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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
My family has used front loader washers since the 1950s. Most of these post seem to have no real knowledge of either their performance or structure.
1, Contrary to popular belief, the mechanism of a front loader is much simpler than that of a top loader. There is no geared transmission, no agitator seal, no shifting mechanism (the early ones had a ratchet pulley and a solenoid shifter for the spin cycle, but no more).
2. Front Loaders use 1/4 the detergent!
3. Front Loaders use much less water.
4. Front Loaders clean much more effectively. If you doubt this, take a load of clothes that have been washed in a top loader and wash them in a front loader. DO NOT ADD SOAP! it is very likely that the soap and soil residue left behind by the top loader will over sudz the front loader.
5. Front loaders do have an extra combination seal between the outer drum and the door. Though improper care can lead to odors and other problems associated with the seal boot, this seal also protects the internals of the machine more effectively than the air gap present in top loaders. Leaving the door slightly open and occasionally running a cycle with just clorine bleach usually keeps this problem away.
We have owned Westinghouse, Maytag-Neptune, and Samsung-VRT front loaders and several top loaders along the way. We usually gave the toppers away. We disliked them that much! That is, except for the ones that had transmission failures. Those went to the recycling yard. Additionally, my family has allergies; soap scum agravates these problems. Top Loaders rince better, in our experience.
"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.
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.
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?
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.
It's interesting to read the complaints about Maytag washers. Twenty years ago, Maytag prided itself on its reputation for engineering quality. Hearing repeated complaints (this isn't the only place I've heard them) makes me wonder what happened. I guess the old Maytag repairman isn't so lonely anymore.
Absolutely they are getting worse and worse. I too have gone from 15 years to a GE Profile top loader that lasted about two years when the drum brake quit. (Family of four and machines run every day.) I replaced it four months ago with the current and same model which happens to now be one that has the "cut off agitator". This thing frequently becomes unbalanced (with not even a lot in it)and walks across the floor because there doesn't seem to be an unbalance sensor to shut it down. So if you want to know what a full size agitator does, one is it keeps the load from bunching up on the side of the drum. Maybe I'm crazy but I'm dreaming of installing a commercial front load washer and dryer like the laundromats have. At least they are not subject to government regulations and I can actually wash with hot water again plus they should last forever.
Again, this is a matter of quality in production, but not a matter of the design concept. Yes, the top loaders are easier to balance, but that is the only advantage to them. They never wash right and rip your clothes to shreds.
As for the hot water being a problem, see if you can get a European model. Most of them have a heating coil, because the washer hookups there typically have cold water only. Alternatively, reverse the hot and cold hose and see if the 'new' set of programs works out better. Last resort is to crank up the hot water boiler (also a design from Yurassic Park, the old world uses the tankless heaters for half a century now, here they are offered as the newest invention).
I am skeptical of the claim "quality in production" versus "design concept".In my original response I mentioned I had problems with the tub bearing, controller circuit board, 3 phase motor controller, wax motor, and front water seal.These are all isolated and unrelated failure items.If there was a single quality in production issue all these parts would not have failed in such a short time.Instead it is an overall quality in production issue based on partly a poor design concept.The front loading, low water use concept is good.But the selected design and materials is part of the manufacturing design concept.Yes I could design a FL to last 1000 years, but would cost $100,000 or more!Final price and manufacturing costs are, and should be part of the detailed design concept.But if we think about it further the FL machines were pushed on us by the government.Government employs lawyers, who think of themselves as engineers, are a large part of the problem.Witness the CAFÉ gas mileage standards, toilet water capacity, non incandescent lights, alcohol fuel, etc.The list is endless where these guys poke their noses.
From time to time I am accused of overreacting, but from my view of reality I think not.Most often we cannot see the government law that is interacting on our decisions and confuse it with our free will in our decision making process.The old idea that "the consumer is king" has been steadily replaced by the idea that "the expert is king".The front loader is a prime example.The hidden incentives are things such as tax rebates that make the item seem less expensive.Arizona, California, and several other states offer "rebates" on top of the Federal rebate for energy/water efficient washing machines.But who actually pays for the rebate, or discounted price?It should be obvious that the correct answer is that other tax payers pay it in the form of higher taxes.
If for example I manufactured Island Al washers with a MSRP of $3000 and my cost was $1000.Then I get congress to offer buyers a $2900 tax credit.Consumers would line up to buy an Island Al just to get the rebate.Their cost is $100!They would get a government check for $29000.I would pocket $3000!Everybody wins!Well almost everybody because the government is then $2900 short on every unit sold. To makeup the shortfall a tax increase will be needed across the board.
