Front Load Washers and how marriage works!

We did it!  We *finally* replaced our $80 Craigslist safety hazard washer and dryer with two front load Kenmore models from Sears!  Can I hear a giant WHOOP WHOOP!?!  Now we can throw things in the dryer and walk out the door without worrying about the dryer scorching our whites and/or burning down the house.  We can also do the wash and not worry about the washer trying to escape its slow demise by walking across the laundry room a la…

....who knew our washer felt "overloaded" and was trying to leave us?

…I didn’t know it was so unhappy!

Now we can also stay in the room while the washer is running and not have to hear the screeching metal-on-metal sound of the washer brake between spin cycles.  And now that we’ve run a few loads, we can actually SLEEP in the room next door without the whole house shaking when the spin cycle goes!  And we managed to go through the overwhelming appliance buying nightmare with our marriage and sanity intact!  All in all, it’s UH-MA-ZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Laundry before with crusty washer and dryer...

 

 

Our Laundry Room Aftter with our new front loaders!!!!

You’re probably wondering how all of it came to be.  Honestly, I have to admit when it comes to appliances I’m somewhat of an impulse buyer.  In other words, I didn’t exactly do a TON of research before settling on this brand, model, etc.  We’re fortunate that we live close to the second largest Sears appliance showroom in the country, so “doing research” just involves a whole bunch of wandering around, which is really kind of cool.  But here were the top contenders!

The Whirlpool Duets:

These are fine machines and really great for the budget conscious.  In fact, Younghouselove.com (one of my favorite go-to blogs) has been using them for several years with nary a complaint in sight.  They were slightly more money than the other models we looked at ($1200 for the set) and when we walked up to them they were just so “wee”!  I mean, seriously – I’m short (5’2.5″ on a good day), but these things were just abysmally SMALL.  They still had 4.0 cu. ft of space for both the washer and dryer, but they were laughably small, slightly more expensive and less cu. ft. of dryer space than some of the other moderatly priced sets.  And since they were so short, we would’ve almost HAD to buy the stands to prop them up to non-munchkin size, which would’ve drove up the price even further  Dr J and L-blogger verdict?: NEXT!

At this point, this is where the “marriage” part of this topic comes in because Dr. J and L-blogger had to do some serious “pouty-face” routines to get their ways.  Keep reading…

Samsung HE Front Loaders:

This was Dr. J’s personal favorite – mostly because it was cheaper.  However, when I looked at it, it seriously reminded me of an old school mircowave or telephone from the 80s and I just couldn’t get past that.  It was something about the black dials and read outs.  It also had a clock on it – how ghetto is that?!  What it boils down to is that I’m super sensitive about “techy” looking things in my house especially if I know it’s going to be around for a good 10+ years like a major appliance.  For example, I don’t like water/ice dispensers on my fridge door for that reason.  I can carbon-date a refrigerator ice/water dispenser like an archaeolgist dates fossils to within several years or so.  Therefore, there was just something “off” about this set that didn’t jive with my archaelogical findings decor sense.  Even though it was highly rated for noise and vibration, there were only about 10 ratings on the Sears website that we could find and that never bodes well with me.  Less people buying = less opinions = less chance that a fair opinion has been formed of it online.  L-blogger: NEXT!  Dr. J: SOLD!

LG  Front Loaders:

My mother in law has this set, which, of COURSE, means it’s PERFECT.  Well, not really.  But it does mean it’s been “family tested” – much like those cars that they insist can live through the throes of a toddler ripping out the upholstery.  Not that I’m insinuating that my MIL is a toddler – far from it!  But I consider her opinion pretty important when it comes to appliances, how they work, and honest appraisals of the good, bad, the ugly, etc.  She seemed pretty positive about them in ways that were important to me and so I thought they were worth a shot.  They were $200 more expensive than the Samsung’s, though, and that made the hubby nervous.  Really, for me, the big thing about this set was “the look”.  It didn’t look like an old school telephone or microwave.  It looked like a washer.  And, in the end, how things look is pretty important, especially in our sex-tastic laundry room (yes, THAT just happened – I just called our laundry room “sex-tastic” – no further comment).  L-blogger: SOLD!  Dr. J: NEXT!

