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Front loaders less reliable?

Posted by paulsiu (My Page) on
Sat, Feb 25, 12 at 3:45

2 years ago, I purchased a house with a Kenmore Elite HE3t. This is the first time I have use a front loader. I notice that it was loud but read that front loader vibrate a lot unless it was on concrete slab. This was on wooden floor.

Well, the noise was actually a problem after all. The noise got louder so I had a repair man take a look. He said the bearings have died but though that repairs may be too expensive. He looked up some parts and it was right, the parts would be like $700. Yikes!

I asked the repair man if he recommended any brand. He indicated that he avoids Samsung or LG because they were hard to repair and would suggest Whirlpool. The He3t model is actually a Whirlpool, so I am wary of getting another and $700 isn't exactly feasible for repairs.

What are your folks long term experience with front loaders vs. Top loaders?

Paul


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Front loaders less reliable?

How old is the machine? You might be able to find out with a serial number and that might help you in your fact gathering and decision making.

Because the washer came with the house, you'll have no way of knowing whether the washer was badly mistreated by the previous owner, with over use of laundry additives, wrong type (non-HE) detergent, detergent overdosing, etc. One really should use less detergent, and not use the amount of detergent on the package label. How much less depends on your water quality and washer. YMMV

A lot of those Kenmore/Whirlpool FLs are known to be good machines.

Washers ~in general~ do not seem to be as reliable (by my research) as the old water-hog conventional TLs made 15+ years ago. There are a lot of people who have had great luck and longevity with their FLs of all brands. Nowadays they are computers that do laundry, which opens them up to more issues than the old mechanical types. (Knowing that, last year I opted for a FL computer that does laundry.)


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RE: Front loaders less reliable?

Thanks for the tip. I looked up the serial number and discovered that it was manufacturer in 2006. Note that water quality is not hard and comes from a lake.

I guess most of the machine I have been using were ancient top loaders. My mom still have her original top loader purchase back like 20 years ago. I was surprised that the front loader did not last 6 years.

Paul


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RE: Front loaders less reliable?

@ paulsiu

Remember that every manufacturer builds their machines to different tolerances and specifications. For whatever reason, some front loader manufacturers can't seem to build reliable machines while others have no trouble making machines that last 10 years or longer.


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RE: Front loaders less reliable?

I've always wondered if bearings going could be possibly caused by consistent large loads filled to capacity. I wonder how many Duet's and He3t's bought in 2004 are still in operation? We rarely hear about those. I know there's loads of reviews online that are bad. Under normal conditions, I do not think the bearings should go nearly that soon. Mine is 7 yrs old and still works great. It's a WP front loader. Quite frankly, it's too confusing to try to decide which brand is better (aside from Miele or SQ). I'm sure a LOT of it has to do with proper use & care with any brand.


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RE: Front loaders less reliable?

Ditto mark40511....bought my Duet 9400 in February, 2005. Still operates flawlessly. Poster's HE3t very similar. Don't know where to place blame but would be nice to know how it was used (or abused) before you took possession.

Umm....water comes from the lake but not hard? Must be some lake!


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RE: Front loaders less reliable?

"I'm sure a LOT of it has to do with proper use & care with any brand."

I think this is the key to problems with any machine/brand.
The OP will never know how the machine was used before he took possession.


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RE: Front loaders less reliable?

Well, I will admit that I had a problem with my Duet the second year of operation with the computer board. It was an ODD situation and ignorance on my part. I was under the impression that it was a one year warranty, so during year two (in my mind) it was out of warranty completely. I called for service because I was getting the f/DL error. The tech came (99 dollar charge) and ALL he did was take the top off, pull the connection out and put them back in. Seriously, that's all he did! That helped for 2 weeks and he ordered a new door latch mechanism (which is STILL in my attic in the box to this day) Luckily, I was able to do laundry during this time because I could hit the top of the machine and it would start working.

