This morning I pottered around our guest flat, sorting out yet more of the books, tidying up various clutter, doing a bit of cleaning, and so on. And I put some towels in the washing machine.
Now, this is our old washing machine, one we bought nearly eight years ago, so it's mostly in retirement living in the guest flat. It was last used in October - quite a bit when we had a family of six staying for just over a week, and then once or twice when I finished washing their sheets and towels after they had left. Since then we've used a few hand towels downstairs, and some of them in the bathroom cupboard had got a bit grubby, so I thought I'd give them a wash today.
After about an hour, still doing other things, I noticed that there seemed to be an awful lot of foam inside the machine. And a lot of water, too. More than there should have been. I checked the dial, and it was on the third or fourth rinse, but water evidently wasn't draining away. Indeed, as I watched, foamy water started bubbling out of the powder drawer.
A few years ago this machine had a similar problem - something had gone wrong with the spinning mechanism. We called out the man who knows how to do these things, and he charged us about £15 which included a new part - I thought that was pretty good. In the UK they charge about £50 just to step over the threshold.
However Richard said he'd have a look at it this time. We did wonder if lack of use had somehow gummed up the waste pipe. Or maybe there was too much scale. Or something.
So he moved the machine out, and took off the top and side, and watched it. It spun and spun, but nothing came out. He unhooked the pipe and held it over the bathroom sink - and nothing came out.
So then we put a bowl on the floor and put the pipe over that, to see if water would drain out naturally. It did. Loads of it. We had to keep emptying it... it was very foamy, too. But there clearly wasn't any problem with the pipe itself, since water could - and did - come out of it. Except when the machine was trying to pump it out.
When most of it had drained away, we put the machine onto its rinse-and-spin setting. Water went into the machine, no problem. It rinsed for a few minutes, then it tried to drain. Nothing happened. It tired to spin. Well, it DID spin. But nothing came out, until we put the pipe down low again, and then it drained out via gravity. Just occasionally, when we held the pipe up to the sink, something did come out - but not much. It was very odd.
Once we'd managed to get most of the water out by this messy but effective method, Richard carefully tipped the machine on its side to have a look at the pump. He wondered if something had broken loose.
Within a couple of minutes, he had discovered the problem. Two 20c coins had lodged themselves at the entrance to the waste pipe. Any time the pump tried to work, they blocked the water!
I've no idea how they got there - well, I guess they were in somebody's pocked, undiscovered. But when we've left coins in pockets before, they've just clanked around in the drum, not got out to block the pipe.
Still, I suppose it was nice to think that instead of paying out £15 (maybe even more), we had actually gained 40c.