My last 2 clothes washers only lasted 1/2 year each

bernd ny zone5October 20, 2011

Help! I wonder if anyone here can me help. I am also posting this on the appliance and laundry room forums.

A 2007 consumer report shows that clothes washers we are using right now had one of the lowest repairs in 2007. We actually used that manufacturer's washers satisfactorily since 1974, always top-load.

May I ask anyone here, if how the wires are run in a house can affect life of a washer. We have not changed the wiring of the clothes washer since we bought the house in 1987. My last 2 identical washers lasted only 1/2 year each, with 4 repairs each, second washer was a free replacement and is broken right now. The washer has its own wire from the house junction box, has its own breaker there. No other appliance in the house has any problems. First washer had transmissions malfunctioning, second one has motor burning out.

Could the problem be a broken wire or a bad breaker?

Thanks for any help! Bernd

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what brand washer?

    Bookmark   October 20, 2011 at 11:20AM
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Is there a reason that you can't state the brand/model of the machines and what specific repairs were involved? Asking your question without clarifying the details is like calling an automobile servicer and telling them that your blue car is making an odd noise. :-)

That being said, transmissions are mechanical and would not be affected by characteristics of the electric circuit. The motor, possibly can be affected.

Four repairs within 6 months on two successive machine is hugely excessive. Something odd is surely happening at your location, but it's difficult (or possibly impossible) for anyone to make an accurate diagnosis from afar ... although more details would help.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2011 at 11:28AM
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You bought your home in 1987, but when was it built? Around here, some homes built in the 1970s were wired with aluminum wiring until the codes dept. outlawed it. I don't know if that could have any effect.

Could someone in the household be overloading/overstuffing the washer with laundry? (again, I don't know enough to even know if that would cause the particular issues you're having)

    Bookmark   October 20, 2011 at 11:44AM
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bernd ny zone5

GE. I am actually a GE retiree too. I never had any problems with GE washers, and other GE appliances. My GE refrigerator lasted since 1987, but I replaced it with a more energy-efficient model. It is very difficult to blame a manufacturer or a particular model when it very well might be a problem with the external electric wiring. For that reason I am posting my problem here. Next step might be hiring an electrician to check out the wiring between breaker and wall outlet at the washer. The GE repair man said he would check the external wiring possibly next. Again, this has never happened to me since we own houses since 1974.

I basically wonder what's going on here. Having 2 fail in succession is very unusual. First I thought the first one was a lemon, then that the service guy did not know how to fix it. But then the second one failed too.

These washers have this new wave action washing, it seems when we pick a water level too high for the amount of clothes, water will swap out of the tub, coming out from under the washer. But any manufacturer should shield the electric parts from water spillage, I hope. We never have overloaded the machine, we actually handled washing with this model the same as we did with its predecessors.

We noticed that at times with the second machine we heard something like rifle shots. I guess that could have been shorts in the windings of the motor, it smelled like electric shorts. After it does that for a few days, the agitator/spinning no longer works.

Thanks for any help! Bernd

    Bookmark   October 20, 2011 at 12:02PM
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bernd ny zone5

These are top-load clothes washers, around $500, no extra whistles, model GTWN4250MOWS. We always bought the same type GE washer. We never had any new appliance fail on us within 6 years after purchase. Here we have 2 fail each after 1/2 year.
The home was built in 1978 in a residential suburb. The home builder was well known in the area. When I did some wiring on other circuits, I noticed that they used copper wire and were grounded.
No, no overloading. We never used the two highest lods of 'Extra Large' and 'Super'.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2011 at 12:15PM
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Agree unusual to have two machines in a row exhibit same symptoms in about same time frame.

".....we heard something like rifle shots. I guess that could have been shorts in the windings of the motor, it smelled like electric shorts...."

I'd call that a clue....except apparently the breaker didn't trip and the machine's internal fuse apparently didn't trip either. Don't like either of those circumstances. I'd check the configuration of that circuit and breaker first. Once that's confirmed, no place else to look except the machine itself.

Any information from vendor or manufacturer? Warranty coverage?