After I called saying the machine was acting up again; he installed it and it didn't fix the problem. He ended up ordering the control board (can't remember if it was the CCU or MCU) and installed that. It wasn't until someone brought to my attention on this forum that it was under warranty the second year for that type of malfunction; I looked in my manual and sure enough, it was. So that repair was free, but I was still out the 99 dollars for the tech visit. It was after he installed the new board that I had remembered reading somewhere that surge protectors helped prevent errors on these sensitive electronics, so I then plugged my machine into one and it has been ever since. It's been completely trouble free years 3 through 7. So I can only wonder if it is IN FACT the surge protector that is helping to prevent any errors. You can bet any machine I have to buy in the future will be plugged into one just based on that experience. I do see LOTS of reviews on people having problems with error codes and I'm sure they don't manufacture the best connections in these computer front load machines, but I suppose a surge protector is the answer.

Asolo - you got lucky that you haven't had a single issue. And, since I was ABLE to do laundry during all of this, It wasn't a horrible experience for me. Out of curiosity, do you use a surge protector?


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RE: Front loaders less reliable?

No surge protection. FWIW, I've been through quite a number of brown-outs and total cut-outs power-wise. Can't recall whether or not machine was in-operation at any of those times. Whatever......none of my appliances have ever been compromised by these episodes. Wish I had had more specifics for you.


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RE: Front loaders less reliable?

My Duet purchased in 2003 is still going strong. I did have to replace the pump at some point. Our house was hit by lightning a couple years ago which fried several electronic items, but not the washer. (Made a BIG boom, shattered the chimney, but didn't burn the house down.)

It's because of that washer I found GardenWeb. So I credit it with adding lots of value to my life.

A computer that does laundry - I like that.


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RE: Front loaders less reliable?

Good to hear. I do want to bring something up that's "kinda sorta" still on this topic.

It's concerning the Whirlpool warranty currently on their front load washers. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but when I bought mine, there was a one year limited warranty, and a two year limited warranty on control board, and some other longer warranty on the drum (I THINK?) But now, on even the most top of the line Whirlpool, it only looks like its a ONE year limited warranty for everything and that's IT!!!!!! That's NOT a very good warranty for the price of that washer and I'm kind of surprised!


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RE: Front loaders less reliable?

My wife indicated that the area used to be well water, so the water was quite hard. In the past decade, the water has been from the lake and no longer need softener. I never did more than one basketful of clothes (not stuffed either), so I don't think I overloaded the water, but perhaps the previous owner did.

I replaced it with a Whirlpool Duet Steam, mostly because there was a good sale on it and because the style matches the dryer (my wife wanted both appliance to match). Hopefully, the new one will last longer. I will make sure I perform all of the necessary maintenance annually.

Paul


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RE: Front loaders less reliable?

As I just had bearrings replaced on LG, the repair guy told me it would cost 400-500 if I didn't have the extended warranty. But they have to give me new drum, which I found out is at least 200 bucks. Who knows what else he had to replace. He didn't leave any papers.
But he did say that he will stop working for LG bc the extra warranty doesn't pay him enough.
I think our weekly comforter washings did number on the washer and the hard water played some role in it too, I was told. My other 10 year old washer has no bearring problems yet.But the loads are smaller.
I think now a days it's like you never know what to expect.Our last fridge lasted 17 years. The new one I hope for 5-7. Who knows.
That's why I always get the extra warranty. Just service call cost arm and leg, never mind the parts and labor when something goes wrong.


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RE: Front loaders less reliable?

czechchick2

I agree. You do NOT know now a days what will happen. It's really a complete gamble. For example: I moved into my house brand new in 2004, all of the appliances are Whirpool. They are all still working after 7.5 years. The only thing I had to replace was the ice maker in the freezer. But none of this means SQUAT now because so much has changed since 2004 in manufacturing. Just because I have all Whirlpool's that work fantastically now doesn't mean the new ones will. I usually do not get extended warranties but I think the next time I will (just in case) because you're right, just the tech call alone is expensive, much less parts & labor to fix them......That all being said - I ended up losing 300 dollars for purchasing an extended warranty on my Duet, I never needed it! So that was all money down the drain. So it's a complete gamble.


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RE: Front loaders less reliable?

"...water has been from the lake and no longer need softener."

