Rust stains from Fisher Paykel washing machine

bobbie46September 2, 2012

I found a used FP washing machine for $400, was told it was just purchased from Lowe's for more than $1000, was working perfectly and had no damage. The young man was selling it for his mother who could not afford to keep it due to her divorce. Bought it for $350. Got it home and ran the cleaning mode and happily washed our sheets. They came out with huge swaths of reddish brown stains. I washed again thinking that might fix it. Tried "Shout". No luck, Then tried "Whink", a rust remover. Whink, which I believe is an oxalytic acid, is helping remove the stains so I think the machine is depositing rust on my linens.

The serial number is AIU756671, Model #WL26CW2. Lowe's no longer sells this machine.

Is there anything I can do to solve the problem? Is it a relatively new machine?

The seller says they will not take it back and will not refund my money.

I thought the young man was honest but am not sure this is possible.

All suggestions are very welcome.

Thanks for any help you can give me.

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The serial number indicates manufacture February 2008.

You have a top-of-the-line AquaSmart model, with LCD and touch-panel.

My guess is there's a heavy buildup of softener/detergent and general smutz left from the usage habits of the previous owner. You may need to disassemble the machine for direct access to clean the exterior of the stainless steel basket and interior of the outer tub. It's not difficult, I can provide instructions if you want to proceed. The only part that can be a source of rust is the drive shaft, you can examine it during the disassembly.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2012 at 8:59PM
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dadoes, I am astounded and so grateful for your fast and knowledgable response. I believe they stored the unit in a garage and perhaps it rusted there. Is this machine worth the trouble of following your directions? Please do tell me how to disassemble it. If the drive shaft is rusted, is it possible to replace it and if so, how much would it probably cost? Thank you so very much for your support.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2012 at 9:26PM
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1. Remove the lid. Open it and pull upwards, it will detach from the hinges. Carefully pry out the two lid bumpers at the front corners and remove the screws beneath. Check that there's no residual water visible in the dispensers, then raise the top deck. Have an assistant to hold up the top.

2. Unclip the four Dynaflex straps from the eight connections points on tub cover. The disassembly instructions state to also detach the straps from the corner suspension gussets but I suggest leaving them attached there if possible. Unclip the tub cover and remove it.

3. Use a flat-blade screwdriver to carefully pry the center cap off the agitator disc. Remove the hold-down bolt (counterclockwise, 13MM socket or open-end wrench, or adjustable wrench). The agitator disc should then lift off the drive shaft. If it's stuck, grab the top of the inner basket and jerk it upwards, which will push the agitator disc upwards.

4. The inner basket should also then simply lift upwards off the drive shaft. Be careful of sharp edges on outside of the basket from the perforations that are punched through from the inside. If the basket is stuck, removing the drive hub may help loosen it ... remove the three screws, the hub cap and the cog inside. Pay attention how the parts assemble to reassemble it correctly later. DO NOT overtighten the hub screws when reassembling it so as to not strip the screw holes in the plastic base of the basket ... nicely snug.

5. Clean the basket and tub as needed. Be careful around the drive shaft seal in bottom of the tub so not to damage it ... clean with a cloth or soft brush. Observe for evidence of rusting on the shaft (not common) or possible leaking/failure of the seal.

6. Don't be alarmed by water inside the basket. There are water-filled balance rings around the top and bottom of it. The rings are sealed, DO NOT drill holes in them in an attempt to drain the water.

7. Replace the inner basket, agitator disc, and nut. Hand-tighten the nut until the first "click" is felt, then wrench-tighten 4 more clicks. Overtightening will cause damage to the top of the agitator and may shear-off the bolt. Undertightening may result in the agitator coming off the drive shaft during operation.

8. Replace the tub cover and reattach the straps ... make sure they aren't twisted. Lower the top, replace the screws, lid bumpers, and lid.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 9:36AM
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Thank you dadoes! Before I undertake this fix, do you think the presence of rust is an indication of a shortened life on this machine? If the sellers take the FP back and refund my money, maybe buying a new machine is a better bet. Do you recommend the FP? If so, which one? If not, any other suggestions? THANK YOU!

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 10:46AM
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I don't think there is anything exposed in the F&P that can rust, which of course is required in the first place to deposit rust stains. The outer tub is plastic, the basket is stainless steel, and the impeller is also plastic.

I am pretty sure the prognosis dadoes gave is correct, and it's much more likely a biosludge left over from the previous owner not doing any maintenance or cleaning of the washer. If you clean it out once then keep up with routine maintenance the washer will give you a long and happy service life (mine is going on 6 years w/zero problems).

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 3:21PM
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Thank you for your input dudleyfuddpucker. This forum has a wealth of information. It seems the previous owner did not just purchase the machine. It has been storied it in a garage for some months. Since I no longer trust the seller. I have been doing the laundry at my house over 40 years. I think my preference would be to return it and buy a new machine. I am not sure I can manage the repair. I understand it is not too difficult if one is able to lift the various parts but I also wonder what will it take to replace the drive shaft if that is the source of the rust. The stains are definitely rust. If the drive shaft is the only part which is not plastic, it must be the source of the rust. Correct? Also, once I disassemble it. I cannot expect them to take it back. I think the FP is a neat machine and might consider a new one.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 5:48PM
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You haven't received my reply to your e-mail? I was mistaken above on reference to the drive shaft possibly rusting. The drive shaft is stainless steel and shouldn't rust. I have a 13-years-old agitator model, no rust on it. No reason to abandon your F&P without at least investigating the situation.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 7:30PM
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Dadoes, I did not receive your email yet but I think you are right. We reconnected the machine and ran the clean cycle again. We were able to wash one load with success. Then, another load which was not clean. I think there is some rust in the water lines. I am going to either remove and flush or replace the lines. I will also go look for your email. I appreciate your kindness and help. I may yet reassess and try to disassemble it as you directed.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 7:45PM
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What do the stains look like other than color? I mean what shape are they? Is it possible that items are pulled under the agitator and rub off the gunk? In that case, the stains would be long narrow smudges. Do the crevices between the bottom of the basket and the side look clean? How about under the edge of the agitator. If it's something in the water then the stains are likely to be irregular in shape. And are you sure the staining is from the washer and not from the dryer?

