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Are Front-Load Washers Less Reliable?
12/1/2011

Do front-load washers come with more reliability problems than top-loaders?
Do front-load washers come with more reliability problems than top-loaders?

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Island_Al
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Gold
The technical term for front loaders is "sucks"
Island_Al   12/2/2011 9:41:27 AM
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I have owned three washers over the past 45 years. The first, a Sears top loader lasted 20 years and 4 kids and thousands of loads. We used cloth diapers and easily washed 10E4 of them.  The second, a Maytag top loader lasted 15 years, went under water during a hurricane, and after mass application of WD40, ran a few more years before rusting away.  My wife was elated to get a Maytag Neptune.  Shortly after the warrenty expired the tub bearing went.  Some genious ME designed it to be non replaceable, molded into the tub.  A new tub from a third part supplier set me back $300.  Next the main electronic PCB failed, a micro controlled unit.  Another $150 as I recall.  Next the unit would not empty or spin.  Luckily a bad connection in the lower unit, but I feared a 3 phase motor failure.  Yes, they use a triac driven 3 phase motor and another PCB mounted under the machine with another internal controller.  The last straw was a failure in what Maytag calls a "wax motor" in the interlock system. It is a heat actuated linear "motor" with a long actuating cycle.  At that point my wife was in tears and told me just to make it work. Now it is just bypassed.  The next problem we have we will roll out this Caddy priced unit and roll in a cheap Chinese unit.

Oh, did I mention you need to use special soap?  The boot under the door looks like the bottom of a parrot and smells worse?

One of my daughters however owns a Sears (Fridgidaire?) front loader and seems to perform very well.  I however will never, ever, own another Maytag.

Dan_Linder
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Iron
Re: Agitated by molds and leaks?
Dan_Linder   12/2/2011 9:29:05 AM
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My wife and I have had a Maytag Neptune front load washer that we purchased in 2000, and it's still going strong.  The only thing I have had to replace was one of the springs inside (just did that this past summer).  It is more noisy, but I believe part of the structural body panel has cracked and allowing the whole unit to flex more now.  We're past the original warranty period, otherwise I'd bring it up with Maytag. :(  Aside from that, it's been a great unit - we have two kids so we easily put 5-6 loads of laundry through each weekend and it's holding up.

As for the mold issue, we haven't had a problem.  The way our washer sits, we MUST keep the door tightly closed when not in use. If we don't, it comes open 1-2" and will interfer with the door to the room.  The laundry room is also the only way to get from the house to the garage, we have to have its door shut.  Thankfully, no mold.

Maybe we don't get any because we're using it every week?

Charles Murray
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Blogger
Commodity candidate
Charles Murray   12/1/2011 10:44:31 PM
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The tub, drum and spider cost $1,000, which is the same price as the washing machine? This is why so many consumers opt to for new products rather than fixing the old ones.

Rob Spiegel
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Blogger
Re: Agitated by molds and leaks?
Rob Spiegel   12/1/2011 2:46:54 PM
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I'm all with you, PPihkala. I could never understand the attraction of a front loading washer. For me it defies logic. Yet, these washer have become very popular. Is there an advantage that I'm missing? Is the advantage of space that critical? Maybe so.

PPihkala
User Rank
Iron
Re: Agitated by molds and leaks?
PPihkala   12/1/2011 1:59:12 PM
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"the fact that the inside gets moldy if you keep the door shut after a cycle. Is this true?"

I think it should be a common knowledge that places that are always moist can get moldy. Which means that one should let the machine be open and dry out between uses, regardless of the orientation of the loading door.

 I have a top loading washing machine like did my parents. I have a hard time believing that front loading one is a good design idea. I can figure out at least the following reasons:

1) the suspension and bearings at the front part ot the washing drum are more complicated in front loaders versus top ones.

2) the seal between rotating drum and the front hatch is more complicated than with top loaders.

 The reason for front loading is probably the fact that front loaders take less place, especially when you place the dryer on top of it. Even without dryer, the top space is available as table space. So as always, top/front loading is a compromise between different requirements.

Rob Spiegel
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Blogger
Re: Agitated by molds and leaks?
Rob Spiegel   12/1/2011 10:41:14 AM
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Good question, Jenn. While I was editing this post, I did some searching to see if front loaders really were less reliable than top loaders. My searching was inconclusive. However, I did see tons of comments about mold around the door.

Jennifer Campbell
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Gold
Agitated by molds and leaks?
Jennifer Campbell   12/1/2011 10:05:51 AM
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I've been tempted to replace my 10+ year old top-load washing machine with a front loader, but have heard awful stories about leaks and the fact that the inside gets moldy if you keep the door shut after a cycle. Is this true? I'm more tempted to replace with a top loader that does not have the agitator in the middle - I'm tired of things getting wrapped around/stuck on the agitator.

Alexander Wolfe
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Blogger
Re: Yes they are.
Alexander Wolfe   12/1/2011 9:46:54 AM
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Supposedly washers for the European market have longer wash cycles, during which the clothes are agitated more slowly. If this is true, I wonder if this results in longer bearing life (in both top and front loaders).  It seems that there's not much one can do about the issue discussed here in that front loaders seem to be taking over because of consumer fashion -- or because that's what vendors are offering -- rather than the functional issues discussed in this post.

dschaefer
User Rank
Iron
Yes they are.
dschaefer   12/1/2011 9:37:51 AM
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I have a Frigidaire front loader that I bought 11 years ago, but was actually made 13 years ago.  It has served our family of 5 without problems until last month, when either the spider or rear bearings failed.  My inner tub / spider has a 25 year warranty, but Frigidaire requires a technician to dioagnose and order the part.  That labor alone is $200+, a lot to spend on a machine that cost less than $500 just after the turn of the century.

Googling will reveal that the average life of a front loader is 11 years while a top loader will go 14.

Beth Stackpole
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Blogger
Appliances in general are less reliable
Beth Stackpole   12/1/2011 6:33:02 AM
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I hate to say this, but based on the countless "Made by Monkeys" stories, 10 years out of an applicance is a pretty good track record these days, front loader or otherwise. I have a front/loader washer dryer set that I purchased almost four years ago and haven't had a lick of problems--in fact, it's one of my favorite things I have ever purchased. I guess only time will tell if I'm biting my tongue on that statement. Stay tuned!

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