Friday, April 19, 2013

Appartment Living and Laundry Debate

The super came yesterday to fix a couple of tiles, of course, I got up and immediately took the washer out of the bathroom and into a bedroom, thankfully I had already taken care of everything and the unit was ready for moving.

The evidence and trail that we have a washer is huge: all of a sudden, the bathroom door opens out instead of in, there is a bench inside it (with a baby bathtub to disguise it), in front of it there is a hanging rack  with diapers, the main bedroom open can show more hanging clothes, including a sheet, there is detergent inside the bathroom and the laundromat boy has not come in several months. The main reason for having called the super is that two tiles fell, most likely due to the vibrations of the spin dryer.

But the super comes, does his job in 10 minutes, and leaves, either clueless or just playing dumb. I hate hiding it, specially since I think we're not doing anything wrong, but for those who wonder why it is forbidden to have washing machines in pre-war apartment buildings, here is the top 5 reasons for the ban:

  1. Risk of flooding. Nobody likes getting water from your ceiling. That can happen if your neighbor upstairs has a flood due to a leak in his laundering system. Is it plausible? sure! indeed! It actually happened several years ago to me. I had a big washing machine in the kitchen, perfectly legal, with a place for it and installation and everything. Well, my washer was old and had been fixed before, I had gotten it from a friend that moved out of town. In any case, the risk is high when you have a device which require open faucets for installation and deals with large amounts of water.
    How I deal with it? my machine is not "installed". I fill it up with the shower hose, I never have a full time open faucet. On top of that, it has a limit placed on top, if you overfill, the water will automatically get into the inner tub and down the drain. And since it is lifted, I don't even need the draining pump. Just in case there is a double leak and water starts pouring out of the unit, well, it has less than 1 cubic foot capacity, less than 2 buckets. So that's my very unlikely worst case scenario: a bathroom flooded with the water of a bucket and a half.
  2. Sudsy water in your sink or bathtub. Another annoying side effect for your neighbors downstairs. A friend of mine told me he once had a turkey marinating on his neighbors laundry water. Why does this happen? well, old buildings have a very old draining system, with a very limited capability in the water they can take. This flow of liquid can go to a max of 7 gal/min (or something to that effect, please correct me if I make a mistake). Pumping devices in washing machines get the water out at a rate higher than that. The time elapsed from having it full to having it empty and ready for spinning is quite short and the plumbing can't take it. Therefore, the water, having no place to go, gets out in lower apartments from the drain up.
    The solution is to have a buffer tank in which the water can go from the washer, so that it can get into the building's system at its own rate.
    In our case, the draining goes to the bathtub, which works as said buffer, and the water stays there until it can slowly go where it has to. Since it is a small unit, the bathtub is more than enough the size of what is needed.
  3. Power capacity. Washers use a lot of juice. A brand new top load Maytag sucks 0.23 KWH per load. My Twin Tub Panda works on 250 W. That times .25  plus another 3 minutos of spin drying at 135 watts is 69WH, less than a third of a regular MayTag, and the equivalent of 3 light bulbs of full capacity for about 15 minutes, not a problem at all. Plus, my building does not have a ban in drying machines, dishwashers or AC, which can suck up much more.
  4. Noise. That would be a good argument for newer buildings and hollow materials, but in pre-wars? I dodn't hear my machine from the kitchen, let alone from outside of the apartment, is that good enough? Just need to make sure the spinner is balanced, though.
  5. Business arrangements with Laundromats. If there were coin oparated machines in the basement, this argument would be a little valid, not here, nearest place is a couple of blocks away. Since such agreement is not in the lease, I can't believe they would try this one on me, I didn't know I would surrender the freedom to handwash or wash in my spare house and have to patronize a specific partner of my landlord. Really?
So there you have it. I'm not breaking the lease because my machine is not "installed". But I don't think my landlord has the patience to come and look at it, he may just start a fight if he hears "washer", so we will keep hiding it.

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