In my days of being single, I would often take a shirt out of the hamper and run it through the dryer for a few minutes.Viola, like magic, a clean shirt, provided it did not have left over jelly roll stains on it.It was my decision to do so, and might be considered a zero water washing machine.Can I get a patent on that?
Anyway if you Google "federal laws mandating high efficiency clothes washers" you will get a half million hits on the subject.Not wishing to be accused of being anti-American, a terrorist, or just a plain scumbag, the following link will take you to The Federal Register which contains links to all I have written about here, including the public law.I would urge you to read it then argue the case with them.As I see it, their job is to set the rules and our job is to simply follow them "for the public good".
I think you are a bit overreacting here. I spent a lot of time in Europe and there the upright tub top loaders are nowhere to be found. I can speak from experience that such misdesigned stuff wasn't offered for at least the past 40 years. And that was way before any government cared about energy or water usage.
That said, we had a FL washer that lasted over 20 years and eventually it got too difficult to get parts for it. I recall that we were lucky to find a used small motor that was used for the spinning cycle only. Eventually we got a new washer, which lasted not as long, but still did a great job for 10+ years. And no, neither one cost 100,000$.
The washers of the past had better quality and less fancy stuff that could break. If there were washers that had half a dozen programs and nothing else I'd prefer that. Our current Armana/Samsung has over 20 programs of which we use maybe two or three and that thing even plays music once it is done (Franz Schubert, "The trout"). Yea, it is funny the first time around, but I rather see money and effort spend on quality than useless features like that. Nevertheless, that washer works very well and made it through two challenging moves (basement stairs were just as wide as the washer). While it wasn't the cheapest one in the store, it also wasn't one of these foofoo washers for a thousand bucks. Time will tell how well it holds up, but the days of running the same load three times through the top loader to get it clean are over. And how could the top loader get stuff clean when cycles run for only 20 minutes or so. And I have to buy pants less often since the FL no longer twists them into a rope and tears them apart as the TL does.
If your washer breaks within the first few years it is a matter of production quality and material choice, but not due to the front loader design principle.
After reading dozens (if not more) of posts about front load washers and their issues I finally have been moved to comment.
Like many others I've been wondering about them. The claims for them include reduced water usage, cleaner clothes, and reduced drying times due to lower moisture content. The posts certainly point up the issues of mold/mildew, seal issues, shorter lives, higher maintenance costs.
A few years ago I heard about the Staber washing machine. It's a horizontal shaft machine that's a top loader. I don't own one and have no financial interest in the company. I'm really intrigued and keep thinking of replacing our current machine with one when it dies. They're fairly expensive (their website lists $1300 - $1900 www.staber.com) but they look like they were designed by a washing machine repairman who wanted to make his/her life easy.
I sure wish I could see one in action and better yet try one out.
Anyone else ever seen anything about these products?
The attraction of front loaders is three fold: 1) they get you clothes cleaner, 2) less wear and tear on your cloths ( the agitator in a top loader is a major source of wear on your cloths), and 3) lower water usage. Ours adds two more items, 180°C water to sanitize diapers, and a high speed spin (1600 RPM) to get most of the water out of the cloths to reduce dryer energy usage.
We bought a Miele front loader 15 year ago and have had zero repairs. The only maintenance I have done is clearing out the drain filter twice from stuff my kids left in their pockets. For the first 6 years this machine ran at least one load of diapers every day. We leave the door open to let it dry out between loads.
We are extremely happy with this washer, our cloths are cleaner, we use less soap, our clothes last about twice as long as with our old front loader, and it is very quiet.
There is no good reason for a well designed front loader to be less reliable than a top loader. The mechanism is much simpler; there are fewer moving parts by an order on magnitude. Any problems are due to design decisions made by the manufacturer.
1. All new houses in Australia have plastic plumbing for water. No water hammer and much easier and cheaper for new installations. 2. Front loaders don't clean the clothes nearly as good as top loaders. Their washing-action is not nearly as active, and they take ten times longer to do a wash.
I try and judge a purchase by reviewing the frequency of repair statistics in publications like Consumer Reports.
That said, we've only had two machines, a top loading Whirlpool purchased shortly after we were married in 1972. We purchased it from a friend a year old who moved into an apartment and didn't need it. I did rebuild it once, replaced the belt numerous times, but it worked untill the day that the new front loader was delivered in 2006.
We replaced the top loader with Whirlpool front loader in 2006 and have been relatively happy with its performance. We purchased a machine that was made in Germany. Whirlpool bought the tevhnology by purchasing the German company that developed it, and the company continued to import the machines from Europe untill building a facility in Mexico. Our matching dryer is made in Mexico.
