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.

1 comment:

Kristie said...

Hi Christi, I'm sorry to read you've had so many issues with your washing machine. it's such an integral part of keeping a family going. Reading your article makes me glad that I didn't buy a front loading machine. I'm really frugal and don't usually jump on "new" things until they've proven to be worth it. I'll be using my 10 year old Kenmore top loader as long as possible. Then I'll buy another one. Boring, maybe, but reliable! Kristie