Monday, January 15, 2007

The Secret Life of Socks

About a week ago, I lost a sock. I was a little startled because my socks don't go on a very long journey from when I take them off to when they go into my sock drawer, but I figured the washing machine ate it. I felt around the outside of the spin cylinder a little, and then figured the sock was gone for good.

About the same time, the washer also started having problems draining. I'd have to run the drain cycle multiple times. I didn't think much of it at first - the way that the washer evacuates lint isn't the most high-tech, and doesn't seem to incorporate a way of removing the lint from the water, so it didn't seem like a very outlandish idea that there might be a clog. I figured that it would clear up on its own, and didn't worry about it.

Which brings us to this week's laundry. For those who don't know, this is what I use to wash my clothes. The machine isn't exactly capacious, and a week's clothes generally become two loads, with a set of linens and a towel making a third.

The first load went alright, although I did still have to run the drain cycle a couple of times. The second load drained so slowly that I decided that I had to figure out what was going on. I figured it was probably the sock - I knew it had been eaten by the washer, and these things don't just disappear.

First I removed the spin cylinder. No sock. Then I went and found the manual to see if it would shed any light on the situation. It did, sort of. The manual gives instructions on draining the last water from the unit before leaving it somewhere in subfreezing conditions. I learned that I could get at the machine's internal plumbing from the bottom, and it's better to set the machine on its left side.

If you're curious about what the bottom of a washing machine from the '70s looks like, here it is.

The washed-out white fitting is the lowest point in the washing machine. Socks seem to be unable to make the corner going from the black tube that empties the overflow drain into the pump. So I was able to pull the sock out through the winterizing cap.

The part where all this gets really stupid is that after I pulled out the sock, I threw it in with the next load, which was too big. So the sock got stuck again and I had to put the machine on its side and remove it again. At least now I'm good at it.

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