By Greg Laudani, Staff Writer
Before you overload your washer and dryer in your dorm, consider this: The money you put in your Cat’s Cache account to pay for your laundry actually pays for machine maintenance — which is required because students overload the machines.
Essentially, students pay for their laundry because the students misuse the machines.
University of New Hampshire Housing receives service calls daily with on-campus residents asking to fix failing washers and dryers. And with all of these machine repairs and replacements, the department said it spends “in the hundreds of thousands” to cover the cost of repairing and replacing machines.
Machines do not always work perfectly. But according to UNH Housing, students can do more to help prevent these laundry room issues.
“Easily, 90 percent of our service calls are not due to failures of machines; they are from failure of proper use by residents,” said Shawn Kretchmar, UNH Housing’s network systems manager.
The most common problem with washers and dryers is students attempting to save money. And they often put more clothes than the machines can handle.Stuffing piles of clothes into one load may save $1.40 by avoiding the use of another machine. However, overloading the machines causes the majority of service problems in laundry rooms across campus.
“What you’ll find is residents will load 30 pounds of wash in an 18-pound machine,” Kretchmar said. “And what happens is the water can’t get out of the machine.”
Putting too many clothes in prevents the washer’s water flow to recirculate through UNH Housing’s underground drainpipe system. Over time, this often leads to the department needing to fix, and sometimes replace, several parts of the machines.
The machines are not the only ones that feel the brunt of overload. Despite what they may believe, Kretchmar said weighing down the machines does not do students any favors, either.
“Your clothes aren’t even getting washed,” Kretchmar said. “They are just spinning around in a pool of water.”
And while students believe they are saving money, Kretchmar emphasized that just is not the case.
“We still get students that think they are saving money but end up with soaking clothes, a service call or they are going to spend a fortune trying to dry their clothes because they are soaking wet,” Kretchmar said.
UNH Housing is taking action to stop service errors from happening in the first place. The department performs preventative maintenance on washers and dryers during winter and summer break. Last summer, Housing replaced “30 or 40” washing machines and “10s of” dryers, according to Kretchmar. It also upgraded parts of machines that did not need to be entirely replaced.
“We try not to be reactionary, we try to be proactive,” Kretchmar said. “You don’t want to come to a resident’s attention through a breakdown. The idea is to find a potential failure before the resident does.”
Housing has also posted signs discouraging residents from filling the machines too high.
The department has found success in its bringing awareness to more effective laundry room habits.
Kretchmar also said he wants to encourage more students to use LaundryView, an app UNH Housing implemented in summer 2013 that allows residents to see which machines are in use from any location. Additionally, it provides the amount left on each machine for an added convenience to users.
“Residents’ time is valuable, and they don’t want to be going back and forth,” Kretchmar said. “We think that LaundryView helps a little bit because it gives students more flexibility.”
UNH Housing adopted the app especially for residents living in halls with several floors like Williamson and Christensen. And according to the department, this added flexibility has helped students become more efficient in the laundry rooms.
“If you’re on the 10th floor, you can see when you can do your laundry without running down there,” Kretchmar said. “So students have really responded well to LaundryView.”
Housing aims to provide residents with a more efficient and convenient laundry experience.
“Laundry is not the most fashionable subject, but it is a very important part of students’ lives here,” Kretchmar said. “So I’m very vocal about it.”