Nobody Told Me

3:39 PM

There are many new things about living up north as opposed to the south.  Things that you don't know to ask, so you don't, until something happens and then you do.

Let's take the laundry, for instance. 

Upon moving in to the house, there was soon a pressing need to do laundry.
As far as I can tell, laundry up here is dealt with in basements.  It's possible that in newer houses, people have washing machines, etc. on higher floors, like I used to have the washer and dryer on my second floor in Arkansas, but all the homes we looked at before picking one, had the laundry rooms in the basement. Along with those utility sinks that I thought looked pretty nifty. Very much like in Home Alone...scary basement boilers and laundry. 
Yep. That's our story.

As an aside, the real Home Alone house is located in Winnetka, a few suburbs north of us. The kids are dying to drive by...I'm sure it will be SUPER exciting...

Back to laundry. So, I lug all our stuff down to the basement where I again, feel like I'm going back in time. The washer and dryer that conveyed with the house are pretty old. The washer is a top loader and it has 3 settings for temperature, only 1 of which really works, and that's "cold." I guess I can live with that. For now. The dryer tends to over-dry the clothes if you don't pay attention, resulting in a slightly burnt smell to your clothes. Not optimal.

So I begin my first load of wash and I'm organizing things in the basement as the cycle moves through and suddenly, there is water POURING out from underneath the washing machine all over the basement floor! I think I screamed. Horror, dismay and distress are the words that best describe what I was feeling. I tried to rapidly turn off the washing machine and simultaneously remove anything from the floor which could be damaged by the flow of water. I mean, we're talking all the water in the washing machine, pouring out. It scared me to death. Poor Wyeth who was with me was also terrified! Fortunately, there was a drain in the center of the floor and a slight depression, so all the water went into it.

I don't even know what I did next. I think I may have assumed that this was the way Chicagoans dealt with their wash and seeing no other way around it, just pulled the knob out to keep on spinning and draining into my floor!

Kyle had no idea what to do, either.  We were flummoxed. Was this the Bitterman way of doing laundry? Seemed a bit odd. 

Next day, I get to talking with one of our condo neighbors. Turns out her husband, Wendell, is a handyman. I explain the situation and she says she'll send him over when he gets home from work.  He comes, assesses the situation and immediately reaches over the side of the washer, grabs a pipe and hooks it over the side of the utility sink. It's got this obvious hook thing meant to be looped over the side, and clearly, it all is meant to drain into the utility sink and then be whisked away wherever the water magically goes! I'll be darned.

Wendell, originally from Mississippi, grinned this big smile and said, "What else you need help with?" Poor man. He had no idea how many questions I had.

Let me tell you about that drain pipe, though. So, attached to the end of that pipe was a panty hose leg, secured to the pipe by a zip tie. And that thing was long and floppy and filled with who knows how many months of lint. There was also a sink filter in the drain of the sink. I don't even know what to say about that panty hose other than that I was thoroughly appalled and grossed out. 

Wendell informed me that the panty hose was, in fact, a very effective lint catcher. There were other options, of course, like these little metal mesh bags that you unroll over the plastic and secure with zip ties. I lived with the panty hose a few days until I realized it was so full of lint that it was drooping into the drain, preventing water from draining, which would cause the water to fill the sink and pour over the side back onto the floor and down the drain. Good thing I have that drain, but man...really? Oh, and the drain things are attached to sump pumps or something which pull it back up to the normal level of wherever the water needs to go.

I found some metal mesh lint catchers and attached those to our drain pipe, but I quickly realized that they fill up really fast with lint and need to be replaced. I think the panty hose may be the way to go. Because after a few loads of laundry (or maybe it's just OUR laundry), that mesh bag is all linty and basically non-porous and the draining water is forced back up the pipe and - you guessed it - pours onto the floor. 

So, the utility sinks are for more than just handwashing, folks. They literally drain your washing machine! And there's a system! A process! Who knew?   

Another funny thing about laundry is that we have a laundry chute! 

And after throwing down some towels to clear out any cobwebs or critters, we use it! It dumps into a big box-like thing in our basement that is lined with bead-board, and I gotta tell you, I can't handle fishing socks out of its creepy dark corners, so I stuck in a big blue laundry bucket thingy from Ikea in it, and all the clothes that fall down the chute end up in there. It's the kids job to pull it out and sort it by colors into our laundry tubs (also from Ikea) as it fills up. 

The laundry chute is a big deal around here. It starts on the second floor, and there's a little additional hatch in the back staircase off the kitchen (which is downright convenient for tossing in dirty kitchen towels) as well.  

back staircase...
The kids play this game where someone drops in something from the top and someone else tries to catch it from the second hatch on its way down. Free entertainment.

See the hatch? It's currently closed...

Voila! It's now open.

And I only wish this was my first and last laundry story. Oh, but it's not.
For another day, my friends...

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  1. I grew up in the MidWest. Laundry facilities in the basement. The house was almost as old as yours. The drain often couldn't keep up with the water from the washer. I think my dad rigged a large bucket or trash can with a hole in the bottom directly over the drain. The hose drained into the bucket and water would be contained until it could drain. The original dryer had a self contained vent but when it was replaced he had to vent it out a window. We did not have a laundry chute but it was only a two story house. I threw many bags of laundry down the stairs, which were VERY steep, rather than carry it.
    When I was in high school I went to football games with a sleeping bag which I sat in to keep warm.

    1. That is great! It's good to know that about the drain not being fast enough. Could be our problem! I love the memories!