You could have detergent/softener gunk with possibly some mold that causes staining similar to rust.

I agree with dadoes that you should at least investigate and clean the machine as it sounds like a good machine other than the stain issue.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 9:01PM
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Did the previous owners have well water? Did you run your first load with chlorine bleach? Do the water lines look red? The fix may be running the machine with some iron out and replacing the water lines as you had mentioned above. Is your water softened?

    Bookmark   September 5, 2012 at 8:22AM
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Glad to find this post.

I just had a load of sheets come out with some sludgey looking stains - not even stains, you can actually scratch them off somewhat with your fingernail. I used some "shout" on the marks and am re-running the load.

In the meantime I ran here to see what to try - the manual for the washer (Fisher & Paykel ecosmart GWL11) only says to run a hot wash with 2 cups of powdered detergent & no clothes in the wash. I feel stupid but I never knew you were supposed to do this regularly.

I guess in addition I could take off the agitator and clean it, the smears seem like they're being scraped as izeve described above so maybe it's some buildup under the agitator. And they're black/dark brown not red so I think it's just gunk & nothing to do with rust.

Unfortunately taking the whole machine apart as dadoes helpfully describes above would be above my comfort level so I guess if the hot wash doesn't cure it I should call in a repair person to do that. Does that sound right?

And then in the future is just a hot wash with detergent all you do for routine cleaning? Is there any reason not to use liquid detergent? I don't use fabric softener in the washer.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2012 at 1:05PM
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GWL11 has a "hidden" cycle to clean the machine of residue, but that may not be sufficient when it has already accumulated enough to get on the clothes.

Try the cleaning process, repeat if needed. If the problem continues then disassembly is the only recourse. GWL11 is a little easier to disassemble than AquaSmart models. There's no cap to pry off the agitator, simply remove the softener cup, reach down inside and unscrew the wingnut. There are no Dynaflex straps, just one bias spring attached from the tub cover to the left-front suspension rod. Detach the spring from the suspension rod, leave it attached to the tub cover.

The cleaning cycle is programmed thusly:
Press and hold Favorite until it beeps a 2nd time and the light flashes. Select Perm Press. Select Hot wash. Press Favorite to save the setting. The cleaning cycle can now be run whenever desired by selecting the Favorite cycle. It may not include a soak period. The Soak option should be lit if so, try selecting it if not. Otherwise you can soak by turning off the power after a few mins of agitation, then restart the Favorite cycle to finish. I suggest using 2 cups of an enzyme-formula automatic dishwasher detergent instead of laundry detergent. Two cups of laundry detergent may generate a LOT of sudsing, dishwasher detergent doesn't suds and the strong enzymes will help dissolve the residue.

GWL11 cleaning cycle CAN be used to wash clothes, and is the ONLY way to get a full-fill hot wash on EcoSmart models.

To bobbie46 -- your AquaSmart should also have a cleaning cycle. Check under the LifeCycle selections for a Clean-up / Clean Me choice. A 2-hr soak is included. Use dishwasher detergent.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2012 at 2:26PM
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Thank you so much - I'll get some of that dishwashing detergent and try the special cleaning cycle. I was confused by that in the manual - it made it sound like you were just setting up a favorite cycle, not doing anything special to clean the machine.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2012 at 7:57PM
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Programming the Perm Press cycle onto the Favorite button as described (for the machine-cleaning cycle) is the only way to get a full-hot fill on EcoSmart. (In case anyone with an older GWL10 runs across this post, GWL10 has a cleaning cycle also but the programming sequence is different.)

Only one "favorite" can be programmed at a time so the cleaning cycle will stay on the button until/unless it's repogrammed, which can be done whenever desired.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2012 at 9:09PM
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Thank you all. A few months ago I found "rust stains" all over my white sheets and pillow cases...thought it must have been something left in a pocket. They had been dried and I noticed when I made the bed; many big rust stains. Didn't happen again until yesterday. I only did the white sheets and pillow cases with detergent and bleach. When I took them out to put them in the dryer I thought they were ruined; there were those "rust" colored streaks all over again. This time I immediately soaked them with stain removers (2 different kinds) and let them sit for about 1/2 hour or so then put them in the washer again water..heavy duty wash and crossed my fingers. All but a pillow case came out clean. I typed in the heading of Fisher Paykel rust stains and found this. Like someone else in this forum, I had never cleaned the washer although it still looks brand new .... I think I purchased it in 2002 to 2004 can't recall; along with the FP matching dryer. Anyway, it does help to read the manual doesn't it (grin!). I just cleaned it using the dishwasher detergent method. If it happens again I will have someone help me take it apart. I'm not the handiest person but your posts have given me hope. Thank you all again. What a very well mannered group I encountered on this subject (my first time on Garden Web).

    Bookmark   July 7, 2014 at 8:49PM
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