So at this point, the hubs and I were literally hovering over these two sets (Samsung and LG) looking like sad puppy dogs trying to figure out what we wanted to do.  We had Sears Giftcards from Christmas that were burning holes in our pockets like our old dryer burned holes in our clothes (or it could’ve been our old dog, Tiki, who liked to eat our underpants, but that’s another story). We both wanted to get our way, which as anybody who is married basically means one of two things:

  1. Either the wife gets her way or
  2. Neither of you get your way.

At least that’s essentially what it means in OUR marriage.  And now that I’m a paying customer and workin’ hard for my money, I figure my opinion is pretty darn important so I stick to my guns and my opinion is important too and…and…

…ahem…

Salesperson:  Hey, have you considered the Kenmore Front Loader?

Us:  Uhh….no.  No, we haven’t considered the Kenmore…

Salesperson:  Well, it’s built by LG, so it’s exactly the same except it’s $50 cheaper!

(Dr. J suddenly becomes intrigued and begins stroking his beard in a professorial manner)

At this point, the salesperson touted it as a good buy, it was rated number one on the Sears website (which we checked via our iPhones and he was absolutely correct), it had a steam functionality built-in (unlike the Samsung or the LG), looked cool like the LG with all of the functionality of the LG, but without the price.  At this point, I said this to my husband:

L-blogger:  Well, it’s perfect because it’s not your favorite and it’s not MY favorite, so it HAS to be the one.

Dr. J and L-blogger: SOLD!

…and that, my friends, is how marriage works….

And what is the verdict on our new washer and dryer?!?  Well, we’ve had them for a week and are *so*in*love*!!  The creepiest part of this whole situation is that our clothes actually feel and look cleaner.  It’s creepy because it makes me wonder just how dirty and dingy our clothes were with the old washer and dryer – blech!  We love how QUIET they are, too!  All of the sales people told us to get one that was “rated for second floors”, but I think that was just a bunch of bunk in the end.  Compared to what we had before, these are ridiculously quiet, especially the washer.  I have a hard time knowing when it’s on, which is okay by me.

If I have a complaint at all it would be the steam cycle on the dryer.  The way it “steams” is just to squirt water onto the clothes while it’s in the dryer.  Not bad, but, hell I could do that by hand!  It is nice to have, but I don’t see what all the fuss is about to be honest.  Maybe it’s user error, in which case I probably should read the manual.  Oh, and with the way the doors are aligned, we actually had to swap our washer and dryer, but that didn’t end up being such a big deal.  It’s awesome when the Sears people install it for you – whee!

All in all, we’re soooo excited to have a new washer and dryer.  I keep saying, “You know you’re old when buying a washer and dryer actually gets you super excited!”  It’s so true!  It’s amazing how your tastes and priorities change as you get older.  And now our laundry room looks even hotter with the new set!  Before it was hot, but now it’s H-A-W-T hot!  Ya gotta admit….it’s pretty sex-tastic…and sometimes that’s also how marriage works ;-).

Pssst….if you wanna know more about how we “sexed” up our laundry room, then go ahead and click here and read about our Laundry Room remodel that we finished up last summer!! 

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We’re in Hot Water, Pt. 2: Replacing the Hot Water Tank

So if you’ve been following lately, you know that we desperately needed a new Hot Water Tank (HWT).  From day one or two of home ownership, our HWT began to hemorrhage water like molasses in January.  It wasn’t an obscene amount of water (i.e., we were still able to function taking showers, running the washer, etc.), but it definitely made us a little nervous that it was a ticking time bomb just waiting to blow up (been there, done that!).  The picture below shows you what the ground around our HWT has been looking like these past few months:

Appetizing, huh?  I mean, if this were a Rorschach Test, then we could have some fun but this is a major appliance for crying out loud!!!  We’re talking straight lines and a tight drum!  You mean I have to waste time on my bloggy-blog-in-stein talking about leaky HWTs?  Le sigh….it’s true…let’s just say that something in our HWT corroded, no doubt as a result of the house being foreclosed and sitting vacant for over seven months and, more than likely, they didn’t empty the tank, the water sat in there, and then the combination of hard water and other “junk in the trunk” just corroded the drum and caused this lovely debacle right here:

Yum!  Oh, and it’s sitting flush on the concrete….that just doesn’t seem right.  Not that we know what the HWT code is in the great state of Oregon, but something tells us that it should have a little bit more insulation between it and the floor – just a thought!  Let’s get this leaking, stinking HWT tank outta here!!!!

