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Washer&dryer without the hookups. Can I still use them?
March 26, 2007 5:01 PM   Subscribe

Found the condo of my dreams except for one huge deal-breaker: No washer and dryer hookups! Is there anything I can do to get a washer & dryer into the condo?

The condo is in my price range and contains everything I want. Save, hookups for a washer and dryer. I'd also assume there's not a normal electrical outlet for a dryer, whatever that means. Assume I'm a n00b when it comes to houses (first-time homeowner in the making). I am over the coin-operated thing and refuse anything less if I'm buying the place. So, I'm looking for any ideas or thoughts of how to get a washer and dryer setup.

I've heard about apartment-style stacking units that don't require the normal washer & dryer hookups. Does anyone have personal experience with these? Are they worth it?

Secondly, the master bedroom has a sink off to the side that I really wouldn't need (there's a full bathroom about 10 steps away). Financially and logistically speaking, would it make sense to remove the sink and install a washer & dryer setup?

I'm looking for any ideas on how to get a washer and dryer into a condo not made for them and any personal experiences with my situation- if what I'm asking is even feasible. Thanks!
posted by jmd82 to Home & Garden (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Before you get too deep into this make sure the condo association and/or by-laws allow them.
posted by Opposite George at 5:08 PM on March 26, 2007


If they do allow them, a competent plumber should be able to create the correct plumbing connections in the sink area (input and drainage). You will need an electrician to come in and wire the room for the correct voltage - they will need to do this from your electrical box and run the lines through the walls. You will need to figure out a way to run the exhaust hose outside - if you live on the top floor, you may be able to get permission to run it out of the attic. All of these things will take permits and approval. And then you will end up with a washer/dryer unit as a focal point in your bedroom.
posted by blackkar at 5:13 PM on March 26, 2007


The big problem with running unvented clothes dryers in a small apartment/condo is that they load up the air with water vapor. In winter, that's not so bad, except that if you do several loads of clothes in one day, you are trying to put 15 or more pounds of water vapor in the air, and your windows will sweat badly, and you may soak your wall insulation, eventually, if you have any vapor barrier inconsistencies. In the summer, your air-conditioning system needs to pull all that water vapor out of the air, after your dryer puts it in the air, for you to feel the air-conditioning is even working. So, venting the dryer is a big issue, in terms of practicality, and as in a condo, you don't technically own the shell of your dwelling typically, punching a hole through an outside wall to install a dryer vent is probably verboten by your association by-laws. Same thing for modifying plumbing or other utilities that existing inside walls, or other common areas of the buildings. You generally don't have the right to unilaterally modify plumbing or wiring in condos.

Your condo association may also offset part of the maintenance fees from revenue provided from laundry machine concessions. If that's the case, your neighbors aren't going to much like you being a non-contributing laundry snob. Ask, before you buy.
posted by paulsc at 5:18 PM on March 26, 2007


At our old condo, there wasn't a w/d. There were concrete ceilings and no way to vent out. Some neighbours illegally vented into the room or a bucket. This is bad for your health and for the building/unit.

We bought and installed an LG combo w/d. It washes and dries all in the same machine -- automatically. It took about 5 hours to do a complete wash and dry load. We installed it in the bathroom, since that's a "wet room" and we had lots of space. Some people put them in their kitchens or bedrooms.

It cost very little to have the plumbing set up. We were having new shower/tub, toilet and faucet hooked up at the same time. The total for *everything* was $500. I would guess the w/d took up $100 or $200 of this. The machine itself was around $1500 -- all figures in Canadian $.

The LG combo w/d uses a standard electrical outlet. You don't have to do any wiring. No venting. No worries.

It does take longer and the clothes aren't bone dry. I wouldn't do heavy blankets in the machine. We would sometimes run downstairs to the common area laundry for those things. But that was a rarity.

We managed with two adults and a baby -- and we used cloth diapers. We didn't start to run into trouble until our son was around 18 months and there was just way too much "big" laundry. But, even then, we would just do the odd load downstairs. We could have managed longer...but we moved for other reasons.

You can set the machine to wash/dry while you're asleep, so you may not notice the 5 hours.
posted by acoutu at 5:18 PM on March 26, 2007 [4 favorites]


As long as it's not a problem with the condo association, this is doable.

Washer hookup should not be too expensive or difficult since there is already a sink there. Not sure of the power requirements for the dryers on the stackable models, but you can get a new circuit run if necessary. I've seen the stackable models with a filter on the vent instead of going directly to the outside, if you are in a high humidity area that might not work so well.

Financially speaking, I can't begin to guess what this would cost you. I haven't seen the condo, and I don't know what labor rates are like in your city. Call around and see if you can get someone to do a price quote on this for you. Only you know if it will be worth the money for the convience.
posted by yohko at 5:19 PM on March 26, 2007


You need five things: a source of hot water, a source of cold water, a place for waste water to drain, a vent for the dryer, and electricity.

