I hate my Fisher Paykel Washing Machine

Connie KMarch 5, 2012

Please advise me. From what I've been reading on this forum, I'm assuming it's operator error, but I can't seem to figure out how to "fix it".

We purchased the Fisher Paykel Intuitive at least 5 years ago, although it seems like an eternity. Our repairman recommended it, and I did research, and the reviews were good, so we bought. (I had a Maytag top load, the old fashioned kind that did a load in 30 minutes, before this.)

The first thing that annoyed me was that the directions said I had to mix water with the laundry detergent before putting it in the machine. That's an inconvenience, but I do it.

But the real problem is that the machine gets unbalanced, and sometimes it's almost impossible to balance it. With my old machine, I would just reach in, shift items, and it would solve the problem. With this machine, I'll shift up to three times, and then I give up and take everything out and reload. What a mess!

So what I've learned is that you can't wash items of different weights. This is especially problematic since my daughters do their own wash, and it's difficult to get them to sort their loads, or to even do additional loads, so this beast doesn't start singing the tweety bird song. (That's what we call the alarm that tells us the load is unbalanced.)

When my husband lost his job, and I was still working, he took over the laundry. What he discovered is that he had to "push" the clothing down, to sort of pack it tight, and then he had less unbalanced loads. Somehow I think that is counterproductive to getting the clothes clean, but I'm just glad I don't have to do the laundry, so I keep quiet. He also discovered that if he changes it to slow spin that that will sometimes fix it. Also, he sometimes changes it from "auto sensing" to "creasables" and that fixes it.

So today, because my daughter asked me to wash her bedding for her, I decided I would do it the RIGHT WAY. First I did the sheets and pillowcases with some lingerie. I placed the items in the basket so they were evenly distributed around the agitator. By the first load, tweety bird was singing. All of the items were on one side on the basket, so I moved them. Still didn't work. Tried again. Fail. So I took out both sheets and placed them in again, carefully wrapping them in a circular fashion so that the weight would be evenly distributed. It worked.

Next, I washed her blanket alone. No problem.

Then I washed her comforter, which is fairly light weight. Again by the first rinse, it was pushed to one side of the basket. I had a heck of a time redistributing it so that it finally finished the cycle.

All of this it taking over three hours to wash. With my old machine, I could have washed the sheets and blanket in one load at 30 minutes, and then the comforter in another load, at 30 minutes, for a total of one hour. So I have a complaint with the amount of time involved as well.

Please tell me what I am doing wrong! Help!!

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What is the specific model of your machine? There were three Intuitive Eco models sold on the U.S. market -- IWL12, IWL15, and IWL16. IWL16 uses a different method to detect off-balance spin than IWL12 and IWL15. I have an IWL12. Rarely have off-balance situations. No trouble ever with sheets. Items of hugely-differing fabric weights ideally should not be washed together (large cotton bath towels with lightweight knit casuals, for example). I also don't wash towels with sheets being as sheets are typically lighter-weight fabric. I have on occasion washed a set of sheets with typical casual, oxford-type button-down shirts ... the fabric weight is similar. When loading sheets, do not wrap them around the agitator. Gather up a sheet into a loose bundle and place it in the basket. Gather up the other sheet the same way and place it on the opposite side. Fill the space between with the pillow cases or other similar-weight items (lingerie is fine). If you have two sets of sheets to run, place each one in a quadrant of the basket, with the pillow cases evenly/loosely on top.

Note that there is a designated LifeCycle for comforters. It's preset for high water level, a specific agitation profile, and runs two deep rinses, with no spin until after the 2nd rinse (the softener dispenser cannot be used). As a safety factor, the machine pauses before the spin, beeps for attention ... the display advises the user to press the item down below the medium-high water level marking on the agitator, then press Start to continue. Overstuffed/bulky items such as comforters may trap air and float/billow somewhat up out of the wash water. The pause and advisory before spin is to insure the large item is not sticking up out of the tub where it could get damaged/ripped/torn from contact with the machine or tub top.

