"United we bargain, divided we beg."

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Appliance Recycling

We have terrible luck with appliances. Really just very very bad.

Last December, the furnace died in the middle of the one and only cold snap of the year (Freezing My Tuchus Off). The toilet in the second bathroom (a toilet counts as an appliance, right?) is apparently possessed by evil demons and finds it amusing to erupt for no particular reason two or three times a month. Two different plumbers - plus my husband - have failed to fix the toilet. My refrigerator died for the third and final time on Thanksgiving Day last year ( A Fine Day).

And then there's the washing machine. When I moved here, I was all exited about the chance to buy a fancy-schmancy new energy and water efficient machine. I spent a ridiculous sum on a brand new washer/dryer set - the first time in my life I had ever bought brand new appliances. Turns out, that might not be such a great idea.

I am thirty-eight years old. I moved here three years ago, when I was thirty-five. Thanks to a generous Grandfather, I bought my first house when I was twenty-one. Twenty-one to thirty-five is fourteen years. For every last one of those years I enjoyed the services of a single washing machine, a single dryer, a single stove/oven, and a single fridge. The washer and dryer were in fact inherited with the house and I don't even know how old they were. They were avocado green, so that says pretty old to me.

Back when appliances were built to last in other words. My new washing machine - a front loading, energy star rated Kenmore - lasted all of a year and a half before it began to break down. Homero fixed it three separate times, each time (so he claims) for a different problem. Finally we became to frustrated with the evil machine that we beat the hell out of it and threw it off the front porch.

Then I went to the used appliance store and bought the very same model that had served me so well for so long back in my old house. For one sixth the price of the new one.

Homero is using the old one to make a centrifuge to clean waste veggie oil for biodiesel processing. His biodiesel processor consists of an old recycled water heater and now an old recycled washing machine. Plus the old dead furnace is in his shop waiting to be converted into something that can run on biodiesel.

Here's hoping that the embedded energy in the broken appliances can be reaped in one way or another into the future.


Lamb Chop said...

We, too, have spent an absolutely unGodly amount of money on a brand new, front loading, Samsung washer/dryer set. The MINUTE we bought it people started telling us horror stories...

Now, every time I use them I sit and listen to make sure they are still working right...

You would think, for the money paid, these things would be near indestructable. 8-)

AnyEdge said...

I took a quality control course once. The problem with these new things is that they are not only mechanical, they are also electronic. Which means that there are many many more things that can break. So, even if each componant is reliable to say, three nines (meaning that for the first year, for example, it is 99.9% likely to work), if there are 1000 parts, there's only a 36.8% chance it's still working after a year.

From here, it gets depressing.

polly's path said...

you said it-they don't make them the way they used to make them. My washer/dryer set has been with us for ten or so years and knock on wood, doing great. I dread the day when something happens and I have to go out and buy one of those new pieces of crap that last a year and break down and cost an arm and a leg.

kate said...

I've been holding onto my appliances whenever I can, because of the horror stories I hear with new machines.

My stove is 65 years old; the oven needs to be re-calibrated (runs about 25 degrees higher) and a burner needs to be replaced -- but the 1945 instructions tell me how to do both.

I bought this house 18 years ago, and the washing machine was old then, maybe late 60's. I still have it, still works.

My fridge is a 1992 Amana. I had to replace the old fridge the year I bought the house, '92, because it was leaking water. My '92 Amana is working fine.

I know it it is poor solace to mention this, but I want to thank you and the commenters here for sharing stories, because I do want a new stove, but....I don't trust the new makers of stoves and other machines.