Tuesday, July 20, 2010

What a Difference 17 years makes

Our dryer finally gave up the ghost about 2 weeks ago. Since both the washer and dryer were over 17 years old, we decided that fixing the dryer wouldn’t be worthwhile in the long run and that having a new dryer with an old washer was a bit silly. So we bit the bullet and picked out a shiny new Maytag High Efficiency washer and dryer set in white – funky colored appliances look more like toys than real machines.
Since about 3 days following the death of our dryer, I have had the urge to dye a few items to colors that were more agreeable to me. Of course, without a dryer, dyeing fabric is out of the question – the dryer is what sets the dye, so if it’s not heat-set, the dye will escape from the item you wanted to be that color and stick to items that you didn’t want to be that color – skin included. Not fun when you use green or blue dye (wait – Avatar skin? more like Smurf skin… Never mind).
Saturday morning, just prior to the scheduled delivery of the new set and removal of the old set, I mentioned to hubby that I really wanted to dye this set of items and showed him the dye packet. He Spocked an eyebrow at me, apparently thinking that I was planning to break in the new appliances by staining them with dye. I pointed out that the old washer was perfectly functional, but I would need to use the new dryer to set the dyes – and they wouldn’t stain the dryer (I hope!!) He looked a bit unimpressed.
The old washer finished the dye job just as the delivery truck arrived, and I quickly stashed the wet, newly dyed items into the utility sink to (partially) hide them.
During installation, we discovered the source of the “smell” that we’d noticed in the basement a few months ago – a bird had gotten into the dryer vent hose and died near the entrance to the dryer. The installer told us that we were supposed to clean the dryer hose at least once a year. Really??? The moment he pulled the hose off the old dryer was the first time it had been detached since the day we first brought it home. Oops. At least the bird was simply “cooked” rather than burned.
Nearly two hours later, the new machines were in place. I heard a merry little tune sound twice and assumed that was the delivery man’s cell phone, and was impressed that he ignored it since so many people these days instantly answer their cell phones regardless of where they are or what they’re doing. I then noticed that he tapped the power button on the dryer and the little tune sounded again. How cute – the new machine has its own startup song. I’ll have to find out how to hack the washer to change the tune to something more interesting. Will the washer “blue screen” on me? It’s a Maytag…right? I don’t think Maytag’s OS is Windows…maybe we should have kept the old one.
So what’s changed in the 17 years since our old Maytag machines came out and these new ones? Aside from the obvious change from totally mechanical to computerized?
  • More temperature combinations – in addition to cold/cold, warm/cold, and hot/cold, we have cool/cold and warm/warm. What’s with “cool”? I guess that’s similar to warm, but more like water temp when the hot water heater is nearly out of hot water
  • Little reservoirs for detergent, bleach, “Oxi” (whatever THAT is) and Fabric softener. The old one just had a reservoir for bleach – and you dumped detergent in before filling and adding clothing
  • No agitator – well, actually there is a little hump in the middle, but not the tall thing that we’re used to.
  • 5.0 cubic ft space – big enough to actually wash two pillows or a king size comforter. SWEET. We never could wash the comforter or pillows before because they wouldn’t fit. Guess what items I washed FIRST? Pillows! (as an aside, I noted that hubby’s snoring decreased AND my allergies abated significantly. Co-incidence? Probably not)
  • A “cycle is finished” signal on both washer and dryer. The beep sounds very much like a typical pager – I’ve got to find the hack for the sound files, because we have too many devices that beep like that.
  • Clear glass doors for both appliances. We can watch the machine do its job. Yes, we watched the pillows being washed. They fluffed up like marshmallows in a microwave part way through the spin cycle then flattened out into blobs.
  • “Warp three” sound when the spin cycle engages. (Yes, the first time hubby heard the machine go into spin cycle he shouted, “warp factor three!”). Oh, and it fiddles with the spin rate to force the load to balance before it goes to “warp three”. No more kerthunk kerthunk noise from the washer because this one automatically balances the load. You can also tell it what the maximum spin speed (warp factor) allowed is.
  • A light in the dryer. Our old dryer had black internal drum and because the laundry room’s lighting has always been bad, I usually had to run my hand around inside the dryer to confirm that I’d found everything that had to be removed. With the bright light and white dryer drum, I can see every last sock that’s hiding in the dryer.
Oh, and a note to my friend W.S., wife of home inspection man: you can rest easy – the new dryer hose is a metal one and the dead bird from the old plastic hose has been buried.

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