Modern Living: Waterbeds: A Rising Tide

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Waterbeds are empty and easy to handle when delivered from the store. They can be filled by connecting a hose to a bathroom faucet (wise owners will also pour in a healthy slug of Clorox to ward off the formation of algae). But once filled, the waterbed becomes almost impossible to move; a king-size version will weigh around 1,600 Ibs.

Collapsed Balcony. Most manufacturers offer waterbed guarantees, ranging from 90 days to an eyebrow-raising 50 years. Leaks are infrequent, and most beds come with repair kits similar to those used for inner tubes.

But accidents will happen. The new waterbed lore includes the story of a West Coast couple whose mattress sprang a leak. With help from neighbors, they wrestled it out of their apartment onto a balcony, which promptly collapsed under the unaccustomed weight. Another householder, filling his waterbed on the lawn to test it, stood amazed when it began rolling downhill, amoeba-like, oozing over hedges and crushing gardens before squooshing to a halt. Mr. and Mrs. James Klopp, of Mountain View, Calif., fell asleep on their new waterbed while it was filling, and awakened to find their bedroom awash.

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