    Bookmark   October 20, 2011 at 12:28PM
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Your model is likely GTWN4250M0WS (tenth character is a zero).

GE, that makes a difference. The latest models don't have a transmission in the traditional sense. It's more of a locking-clutch mechanism that latches the basket & agitator together for spin, or locks/brakes just the basket so the agitator can oscillate separately. An electric solenoid is involved in the shifting.

I'd suspect that water sloshing out of the tub is not a good thing regardless of whether the mechanism is adequately shielded from moisture (which apparently it's not). You're aware of the cause, so perhaps make an effort not to overset the water level. Newer machines have different operating characteristics than older units of the same brand, so usage habits need to be changed accordingly.

However, per the parts diagram, GTWN4250M0WS is a low-water HE-type machine. The highest water level shouldn't be more than a couple/few inches above the low-profile agitator.

Here is a link that might be useful: Model GTWN450M0WS Parts Listing

    Bookmark   October 20, 2011 at 12:58PM
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bernd ny zone5

Thanks asolo, I think I will call an electrician to check the breaker in the house junction box and the wiring to the wall outlet which feeds the washer. Then at least an expert has checked that. I will ask the GE repairman about the washer's fuse. The first one was bought less than a year ago, and the replacement was installed 6 months ago, so they are under warranty. I should buy at least one year of extension to that warranty.

Thanks dadoes, this parts listing is interesting. The second one already got two motors (with inverters) replaced at $285 each on a $500 machine, the first one had 3 or 4 of those mode shafts replaced, each $150. I thought I heard clicking of a solenoid, but the GE man said no solenoids on this machine. We certainly are watching the water level (selection of load) to be equal to size of the laundry put into the basket. We never selected the two highest load selections.

Basically any consumer product should be designed fool-proof and should not require the consumer to be intimately familiar with the detailed design of the machine. We are baffled at that happening to us. Monday we will have the GE man come again after 6 days wait, then order the parts which will take 3 days, will schedule him before we get the parts. In the mean time go to the laundromat.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2011 at 4:14PM
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... but the GE man said no solenoids on this machine.If you noticed on the Suspension, pump & drive diagram, item # 320 Mode Shaft has a wire connector ... so something electric is involved there.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2011 at 4:58PM
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Bernd, I bought a GE washer in late 1973 (had the minibasket) and it was marvelous. It lasted many years, through babies, toddlers, zillions of loads of cloth diapers and all sorts of other laundry.

In recent years, though, it seems that GE washers (and dishwashers) are not what they used to be. GE repairmen have told me that even new models are made with used parts.

My experience is purely anecdotal, just wanted to say, I would not buy another GE washer (or d/w). Our GE fridge, OTOH, is excellent -- a great buy.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2011 at 9:42PM
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bernd ny zone5

dadoes, I read via your attachment that this machine has at least one solenoid. Thanks for your information!

Otherwise, I operated the breaker in the main house breaker box which is for all the 115 Vac wall outlets of the room in which washer and dryer are in a closet. I checked breaker and wiring by turning all the lights, etc. on and operating that breaker. The washer is 115 Vac, others on that circuit are a desk top computer, printer, wireless router, several lamps. None of these ever got effected by washer operation, i.e. lights flicker, even at the time the motor seemed to burn out.

I explained the scenario to a friend of mine who is an electrical engineer, who thinks that this is a washer problem.
Thanks! Bernd

    Bookmark   October 21, 2011 at 10:10AM
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Sophie Wheeler

It is surely a washer problem. Tell us about a typical week's worth of laundry in the machine. How many loads, what type of temperatures and speeds, what detergent, etc. The typical issues in the new HE machines are usually more user related than machine related. Although it's a wild card, perhaps something in the machine is reacting badly to your usage patterns. For instance, how on earth did you get water to come out onto the floor with a machine that you only fill half way with clothes?

    Bookmark   October 21, 2011 at 12:16PM
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Sounds like the machine is trying to agitate the clothing while the basket and agitator are still operating as a single unit aka spin mode. This can cause splashing to occur and I think it is an easy repair if caught early. If machine use is continued, further damage could occur.