Diferences? I do agree with the previous comments and observations, in addition to these:
The complete wash cycles are much longer than the top loader. I suspect that the complex rinse cycle adds to this. It uses much less water, which isn't an issue with us, we havfe a very strong well, and got good results cold watter washing with the top loader.
I do run extra rinse cycles with the front loader to insure the clothes and machine drum are washed clean.
We use very little high efficiency detergent in the front loader. (The amount of detergent suggested by the detergent manufactures has always been much too much. I suggest that you cut back to see if and when it makes a difference).
The first Maytag that I met was the one on my uncles farm, which originally came with a gas engine since it was prior to the REA, and the farm did not get power until after WW2. The Maytag was quite old by then. BUt they used it until the late sixties, when a more convenient one came out. 35 years of daily use was not to bad, and it still worked well when they sold it.
The durability of a front loader washing machine is critically dependant on the design and construction. My dad bought the Bendix "duo-matic" about 1957, and it worked fairly well for several years, but it was replaced in 1964, due to a variety of electrical problems. A combination washer and dryer is probably a poor choice.
Some front load machines have the water level below the door seal , and work the clothes by tumbling them, while others seem to roll the clothes, working them into one large knot. So there is a major difference there. Any washer that has fast acting valves that cause water hammer is very poorly designed, since the ASCO VALVE people solved the water hammer problem in the early sixties, as I recall from their ads at the time. The best part of the water hammer solution is that it did not add any cost or complexity to the valve, it just made it close much slower. So any machine that still has snap action water valves is very poorly designed indeed. The failure of the electronic controls in a modern washer is the result of either poor design or extreme cost cutting, since there is no reason that an adequate control system should not last at least 15 years, although the "lead free" laws have assured that all solder joints will be less reliable. ROHS has assured that consumer goods will not lastas long as they used to because there will be more failed solder connections.
The well designed front loader machines seem to have an arrangement that avoids the overhung load stresses by having the bearings centered in the rotating tub. It does look a bit strange, but avoiding the overhung load and the "spider" support do make a much more durable mechanism.
A single fast closure of the valve is not the problem. The temperature controller seems to want to pulse the hot water valve at about 4 hertz. WHY? Slowing down the heating pulse demands would go a long way.
I'm not getting rid of the washer, so I'm headed out right now to get a $15 fix for the water hammer.
I've owned 4 washing machines in the last 26 years, In the first fifteen of those years, they were all top loaders. Maytag, Sears, one that escapes memory (the first one). The first two brokedown and were replaced because the replacements were cheaper and faster than the repair costs. The third was on it's last legs as it was begining to fail when I sold the house that it was in and the Washer with it. Then 11 years ago, I bought an Asko (Swiss made front loader.) It was small (the size of a dishwasher) and it took 1:24 for a normal wash load.
The drawbacks were as follows:
You can't use liquid bleach.
A normal wash cycle is just under an hour and a half.
Because it's small, you can't wash a big comforter.
I was expensive at $1400.00
I was able to clean things I couldn't effectively clean with the top loader like sealed pillows.
The water is heated by the machine (and controlable from cold to 180 degrees) so there's only a cold water hookup and more efficient since only the water that's used is heated. (Additionally, the dryer plugs into the washing machine for power, so there's only one 230V power outlet required.)
Uses far less water (significant if you have a septic system.)
Uses far less detergent and cleans far more effectively than the top loader.
Has been moved twice, once across country where it was really banged up on the outside because it wasn't secured properly for the move. Yet it still hasn't required a service call even though it's been used an average of ~1.2 times a day for 11 years.
I was cautioned that if the Asko's require service, that qualified service people and parts are hard to come by. The dryer has required one service call due to a door switch breaking during the move mentioned above. The cost was $120 and there was no problem getting someone qualified.
Whenever either of these machines finally die, I will replace them with Asko machines again.
The Asko story is interesting, but I would submit that quality in terms of long life and the design-for-repairability that can support long life simply isn't factored in the design equation anymore. The old phrase "new user servicable parts inside," which us engineers used to ignore in the vacuum tube days, now really is true. What the heck are you going to fix if your flat-panel TV goes bad? Nothing, because it's all one giant bump soldered mass. You either get a warranty replacement if it's new, or throw it out if it's old. The relatively low buy in cost supports this model. Washers and refrigerators aren't quite there yet, but they're definitely headed in that direction. Betting one year (day) soon, replacement bearings just won't be available.
Do you remember women formerly throwing the clothes agains a rock at the side of the river? Wondering why they did? It's the shock that facilitates removing the dirt. This is, what the Top Loader can't do, but the Front Loader does, as long as it's not overfilled. Falling into water doesn't harm - in opposite to that weird gyrator in the middle of a Top Loader that has less effect besides of damaging the clothes.
