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Discussion: Washers > Least repair prone front loader
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Energy star top loaders are a great way to go for those customers that do not want to spend the money for an HE top load or a front loader.  The new HE top loaders are just as efficient as a front loader.  Every energy star washer is rated on a tiering by how much water and energy they use.  Tier 3 rated is the most efficient washer you can buy, Tier 2 uses more water and energy and Tier 1 is still saving water and energy but not as efficient.   Good, tier 1, Better, tier 2, Best, tier 3.  Most front loaders are tier 2 or tier 3 rated.  Energy star top loaders like the GE WPRE6150, Whirlpool WTW57ES, Maytag MVWC6ES, Whirlpool Cabrio WTW6200 are models that would be either tier 1 or tier 2.  HE top loaders like the Whirlpool Cabrio WTW6500 and Maytag MVWB400 are tier 3 rated which means they are just as efficient as a front loader.  At our Lowes store we are selling more and more HE top loaders because customers are not wanting to spend the money for pedestals and are worried about mold and vibration.  You can install HE top loaders anywhere in a house and not have to worry about vibration and mold.  Whirlpool and Samsung are both very good with their vibration systems in their front loaders.  I have a Maytag front loader, built by Whirlpool, on my 4th floor apartment and have no problems at all with vibration.  We are seeing more and more energy star top loaders and HE top loaders added to the floor and planogram over front loads right now so that is saying something has to be good about them.

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<<<<We are seeing more and more energy star top loaders and HE top loaders added to the floor and planogram over front loads right now so that is saying something has to be good about them.>>>>

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Not necessarily.

Higher sales numbers will result in a larger chorus of  *will not clean* complaints that cannot be resolved through correct detergent or proper amounts.

Especially from consumers that *actually* have dirty laundry such as kids sports uniforms or the husband that is a welder or a construction worker.

Consumers that wash  *lightly soiled*  fabrics ( business clothes worn in an office environment-for example) will be more likely satisfied with a top load agitatorless washer.

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It all depends on what a consumer is washing and how dirty the clothes are yes.  I have had customers buy them and be 100% happy with the cleaning performance and some that are not happy but that happens with everything I think.  Our society loves to think that we never do anything wrong and that is seen with the case about using to much detergent and having mold issues.  Every front loader can have mold issues if they are not used properly and maintained.  It is very easy to blame the company that made it because the consumer used to much of this or did that.  I hear more positive things about HE top loaders these days than I did when they first came out of course.  They always get great cleaning results from CR so hopefully that is fixed. 
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"Front load washer naysayers will always exist..Recently we've just celebrated the 40th anniversary of the man-to-the-moon...Yet-----there's still some that claim the mission to the moon was an elaborate hoax----and they're entitled to that opinion."

"You have always been IMO a believer in internet myths"

"Disregard the fear mongerers who are posting on here"

I find it interesting that anyone who tries to rationally point out the numerous issues with consumer-level front load washer design and build quality is likened to those with childish or ignorant belief systems.  This seems to be a popular debating tactic these days.  It's kind of hard to believe anyone seriously thinks it will work. There's a heck of a lot of difference between the carefully prepped space vehicles assembled in clean rooms forty years ago and today's mass production, consumer-grade front-load washer built in a sweatshop.  

This comparison is particularly striking when one realizes that no one here who has bought one of these overpriced uber-washers seems to have actually had one last for a decade without repairs.  Is it myth - or reality?  

I have asked many experienced service techs (both "authorized" and "independent") what washer they own and use.  The ones I talk to all own inexpensive, old-fashioned, knob-control, top-load washers.  Like the import sports car mechanics who all drive old pickups, the appliance repair techs I meet all seem to think that electronic high-speed washers break down far too often for use in their own household.  Even the Speed Queen tech told me he uses one of their conventional top load models - "they don't need service as much as the front-loads".  And that from a guy who services heavy-duty, commercial-grade washers.  Huh.    