Here is a link that might be useful: Hydrowave Failure

    Bookmark   October 21, 2011 at 12:52PM
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bernd ny zone5

hollysprings, we run the machine about 3 times each day, which is one medium to large, one medium and one medium to small. Those 3 loads are for about 6 bath towels, two of those thicker plus other assorted laundry, usually always 'warm' and 'Cottons' 'Medium'. This is the same way we always used these GE top-load washers.

MRB, perhaps the machine is doing that again :
On the first machine water came out I was told because a seal on the vertical shaft got worn out, or during failure the machine tried to spin when still in the agitation cycle, or vice versa.
On the replacement machine water seems to come out when there is a little too much water above the clothing, usually when we selected large, as I mentioned there are also very large and super load levels which we never use. We are not perfect, and when we judge the clothing level to be higher than it actually is and select the load accordingly too high then it might splash. Again on past machines we never had to worry about that.

See it this way, both of us are college educated, I am an engineer, We should be fully qualified to operate this machine. I should not be required to study rocket science for that. None of the concerns is mentioned in the user's manual. I should be able to throw the clothing and detergent in, select what is approximately correct per the users manual, push start, and that machine does its job for 6 years without a problem. In case I pay too little for the machine, it should perhaps do a poor job washing, aka clothes staying dirty, but should not break down every month!

    Bookmark   October 21, 2011 at 7:22PM
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Can you confirm that this is an HE machine with low-profile agitator as per the parts diagram for the model number you provided? As I mentioned, the highest water level shouldn't be more than a few inches above the agitator. Have you observed if that's the case, or is it filling higher? Try the Super load size (with no clothes) just to see what is the level if you haven't done so. Maybe post a picture of it here for reference. A picture of the lowest and highest level without clothes, and a shot of the level with your typical load as what you reference above.

Some of these GE HE models have an Auto Sensing water level function, or choice of manual selection. Does yours have Auto, and are you using it? A proper water level for a given load size may not have water fully covering the clothes. Maybe you're overdoing the water level more than you believe, or are underloading the machine for a given level, which is contributing to the water sloshing excessively.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2011 at 8:58PM
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bernd ny zone5

dadoes, we do not use all available selections. Yes, this machine has Auto-Load Sensing, but we do manual selection because I had read about problems with Auto selection. We load the washer loosely and judge from that if the tub is filled according to the available 'small', 'medium', 'large', 'very large' and 'super' selections. The highest level we have used is 'Large' which is somewhat below the top of the agitator screw.

Yes, the use of High Efficiency detergent is recommended for all GE Energy Star-rated washers, but we use regular Tide, which was always sufficient for our washes. We do not have soiled laundry, and only use less than a third of a cup of liquid detergent, poured into the bottom before we load clothes, never have excessive foam buildup.

We can always see the agitator screw above the water. Right now I can not wash. I could fill and drain, but the agitator would not turn because the motor seems to be broken.

Our washer has a large tub, 21 in inside diameter, 19 inch to the top of the agitator screw. Thanks for your comments!

    Bookmark   October 22, 2011 at 8:53AM
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There's conflicting parts info on this model. Your reference to an "agitator screw" (an upper spiral/auger section on the agitator) differs from the low-profile agitator shown in the parts diagrams at Sears. The low-profile agitator does not have an auger. Checking the parts listing at GE's web site shows a traditional "dual-action"/auger agitator.

Why not try the Auto water level function to see the results yourself instead of relying on anecdotal info from others? I have a toploader with automatic water level sensing (although not a GE) and it works quite well.

Model GTWN4250MWS (without the 10th zero character) product listing at GE, the description indicates it's EnergyStar-qualified but does not state HE (high-efficiency, low-water design). Having a traditional dual-action/auger agitator also indicates to me that your machine is not an HE unit. Non-HE machines garner EnergyStar by reducing the water temps and in some cases by running a default shower-rinse process instead of a deep-fill agitated rinse. Such machines typically have a option setting to indicate whether fabric softener is being used, in which case a deep-fill rinse is run. Your model does appear to have the Softener control, so there's that.

Regards to the repeated failures of the GE units you've had ... perhaps you should try a different brand.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2011 at 3:32PM
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