Critical word is "need". People have different opinions about that. Since you apparently have not measured for hardness, I suspect you don't really know what you're dealing with. I am unaware of any lake or river anywhere that provides soft water, however. Any hardware store has cheap kits for testing. I'd recommend finding out what you've got..


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RE: Front loaders less reliable?

Asolo

What is your opinion on our warranty with our Duet vs the current warranty on Duets?

I believe ours has a ten year warranty on the drum so if bearings or spider goes within ten years, I believe WP will fix it minus labor. We also has a 2 year warranty on the control boards.

Current WP washers only have a one year limited warranty, that's it!

It makes me wonder why they dropped the ten year warranty on the drum and 2nd year warranty on the boards and just make a flat out one yr limited warranty. Could it possibly be due to the fact that there were that many repair issues that caused them to drop warranty down on their current washers?

Even LG has the 2nd year warranty on the boards, and a ten year warranty on the drum and motor I believe.

Strange as much competition is out there for WP that they would not try to compete with LG's warranty, at least.


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RE: Front loaders less reliable?

"Current WP washers only have a one year limited warranty, that's it!"

@mark40511 - For double the selling price, that is all Miele generally offers on their FL washers.


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RE: Front loaders less reliable?

@ Cavimum

Unless you're in Canada where you get a 5 or 10 year warranty (not sure which one, but much longer than in US) for the same Miele units.


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RE: Front loaders less reliable?

@mark40511....

Can't speak to the warranty issue or reasons. Haven't kept up. Do know my machine was made in Germany. Perhaps more recent models are not and/or there may have been other changes or maybe they're selling so many of them they decided they didn't have to offer more. Just speculating from a position of ignorance.....sorry.


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RE: Front loaders less reliable?

Miele only offers a one year limited warranty in the US?

REEEAAALLLYY?

That's pretty shocking! I saw a video of how much testing they do of their washers constantly and how they pay attention to all the little details. It makes no sense that it's only one year.


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RE: Front loaders less reliable?

In Germany, Whirlpool still offers a ten year motor warranty on the German-made Duet, which is now being replaced by the HEX9x washers (the factory here closed for that reason). Bosch and LG and possibly others offer the same type of warranty on the motor because these are all induction motors, which seem to last much longer than the old ones with carbon brushes.

Alex


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RE: Front loaders less reliable?

i would say go with a Direct-drive top-load washer (Kenmore, whirlpool, or new Maytag). front load washers believe it or not are made too break down fast as you get it in your house, they are cheap there made with a bunch of book smarts but no common sense. I've been repairing washers and dryers now for 15 years and i haven't seen a front-load washer last more then 5-6 years yet but i have seen top-loaders last 20+ years with no major problems at all. So my advice or opinion is too go with a top load washer either Kenmore(made by whirlpool), Whirlpool, Roper, or a new Maytag(which is also made by whirlpool) and i can guarantee that you will have less problems and more pleasure and washing.


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RE: Front loaders less reliable?

"believe it or not are made too break down fast as you get it in your house"

No offense but that's ridiculous. They may have short life spans but I'm sure they are not built to break down on install ... lol.

You haven't seen one last more than 5 or 6 years?? I question that statement as well. I owned a set of Frigidaire FL for 10 years. Several people I know have owned sets for more than 6 years no problems yet.

I know people with Miele machines that have had them at least 15 years.

"i can guarantee that you will have less problems and more pleasure and washing"

That's subjective. I would never go back to a top loading machine after 11 years with front loaders. I would gladly replace mine every 10 years if needed. My front loaders wash better and rinse better than any top loader I have ever used. They are also much gentler on clothes.


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RE: Front loaders less reliable?

"In General" YES, FL are less reliable because of design flaws.
They are far more prone to premature bearing failure, WAY more prone to mold/mildew and obviously more prone to leaks from the door seals.
But each machine and owner are different.

You could get the very worst reviewed FL on the market and have it last 15 years without a single problem.
Or buy the very best FL and have it fall apart in a month.

Overall buying ANY appliance today is basically a crap shoot.

Myself I prefer TL for several reasons.


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RE: Front loaders less reliable?

