August 15, 2013

How to Buy a Super Cheap Washing Machine

As far as appliances go, I'd give our new little cabin about a C.  It did come with the essential- a good, big, newer fridge.

Our first thought was to turn in that water cooler, but after a warm weekend, we instantly fell in love with the simple to access, cold water.  The well water isn't very tasty to drink, and we didn't realize how much water we would drink until it was easily accessible like this.  For now- function trumps form.

The stove, although it's electric which is not my fav, is on the newer end and will do just fine for bacon and egg cooking.  The cabin did come with Micro-saurus Rex over there.

Good thing my brother and sister-in-law recently moved to a home with a built in microwave, and donated theirs to the cabin.  Upgrade.

The place was lacking 3 things though- a washing machine, a dishwasher and a TV.  While the necessity of #2 and #3 is still up for debate, we hoped early on to find a good deal on a washing machine, so that we wouldn't need to haul baskets of sheets and towels home to wash them each week.  So as the Hubs and I were exiting the Menard's lumber yard with the bricks for our new fire pit, we passed by a section of old used appliances and I yelled, "For God's sake man, pull over!"  There, among the avocado green and harvest gold graveyard, stood this little beauty with a sign on it for $49.

We asked the gate attendant in the lot what the story was, and she said whenever they deliver new appliances, they haul out the old ones for free, and stack them there in the lot.  There's no guarantee that they work, but you have up to 2 weeks to bring them back for a full refund.  That sounded like a much better deal to me than Craigslist, where you have no guarantee that they work, so after a quick inspection, we loaded her in the back of my Dad's pickup and rolled out.  The new guy is definitely a step up from the dryer.

When we returned with our score, by some incredible stroke of luck, my uncle, who is also repairs appliances, happened to stop by to check out our new digs.  It took him all of 3 seconds to tell us that the reason why the previous owners threw it out was likely the lid switch.  (You know- the little hidden switch in the lid that stops the machine from running when you lift it.)  The good news is that this is a cheap little part, and super easy to install.

But there was one key thing we forgot to notice.  See what's missing?

If you guessed "A Power Cord," you would be correct.  Rather than deal with the cord when moving the beast, it looks like some genius just cut it off.  Brilliant.  But fear not, this is a cheap part and a plug-and-play install as well.

So the next weekend we headed up to the cabin with parts and tools in hand.  If there is anything I've learned over the last few years, by the help of our dreaded dishwasher, it's that with the help of the internet, appliances really aren't that complicated to fix on your own.  Sure, I was lucky this time to have my Uncle's help diagnosing the problem, but I have no doubt that with a little time and internet searching I could have gotten to this info on my own, just as I've done 3 times over with our dishwasher.  If you don't mind me stepping on the soap box for a minute, it kills me that we are such a throw away society, that one little problem occurs and instead of fixing something, we just throw it away.  Just like most DIY projects, this one proved that a little time on our end saved a bunch of cash.

Here's my set  up in the Laundry, the iPad with the movie tutorial on how to replace my parts playing.  I use, and it was as easy as they made it look.

 First you remove a few screws and flip back the control panel cover.

 Then you loosen a couple of clips to bring the whole case down.  It looks much scarier than it is.

It took me only a few seconds to locate my busted part- see it hanging down there?

All I had to do was remove a couple of screws, take the old one out, and screw the new one in.  The kiddo held up the lid for me so it didn't hit me in the head.  He was so excited to tell Daddy he fixed the washer.  I'll let him have this one.

In the end our $50 washing machine works great, and is putting that old dryer to shame. 

The moral of the story- don't be afraid of fixing your appliances my friends.  Of course, be careful, shut off the electrical or any water connections, but if you follow the instructions you'll be surprised how easy fixing an appliance can be.  Worse case scenario you can't figure it out and you'll need to hire someone, and that's exactly where you started.  Has anyone else out their tried their hand at fixing appliances?  Anyone fix their own cars?  I'm getting up the nerve to fix a broken door handle on our car now.  I figure the process can't be much different, as long as I'm not touching any major engine parts.  Wish me luck!


  1. I need to figure out how to replace my lid switch. I currently have a 50 pound weight on the top of the washer to ensure it finishes the cycle. Moving the weight is good for my arms but probably not good for the washer long term. You inspired me to look into it more. Thanks!