Re Front Loaders, my wife and I bought an old second-hand Bendix front loader, (US built) not long after our marriage in" 1970. It was "bulletproof" ...we used it for years without a hitch until the "spin windings" on the motor decided to die. We opted for a new Bendix washer and drier combo. Washer below with drier on top and a slide-out drawer for stacking the folded clothes. Looked great but what a disappointment. No longer made in U.S...came from Italy. Began misbehaving not long after warranty expired. Parts and service costs horrendous. Gave up and bought a "Gorenge Pacific" made in eastern Europe. Worked a treat and at about a third of the price of most other makes...and still going. My observations on front-loaders: they wash better than top loaders, they use less water than T/L's, and they do not cover your clothes in "fluff". (filter should be cleaned frequently). Because of the "cantilever" design of the drum and its support bearings, it is important not to exceed the reccommended load , or you may damage bearings and/or the Spider assembly. The occasional "water hammer" fron the solenoids is the only negative i have encountered. I could NEVER go back to top loaders
Had an upright freezer fail after eleven years recently. The freezer it replaced is still working after more than forty years. The repairman said repairing the freezer would cost about $600, more than a new model. He volunteered the informaion that mcurrent appliances are designed to last about seven years. An economics course I attended stated the high price of appliances was due to the expected life of approximately twenty-five years. Appears that is no longer true, but prices continue to escalate.
While all the comments in favor of (and opposed to) FL washers are probably true - and I'll add that a friend - and also his son - both had Maytag Neptune washers which had problems - in each case, the electronic control circuit board failed. A thryristor was rated marginally - 200V - probably to save a few cents, and failed, more than likely due to line surges or inductive kickback during operation. We replaced the thyristors with some 600 volt units that I had in my lab, and to my knowledge, the machines have been working since.
But the basic design challenge with a FL machine is the cantilever bearing for the drum. Not only is that part subject to fairly high stresses, but the support structure (I assume that's the "spider" that was referred to) is subject to similar stresses, which can (did) lead to cracking. One thing for sure: I wouldn't want to have the drum come totally loose inside there under full spin cycle!
After a nearly trouble-free 19 years, our Kenmore top-loader wore out the ratcheting mechanism that allows the top part of the agitator to turn in only one direction. I went to Sears online parts site, and noticed that the part I needed had been replaced by an "equivalent".
I received the new part, and it works fine for now, but it seems much flimsier than the original: thinner plastic and overall less rugged.
Kudos to Sears for having parts available for a 19 year-old machine, but onions to them for scrimping on the quality. How much does the new design save them? A couple of pennies?
This sounds like one of those products where the parts work fine but the assembly stinks. It's been said that the difference between high-reliability cars from Toyota and Honda, and low-reliability cars from other automakers, is the system, not the parts. North American automakers are notorious for a philosophy of "five perfect parts makes a perfect system." Whereas, Japanese automakers are known for using less-than-perfect components but creating more reliable systems.
My washer faied after 4 years. After taking the washer apart, I found that the spider was not only cracked but was severly corroded (which is why it cracked). The spider is made from cast aluminum and is rivited to the stainless steel tub. My guess is, the spider cracked due to the loss of material from galvanic corrosion. Bad material choice from the designer.
In the early to mid 1950s, WESTINGHOUSE marketed a "front" loader style clothes washer. I know because we had one. The tub was set on an angle of approx. 30º above the horizontal. Of course the door had a positive latch, and a large rubber grommet seal around the periphery. The door also featured a glass panel so one could observe the washing action, AND, it included a rudimentary scale, so the user could weigh the clothes going into the tub.
The outside sheetmetal cabinet rusted away BEFORE the machine failed. Due to the forward-looking design of the house. the washer was located in an outside "utility" room adjacent to the kitchen door access. Although it was heated for the winter months, it also was quite humid during the summer season. Besides the washer, there was an upright freezer, a clothes dryer & the well pump mechanics. all of which contributed to the humid conditions.
This WESTINGHOUSE washer lasted through many years of family & frequent house guests. I was in service for the better part of 15 years w/ virtually NO problems or failures to function.
Old Curmudgeon has described one of the best washer-dryer sets to ever be made, the Westinghouse twins. They would indeed last a very long time, and itis true that much of the time they were replaced because of appearance issues.
IT would be quite interesting to see how they would sell if somebody started making a similar machine with the same robust mechanism today. They would need to modernize the controls, and would definitely have to improve the cabinet life. But they might be the very best again.
What would you pay for a 20 year life washer-dryer set?
When I grew up all we ever had was front loaders. The American style top loaders with the upright tub were absolutely unknown. The old hand cranked washers operated like that and they as well as their current incarnations have a major design flaw: in order to force the clothes through the water some mechanical device has to move the clothes, be it a big paddle or the modern agitator. That wears out the clothes much quicker, is horribly inefficient, and uses a lot of water to work somewhat OK.