So normally this is where I would do a complete step-by-step run down of how to replace your HWT but no matter how hard I try, writing a step-by-step tutorial is just about as interesting as watching grass grow.  Therefore, I’ll point you to this link for a pretty extensive step-by-step explanation of how to do it for a straight tank-to-tank replacement.  And while the write up makes you think that just about anybody could replace a HWT, be forewarned that playing with gas (or electricity and water together) can be a wery wery dangerous sport and should only be undertaken if you cross your ts, dot your is, eat your peas, and mind your qs.  Just be sure you know what you’re doing and ask a professional if you’re not 100% sure.  Luckily, Dr. J has replaced a HWT before, so we felt pretty good about tackling this project on our own.  Mind you, I think my breast bone is still recovering by being the canter to Dr. J’s lever when we hoisted the new HWT into place, but that’s another story…

Everybody’s experience is a little different and here was how ours differed from the normal replacement.  After we turned everything off, unhooked it, drained it, and swept aside all of the water, we found a pretty ugly spot of black mold behind where the tank was sitting:

Yikes!  Everybody knows what a hazardous thing black mold is!  If you don’t, then you can read up on black mold here.  It can condemn a house and/or kill its occupants, so don’t mess around with it!  Not only was it a good thing that we removed our HWT and replaced it because of the leaking, but we were also able to see what was going on behind that tank!  We quickly cut the piece out of the wall (it was pretty small and only on the surface of the wall), threw it away, and then we filled a spray bottle with a bleach solution and sprayed it on there to kill any leftover black mold.  It’s not a permanent solution, but provided we can keep the area dry, we shouldn’t have too many more problems with it.

The black mold problem did bring up another issue with our HWT that we fixed which is that our tank was sitting flush on the ground!  So we purchased a cheap HWT stand to lift it off the ground so any further black mold issues will be easier to treat and also easier to keep the area dry.  But when we raised up the tank, we had to move it forward a few inches away from the wall to avoid hitting the water lines, which will also help to circulate the air a little bit better and hopefully prevent any mold from creeping into nooks and crannies that we can’t see (which is precisely what happened before!).  So we took some 2x4s, attached them to the wall, and then attached the stand and the HWT to those (with the help of our handy-dandy earthquake strips).

Then because we raised everything up off of the floor, we unfortunately had to buy longer hoses for the water and remove the main ventilation pipe and replace it with a shorter one….sheesh!  We just don’t know *how* to make things easy on ourselves, do we?  Luckily, it was just a matter of taking the old pipes off, taking them to Lowe’s and finding a good counterpart hose that would work:

Then the last part was simply following the secret trail of bread crumbs by re-hooking everything up again before turning on the main lines, filling up the tank, and then turning the pilot light on to get it back to full-on hot showerin’ time!  Awhhh…look….it’s cute….

But before we could close the book on the HWT Extravaganza 2010, we did install one of those super-stylish HWT Blankets that take a HWT from streamlined drummin’ to Stay-Puft Marshamallow Man stylin’!  All the kids are wearin’ ’em these days and they’re super easy to install, but don’t forget to use gloves and long sleeves or you’ll get all itchy and scratchy.

So then it was a quick clean’er up and the HWT in our garage is fully replaced, functional, and hot, hot, hot!  Our garage is a little….cluttered, we know.  There is a Spring/Summer organization project on our To Do list this year….wow, can’t wait for *that* one…

L

 

We’re in Hot Water, Pt. 1 “To Tank or not to Tank”

Picture this.  I’m fifteen.  My parents leave me home alone to go watch a football game at somebody else’s house and attempt to tell me where they are going, which I quickly categorize as “unimportant” and move on.  Again, I’m fifteen!!  Fast forward a few hours and in the throes of a Michigan-Ohio State rivalry game (I have no clue who won), I hear a piercing alarm-like noise coming from somewhere in the house.  A true “Where’s Waldo?” ensues until it finally leads me to the basement’s back room where the Hot Water Tank (HWT) has blown up, spewing water everywhere!  The piercing sound?  It was a water alarm that my parents had placed down there for moments like this.  Needless to say, the entire incident ruined my Saturday afternoon as I spent much of it cleaning up water by myself and freaking out as any 15-year-old kid is wont to do.  Said freak-out occurred mostly with this thought crossing my mind, “This is going to get me in trouble!”.  Lesson learned – listen to parents even when it is “unimportant”.  The other lesson?  Hot Water TANKS hold a heckuva lotta water!!!!

Fast forward 15 years and knowing *our* HWT needed to be replaced, we began doing what any insane DIY-er does; we researched our options to see if we could skirt around this issue.  As anybody knows, you really only have two mainstream options (there are dozens of other less available models) for getting hot water into your house:

Hot Water Tanks - typically gas or electric)

OR…..

Tankless Water Heater

So what’s it gonna be, punk?!?  Well, before we get into that, what the heck is the difference?  Brace yourselves, people – this could get highly technical!

