Whirlpool Duet Steam Washer/dryer - water level issues

ciao4nowFebruary 16, 2008


We were so excited to purchase our new FL whirlpool, yet when we used the washer, we saw no water in the tub - it basically just wets the clothing and spins. We don't hear water sloshing in the drum either. We found the specs on the whirlpool site that say the water level during the wash cycle should cover all but a 1/2 inch of a baffle when set at the 6 o'clock position in the bottom of the washer. (This test is with no clothing in the washer.) Our water level was a shallow 8 in long puddle lying in the back of the drum - it does't even cover the bottom.

One technician showed up and agreed that the water level was too low and was ready to order a new pressure sensor, (he had removed the pressure sensor and it filled to the right amount) but the retailer agreed to replace the unit instead. The second washer, same deal. A second (different) tech came, and this time he ran tests, and was unfamiliar with the water level spec on the site -he scratched his head, called Whirlpool, and we called as well, and they basically admitted there have been no specs published on the new model regarding the proper amount of water that should be in the washer during the cycle. The spec on the website was for the older non-steam model, and their specs for the steam model state that the clothes wash in a "puddle " of water.

I have piles of laundry now, and don't know if I should just give up and buy a different brand. I was wondering if anyone else had dealt with this issue at all?

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Hi ciao4now,

That was my sense as well when i first used the new duet steamer, and i'm still not sure about the water level though i think my clothes are getting clean. I'm curious about the pressure sensor. I plan to investigate this.

Anyway, i'll let others posting their findings.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2008 at 12:00PM
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So is the washer using some of the water that would otherwise be in the tub to generate steam?

What happens if you don't select a steam cycle? How much water is in the tub?

    Bookmark   February 17, 2008 at 12:33AM
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I haven't actually tried the steam function yet, so that shouldn't be affecting the water level yet. The manual says that steam is for those tough organic stains, and since I'm experimenting with all kinds of loads and cycles today, I'll report back. The Normal or Casual load which I tried for my dish towels - mediocre result. The light stains didn't really come out - I re-did the load, adding water in the wash cycle manually, and the stains were definitely lighter. I should probably try the steam cycle.
We don't have kids, and our clothes aren't all THAT dirty, so it's tougher to monitor. Does anyone with the newer whirlpool duet feel like the clothes are clean??? My friend loves her older model, but it does fill to the right level when she tested hers...

    Bookmark   February 17, 2008 at 1:19PM
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It seems as if my clothes are clean. However, i am comparing this machine to my previous washer that i thought washed poorly.

Have you noticed the water level when washing on the delicate cycle? This is the level or higher that i am used to seeing in a front loader.

In any case, i'm more concerned about the possibility of mildew/mold due to the low level of water than the water level itself, even though i am properly maintaining the washer in the hopes of preventing it.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2008 at 2:43PM
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I'm confused by the uncertainty about whether clothes are clean. How do you all judge that?

We visited some friends this weekend who gave us a tour of their new house. It was lovely and looked like something from the TV show "Extreme Home Makeover". They have a Duet 9400 pair, selected because the husband is in a wheelchair. When I told them that was the washer and dryer we had selected, the wife asked me "how does it clean clothes without an agitator and tub full of water?" I tried to explain tumbling, etc. but wasn't very convincing. Maybe we should just look forward to the day when clothes will come out of a replicator, clean and new every time you want to wear them, as on "Star Trek's" good ship Enterprise.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2008 at 4:30PM
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For me clothes are clean when:

Bright colors: body soil like ring around the collar is removed.

Medium colors: I walk around in my stocking feet on hardwood floors....it's clean when that soil is removed from my socks.

Whites: Clean when all of my white underwear and white socks are free from soil.

Darks: Any dirty white stuff on them?...good they're clean.

Stains: Stains are removed.

Cat hair, dog hair, horse hair, pillow feathers, lint: These are removed by me before the item is placed into the machine.

Clothes are rinsed when the second rinse water is pumped out and it is almost clear. I figure the last rinse along with fabric softener will take care of the rest.

I use the smallest amount of detergent that will clean the amount of soil contained in that particular load.