The creasables option reduces the spin speed from 1010 RPM (high) to 300 RPM (slow) ... or 600 RPM (medium) if the option is changed accordingly in the secondary menu. It also increases the auto-sensed water level one "step" higher (but of course not higher then maximum) so the clothes float more loosely in the wash water for less wrinkling, and adds an extra rinse before the first spin.

Looking at my User Guide right now, it says A. Add detergent - Add detergent down the center of the agitator stem. There is no mention of mixing detergent with water before adding it to the machine. I've *never* done that, with either liquid or powder detergent. The instructions do say to dilute chlorine bleach with water.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2012 at 11:26AM
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Connie K

Thank you dadoes! I have the IWL12. You're right, the manual says nothing about adding water to detergent. I believe now that our repairman told us to do that after we had an issue with scrud, which occurred a long time ago, so I guess I remember it as something I did from the beginning.

Thanks for the advice about the comforter cycle. I can't wait to try that next time.

Also, do you think my problem is that I am wrapping items around the agitator, rather than putting them in in "piles" or "clumps"?

The fact that you are not having issues with loads being unbalanced, and my family has this problem with at least 75% of our loads, tells me it's something we are doing wrong.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2012 at 12:50PM
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I am with dadoes: I have the IWL16 (have for 6 years now) and have none of the issues you describe. The only time I ever get out of balance issues is when washing something huge and bulky, like a floor rug. Never had it with "normal" laundry.

Also, same comment on the "mix water with the laundry detergent" bit. No mention of that anywhere in any of F&P's documentation, so I am not sure where that idea came from.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2012 at 1:00PM
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Connie K

I realize that others do not have these issues. That's why I'm asking for help. Please tell me what I am doing wrong.

Here's another situation. My daughter does her laundry by sorting into darks and lights. Her dark load may consist of 5 pairs of jeans, two sweatshirts, and then various lightweight shirts, tennis clothes, etc. The fact that she never has an even number of jeans could be an issue as well. Invariably this load becomes unbalanced. Should she be doing two loads instead of one? One load with jeans and sweatshirts, one load of the lightweight stuff? And if so, doesn't anyone mind that this takes twice as much time as it would have with the old style top load washing machines?

Again, I'm just asking for help. Educate me.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2012 at 2:22PM
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Going to take shot in the dark, here, because I'm not familiar with the F&P and I've not encountered the issue with TL's generally, but......

Wondering about the possible issue of the machine's suspension components...the possibility of their not being able to work properly because they're not being able to bear well on their supports. Have you checked to see if the machine's feet are bearing firming and nearly equally on the floor? Not talking about "leveling"....talking about weight/load-bearing.

I'm probably sounding like a broken record at this date but I've encountered the issue so frequently with FL's (and, upon correction, seen them perform wonderfully) I can't help but wonder.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2012 at 3:00PM
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I've contacted you offboard to continue troubleshooting your problem.

Regards to your daughter's mix of jeans/sweats/casuals, that may be OK depending on how the varying numbers and types of items actually mix together during agitation. An odd number of jeans shouldn't matter, I've run loads of 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 pairs with no difficulty whatsoever. However, I *never* wash jeans with lightweight fabrics (or with anything light-colored), so yes I would run it as two loads, in *any* type of washer. Particularly in regards to drying, mixing heavy cotton jeans and sweats with lightweight synthetic or cotton/blend knits will result in the jeans coming out damp ... or more likely the lightweight items being harshly overdried. No, I'm not bothered that two loads (of course) takes more time. I would never do laundry any other way than by sorting fabric types/weights accordingly.

Try loading jeans per the technique that I mentioned for sheets ...

... in loose heaps spaced around the basket like this (visually divide the space into thirds or quarters). For six pairs, another layer of three. Five pairs, three on the bottom, then two more. Four pairs or eight, space in quarters.

Fill in other items between/atop the jeans per the size and quantity.

NOT wrapped around like this ...

    Bookmark   March 5, 2012 at 4:39PM
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Connie K

Dadoes, you are wonderful. That is exactly what I need - the visuals. You took a lot of time to help me, and I appreciate it. I've been wrapping, so I think that may be problem number 1, although I thought my husband was clumping and he was still having problems. We will give this a try.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2012 at 7:34PM
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