I don't try to disparage those who deny that there are any major problems with the service life and repair frequency of complex, electronically-controlled, consumer-grade front-load washers, as compared to their simpler conventional top load competition.   But it's not a two-way street.  Seems like when arguments get technical, some people revert to cheap shots rather than honest debate.

I've done explaining that when you go through washers every 4-5 years, with intervening repair bills or extended warranty costs, you probably aren't saving much money, no matter how efficient the machine.  The washer repair and delivery trucks coming to my neighborhood don't park in front of my house, but they sure visit the homes of my front-load washer-owning neighbors on a routine basis.

Those of you who are given to extolling the exotic design and exquisite craftsmanship of your foreign-made washer or other large appliance may be disappointed to learn that most of them are assembled in maquiladoras these days.                   

Since we are all using personal anecdotes now, I will feel free to join in by noting that no one in my neighborhood has ever had a front-load washer last 10 years without repairs, and this includes some really expensive machines.  When or if one does, it will have matched the record of my inexpensive Kenmore (Whirlpool) top-load DD washer and electric dryer.  Then the question will STILL be - can that front-load washer be quickly repaired and put back into service for several more years for the same or lesser cost as the old design?  Good flippin' luck.  

 

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The fact that appliance maufacturers other than Whirlpool / Haier / GE  and F&P  have not introduced a top load agitatorless washer of their own is compelling.

In today's market--if a newfangled appliance product or feature is brought out and becomes a sales hit--competitors are quick to introduce a version of the same thing.

When SOIL SENSORS (also known as turbidity sensors) were introduced to dishwashers as a means of shortening the wash cycle if the drain water becomes clear earlier than usual during the cycle---this was a success.

Water & energy waste is reduced. Soon nearly all manufacturers had to have it in their product.

 

LG Electronics

Bosch

Samsung

Miele

Frigidaire

Speed Queen

...and a host of others clearly have NOT seen top load agitatorless washers as viable. If the design was truly as good as advertised--this type of washer would be on the market in a "New York Minute" in huge numbers from many different brands with depth of models & options similar to front load washers today.

 

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You will see more HE top loads by other companies.  LG actually makes the GE profile HE top loader WPGT9150HWW so I bet any day now LG will come out with a verison of their own. 
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<<<<I have asked many service techs (both "authorized" and "independent") what washer they own and use.  The ones I talk to all own inexpensive, old-fashioned, knob-control, top-load washers.  Like the import sports car mechanics who all drive old pickups>>>>

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These guys are not degreed engineers or lawyers ya know ?

It's likely the only type of appliance or truck that they can *afford*.

As much as it pains me to disparage my own profession--but only about 1-in-1000 of these "technicians" are truly capable / competent servicers. Sadly.

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"These guys are not degreed engineers or lawyers ya know ?

It's likely the only type of appliance or truck that they can *afford*.

As much as it pains me to disparage my own profession--but only about 1-in-1000 of these "technicians" are truly capable / competent servicers. Sadly."

I didn't say I spoke to the incompetent ones.  Nor did I say that I was speculating on the reason why they told me they preferred conventional top-load washers - they told me.  They prefer the older, proven designs because they don't break down as often.  The older washer design works, and they don't feel like fixing their own machines when they're off the clock.  

Nobody turned out his pockets and pled poverty.  None of them expressed admiration or envy towards those 'lucky' front-load owners whose machines they had come to service for the second or third time.  

Since the techs I spoke to were on the job to service the complex high-speed washers owned by my neighbors, or the local hospital, I can only put these questions to techs whose work was either acceptable or at least completed under the factory authorized warranty coverage, not those who are being chased to the door by the outraged owner.  And it seems like a lot of them get offered nice deals on front-load washers and returns - with no takers. 

This emphasizes my point.  If you're right, and most of the appliance techs currently out there (including the "authorized factory service" people - since they also get HUGE numbers of complaints - Sears, A&E, etc.) are incompetent, why in the world would you buy a complicated, electronically controlled washer built of expensive parts that only a select few could possibly repair to the owner's satisfaction?  Just about anybody with mechanical skills can repair a knob-dial top-load washer. 

