Monday, October 24, 2011

Front-Loader Fix or On-Going Problem Machine: Case Not Closed Yet

The hopeful blogger with part of the solution 
My hellish Sears LG front-loader is supposedly fixed and performing in true angelic form. However, I'm remaining skeptical. On Friday morning, Sears sent out a very knowledgeable repairman who exchanged the old moldy rubber drum for a new, mold-free rubber drum/door seal, replaced a faulty control panel for the rinse cycle, and reinstalled a missing liquid detergent measurement insert. All free of charge which I appreciate. However, the problem of water randomly leaking out of the machine onto the floor still remains a mystery.

After having a lengthy discussion with my Friday morning Sears repairman about the mechanics and cleanliness of the new energy-efficient front-loader washing machines, he gave me some more interesting advice about my front-loader.

  1. Read the owner's manual. Everything you need to know about the machine is in the owner's manual. He was adamant that I the customer was at fault for not keeping my machine clean enough. In my defense, I keep my washer clean. However I do not read owner's manuals for my appliances from cover to cover. I just don't have the time. 
  2. Ignore the owner's manual! Sears and Tide have it all WRONG. Consumers are adding way too much detergent. Add only 1 tablespoon. Here is the error and where the Sears owner's manual is WRONG and so is the measurement device on my front-loader and the little measuring lines on the inside of my Tide detergent measuring cap. All are WRONG! By following the directions on the machine and in the owner's manual, I was adding double or even triple the needed amount of laundry soap. This greatly contributed to the mold build-up on the rubber door seal as well as mold and detergent build up on the actual washer door (once the rubber seal was removed I could see this). This build-up must then be scraped off of the door. So (as recommended by my latest Sears repairman) I've tried using 1 tablespoon (or 2 TBSP for really large loads), and he's right. I don't need so much detergent as a smaller amount truly gets the clothes clean. (See pictures below.)
  3. Use only liquid HE detergent. I guess powder HE would work too, but the Sears technician recommended the liquid to prevent the build-up. Okay, I'm tossing out my box of powder Tide.
  4. Run the Tub Rinse cycle monthly with a special tablet cleaner. This will supposedly prevent the mold and detergent build-up inside the machine. I didn't even know I had a Tub Rinse cycle on my machine as it's cleverly hidden in small print on the machine. Why didn't I hear about this cycle from the other two repairmen who came out to fix this very same problem? I went ahead and bought a 6-month supply of "affresh" for $23.00 in hopes if helping get rid of my streaky laundry (pictured above). I even ran one of the tablets right after Sears left. 
  5. 15-year olds should not do laundry on this machine. But I want my teenagers to learn to do their own laundry! Don't we all want that? Not on this machine. It's too complicated. Why should a washing machine be this complicated?
  6. Wipe down the rubber drum when you're done using the machine. I've heard this before but on the advice of my latest Sears repairman (sorry but I didn't catch his name), I'm keeping an old towel hanging on the laundry room sink for this very purpose: to wipe any water off of the rubber seal and inside of the seal crevices. I actually have done this since my Friday washer repairs and it looks clean.
  7. The mold and stink will ALWAYS be an issue with any front-load washing machine. No matter how often I wipe down the seal or run that tub rinse cycle, I will ALWAYS have black mold and a stinky smell. It's impossible to wipe out all of the water on the rubber drum so mold will always form and a stink will follow the mold. Lovely! This isn't a problem unique to Sears front-loaders. I'm assuming it's all front-loaders as front-load washing machines obviously need that rubber drum to keep the water inside of the machine. I really wasn't thrilled to hear this as I'm incredibly allergic to mold, and now I have to live with it in my washing machine.
  8. Top-load energy efficient washing machines do not have this problem. These new top-load washers don't have a rubber drum for the door, eliminating any mold problems. Why didn't someone tell me this?
Old detergent amount for a
normal load recommended by Sears
New detergent amount.
Noticeably less soap.

Perhaps Sears should communicate information about their LG front-loader washing machines right up-front to the customer in the showroom or at the very least when the machine is installed. This would probably save numerous service calls by very knowledgable and patient Sears technicians.
  • This front-load washing machine will emit a musty odor due to mold build-up that is impossible to clean out. If you don't want a mildewy smell or mold build-up that could leave dark streaks on your whites, buy a top-load washing machine instead.
  • Use only 1 tablespoon of liquid HE detergent for normal loads or 2 TBSP liquid HE detergent for larger loads. (Ignore what it says about detergent levels on the actual machine and in the owner's manual.)
  • Run the "Tub Rinse" cycle every month to keep your machine clean. Wipe off the rubber drum when you are finished running the washing machine for the day.
Three bullet points could have saved me (and Sears) hours of hassle that unfortunately continues. Had I known better, I would not have bought my Sears LG front-loader. I would have bought a Sears top-load washing machine and eliminated the black mold problem. 

The Sears corporate office that must house their Social Media division called me on Saturday afternoon (about 24 hours after my latest round of repairs), seeking to close out my case and file away my complaint. I've asked Sears for another month of time to evaluate this washing machine. However, this case may never be closed given the track record of my machine and the fact that the mold problem will never really go away. 