You could, theoretically, get by with just one source of water and tune the temperature yourself, so a hose hooked to your faucet. A hose from the washer hung into your sink could get rid of waste water (but it better damned well not fall on the floor or you'll have a mess). The dryer could vent out a window.

But a dryer draws too many amperes for normal electrical circuits. That's the hard part. Normal household circuits are 15 amps or 20 amps. A dryer usually needs 30 amps.

You'd have to wire a new circuit from the main power box, and adding electrical wiring to a place that already exists is a royal pain in the tail.

Step 1, before you do anything else, is to get an electrician in and ask him if it can be done at all, and how much it would cost. I suspect that when you've heard his estimate, that will be enough to convince you to abandon this project.

This dryer requires 240V @ 30 amps. I used to live in a place that had one like it; what they're doing is to run the washer off one phase and the dryer off the other, so with a 240V plug you can use both at the same time.

It eventually died and was replaced by another that ran off 120V. That one also drew 30 amps, and there was a switch on the front that selected the washer or the dryer for the power. Only one could be used at a time.

So if you're really set on this, start by getting an electrician in.

Then give up. *_*
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 5:23 PM on March 26, 2007


I recently moved into a place that wanted $100 a month extra rent for w/d.

I said "no," and its turned out to not be a huge deal. I do "fluff and fold" at a dry cleaner, drop off/pick up right on the way to work, and it's only around $12/trip for me.

And really, you haven't lived until you get your stuff back all crisply folded for you. it's so great.
posted by drjimmy11 at 5:28 PM on March 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


This is more complicated than you might think. I have a washer hookup but no dryer hookup. There's a place to vent but there's no 220 voltage. So I've been shopping around for a plumber to extend my gas line to install a gas dryer. In the meantime I've been washing in the washer and drying on the line or a block away at the laundromat.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 5:46 PM on March 26, 2007


acoutu: You say no venting. Is you LG unit a condenser dryer?
posted by krisjohn at 6:00 PM on March 26, 2007


The LG Washer Dryer combo acoutu mentioned is really popular & has great reviews all over the place. My good friend who recently purchased a condo is getting one because the hookups are not necessary. It does seem to be a condenser dryer. More info here (pdf).
posted by tastybrains at 6:15 PM on March 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


To further complicate matters, just because it's a condo doesn't mean you can't run a vent; some let you do it if the board signs off on it (e.g., my board usually says "okay.")

That LG combo does look like a nice minimally-invasive solution if you can live with the long drying time. Again, even if it doesn't need special plumbing or venting be sure the condo allows W/Ds or some nosy neighbor will bitch to the board and your life will be hell. So talk to the managing agent and a couple of owners and get the skinny on your building.
posted by Opposite George at 6:31 PM on March 26, 2007


Bases off the answers, I've come to two conclusions:
1) A "real" w/d set in the condo probably won't work. Further complicating the matter is my sink is far away from a window and there's another unit on the other side of the wall.
2) I'm gonna look into the LG combo. It definitely looks promising.

Thanks for the answers so far. They've helped a lot to figure out the direction I want to head!
posted by jmd82 at 8:15 PM on March 26, 2007


Yes, the LG combo is a combination washer and condenser dryer. (Trick: wash the clothes only. Shake them loose and put them back in the dryer. They dry better.)
posted by acoutu at 9:24 PM on March 26, 2007


I've had a pretty basic 'apartment' washer & dryer set for years now. They wash and dry just fine. The dryer's near a window that I open a wee bit if I'm doing a number of loads, and I generally ran it only at night in the doggier days of summer, but...in general, not much of a hassle.

If it's just you, you're very unlikely to generate enough laundry for it to become an overly moist hassle. I wouldn't hesitate to get the same sort of apt-sized machines again.

And, I'm tying this hunched over a sizable and depressing home inspection report for the thing I'm buying, and have to say I almost envy your version of 'deal-breaker.' If it's otherwise great, go for it.
posted by kmennie at 11:03 PM on March 26, 2007


The LG washer/dryer mentioned above draws 10 amps and should be fine on any normal household circuit, as long as there isn't much else trying to use power on that circuit at the same time.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 11:19 PM on March 26, 2007


More times than I can remember I've seen people hang washer drainage pipes out of windows, if that's an option.
posted by wackybrit at 4:40 AM on March 27, 2007


Wow, thanks for the info about the new-fangled washer-dryer thing-y.

The promotional materials claim that it is energy efficient -- have the users here found it to be so (even though it has to run for hours)?
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 4:17 PM on March 27, 2007


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