 

 

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Sally_Johnson:  "there are any major problems with the service life and repair frequency of complex, electronically-controlled, consumer-grade front-load washers, as compared to their simpler conventional top load competition."
 
The problem that I have with the statement above is the conflation between -- on the one hand -- "complex, electronically-controlled" vs. "simpler conventional" and -- on the other hand -- front-load vs. top-load washers.

You imply that the reason relates to a change in the method of production, alluding to:  "...
today's mass production, consumer-grade front-load washer built in a sweatshop."  But the top-loading washers built today are built in factories with the same working conditions, using the same manufacturing technologies, as the front-loading washers built today. 

In short, you appear to be discussing two or three different subjects, and you have conflated them. 
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I was at a loss for the definition of *conflation* :)

So I looked it up:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conflation

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John_Shipkowski:  "I looked it up:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conflation"

That'll work.

One wonders how a modern "consumer-level" front-load washer built in a "mass production" facility and featuring only "simpler convertional" technology would compare in reliability to a "complex, electronically-controlled" top-load washer that was built in a modern "sweatshop." 

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"The problem that I have with the statement above is the conflation between -- on the one hand -- "complex, electronically-controlled" vs. "simpler conventional" and -- on the other hand -- front-load vs. top-load washers.

You imply that the reason relates to a change in the method of production, alluding to:  "... today's mass production, consumer-grade front-load washer built in a sweatshop."  But the top-loading washers built today are built in factories with the same working conditions, using the same manufacturing technologies, as the front-loading washers built today. 

In short, you appear to be discussing two or three different subjects, and you have conflated them."
 

Actually, the subjects are interrelated, not 'conflated'.  But it's true that you do have to follow the discussion from the beginning to see the context for the terms being used.  I'll proceed from the assumption you have a genuine 'problem' in understanding, and aren't just engaged in verbal fencing.  

Modern front-load "high spin" washers, top- or front-load, are by nature and actual practice all electronically-controlled.  With their numerous electronic components and modules, they are also more complex than conventional, dial-knob (electro-mechanical) top-load washers.  They are more difficult to repair, yet they need more repairs, more often.  You might have noticed that I have been using the term 'high-spin' to cover all of the newer electronically-controlled top and front-load consumer washers that always use considerably higher spin speeds (+950 rpm), and "conventional" to describe the older rotary-knob, electro-mechanical, top-load designs. 

It's true that some conventional top load washers have electronic controls and displays, but as they've been well known for years to have higher breakdown rates and repair costs than electro-mechanical machines, I exclude them from the discussion.  They work no better and break more frequently, and have never been that popular.    

Since most people discussing newer high-spin, high-efficiency washers are interested in front-load machines, that's typically the term most people use in these discussions.  It probably doesn't matter too much, as the same service life and repair frequency problems are encountered  with the top-load version of the high-spin washer, with the possible exception of the bearing wear issue (with a front load design, the propeller shaft and its bearings must support a bouncing 40-50 lb. wash drum mounted at one end.)         

I never meant to imply that the reason new high-spin washers fail is merely because of their manner or location of assembly.  Had you read more of my posts I am certain you could not have gotten that impression. 

I did address the subject of where these new uber-washers are built in order to correct the effusive and misleading impression frequently given by some adherents that the new foreign-made models are assembled by degreed technicians in some kind of ultra-modern clean room.  They are actually built in maquiladoras.  A core group of trained workers, augmented by as-needed temporary pool labor - ten or twelve-hour days, six days a week.  Even Bosch uses this method to cut costs.  The Korean manufacturers are especially active in this area.        

Yes, conventional 'old-style' top-load washers are now being built in those maquiladora factories too.  Not all of them.  More conventional machines are still built in the USA than the newer high-speed front and top-load washers, though the percentage is rapidly shifting as government mandates effectively force the older designs out of production (and put the remaining U.S. work force out on the street). 