Whether or not you can see the water in today's FL doesn't seem to stop them from cleaning, but I think it may impact how well they can rinse.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2008 at 7:55PM
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ciao4now and others,
I saw your posting about the low water level on the Whirlpool Duet Steam Washer. I also noticed the low water level (our machine was installed January 2008), and like you, I checked the Whirlpool website. For the test, our baffle is 2 ¼ inches above the water line instead of the specification of ½ inch. I talked to Whirlpool customer service to see if they had a different test from the website one, and she confirmed that this is the correct test and arranged for service. A&E service (WhirlpoolÂs warranty service in our area) personnel have been to our house several time, often different technicians. All technicians (at least 3) say that the water level is too low. All their electronic testing shows no problem. One replaced the unit that regulates the water level (no change). He never tried the machine without a sensor, like I think your service rep did. Then they tried another computer unit (no change). One service person did a 3-way phone conversation with A&E consultant and with Whirlpool technician. At first the Whirlpool technician said that the ½ inch test was "generic" until A&E technician pointed out that it was listed as the test for the 9600 Duet steam. Whirlpool said that they would investigate and get back to A&E in about a week. Then supposedly the Whirlpool engineer went on vacation. It has been about a month. I did go to a retail store (Maytage Store) which has machines hooked up to water. I did the test on the Whirlpool 9600 Duet Steam washer and there was 1 ¾ inch of the baffle above water for the "test." So the specs say ½ inch, demo in retail store is 1 ¾ inch, and ours is 2 1/4 inches. Do you have any new developments or insights? Thanks.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2008 at 1:58PM
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I had the first cousin of the Duet - the HE5t-Steam. Never measured the water in the bottom, but it was just as your seeing. The clothing was wet, and not much more than a small puddle towards the back of the drum.

My current Miele is pretty much the same, but since the drum is less tilted the puddle isn't just at the bottom-back of the drum.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2008 at 5:56PM
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Has anyone had success with increasing the water level of the washer? I thought i has seen the below link posted some time back.

Has anyone tried it and been successful, or know of other reconfigurations (hacks)?

Here is a link that might be useful: Dueling with the Duet Whirlpool Front-Loading Washer

    Bookmark   May 4, 2008 at 11:53AM
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You are all overlooking the fact that these HE frontloaders are designed, engineered, and intended to run with a minimal amount of water. Many consumers are comparing these machines to their old toploaders, and to frontloaders of years past that filled 1/3 to 1/2 up the door ... and not understanding that frontloaders nowadays simply DON'T work that way. The washing action comes from saturated (meaning the clothes are dripping wet, but not floating in water) garments slapping against the rotating drum. Every successive model has been getting a better energy rating. How do you suppose that happens? By reducing the water level yet again, and increasing the spin speed to facilitate faster drying. Appliance manufacturers are not known for updating their web site info very frequently. Info regarding submersion depth of the drum baffles is likely old data that has already been changed. Even the customer service reps may not have the latest specs.

Why not give the machine a chance to do what it's supposed to do before complaining, calling the manufacturer, or trying to hack the control system? Sort your loads properly (don't try to wash towels and sheets and jeans and lingerie all together and expect to get good results), choose an appropriate cycle, and use proper HE detergent. You may be pleasantly surprised. If after a month or two you see that there's definitely a performance problem, *then* takes steps to investigate and find a remedy.

There's a paradigm shift happening in the appliance industry, moving toward new designs that minimize energy and water use. That's just the way it is, due to increasing government restrictions. For consumers who aren't happy with the new HE products, about all you can do is stockpile a couple "old-style" machines while they're still available ... they won't be for long!

    Bookmark   May 4, 2008 at 7:38PM
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Just because the washers are "reengineered" doesn't ensure their performance is better. Many messages have been posted about washers of the past having greater performance and longevity.

The Miele i had 10 years ago with the 1/2 door water level cleaned better than any washer i've used to date and was gentler on my clothes. I also never concerned myself with mold because i knew much of the wash residue was being rinsed away. (Of course, i took proper care as well.)

I believe the push for the higher energy ratings sometimes comes at the expense of performance.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2008 at 9:26PM
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I don't disagree ... but the point is that the machines are engineered to work a certain way, with sensors and electronic controls to monitor those factors. Trying to override them gets into the realm of making the machine do something it's not intended to do, which can cause other operational problems and even mechanical failures.

An example: A friend in the industry told me that pumps on a particular model of machine suffered early failures when consumers ignored the usage instructions for HE detergent. High-sudsing detergent caused the pumps to get suds-locked. Without liquid (water) flowing through, the bearings and seals in the pump overheated and failed. Of course, the machine was blamed as being a bad design ... when the parts were in fact engineered to work perfectly fine if used as directed.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2008 at 8:49PM
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I am all for things being engineered to work with less water, but when are the detergent companies going to engineer a detergent that creates NO SUDS and a detergent that can be rinsed away with little water? Washing is fine but clean thorough rinsing is a must.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2008 at 12:18AM
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... but when are the detergent companies going to engineer a detergent that creates NO SUDS ...They can easily do that (automatic dishwasher detergent is non-sudsing, for example). However, consumers are largely suspicious of laundry detergents that don't generate any suds. It's a psychological thing ... lack of suds = no cleaning.