The front loaders do all the work through gravity and wash better with less water. There is a compromise, having a top loader with a horizontally spinning tub. My grandmother prefered that design and her washer lasted over twenty years.
In the end it is a matter of quality. In regards to design, the upright tub top loaders just don't wash right. We got one as a gift and were able to leave it behind for a fair price when we left the rental. We bought an Armana front loader, which is a relabeled Samsung. That thing weighs a ton, but it works great and without issues for years now.
I own a Sears Kenmore front load washer. The spiders are made of cast aluminum and they corrode over time. The "Fast" spin cycle works well and really dries out the clothing. Only problem is when the unit spins fast with a corroded spider - SNAP! I was able to buy a drum with spider and bearing attached for about $200. I was able to make the repair myself, but the labor was ridiculous.
We changed our Maytag TL to a Bosch FL to reduce the enormous water usage of the TL.
This was approx. 15 years ago and we have been happy ever since.
I grew up with FL in Europe and I guess that the North American manufacturers, once they hopped on the FL band wagon did not understand the FL machines sufficiently to produce a reliable unit. Regarding the extended washing time the following: My TL always did a load in about 20 minutes but my dryer at the time needed at least 45 minutes to finish that load. In other words the washer always had to wait for the dryer. With the FL machines the washer and the dryer are virtually perfectly matched in processing time and I save energy to boot as the water has been wrung from the clothes before I put them in the dryer.
The water temperature ramp up aids in removing stains instead of setting them and energy is saved once again by heating the water inside the tank instead of letting it cool in my hot water feed lines. (How many homes are actually kitted with insulated hot water feed lines??)
When I have to finally replace my machine I will wait for the North American reliability Engineers to figure out how to manufacture a good FL machine.
Interesting observation Lognerd. So your view is that the problems people have been experience with front loaders is related to North Amercian manufacturers being late to the game. That could explain a lot. What was your experience in Europe regarding reliability of FLs? Good, I would imagine.
Bought a GE FL some years back to save water. That it did. We have a well and then have to pump the water out of the basement sump into the septic. So halving the water usage over a top loader is good for the well and drain field and greatly drops electric costs.
The GE was the quietest washer I have ever not heard.
We did have bearing problems with the GE after quite a few years with two kids in the house. We replaced the tub and bearings once. It was quite a job and parts ran about $500-$600. The drum was belt driven and the motor was controlled by a VFD. I never imagined that concrete could be part of an appliance, but it was used on that washer. I believe what killed it was a suspension spring that fatigued and dropped the tub onto the motor burning it up.
Bought an LG two years ago and it came with a warning not to load it overly full. The design advantage of the LG is that it has direct drive, no belt so no belt load on the drum bearings. It also allows a great deal of control over spin speed. If I load something heavy like a sleeping bag I slow down the spin. The LG uses even less water than the GE, cleans clothes better, especially whites and is reasonably quiet.The cycle time on the LG is much longer than the GE. The LG, because of direct drive can also spin dry clothes much better. So dryer time is greatly reduced. One would surmise that mechanically removing water is more energy efficient than heat drying.
The one problem we had with LG setup is that it is extremely sensitive to the adjustment of the height of the feet. Once adjusted it is smooth as silk, but if the feet are not properly adjusted it will walk all over the room. The adjustment is not difficult. Placing a cup of water on top of it helps in fine tuning this adjustment. This issue was noted on the website where I first investigated it before purchase.This is probably an issue with this machine because of the high speed drip dry cycle.
The amazing thing about the LG is that there is no water visible during the wash cycle. The only time it visibly fills with water is when doing a drum cleaning cycle.
LG provided special hoses to eliminate water hammer.
Given that the GE failed in the bearings and the LG had a warning about not overloading it would seem that drum bearings (a high cost item on the BOM) are an area of compromise with the suspension second. Given the fact that potential for abuse in loading and the shortened warranties may mean that people don't follow directions. I suppose in a price competitive world on an expensive item something has to be compromised. You can't make a good washer if people won't buy it.
Note that bearing failure on the GE was preceded by a clicking sound as the bearing races pitted. Inspection of the bearings after disassembly showed water ingress past the seals. It could have been that the seals failed first or the bearings could have failed allowing the shaft wobble to exceed the capability of the seals. We'll never know.
A large part of the cost of repair on the GE was due to the fact that to change bearings the tub and some other integrated parts had to be changed. It was not made for servicing like a commercial washer might be.