How could this be?  In short, the government's steamroller approach to mandating energy efficiency standards has caused most remaining U.S. appliance manufacturers to abandon attempts to improve conventional top-load washer design and to sell off or transfer paid-for tooling in existing factories.  Instead, they have ACCELERATED the move to ship washer production outside the U.S.A.  Many have essentially given up on designing new machines themselves, instead buying rebranded versions of foreign-brand washers.  Back in 2005, both WHIRLPOOL and GE warned the government that this would happen. 

This is not to say that certain assembly issues that do not normally affect a simpler, conventional top-load washer with electro-mechanical controls could not become a real problem when it comes assembling a more complex machine that requires extra care on the line (such as routing all that extra wiring to modules, control panels, and sensors).  And CR sure isn't taking these washers apart to show you what's going on.   

HTH, Sally.     

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Ms. Sally --

Although I certainly have not happened to have had the great satisfaction / pleasure to enjoy all of your 'posts' on these issues - this most recent one IS entirely "on-spot!"

I spent my adult working years in a very wide assortment of national manufacturing organizations & as a registered P.E & now-retired senior Mechanical Engineer - I 'DID' experience exactly the phenomena you describe thru out my jobs!

As each & every single federal mandate from our O.S.H.A. / E.P.A. came along - - - the Immediate response for the Makers was to simply "fold up" our factories / create a "joint venture overseas" / transfer / close down!

After retirement , we did / have traveled very extensively ... took particular interest in finding / looking at EXACTLY those very same facilities now throughout Asia, etc..!

Whether an automobile, washer, HDTV, steel factory, fabric mill or {B & S} gasoline lawn mower engine, .... our government has been the direct cause in the elimination of essentially 100% of the former manufacturing might as well as the associated engineering R & D of the U.S.A..

everett

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The union-labor pay scale & medical plans played NO role in the decisions to fold shop?

Auto workers staying at home from shuttered plants still received up to 95% of their paychecks and THIS is less an impact than OSHA / EPA regulations? Being paid while at home (laid-off) doesn't affect a company's ability to remain competitive in a global marketplace?

I do agree that government regulations have long been a burden to businesses & individuals--but that alone is not the cause of the migration of manufacturing to other countries.

 

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Hi John ...

For each & every Union Contract - {obviously excluding those pathetic U.A.W. versions accepted by the former Detroit 3} - there were "offsets" possible thru various & sundry changes in all technical processes - OR - complete 'steps' within any manufacturing loop were engineered out!

Redesigns / eliminating product losses and /or man hours were what kept us busy!

However, the July '70 cloud presented by E.P.A. as well as the Dec. '70 roadblocks of the O.S.H.A. presented such drastic obstacles that in many, many cases there were zero alternatives other than to "ship" that process / procedure in it's entirety to places on the Planet having no such hinderances wherever!

Back in that ERA, these completely-obscene union provisions of which you mentioned had NOT come-to-pass!

BUT . . . we digress! This IS not to get into "politics" + the last ~ 40 years ... rather, the "better" unit to consider buying now with which to wash our clothes!

I'll "return" to my recommendation of that Maytag st. steel Upright @ Home Depot!

everett

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I'll pit one Speed Queen conventional $600 top-load washer made in Ripon, Wisconsin U.S.A. and further stipulate it must outlast FIVE more expensive Samsung or LG washers built in south-of-the-border maquiladoras.  I'd win.   

Still waiting for anyone to tell me they've owned a consumer-level front-load washer that's worked flawlessly for 10 years without any repairs.  The silence is deafening - and telling. 

  

Edited 7/30/09   by  Sally_Johnson
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The lack of responses (or noise for that matter) is due to the fact that Samsung & LG washers are not yet 10 years old in the North American market.

You'll need to wait another 2-3 years.

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Well, I hope my Samsung breaks the 10 year record (crossing fingers).  My set is over 1 year old and are working great.

Side question though....any self maintenance I should be doing on the units other than keeping the tub cleaned, running a Affresh each month, cleaning out the lint filter on the dryer?  Wondering if I should pull the stacked units out (Samsung 328 series) and check hoses and clean out the dryer exhaust lines.