Since I am a first time homeowner, there are a lot of things I assume I DON’T know – I’m pretty good with the basics, like keeping my house clean, fixing obvious problems. But then there are things that I either forget about (like replacing air filters) or don’t know to do – kind of like with my car, but there’s no “house-mechanic” I can take my home to.
So instead, I ask questions. And subscribe to This Old House’s newsletter. This week, I got their tips for spring cleaning newsletter, which included an article on how to maintain your washer/dryer. Since my washer and dryer work fine, I hadn’t thought that I needed to do anything with them. I always clean out my lint trap, I leave the washer lid up so that it dries out properly, etc. But apparently, there’s more.
Why is it important, you might ask, especially if it might cost you money you weren’t planning to spend right now. In my case, since I am not the first owner of my washer and dryer and don’t know what kind of maintenance the previous owners did, I want to make sure that it’s all in good working order. The other reason it’s important is that even if you do clean out the lint trap in your dryer, lint still builds up in the duct work and can cause a fire – yikes! Also, if your hoses aren’t properly installed, or are old and break, you can end up with flooding. I have enough flooding outside my house, I certainly don’t need any inside.
I mentioned it to my dad last week, and he said he’d help me take a look at it and update anything that needed it. In my case, we replaced the two water hoses and the dryer duct. My dad had picked up all the materials for me and did most of the work while I assisted. It was a really intensive project, so I wasn’t able to take as many pictures as I have in the past, but I can give you the step by step of what we did and the photos I did take.
The washer/dryer is in my downstairs full bath, so they’re stackable to allow for the shower to be there. That also means that space is at a premium in that bathroom, so it took some maneuvering to get the washer out of the way to work on the dryer duct first. To move the washer, we first turned off the water – VERY important. Before you disconnect the hoses, get a bucket (because there will be some water in them), and as you remove each hose, drain the water into the bucket. You will likely need adjustable pliers for this part to loosen the connetions, and subsequently to tighten them again. Once the hoses were removed, we disconnected the washer’s power connection to the dryer as well as the waste hose (also drain this into the bucket if necessary) and moved the washer out of the way. Also – as you remove the hoses, if the shut off valves and washer connections are not clearly marked, make sure you identify which is for hot water and which is for cold – otherwise, you’ll have to hook them up to the shut off valves, put the other ends into a bucket and turn them back on to test it.
The dryer, out as far as we could get it
The back of my washing machine, as it sits in the hallway
My dryer is gas, so we didn’t want to mess with that or remove it – very very important to be careful with gas. As an aside, my next door neighbor, who is remodeling his kitchen, just replaced a gas line. And even though he knows what he’s doing and tested the line to make sure “no bubbles, no troubles,” he still ended up with a leak and had to call the gas company. It’s dangerous, so be cautious!
We unplugged the dryer and my dad pointed out that the duct for the dryer was so old, it was starting to unravel. This turned out to be an issue for us because the duct runs under the house and through my crawl space to the outside vent, so although we didn’t replace that part today, I will have to in the near future. This was also when the project got more complicated – as with most things, when you start something, another issue always crops up giving you a bunch of extra steps. In my case, it was that whoever installed the duct work had been very lazy and just cut a quick and dirty hole in the floor that they snaked it through. My dad had seen this when he was here on Friday, and had picked up a plastic sleeve that fit in the hole and connected to the duct underneath the house, and also sealed up the hole more cleanly. This was matched to another sleeve on the new duct attached to the dryer, and they just click together neatly.
How it looked when we started - big old hole in the floor, not sealed up at all! Also, check out the lint lining the duct.
And after, a lovely new duct with a sleeve sealing up the hole. No tiny animals are going to crawl into MY house!
But because the duct was so old and falling apart, I had to climb down into my crawl space, adjust the sloppy duct work under there and shimmy along the dirty sand all the way to underneath the bathroom floor so that I could feed up more of the duct to my dad, so that he wasn’t dealing with the part that was unraveling. We finally managed to get it done, and he noted that he’d gotten a bunch of lint out of the duct, so it was a smart thing to replace. I’ll keep telling myself that when I have to get back under there again when we replace that duct work!
Next, he attached it to the dryer using a screw-type hose clamp big enough to fit around the duct. MUCH better!
Then, he plugged in the dryer again and it was time to reconnect the hoses. He’d gotten hoses that can detect if there’s a leak and automatically shut off – that’s great, because it gives me added peace of mind, since I don’t turn off my water every time I’m done using the washing machine. It’s snuggled in next to the machine tight, so it’s difficult for me to do, though it is recommended to avoid flooding. We identified which valve connected to which washer connection and my dad screwed them on, using pliers to tighten the valve connections. We screwed them on by hand to the washing machine before moving it back to test whether there was any water leaking from the valves. When there wasn’t, we plugged the drain hose back in – it’s hand done, with no attachment to the wall, which was a little bit weird, but it felt like it was in there good and tight.
They're both blue, so unless we noted which was which, there's no way to know!
New hoses - connected to the shutoff valves!
And new hoses connected to the washing machine!
Then, we unscrewed the hoses from the washing machine and my dad got out from behind it before screwing them back and tightening them again with the pliers. We moved the machine back, turned on the water, and I tested it with my first load of laundry – it worked great, and no leaks! Another unexpected job well-done. I’ll keep reading This Old House’s newsletter for tips and advice, and keep learning about what I should be doing to maintain my house’s safety and good working order!