Why Your Front-Load Washing Machine Sucks.
After spending a year working as an in-home repair technician fixing washing machines, dryers and the like, I'd like to say, "Thank You." Thank you for buying that gigantic POS front-load washing machine that probably cost more than both my washer and dryer combined. You kept business good! During my short tenure I would estimate that approximately 70% of all of my service calls (covering powered lawn equipment, powered exercise equipment and laundry) were for front-load washing machines. Here are some of the most common malfunctions you paid me >$60 to come look at:
1. My Washer Won't Drain
This was one of my most common service calls, and one I dreaded the most. The cause was typically a foreign object jamming the drain pump, causing the water to get stuck and preventing the door from unlocking (so your laundry room didn't flood when the water poured out the door). I've seen all sorts of items lodged in the drain pumps, such as children's socks, bra underwires and other miscellaneous items, but the most common offenders were coins and small pencils. The repair consisted of me sucking water out of the drain pipe with my small, portable wet-dry vacuum and usually required several trips out to the tree in your back yard to dump the stuff. BTW, if you've never experienced it before, week-old dirty clothes water (especially with fabric softener in it) smells HORRIBLE. After sucking out as much water as I could the pump repair would be fairly straightforward, but there would always still be some residual fluid in the pump housing and lines that would spill out onto your floor. Not much I can do about that; the pump is on the very bottom of a very heavy machine and getting any sort of bucket underneath was out of the question. Moral of the story? Check those pockets and then recheck 'em!
2. My Washer (and Clothes!) Stink
Ah, you front-load washers and your wiley ways! Sorry to say this but YOU are the cause of this problem. By closing the washer door after moving the clothes to the dryer, you did not give the washer an opportunity to air out and residual moisture in the drum and drain area caused the rubber door boot to grow a friend. This mold will eventually grow on even the mold-resistant door boots if subjected to these conditions long enough, but there's something you can do about it. At LEAST once per month, whether there are clothes in the washer or not, run a load on HOT water with bleach. You can also take a diluted bleach-soaked washcloth and wipe the door boot out once in a while. Most importantly, leave your washer door open a little between uses... your clothes (and your nose) will thank you.
3. I Have Some Sort of Error Code
This comes with the territory of computer-controlled appliances and should be expected. Unfortunately for you, many repairs involve replacing the integrated motherboard and not for a small amount of money... most circuit boards were over $200 in parts alone, plus my service call fee and the labor to replace the parts...
4. The Control Panel Stopped Responding
This problem can be caused by the same potential problem as #3 - fried electronics due to a surge in your power supply. In other words, you wouldn't plug your computer into the wall without a surge protector in-line, so why would you plug your computer-controlled washing machine directly into the wall? (note many laptops have signal conditioners integrated with the power supply, performing the same duties as a surge protector.) It is cheap insurance to purchase a single-outlet surge protector, and really if your dryer has a digital display and input keypad it needs one as well. The second-most common cause for this malfunction was a stuck key; before calling the repair guy, try pressing each of the buttons (soft, hard, sideways, whatever you can try to get a potentially stuck button unstuck) to see if it will release.
5. My Machine Walks Across the Laundry Room
Ok, so this is a problem that some top-load machines have as well, but front-load machines amplify it much more so. Because of the nature of the front-loaders, they are very heavy machines (concrete counterweights on the wash basket) and can get off-balance pretty easily during the spin cycle. There are things YOU can do to minimize this, but sometimes you are just the victim of your environment. First and foremost is to wash items sorted by bulk, not color (or at least color secondary). This means wash jeans with other heavy items like towels. Keep in mind the weight of the items need to be roughly equivalent when the item is WET. Don't wash sheets with blankets. Put your pillowcases in with the t-shirts. You get the idea.
The other primary cause of these problems stem from the condition of your floor. Front-load washers require a very sturdy base, like concrete or hardwood. Floating floors (Pergo, for example), second-floor installs, mobile homes and other "soft" floors have too much give and will allow the device to shimmy itself right out the door. Those fancy pedestals you bought to elevate your machines and give you some storage are not helping matters either... they raise the center of gravity and amplify the problem.
Lastly ensure the machine is properly balanced. Yes, you may have had the "experts" install it for you but that doesn't mean that A) they took the time to actually adjust the feet to the contours of your floor, or B) that the locknuts were set to prevent the feet from adjusting themselves. Crawl on down there and check to see if you have wobble with the machine off. If so, you're in luck - it's an easy, cheap fix!
In conclusion, I know that front-load washers have some benefits - less water consumption, more energy-efficient, larger capacity - but my 10-year-old top-loader is still running strong and hasn't required any maintenance yet. You can mitigate some of the potential for problems by following my advice, and good luck - maybe we'll never meet someday.
on Nov 23, 2011 | Washing Machines