"YES, FL are less reliable because of design flaws."

I think some early models may have had design flaws but I don't think that is an issue today.

"the bugs in these early models have been detected and are now being addressed by manufacturers. Early problems included the failure of some electronic components and ineffective seals that led to mold growth. Most of the machines that had design flaws have been improved. Preventing mold growth can be as simple as following the manufacturer's directions and leaving the door open for ventilation when the machine is not in use."

Although I will agree that buying anything today is a crap shoot.


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RE: Front loaders less reliable?

Nunyabiz1, I will have to say that mold and mildew in ANY machine is NOT b/c of design flaw!!!
Smelly mildewey mess is combination of too much or too little detergent,wrong kind of detergent, water not being hot enough and luck of water needed for rinsing.
Every time someone ads another laundry aid like bleach, oxy etc.,it needs extra rinse or two.
Smelly towels, specially full load of them needs extra detergent or at least prewash and few extra rinses otherwise they might get sour over time.
The best loads in FL are mixed loads. Throw towels in with other type of laundry, it will rinse better.
I might have a bearrins failure early, but after 5 years, the washer is shiny in and out and no sign of smell either.
I have few pictures to prove it! Even the repair guy saw it!
And I don't wipe the gasket ever!There is always little water left but it is clean.I only clean the bottom filter. Last time I did it is year ago and when the reapir guy was here, it was clean too with couple of threads in.
People, use the hottest water possible and re-rinse each load, you will not have mold and mildew.
And the last one, leave doors open in between washings.


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RE: Front loaders less reliable?

In Germany, Whirlpool still offers a ten year motor warranty on the German-made Duet, which is now being replaced by the HEX9x washers (the factory here closed for that reason).


I have a German made Duet! Does the statement you made above mean that NO Duet washer is being made in Germany; that factory is closed? Where are the current Duet washers made? I was always under the impression that *some* models were made in Germany and some in Mexico. I seem to recall reading that one model is now actually made in the US.

I called WP to ask them & the person could NOT tell me. They said they did not have that info.


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RE: Front loaders less reliable?

"Although I will agree that buying anything today is a crap shoot."
I completely agree. I now read about house fires started due to bad electronics glitches in refrigerators and dishwashers and dread the day I'll have to replace mine.


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RE: Front loaders less reliable?

OK, the Duet seems to work pretty well and much quieter than the HE3t with the bad bearing. It didn't move around either. I toss one of those cleaning tablets and run it to clean out any existing gunk and then run a second cycle with just water.

I have since done several wash. The only issue is that there's this somewhat rubbery plastic smell, which I hope will go away after a while. The old HE3t was developing a mold issue despite my attempt to ran a sanitary cycle every once in a while.

To the other posters, the Duet has a 1 year warranty. Sears offered a 4 year agreement for $270. I decided to just deposit a few hundred into a separate account that I used for house maintenance instead of buying a warranty. My in-law had a really bad experience with the Sears repairman. Not that every repairman will be bad, but repairman can also be a crap shoot, too.

Originally, I was going to get an LG, but the Duet was on sale for $720, which seems pretty good for a 3.8 cu machine with steam. I have no idea how well LG stands behind their 10 year warranty and consumer report seemed to indicate that repair rate among front loaders were actually fairly close.

Paul


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RE: Front loaders less reliable?

I can't answer for sure, but from what little I know,... I'll say yes.
Bought duet 9400 series at Costco in March, 2011.
Over the last 2 wks the washer had started getting louder. What sounded to my husband and myself like a bearing starting to growl (while spinning the drum while it was off/empty.) The pump has always been pretty loud, IMO.
After reading about repair person nightmares, mostly having to do with not having a repaired washer for gosh knows how long, I had my lovely husband load the washer up and take it back to Costco. I returned it and bought a new one from there. Luckily it was approximately the same price. Funny, the pump on the new one is quieter.

Who knows... the one year old duet may have lasted awhile longer... I had the luxury of not having to find out.

I REALLY REALLY miss my 1995 Amana top load. :(

BTW, the loads of clothes I do are FAR from maxing out the capacity. So I can only presume mine did not wear out from overloading.