I bought a Maytag Neptune washer and dryer back when they were fairly brand new. It was an article in Design News or Machine Design that prompted me to agree to the extra expense when our top loader quit... I was fairly impressed with the design. We do pay for our water here in California, but that was less a deciding factor than the fact that it was gentler on clothes, quiet and did a heck of a good job cleaning our clothes.
The washer bearing set went out, and I was surpised to discover that the bearings were not replaceable... You had to buy the entire drum/spider set, and it was a lot of money. There is a guy that makes a tool to replace the bearings that you can rent, but the hassle and down time was a huge bummer for my wife, so I decided not to fix it.
When Whirlpool bought Maytag, they replaced the Maytag designed Neptune with a Samsung washer and dryer and just re-badged them... I worked for Samsung, and had reviewed their washer design once, and was impressed with the commitment to quality the design team had. Samsung makes decent products all around, and many are genuinely world class or even best in the world... (I designed hard drives for them for almost 16 years, I left when Samsung decided to get out of that business...) Samsung is completely committed to quality, as they have seen that making anything less than the best quality is a money loser long term... (I wish more American companies had realized that fact... We'd have a lot more companies still in busiiness...)
We replaced the washer and dryer with a Samsung steam washer and dryer, and my wife is totally thrilled with them so far... She loves the steam feature on the dryer... We did look at the Lucky Goldstar sets as well, but I have a pretty deeply ingrained dislike of that company that goes way back... Of course, Lucky Goldstar and Samsung used to be very similar; they made crappy products but they were at least 20% cheaper than their competitors... (That was the official company strategy for Samsung anyway...) They changed philosophies in the mid 90's to make high quality products. Lucky Goldstar had such a bad reputation that they came up with "Life's Good" as their slogan, and most people don't even know that it is the same company that used to make stuff labeled "Goldstar" Some might remember Goldstar TV's... They were the ones filled with snow at the end of the display at KMart... Brand new they looked like a totally crappy product... And they were.
We've had the Samsung's for a year and a half so far, and they work perfectly so far... Time will tell, but I have the expectation that they will last at least 10 years. If we set the spin speed to "Very High", the clothes almost don't need to be dried... They are slightly damp at most... And even on "Very High", the washer is so quiet that you can't hear it spin up in the next room... The music it plays when it's done is at least twice as loud, and it's not loud at all.
Samsung's failure analysis and quality teams would quickly reject a design that failed prematurely, and in that company they have much more clout than the design engineers... (And both have more clout than the accountants as far as that goes... Another thing I can't stand about American companies sometimes) They truly do try to design products that are as good as they can be. Maybe they are not always succesfull, but I know they try...
Both the Maytag and the Samsung have the possibility of developing mold. No big deal; when we take the clothes out we close the door but don't push it all the way latched... My 15 year old Maytag had no mold, and we probably ran 12 or so loads a week... Another bonus is the comforter for our California King bed can be washed in the washer now, so a once a month trip to the dry cleaners is a thing of the past... (We have two pugs, and the boy likes to get muddy and run upstairs and sleep it off on our bed...)
By the way, my opinion of Whirlpool almost rivals that of Lucky Goldstar... I generally don't buy their products, no matter what brand is on the box. Amana, Maytag (With the exception of Samsung designed stuff :-) ), Kenmore... The exceptions are the occasional Jenn-Air products and some Kitchenaid appliances like mixers... I hope that eventually they get their heads out of their butts, or we might lose all our appliance manufacturing just like we did our TV's and radio's...
And think about it a minute... How can a manufacturer make a refrigerator on the other side of the planet, with a labor force that costs essentially the same as an American labor force, ship it to the other side of the planet and compete with success? By not making crap when their competition does make crap, that's how!
In my opinion there is no panacea to the problem of foul odours from front load washers.
I have seen posts where it was stated to have been traced to the discharge pipe pushed to far down the drain pipe allowing water to siphon back into the machine. Most machines I know of have a non-return valve to prevent this, and prevent any water in the pipe draining back into the machine. These, even if fitted, may have been defective.
I have seen posts where the smell has been stated to be traced to small items of clothing, baby clothes, sock, ladies flimsies etc. that have got stuck 'somewhere in the works' and are cheerfully rotting away.
Use of excess detergent and/or fabric softener very often coupled with use of other than HOT water. This allows build-ups of these laundry aids to form and then start turning foul. HOT water alone will sometimes get rid of these build-ups. Sometimes the assistance cleaners such as 'Affresh' will help, sometimes not.
In my opinion there are two, normally overlooked, sources of these fouls odours: -
1.The recesses in the hubs of the spiders fitted to many of these machines will retain water even after the fastest spin. This 'water' will contain, inter alia, unused laundry aids (detergent, bleach, fabric softener etc), soil, the products of the interactions between the laundry aids and the soil, the products of the interactions between the laundry aids and the chemicals in the 'tap' water, and 'unused' chemicals in the 'tap' water. When left over time the water will turn foul smelling. A photograph of such a build-up can be seen at: -
2.The products of corrosion on the spiders retain small quantities of water after the final spin giving the same result as above.
