Fellow landlords, what is your experience on washers - if you have to buy one today for tenant use?
I have a 20 year old washer in a triplex that has seen better days. Rust is basically eating it away, it is located in an outside shed shared by three tenants.
First, I pay for water, so lowering my water bill seems like a good idea, so I started to look at those top loaders and HE models.
At the same time, I would also like to replace the hot water heater in the shed, it is a RUUD 20 gallons, and has been there, based on the serial number, for 36 years. 36 year old water heater, and it's also badly corroded. In order to save space, I am considering changing it to a tankless (I happen to have a small Titan just removed from another property I can use, and I can easily run new #6 wires to the house meter). HOWEVER, in looking over some of the reviews of the more efficient washers, I learned that tankless HWH and low consumption washers are not compatible because they fill the washer in short pulses or "spurts" and tankless HWH requires a consistent flow rate demand to fire it up. So I start to think about putting in a small point of use 6 gallon tanked heater because it is a dedicated heater for just the washer so there is no need for a 20 gallon.
Then I did more reading and saw some newer models where some of the washers have built in water heating features, so you don't even need to supply hot water to it. So that's another consideration.
Finally, lower consumption washers require special detergents. If a tenant didn't pay attention and use the wrong detergent it could be an issue, so perhaps I need to supply the detergent, which adds to my cost.
Of course, I could consider a coin op, but...
My gut instinct is to just get another standard cheap work horse washer, and keep it simple, and put in a 10 gallon heater. Instead of HE models or front loaders.
Top loaders are going to be cheaper it buy but will use considerably more water. The hot water fill on most washing machines are a continuous fill but you would need to make sue the tankless heater can supply the volume needed in the amount of time it takes to fill.
A tankless heater is also going to be more expensive then a tank model. You did not mention gas so using an electric, tankless may require a lot of power.
If you are buying it for tenants to use for free I would stick with a simple washer (top or front depending on the best deal) with only a few options, a water heater that has enough volume to fill the washer. and keep it simple and cheap.
If you are really concerned about water usage and cost do the calculations between the top loader and front loader volumes and cost of water. Depending on the area it may not be too much.
Yes they will use too much soap in a front loader. And they will complain that the washer did not rinse it all out and it may take 2 or 3 more cycles to clean the machine out. But they usually only do it once. I would encourage the use of the soap pods and one per load works good. People are used to seeing suds and if there are no suds the clothes are not getting clean. That slowly changes over time and experience.
Or if there is a decent Laundromat nearby they can go there.
I will add that I own 3 Laundromats so I have seen all of the over-suds issues you can imagine. Up to opening the door and having the suds run out like an avalanche into a garbage can. I still had to scoop more out with my hands to have a chance at getting the machine to run right again.
The simpler, the better. The less knobs the better. I just installed a $600 washer for tenants last spring. Fancy sensors and lots of blinking lights. It didn't last 3 months. Someone forced opened the lid in cycle with the lid locked and broke that sensor. This one didn't require special detergent. That alone would squash the HE front-load idea for me.
I have the same mindset with ranges, dryers, dishwashers, etc. I would just get simple and effective @Sam Leon !
You are correct. Tenants will use the wrong cheapest detergent causing damage to the sensors. I would go with a cheap top load washer. If water consumption is that big of an issue, raise the rent to compensate.
In the few houses that I have washer/dryer for the tenant I buy the cheapest one that I can find that is decent. Most of the time I will buy a set off of craigslist that is matching and in good shape for a few hundred dollars.
The HE version front loaders just don't seem to last very long under hard use or by people that do not care very much. The front gaskets are a weak spot and whether people just pull the clothes out and drag them across the gasket or kids pull on it they tend to wear out. I also have seen a lot of sensor and board issues with the HE versions, not sure why.
Stick with the cheap but solidly built ones that are easy to fix or replace.
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