Question about Kenmore Elite 45986 Front Load Washer

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Front load washer seal issues

Our unit is actually the HE5T, model #110-47088601, I have a service tech. coming out today for an issue we had already had once before, the gray seal between the drum and the door is very thin, even when new and I believe due to the material (possilbe silicone) it wears easily and thins more so and even develops holes or tears due to the possibility of clothing getting in the slot.

We are very careful to zip up coats and even turn them inside out, I know if a zipper gets in there it can do some real damage to the seal. We have had clothing damaged or torn due to getting in this area. I am sure there needs to be some gap but I would think there is a better design, comercial units have to be set up different since you know people are not as careful when the machine is not there own.

This to me is a part that should be made of thicker material. I am sure it will be replaced with the same part today. I spoke to Sears and really did not get anywhere as far as questioning the part design or material, if they have not had other complaints I would guess people are simply not looking or cleaning their unit as the manual describes and they probably have tears etc. in the seal without even knowing it.

I simply do not want to cause any possible water damage to the unit or our house by water that could get through any tears or holes that would develop over time. More so the warranty will be up soon and I will be stuck with a good unit but one that has in my opinion a inferior component. Last time the service tech. replaced it he said if it was out of warranty the repair would have been over $200.00, if that is the case I would rather go purchase a new cheap unit that may not have this issue but I have a matching set and the top folding station that lays across them.

The strange part is other units on the market appear to have a much thicker rubber seal that would not get damaged so easily, with us being as careful as we can without watching to make sure no clothing gets in the groove during the whole cylce I am not sure what else we can do, very frustrating especially after spending a good amount of money on a unit that should be one of the best on the market.

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I can surely sympathize with you. I can't understand why your door bellow is wearing as fast as you say it is, but some of the common causes are attributed to sharp items on clothing (as you have mentioned). The rubber is usually pretty resilient and can take quite a bit of punishment. Now, using the wrong detergent (non-HE) can contribute to quicker wear of the rubber as regular detergent is at a higher concentration and can act as a corrosive to rubber. In addition, overloading can cause excessive wear. I know the manufacturer states you can really load these washers, but you have to be reasonable about the load size. I actually had a customer explain to me how she laid on the floor in an attempt to push the door shut with her feet to lock it because she was doing a large load. She then couldn't understand how come the door latch was broken. That's a good example of overloading. Now...I'm not accusing you of abusing your appliance. I just put this information out because some consumers simply do not understand that front loaders do require a little TLC.

Some other problems with the door bellow are attributed to leaving the door closed all the time. It is important to leave the door ajar when not in use to allow the wash tub to air out. The following link explains:

http://www.fixya.com/support/r513372-front_loader_mildew_odor

I know you didn't write to me to get a lecture about mildew and mold, but it is important to understand that you have to routinely inspect the door bellow to ensure it is not holding water and small articles of clothing are not getting caught in the folds. I agree that it is a poor design. If the holes in the door fold become clogged with debris and do not drain (coupled with the door staying closed), you can create a stagnant water situation that allows mildew and mold to form. This will also contribute to breaking down the rubber. Keep the small holes in the door fold cleaned out and cleared. NOTE: Leaving the door open will not evaporate all the water. This only allows the tub air out. It is normal to have some residual water remain below the spin basket and in the drain lines.

As far as maintenance costs. You can actually replace a door bellow yourself and cut the cost in half. Searspartsdirect.com carries the part for about $93. Just type in your model number and look under the "Door Latch Parts" heading for item number 2 (part #8182119). Some additional parts to consider are items 1 & 5, which are the bellow clamps (if needed). If you ever need to replace the bellow again and wish to perform this repair on your own, follow these steps:

http://www.fixya.com/support/r385210-replacing_door_bellow_kenmore_elite

I personally own a Kenmore frontloader and have a family of 8. I've owned it for about 8 years now and have never had a mold or mildew problem using the advice I provided you. I did have to replace the bellow ONCE during this time, because they do wear out over time. However...they should not wear out as often as yours.

NOTE: Some consumers are concerned about leaving the door open around small children ,because they like to climb into things. If you live in a household with small children, the washer does have a safety feature that locks the control panel when not in use. Simply press on hold the "Drain/Spin" button for 3 seconds to Lock/Unlock the panel.

I hope you find some of this advice helpful. Let me know if you still have questions/concerns.

Posted on Nov 15, 2008

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