Many posts on many sites claim that the corrosion of the spiders is due to galvanic action. I do not agree, I believe it is primarily chemical corrosion. Should the corrosion have been galvanic between the stainless steel drum and the aluminium spider the majority of the corrosion would have been at the junction of the two metals i.e. at the ends of the arms. I have seen no photographs of spiders corroded in such a manner, nor read of any similar descriptions.
Aluminium, and its alloys are corroded when immersed in an aqueous solution with a pH value above about 8.0 or below about 4.0 (nitric acid is a well known exception). All detergents have to be above about 8.0 or they would not work. The Material Safety Data Sheets put out by Proctor and Gamble state that the pH for one of the liquid 'Tides' is 8.0 and for one of the 'Tide' powdered detergents as 11.0. Bleach, (sodium hypochlorite) is also very corrosive to aluminium. I should add that for corrosion of the spider to take place these levels are considerably above the levels found in a washing machine during the wash/rinse phases of the cycle.
Sodium carbonate (washing soda) and sodium percarbonate found in some laundry aids (Affresh and Oxi-Clean [powder]) are also corrosive to aluminium and its alloys, as is borax, provided the required concentrations are reached.
I believe the mechanics of the corrosion are as follows. Even after the fastest spin small quantities of water will remain on the shaft and towards the centre of the spider. Any recesses in the spider close to the centre will aggravate this situation. This water will contain 'contaminants' as detailed above. Should sufficient of these 'contaminants' be present the pH of the mixture can, as evaporation takes place, rise to a level where corrosion will take place.
The only front load washers readily available in North America that I am aware of that do not have recesses close to the centre are Miele and Speed Queen. However there are numerous complaints on the internet about foul odours from these machines, in their favour is the fact that spider failures are virtually impossible to find.
There are many posts on the internet containing complaints about failed bearings in these machines, with some makers' efforts appearing more frequently than others. Undoubtedly the percentage of units sold, in the overall marketplace, by a particular manufacturer will have some influence in this regard.
SKF put out a useful booklet on the subject. This can be viewed at: -
I will reference this document several times during this discussion.
The first cause could be a defective bearing received from the manufacturer. Very rare nowadays but it can still occur.
Next the bearing could have 'just worn out'; they do not have an infinite life in spite of what some people think, and SKF do discuss this in the above booklet.
In the case of front load washer bearings unfortunately most of the failed bearings have, in my opinion, so much damage, both mechanical and corrosion, that it is impossible to determine the cause, as per SKF, or even which failed first the bearings or the seal.
Lack of lubrication, again possible, and again, discussed by SKF. Remember there are no facilities provided to introduce more lubrication to these bearings. I do not believe that on its own it is a likely cause. Similar bearings run in some applications much longer without renewing or replenishing the lubricant.
Incorrect grade of bearing used? I do not believe so; remember the 'grade' of a bearing only refers to the dimensional limits the bearing is manufactured to not its suitability for the environment it is operating in.
Brinelling or 'false brinelling' as SKF call it(page 12 of the booklet). I believe highly possible, I would however expect it to occur within the first two to three years of the life of the machine. The bearings removed from two machines I have worked on were marked 'China', additionally many posters on the internet have made a similar observation. This means that in all likelihood these bearings were transported by sea, air cargo is very expensive by comparison, and as SKF note ships auxiliary machinery, is highly susceptible to this type of damage. What about boxes of bearings being transported, in my view they are just as susceptible to brinelling. I further understand that it is now being encountered in the wheel bearings of vehicles manufactured overseas.
Damaged during fitting, again discussed by SKF. I believe possible but not very likely. My reasoning being that should there be a general fault in the assembly process there would be many more failures than there actually are.
I now come to two reasons that I do not believe were adequately addressed during the design and development phases of these machines.
First the material and geometric design of they spider: These spiders are die cast from aluminium alloys. Aluminium and its alloys can be corroded by most laundry aids should the required concentrations be reached. For how I reason this please see above.
The product of this corrosion is aluminium oxide (Al2O3), the same material that provides the 'grit' in sand-paper. Aluminium oxide has very low solubility in water this means that any products of corrosion not adhering to the parent metal or dissolved into solution will be carried about in the 'water' of the washer making a very effective lapping compound. In my opinion the soft lips of the shaft seal stand very little chance against such an effective abrasive. Many posters on the internet who complain of failed bearings also note the corrosion of the spider, could the two be linked?