A Hot Water Tank is just what it sounds like – a tank filled with hot water.  The simplest explanation is that the cold water comes in, then it is heated from the bottom within the tank – either a gas heat source or electric.  Then when you turn your hot water on, VOILA, water pressure forces the now-heated water out through another tube and onto your dishes, dirty hands, etc.

A Tankless Water System works in much the same way except there is no tank to fill.  The water only comes in touch with the heat source on an as-needed basis and it heats much faster and much hotter in order to compensate for the lack of “stored reserves,” if that makes any sense.  As a result, a tankless system does not constantly heat water throughout the day while you aren’t using it – it only switches on when you flip on the hot water.  Well, don’t take my word for it, check out this link for more information on a tankless water system here.

My Engineer PhD husband, Dr. J, put it another way – think of a HWT as a 30-mpg car.  It will get you to where you need to go, burning a fair amount of fuel along the way with a consistent power source.  The tankless, on the other hand, could be thought of as a Ballistic Missile loaded with half the amount of gasoline.  It will also get you to where you need to go, but much faster!!!  Sure, you might burn your britches along the way, but overall, you spend less energy in the long run because a short burst is all you need.  Because of this, a tankless system could save you 20% or more on energy costs to heat your water.

So given that argument, it seems like the tankless is the way to go, right?!?!  Not necessarily.  Obviously, everybody’s situation is a little bit different and even though the Federal Government provides a very generous 30% Tax Credit for purchasing a tankless water system, there are some installation issues that might be out of scope for the typical DIY-er, as it was for us:

  1. The Price – Hey, we’re not made of money!  Every tankless system is going to be a little different, but purchasing one brand new will cost you somewhere between $1,000 – $1,500 (a HWT will cost somewhere between $400-$600 depending upon make, model, size, etc.).  Not only is the price of the unit pretty pricey for us at this stage, but with the other bullet points below, we were pretty sure we might have to hire somebody to take care of this, which would have set us back even *more* greenbacks.
  2. The Installation – If you already have a HWT, and you’re replacing it with the same type (gas or electric), the installation couldn’t be much easier.  It’s pretty much plug and play.  On the other hand, a tankless system is a different shape and size, which in itself makes the installation a bit harder.  It’s also difficult to find an electric tankless system that has enough juice to run the entire house off of a normal circuit, so if you had electric before you would have to run a new gas line OR a high-capacity electric line.  Even if you had a gas HWT before, you still probably need to run some new gas pipe to reach where the tankless system would be mounted on the wall.
  3. The Venting – This is more of an installation issue for a gas tankless system.  At the very least, you will need to buy (almost) all new venting pipes, as the tankless system’s vent will be in a different place than the previous HWT.  Coming back to the missile analogy: while the tankless system uses less energy overall, it uses it all at once.  Therefore, the venting requirements are that much more stringent.  While it depends on the manufacturer, one model we were looking at required it’s own vent: meaning we would have to create a whole new chimney (or at least a hole in the wall), for it.

So after much rumination and thought, we finally decided that just replacing a tank for a tank was going to be our best option at this point in time.  We have decided that our “forever home” will have a tankless water heater, but who knows when we will find that diamond in the rough ;-).  So until that day comes, we are going to show you some pointers on how to replace your very own HWT should you ever need to do so as well as some setbacks you may run into when you do.  Oh, yes, there are ALWAYS setbacks.

However, if you are interested in doing more research on tankless, take a look at this article written by a friend of mine over at Remodeling Magazine.  And I would encourage anybody who is thinking of DIY-ing a tankless water system to do as much research as you possibly can.  I certainly applaud you if you can install one on your own!  We will definitely tackle it someday, just not today…

Stay tuned!

What to inspect after the home inspection…

The home inspection.  It’s a scary moment for a new homeowner.  What will the home inspector find that we didn’t find?  Will it cost us hundreds thousands of dollars to repair?  Do we have to repair it straight away or can we wait a few months?  These were a lot of the questions that were logging some serious frontal lobe time while we were at our (almost purchased) home back in July!  In fact, when J and I showed up, our home inspector had already made himself at home on our roof, inspecting our shingles, and when we showed up, we were surprised how quickly and efficiently he went through our house while we merely twiddled our thumbs with anticipation…

