joy day.

Mel clears up the pantry/laundry room, and has to unload half our shelves in there (7 tier floor to cieling freestanding units) and pull them out, so we can get the old units out, and put the new ones in. While she does that, I head off to our friendly neighborhood home center, to grab some supplies.

Theoretically I don't need anything for the washer and dryer setup, because we bought a "hookup kit" with the things that should have everything.


But, since I was working in the laundry area anyway, I wanted to get a hookup hose, and thread adapter for the utility faucet in there, so I could hook up the auto-watering dish that Mel bought months ago and couldn't figure out how to hook up, because she said the threads from the utility faucet were wrong.

I also needed to pick up a few things for Mels dad, a couple of MAPP gas cylinders, a couple of furniture dollies (the pallets with wheels on them, not the hand truck type. I already have two of those) some gorilla tape etc... Oh and some metal foil HVAC tape; for my OTHER big project that I was supposed to do this weekend, clean out the AC heat exchanger coil.

By the time I got back, she was ready to go, and I had no problems pulling th old units out, and muscling the new units in. We were planning on isntalling them stacked (which these new units are designed to allow) to get some floor space back, so I leveled the washer, pulled the feet off the dryer so they would nest, then stacked them.

They looked great, other than being a bit tall; but the top unit wasn't as secure as I'd like. I think they were designed to stack in a builtin cabinet, not against the wall; but I wanted to at least try it this way; so I grabbed some non slip shelf and drawer liner, and used that as a pad between the machines, which worked great. Completely secure, no real motion at all.

Of course to do that I had to pick the thing up again, position the pad, then stack it again etc... Joy.

Oh and the doors ship from the factory opening in opposite directions, so that when they are next to each other, they open like french doors. It's convenient and asthetically pleasing. However, when stacked, you want them both hinged on the same side. This involved pulling the door hing off, with the door attached to it, transfering the latch mechanism from one side to the other, then completely disassembling the door, and moving the hinge and handle to the other side; then of course reassembling in reverse.

Ok, everything is stacked, and leveled, and the doors open on the correct side, and all is well.

So, I go to do the hookups, and there's a problem... two problems actually. The washer hookup hoses aren't where they are supposed to be... and we can't find them... That, and the dryer vent hose that came in the hookup kit is cheap crap. So, off Mel goes to lowes again, to pick up a GOOD vent hose and some braided steel hookup lines... which we should have jsut bought in the first place rather than adding the $20 "hookup kit" from the applicance place.

So, I got the pigtail wired onto the dryer (if you've never done one, electric dryers generally don't come with cords, because there are several variants of 220/240 power out there, so you have ti wire in your own cord); thus using the only remaining piece of the "hookup kit". Mel got back with the remaining stuff, and I hooked up the supply lines and vent (a lot easier to type than it was to do given how tight the space was that I had to squeeze into the get the vent run and secured), and theoretically we were off to the races. Everything powered up fine, and there was no magic purple smoke anywhere.

... Oh and we found the original hookup lines... In the washer drum... but the stainless ones are cheap, and much better anyway.

So, I moved on to the utility faucet. I noted almsot immediately however, that the thread adapter I had purchased was the wrong one.

Oh, it was exactly what I intended to purchase; it's jsut that Mel was wrong when she said it wasn't the same threading as the hose. The utility faucet was in fact 3/4" MHT/MGHT (male garden hose thread) it's just that the threads were kinda messed up; and so she had cross threaded on them before, which is why she thought they were wrong.

Unfortunately, the threads WERE messed up pretty badly, so they wouldn't seal properly, and I don't have an MGHT die; so I had Mel run out and grab an MHT to FHT adapter (a hose coupler basically), cranked that tight over the faucet threads to straighten them; then ran it off, and remounted it with teflon tape underneath to seal it.

That worked great.

Unfortunately, I also discovered that the cold water tap for this faucet; which is 50 years old, and hasn't been used in god knows how long; doesn't so much leak when it's opened, as it does GUSH.

By this time I didn't want to head back to lowes to try and find a faucet core for this thing; so I just put it off for later.

So, we decided to run a load in the new washer, and man that thing is cool. It's like a frikken laundry space ship.

All was well until the final spin cycle, when the thing vibrated like mad, and caused sympathetic vibrations in the dryer stacked above it; making it sound kind of like a marching band drumline.

Ok... so time to unstack the washer and dryer.

Once more I unhook the vent, unplug it, lift it down, rehook the vent, replug....

Uh oh....

In this position, the plug doesn't reach. The "hookup kit" has proven to be a COMPLETE waste of money now, because it only included a 3 foot pigtail, and I need a six foot.

So, it's back out to the hardware store for Mel, to pick up a six foot cord; meanwhile, I'm taking the door apart again to swap the hinge back on to the other side (as shipped from the factory) so they both have that nice french door thing going on again.

Finally, we get the new cord wired up, everything muscled back into position, we re-level both the washer and the dryer in their new positions (again, controtions required, not pleasant); and start up another test load.

It's about 8pm by this time, but I really want to get this stuff done before the kids are underfoot again (actually, Mel just got back from Grandpas with them as I'm writing this); so I go attack the AC heat exchanger, and Mel goes to grab some takeout (since we haven't eaten since lunch at noon).

I slit the tape, peel back the flanges (flat sheetmetal pliers are wonderful things) and slide off the airbox front, which looks and feels like it hasn't been removed since it was first isntalled... even though we had professional duct cleaners in a few months ago who where SUPPOSED to have done this and obviously didn't...

The heat exchanger coil is basically a solid block of ice; which explains why it hadn't been working so well that day huh...


Well, now...

Ok, time to shut the AC down and let it thaw... for a day or so.

It's OK, I'm sick so I'm going to work from my bedroom Monday anyway, I'll jsut take the portable AC unit from my office and move it into the bedroom, and Mel will be working in the living room which has an in wall supplementary unit so she'll be OK...

We ate, then I got to work moving AC units around (they take a bit of setup). Meanwhile the new washer has hit it's fast spin cycle again, and DAMN it's walking around the room.

So, we re-level it one more time, put a VERY light load in and try again... same damn thing.

Awww crap.

I'm sick, it's after 10pm, I've been running around in the heat since 8 this morning, I've got a meeting at 8am, I've got no air conditioning in the house, I still have to clean out the heat exchanger, fix the faucet, haul away the old washer and dryer which are sitting in the back of the truck; and now, most likely return the lovely new washing machine I spent so much time buying and setting up.

Ahhh well, at least I slept well last night.

So, how was your weekend?