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RE: Front loaders less reliable?

Czechchick.
The "design flaw" in FL is because of the way the drum puts pressure on the bearings. And cheaper spider arms.
In general a FL has to be made better and made from better materials in order to last remotely as long as a TL.
Problem is many FL are trying to lower the cost to compete with TL price points.
That is what the public wants, cheaper machines.
FL and cheaper don't mix.

Many a FL bearings are dust in 3-7 years, THAT is clearly a design flaw that apparently they are having a hard time overcoming.
Also the bellows seal traps dirt/detergent etc and causes mold, unless you are rather diligent in cleaning it or in some way kill the food the mold feeds on whether thats by bleach, super hot water, or keeping it dry and are able to leave the door open.


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RE: Front loaders less reliable?

From what I understand, it doesn't matter if you get the top of line from WP, MTAG, GE, etc., or the bottom of line from them; from what I understand, the TOL build quality is the SAME as the BOL build quality. You're paying for more features, not build quality. And since the TOL washers from manufactures are certainly no where near a Top load washers price point, you'd think that they could build a more robust machine.


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RE: Front loaders less reliable?

I have used front loaders for 12 years and have not had a single issue cited by Nunyabiz1. Also, I don't believe Nunyabiz1 has any practical experience with front loaders but is simply reiterating anecdotal information he or she has found on the internet. You should take that kind of advice with a big bucket of salt, as it leaves far too much room for personal bias and misinformation.


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RE: Front loaders less reliable?

"The "design flaw" in FL is because of the way the drum puts pressure on the bearings"
So by that logic a TL would suffer from the "design flaw" of seals failing because they are under water, that then causes bearing failure from water damage. a FL does not suffer from this flaw because the seal is above the waterline and only has to deal with splashing.


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RE: Front loaders less reliable?

To each his own.
Personally when I read 100s of reviews and even lawsuits all stating the exact same thing I have to at least recognized it as a very distinct possibility.

I have not gone to the moon either, yet I know a far amount about it from the people that have.


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RE: Front loaders less reliable?

"I have not gone to the moon either, yet I know a far amount about it from the people that have."

We can assume those that have been to the moon actually know what they are doing - same can't be said for random consumers we know nothing about.

You still seem to be the only one beating this topic to death.


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RE: Front loaders less reliable?

So are you I might add.


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RE: Front loaders less reliable?

It all comes down to design and quality. Look at the late Maytag offerings before the company was bought by Whirlpool. Their top loaders from the, I think it was called Atlantis series, suffered cheap tub seals that gave up suddenly and gallons of water would gush over the floor. I also saw footage from Asian TV stations of mold-infested LG top loaders. It looked just like the footage one sees from the US about people complaining about their smelly front loaders.

Poor durability is also a problem of our generation: people want to buy cheap; plastic is fantastic and so on. Europeans, who practically only use front loaders, never complained about mold until this whole Cold Is The New Hot cr@p came up and everyone fell in love with bleach-less but colorful liquid detergents. Appliance abuse and cheap quality, of course, will lead to disappointing results.

I have a Duet, don't pre-wash (never did) but do add Extra Rinse or SkinCare Rinse when needed and use hot water twice a month and the washer looks like new. Same with the Electrolux at my parent's house: like new after eight years.

IMHO, there is no basic design flaw with front loaders. It all comes down to the components the machine is made of. Our consumer magazine puts front loaders through durability test running each machine through over 1000 cycles and most of washer pass the test without any problems - apart from the usual suspects like Haier and so forth.

To mark: the factory in Schorndorf closed this year, I think. They are now manufacturing solar panels. Reason being is that the new HEX series washers are made "with pride" in Ohio. The smaller ones are probably from Mexico.

Alex


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RE: Front loaders less reliable?

THANK YOU ALEX ... well said.


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RE: Front loaders less reliable?

Alex

Thanks.

Good to know the HEX WP machines are actually made in the USA. I'm quite shocked at learning that, but happy! I had a suspicion the smaller duets were not made in USA but wasn't sure where they were made. It still bugs me that they lessened the warranty somewhat from the current Duet I have.


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