Luckily, nothing truly came as a surprise to us.  We purchased a house that had been vacant for quite some time and was void of any and all furnishings, window treatments, and/or anything else that could potentially mask some sort of problem from a potential homebuyer.  And while we knew our laundry list of “To Dos” was going to be quite long (even before the inspection), we also knew pretty well what lay ahead of us like a lot of painting, repairing window seals, installing miscellaneous things like a garage door opener, and even “reinstalling” some items like our kitchen sink, which the previous owners just couldn’t seem to live without.  Gives a whole new meaning to taking everything but the kitchen sink, huh?:

But one thing that crept up on us after the dust settled, before we had truly unpacked all of our boxes, and something an inspection was never able to catch was a leaking hot water tank.  From day one (or perhaps day two), our water tank decided to give us a little bit of a water board treatment from the get go.  Terrific (insert sardonic tone here).  After some research online and calling a few plumbers who specialize in Hot Water Tanks, we figured that there just wasn’t an appropriate (or legit) way to repair it.  The Hot Water Tank was going to have to be replaced.  Fast forward almost 7 months and we still haven’t replaced it!  Originally we had plans to replace it in November, but then life intervened and told us not to, so we figured sometime after the first of the year would be the best time to do so.  Sooooo….it’s after the first of the year!!  And what have we been doing?!?!  Sitting on our duffs, that’s what!

Well, the time has come….the time is nigh….the end is near….and we are procrastinating to high heaven on replacing a very essential, yet very boring, item in our house.

How will this all play out?  Stay tuned.  This weekend we will begin the trek to find out just what we will be buying, how we will be installing it, and the who, what, where, whys, etc.  Ooooh….super duper exciting.  Can’t we just get back to painting and hanging curtains?  Sheesh…

Welcome to the neighborhood???

Welcome to the neighborhood, here’s your violation notice!  Wha?

About 2 weeks ago we got a letter in the mail saying that if we didn’t cease and desist using our window AC unit **, then we would have to pay a fine of up to $15 per day (ouch!) for every day that we continued to have an AC unit in our window.  Mind you, the day we got this letter it happened to be 100+ degrees outside, but that’s not important right now.  Swearing ensued, “the world isn’t fair” protesting ensued, etc.  So we had to come up with a solution and fast as the Pacific NW heat waves continue to beat up our AC-less region of the country.

Enter the hubby who suggested a “Portable AC unit” that he easily found used on Craigslist.  They’re all the rage now apparently because they don’t hang out of the window like a traditional AC unit – happy times for persnickety HOAs.  They also sit on your floor, so they look a little bit like R2-D2 hangin’ out in your home (I’ve always wanted my own robot!).  But if it will keep us cool during the heat waves (which aren’t over yet for the year) *and* keep the HOA off our backs, then I’m as happy as a clam!  Here is a picture of our R2 unit:

DSC_0017

Weird, huh?  Oh, and we are selling our old AC unit, which is in mighty fine condition!  If you are in the Pacific NW and interested in a high-quality AC unit, then click here.

**Portland, Oregon is noted for its mild and temperate climate.  While we’re still waiting for that mild and temperate climate to come our way, we have to adapt to the social and architectural norms of the region which don’t include central AC most of the time, including our house which was built in 2005.  That tax credit we get next year will be all about a central AC unit and we can’t wait!

"Appli" Here

The appliances arrived today! Woo hoo! I have to say that Sears is good, very good! Delivery and the installation ended up being free (other places who shall remain nameless weren’t so kind). The installers were super-duper nice and I just have to remember a couple of things, which I shall put here for my own recollection and every one else’s:

1) Our range came in perfect condition out of the box, except for a small dent in the drawer. Luckily, Sears was on top of it and they’re sending out a replacement which should be delivered on Sunday. I was willing to live with it, but they weren’t, so that’s pretty awesome – oh, and did I mention that will be free?

2) We have an interior water filter for the Fridge, which is super-duper nice because then it doesn’t take up valuable space inside the freezer, which is never fun! I just have to remember to change the filter every 6 months. The delivery person, Tony, let me install it myself and it’s just a matter of twist and click. I think I can handle that!

3) The first 2 gallons of Fridge water and the first bucket of ice have to be tossed due to all of the grody water.

4) …and lastly, I highly recommend shelling out the extra dough for Energy Star Appliances if you can. Not only do they cost less per month to operate, but we are getting a $50 rebate from the State of Oregon for a special program with our refrigerator as well as a $50 tax return from the federal government. Uncle Sam isn’t all bad! Not only that, but I feel good about living a little greener. One step at a time, my friends :-).

The only bad news today is that it’s about 95 degrees out. Yuck! therefore, I’m hanging back at the rental as we have no A/C at the new house. Sigh…trying to stay cool!