Perhaps those who claim the seal always fails first are not so incorrect after all?
Many of these spiders have recesses close to the hub, these, in my opinion, provide excellent pockets for corrosion to occur.
Secondly the adequacy of the bearings for the job they are doing.
I do not believe they are adequate. When we purchased our first front loader (May 2001) I wondered how 'they' had solved the 'bearing problem' with no 'front end' steady bearing.In 2008 when I pulled it apart because of bearing failure I found out, to my mind at least, that 'they' had not.
I have seen a couple of posts where the writers have claimed that the bearings are adequate because they are of the same size as is fitted to some small cars and that the small cars are heavier than a load of laundry, or words to that effect. I will not argue that even a small car is heavier than a 'load' of domestic laundry but the rest of the reasoning I believe is totally flawed.
Under ideal circumstances the load on a bearing, of the type we are considering, would be exactly normal to the axis of rotation and evenly distributed around the outside centre of the outer race. I cannot think of a case where this actually occurs.
In the case of a car wheel, and the washers, there are two bearings, in the case of the car the outer bearing takes most of the load and in the case of the washer the bearing closet to the inner drum takes the greater portion. In actuality they also act as fulcrums.
Now for the car from the centre of the races to the point where the wheel attaches is I would guess about 4 inches maximum. From its point of attachment most of the wheel (unless very wide tyres are used) goes 'back over' the bearing housing. This reduces the cantilever effect to the minimum reasonably possible with modern engineering techniques and capabilities, my perception anyway. For the drum, from the washer featured above, from the centre if the inner bearing to the effective rear of the drum is approximately 3.5 inches, almost the same as my guess for the car. The effective depth of the drum is 11.0 inches: taking the midpoint of the drum as the effective centre of the load (I know it will sometimes be greater sometimes less) this at least doubles the cantilever effect on the bearing and should the centre of the load move closer to the door of the washer it will become worse.
Now the point that I believe has not received sufficient attention. In the case of the car wheel, the wheel is 'balanced', (the little lead weights on the rim). Has anyone ever ridden in a vehicle where the wheels have become 'unbalanced' and noted how much 'rougher' the ride is? This places an excessive load on the bearings. Have the same people noted how little in the way of 'balance weights' are required to correct the situation? Very rarely will the 'load' in the washer be 'balanced' and this 'out of balance' load placed on the bearings, I believe, is quite substantial and sufficient, should it be sustained for any great length of time, to damage the bearings.
Then there is the load placed on the bearings by the gyroscopic effect both in the example of the car and in the washer for both 'balanced' and 'unbalanced' conditions but I think that should be the subject of an epistle on its own.
Further to my post of 16 February 2012 (below) I have now, somewhat belatedly, read the judge's ruling for a proposed Class Action lawsuit against Whirlpool in Ontario, Canada. This ruling can be seen at:
The judge refused to allow the case to proceed as a Class Action suite and her reasons are detailed in the above link.
What is of great interest to me are some of the points of technical, as opposed to legal, evidence put forward, primarily by Whirlpool. (The page and item numbers following are from the judge's 'REASONS FOR DECISION' at the link above). The italics are mine.
Page 8,  metallurgy of the crosspieces (spiders) changed and the ribs (stiffening pieces, originally fitted inside and providing 'water' retaining recesses at the rear of the outer drum) moved to the outside of the tub.
Pages 9 & 10 Tables of the 'advances' made with the various models.
Page 14  Dr. Wilson, an expert witness for the plaintiffs, is of the opinion that by 2008 adequate design changes to address the biofilm problem had been taken.
Page 17  Whirlpool began selling Affresh in September 2007.
Page 19  There are no confirmed report of biofilm-related intergranular corrosion in any Access-platform washer that was built after the 2005 design change, nor any reports of intergranular corrosion of any Horizon or Sierra washer. (sic) Other forms of corrosion get a passing mention elsewhere. It is my opinion that at least some of this corrosion is 'pitting corrosion' or 'micro-galvanic corrosion' as one authority on the subject has called it.
This raises some very interesting, to me at least, points.
Should Whirlpool's claims be accurate it will mean that they have greatly reduced the likelihood of foul odours and spider corrosion. This could be a major selling point for them and their Kenmore 'cousins'.
I do not know if any other manufacturers' have taken similar steps. So far I have seen no evidence that they have. At this point I have to admit that I have never seen a Samsung spider or the inside of a Samsung outer tub, either in 'life' or by photograph. I have however seen some of the spiders fitted to Duet Sports' and Kenmore He2's which, in my view, are of an 'improved' design in that there appear to be no recesses close to the hub where water and it contaminants cannot drain away. With respect to the other Whirlpool models only time will tell.
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