I have a Calypso toploader, which doesn't use any more water per fill than a typical frontloader. I don't know what I may be doing differently, but I don't have any trouble with oversudsing or poor rinsing. I've used Tide HE powder, Fab powder, Fresh Start powder, Gain and All and Wisk HE liquids ... at recommended dosages. Fresh Start makes no suds at all. The others do, but of a lighter consistency than regular detergents and it dissipates fairly quickly when washing action stops. I will say that Calypsos rinse very well (most cycles have five rinse phases), probably better than some of the latest water-squeezing frontloaders.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2008 at 3:15AM
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Sorry for reviving an old post, but I was wondering if anyone has further information on the proper water level for the Duet Steam (model # 9600) washer. I just got my washer/dryer set yesterday and spent a frustrating day trying to figure out if the water level is too low. Like Ciao4now and other have reported, the water level seems way too low to clean properly. I tested it (using the same test that Ciao4now mentioned), and with the washer set to the Normal wash cycle, the water level in my washer is not even close to covering all but the top 1/2 inch of the baffle as specified by the Whirlpool test. Like others, the water level in my washer left around 2 1/4 or 2 1/2 inches of the baffle still above the water line. Even though the Whirlpool test indicates the water level should be higher, I'm wondering if this is the normal water level on the Duet Steam??

Ciao4now, Cleo26, and Little_Wren - did you find out anymore information? Was your problem with the low water level resolved? And if so, how? I would greatly appreciate any information or insight you have to share! Thank you!!

    Bookmark   July 13, 2008 at 6:49PM
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I had a frigidaire that didnt have alot of water maybe 2 inches, it didnt go up to the door, not 1/2 or 1/3 like mentioned here, and it did work good no suds issue or tangling. It seemed like there was enough to at least get the clothes clean, not like the newer models thay make, it looks like maybe a gallon of water in the drum, I know that they say it has so many gallons of water but it sure isnt in the washer, it has to be under the drum filling it up with enough to wash with, but our clothes dont go in the water under the drum.

And how can that be energy efficient when you have to wash over & over again???

    Bookmark   July 13, 2008 at 11:26PM
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This is Little_Wren responding to Beachseeker and others.

I do not really have resolution. As I mentioned I used the low water test with the "normal" cycle from the Whirlpool website on a washer in the Maytag store and about 1 ¾ inches of the baffle was above water. I also tried it at another Maytag store and the results were the same.

When a new Maytag store opened in April, I tested their 9600 which was most likely manufactured later than the floor model machines in the older Maytag stores. This newer machine had 2 inches of the baffle above the water level. Ours at home is 2 ¼ inches. None of these meet the test given on the Whirlpool website.

I also ran the other cycles and compared our machine at home to the floor models  some water levels were the same and some were different.

The 9500, which is new to our area and a "lower" model, tested at ¾ inch of the baffle above the water.

The Whirlpool engineer was suppose to phone the A&E repair person after the Whirlpool engineer got back from vacation. Then the A&E person was going to phone us. We have not heard back and it was been months. I find that unprofessional.

The A&E person said that the manufacturers made changes and keep the same model numbers and do not inform repair people of changes.

However, the clothes seem to get clean. I have observed that some of the cycles have more water, so I use those cycles. I do like to see at least some water in the wash and in the rinse.

What have others found?

Thanks, Little_Wren

    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 6:47PM
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I started using the NON HE POWDER Gain, and I dont have the suds issue anymore and my towels are starting to get softer each wash. I have had horrible suds issues for a year now I tried everything in liquid HE and that is the problem for not rinsing out. I too have the 2 1/2 inches of the paddles showing, even when I use the delicate cycle, "sometimes" it will put more water in, but not all the time.
I also have noticed especially with the whites not coming out as clean as my Frigidaire FL, and it did not use more water than the Duet.
I am not happy with the results of the DUET.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2008 at 1:30PM
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I hate this washer, what I did was disconnect the water line going to the dryer and ran it to the top of the machine got some parts from Homedepot and connected a water spigot so this allows me to allow water to run into the pull out tray and fill as I see fit, I have several manufactures overseas working on a device that will hijack the water level control and as soon as this is done I will post the source here if that is allowed in this group.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2012 at 10:51PM
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Too much of a pain, especially having to do it for the rinses as well. Just use Bulky Items cycle. It uses more water. Don't use normal, it's the most stingy of all cycles where water is concerned.......

I notice that water level is a wee bit high. Those baffles aren't large enough to lift and drop clothes if there is too much water in the drum. To me, the perfect water level for washing/rinsing is the water level touching the rubber boot.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 12:22PM
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