New Washing Machine Won't Fit Up Stairs. Now What?
September 1, 2016 7:15 PM   Subscribe

NewHomeownerFilter: Old washer broke. New one won't fit up our tight stairs, but the second-floor balcony has a door that's more than wide enough to accommodate it. Is there some kind of professional who could hook us up with a pulley or a hydraulic lift to get the new washer into the second floor from the outside? Or is that crazy talk?

The new machine is a front-loader, something like 27" wide by 29" tall by 32" deep. The old machine is a top-loader, and significantly shallower, about 25" deep. Our stairwell is only about 27" wide, and it takes a tight turn (we live in an old townhouse). The delivery guy who came with the new machine measured the stairwell and said no way.

But then Mr. Toomuchkatherine pointed out that we have this back balcony with a door that's plenty wide enough to fit the new washer through. There's also a window back there that'd be large enough. The question: is there any way to get the washer to the second floor? Someone could rig a pulley from the balcony railing, though I'm not sure how we'd get the 200-pound washer the last bit of the way up. I don't think there's anything higher up to run a pulley from, unfortunately. Could we hire a mover with a hydraulic lift? Are such things even available? We can't be the only people ever to have had this problem, of something big that won't fit up the stairs.

Lay your thoughts on me. I really don't want to have to get an apartment-sized front loader (we have a baby, we do tons of laundry!), and everyone says that top-loaders are awful, they waste water and are poorly made, especially now that almost everyone has switched to front-loaders.

As a last resort, is it ever worth it to get an old washing machine repaired? Ours is of unknown age, but old. It makes an extremely loud noise during certain cycles, and has recently started leaking water onto the floor.
posted by toomuchkatherine to Home & Garden (10 answers total)
Some sort of high-lift forklift or the type of material mover that they use to put drywall into second-floor windows (one name for it is a "Lull" I think) might work.

You want a Rigger (that's what they're called, people who move pianos and such into third-floor windows). It won't be cheap.
posted by BillMcMurdo at 7:23 PM on September 1, 2016

You can definitely do this. I live on a second floor apartment and several of out largest pieces of furniture came up a ladder and through the picture window after we had taken the sashes out. Call movers in your area and start asking.
posted by Sublimity at 7:38 PM on September 1, 2016 [2 favorites]

Would it fit on the platform of a manlift or scissor lift? Try calling some equipment/tool rental places.
posted by wats at 7:49 PM on September 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

Where do you live? New England has tons of old weird houses with these problems and therefore have movers who specialize in this very thing. Death Wish Piano Movers comes to mind. Yes, that's their real name. Oooh, maybe call a piano mover?
posted by pazazygeek at 7:51 PM on September 1, 2016

That noisy and leaky--dump it. As far as top vs front, you couldn't GIVE me a front loader. My hope is that you'll believe me wrong after you use it. And you'll use it after you hire a moving company to bring it in for you. Those guys have the equipment and know-how.
posted by BlueHorse at 7:54 PM on September 1, 2016 [2 favorites]

I would probably be scouring every appliance store for a washer with different dimensions because they are so poorly built nowadays. It's not like 'the old days' where you'd have it for decades. Especially if it is a front-loader with unnecessary electronics. Mine is less than ten years old and likes to go on unprovoked beeping sprees. (Do not buy Frigidaire. Please.)

How will you get this one out? Pretend it's 2024, and the repairman says it's not worth the price to fix it. And then you are saddled with a repeat of this. A lot of the shiny new things you bought with this house are also breaking down, too, and if you want to stop going to the laundromat you're paying a fortune to move this clunker out and get a replacement in. I think the resentment would pile up pretty quickly.

I can't say getting a front-loader was very exciting, and prior to that I was using a decade-old bare-bones apartment-size washer. There was no "woo hoo, cleaner clothes and so much more room!" More "why the @#$* can I not open it at this point in the cycle? There's hardly any water in there..." -- and if you are using any cloth diapers they are not so great. I used the previous homeowner's old appliances briefly before they bit the dust, and noticed $0 in savings from my front loader and "energy efficient!" dryer. (I'm on a well, though, so have no water bill to fuss about. But it was a wash {har, sorry} with the electric bill.)

I'd also at least talk to a repair person about the old one. If it washes well but the noise can't be mitigated in the machine, consider insulating whatever door it's behind -- my @#$* beepy Frigidaires are behind two doors, at least, so I can ignore their cries of decay. At this point I swear if I found an avocado green Maytag I'd have it tuned up and I'd use that, with an analog dial and push buttons and everything built to last and no electronics...

Alternatively: if you have already determined that it is fine and good to spend a lot on this, I would not get a run-of-the-mill one but a lovely Miele with 400 ways to launder, "Tested 20 year lifespan," etc, something that would make me want to pay for repairs 21 years later and leave me feeling I would not have to move it again. I am not sure about their N American sizing, but I think they are on the smaller side, too... A $3k long-life washer that will go up the stairs might be cheaper than a $1k job that needs piano movers both ways. (Speed Queen also has excellent warranties.)
posted by kmennie at 8:44 PM on September 1, 2016 [3 favorites]

Found a few ideas with google search 'furniture hoist nyc'. I don't know what it would cost. For only 200lbs, I'd be tempted to lash a sturdy long ladder to the balcony and put a chainfall on it higher than the railing, with nylon slings around the load. My wife almost certainly wouldn't agree to that for a brand new machine, though. Let the pros assume the risk of paying for damage.
posted by ctmf at 9:11 PM on September 1, 2016

You are in NYC? This can definitely done, for a fee (though I would be tempted to just get a smaller washer that can fit up the stairs, as kmennie says).

Mr. gudrun's brother had a small piano hoisted up the outside and in the window off a fire escape to a 6th floor walkup in NYC a few years ago. Riggers can do this, yes. Maybe check with companies that move pianos, because if they can't do it they can probably recommend someone who can.
posted by gudrun at 6:09 AM on September 2, 2016

Any moving company can do this.
posted by desuetude at 9:44 AM on September 2, 2016

I would just get smaller unit rather than hiring a lift.
posted by ovvl at 7:08 PM on September 2, 2016

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