I would like my readers to know that I have managed to do laundry for myself and my family without any hassles for the past 25 years. This front-load washing machine encompasses such a wide-range of problems that I had to share my story. As a consumer, all I want is a washing machine that doesn't make my laundry dirtier than when I put it in for a wash or randomly leak water all over the floor. I don't think that's too much to ask.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Closure for Pam Am 103 Families?

At long last, Muammar Qaddafi is dead. This is, of course, good news for the people of Libya who have lived under this militant dictator since 1968—the entirety of my life. His death may bring closure to the families of the victims of Pam Am Flight 103 that exploded over Lockerbie Scotland in December 1988. Qaddafi's face has long been the face of terror for me. (See the attached link to a previous article about my personal connection to Pan Am 103.)

As CNN and Fox News show celebrations of his death and the Libyan rebels cheering in the streets and shooting their machine guns skyward in jubilation, I think Libya's future hangs in the balance. Will Libya have a chance at democracy, freedom, and peace for it's people or will it implode like so many other Middle Eastern countries? Time will tell.

Will his death really bring closure? I hope that the families of the 270 people who died on December 21, 1988 will find peace and closure in Qaddafi's death. Even though I know he's dead and I've seen the footage, I still feel unsettled about the whole thing. A sick feeling in the pit of my stomach remains. I'm not feeling any closure or peace. Of course, I'm relieved that he's gone and is no longer a menace to the world. Yes he was murdered, but was he brought to justice? No. Neither have all of his accomplices. I guess that is what leaves me unnerved and restless. Innocent people died for no good reason, and I see no justice. The one person indicted in this tragedy remains free. Another is dead, but maybe death is ultimate punishment.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Washer Woes Wear On

The culprit with boxes of parts,
 waiting for a fix
Have you ever walked into your laundry room and the horrible stink being emmited from the room forced you to quickly turn around and flip on the fan before you slam the door behind you? If you own a front-loader washing machine similar to mine you know exactly the stench that I'm talking about.

My washing machine seemingly gets continuous use each and every day. I was away over the weekend and the washer sat dormant for maybe two days tops. What an unpleasant surprise I walked into! I thought that some small animal had crawled in there to die. A thorough search found no dead mouse but the door to the top loader was closed. You wouldn't think that closing the washer door for a day or two would cause such a horrible smell?!

At least I was able to rid the room of the stench by running a load of laundry. Also waiting for me upon my return were boxes of parts that the Sears repairman had ordered last week. Great! Now I just need them installed. Installation is proving a bit difficult as no one will return my calls or e-mail about getting the repairs done. I guess I'll try calling again today or maybe someone at Sears will spot this blog post and contact me.

Meanwhile the washing machine drama continues. What will happen next week? Will Christianna's front-loader ever get repaired? Stay tuned!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Hellish Washing Machine Saga Continues

So it seems that Sears has a very active social media department. I was completely astonished by the comment that SearsCare posted within 24 hours of my publishing the Washing Machine From Hell story. (Check out the comment section on my last post.) Who would think that Sears was so tech savvy! Their social media support team apparently trolls websites and blogs searching for disappointed customers, like me, who are writing unsatisfactory reviews of their products and making these views public via blog. Very smart.

I was curious to see if Sears actually would make an attempt to help me out with this horrible washing machine so I called them up on Monday morning. It turns out that my washing machine isn't classified as a true lemon so it cannot be replaced. However it does have a "service warning flag" on it, meaning it's a repairable lemon. Knowing my luck with repairing this machine, I didn't want to put any more money into it, waste my time, or a repairman's time. Sears assured me that they will repair the machine for FREE (including parts and labor) each time it needs repairs! Awesome! That's a good compromise.

We go ahead and schedule repairs for Wednesday between 1 and 5 pm. Don't you just love those huge windows of time? Given that life gets crazy starting at 4:30 pm, I requested that the repairman arrive well before 5 pm. He arrives at 4:45 pm just as all hell is breaking lose with dinner, football practice, and a bus stop pick up time. He's a very nice repairman, and I do understand that he's on a timed schedule so I'm not purposely annoyed with him. It's just a bit ironic that he arrived at exactly the time I asked Sears not to send a repairman.

An hour later and after much discussion about who should pay, no repairs are made to the machine. I'm not at all surprised. The so-called "red flag" is for a problem that I have yet to encounter with the control panel for the rinse cycle. This part must be ordered. The black streaks and stink require replacing the rubber drum. This must also be ordered. The machine also likes to retain some of the detergent and all of the bleach that should drain out at the start of the cycle. You guessed it . . . this part must also be ordered.

Now I'm waiting for the parts to arrive at my house for installation into my machine. The Sears repairman assures me Sears will contact me to set up an appointment, so the nice repairman leaves. An hour later I open up the laundry room door to clean up the aftermath of the not repaired machine only to discover that the repairman has committed the cardinal sin of all front-loader owners. He closed the washing machine door. Never close that door! 

Until next time . . .