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Front-Loading washing machines?
Old 06-17-2008, 11:56 AM   #1
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Front-Loading washing machines?

Our old (10+years) Kenmore super-capacity top-loader is starting futz out, and we're planning to buy a new washer in the next six months. I'm really interested in a high-efficiency front-loader and wondered if anyone here had experiences, recommendations or thoughts they'd like to share.

While we've been happy with the Kenmore (bought from the previous owner of this place when we moved in 6 years ago) and it's been durable and reliable, we're not attached to a brand.

I like the water-saving features of the front loaders, and the fact that they use less soap, too. Also, they seem to put less wear on clothes because there's no agitator.

I probably do about 10 loads of laundry a week.

Advice on matching dryers is appreciated -- ours works fine and gets much less use than the washer because I line-dry most of our stuff, but it will probably make sense to buy a set and sell or recycle the set we have.

And, we'd be interested in durability. We'll pay more for quality that will last a long time.

Thanks!
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Old 06-17-2008, 12:04 PM   #2
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Cannot comment about the washers, although I hear good things about the front loaders. But why do you think you need a set? If the dryer works, there is no magic to having matching appliances, especially ones most people have squirreled away out of sight.
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Old 06-17-2008, 12:11 PM   #3
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We just bought a Kenmore He2t washer about 6 months back and we love it. As you said, it uses less water and soap. It also looks much cooler than our old top loader. Check Consumer Reports and look at the Laundry forum on Gardenweb for more info on washers/dryers.

I would suggest that you check your local water and gas companies. We got a $300 rebate from our water company and a $35 from our gas company.

I agree with Brewer, no need to get rid of the dryer, especially if it has a moisture sensor. A lot of the dryers seem to be overpriced to match the price point of the more expensive front loading washers.
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Old 06-17-2008, 12:18 PM   #4
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We have a front loader washer and dryer. We also bought the pedestals. Not sure of brand, I think we purchased them at HH Gregg and each is about 2.5 years old (we bought them new when we moved into our new house).

Our laundry is first floor, with a hollow laundry chute into our master closer on second floor. The front loader is LOUD. We can close the door to the laundry room and it helps... my advice is that if the laundy room is on a living floor (as opposed to basement), get the one with the quiet feature (we did not). Might cost you $50-$100 on the washer, but the quiet will help (ours echos up the laundry shoot to the closet as well).

If we shut the closet door and laundry room door, the noise is next to nothing. But we don't always remember to close those doors.
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Old 06-17-2008, 12:32 PM   #5
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Tried a front load washer a few years ago, it didn't hold up. I suspect it is due to the fact that shaft deflection is higher in the horizontal position than in the vertical position. (greater overhung load due to weight of the drum and contents) Not so much a factor in the dryer, there are no seals to leak.

But the front load washers do use less water. Not sure how you amortize that against premature repair bills.

Get a good warranty.

On mine, the "quiet feature" was nothing more than molded concrete counterweights to dampen the vibrations of the drum turning at high speed with an off-center load of wet clothes- which is what wore out the shaft and seals prematurely.
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Old 06-17-2008, 01:12 PM   #6
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Tried a front load washer a few years ago, it didn't hold up. I suspect it is due to the fact that shaft deflection is higher in the horizontal position than in the vertical position. (greater overhung load due to weight of the drum and contents) Not so much a factor in the dryer, there are no seals to leak.
Check samclem talking about his Staber washer:

New Groovy Washing Machine

search staber on the forum for more.

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Old 06-17-2008, 01:13 PM   #7
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I got a front loader about a year ago.

I have found that it spins more water out of the clothes so they take less to dry.

I don't know if it uses less water since I am not on metered water. Other people say they do use less.

I miss having the ability to soak clothes before washing...or during the cycle. I am a gardener and sometimes have clothes that have rubbed in dirt. Even rubbing in liquid laundry soap does not get all the dirt out the way it did when I was able to soak the clothes.

It definitely uses less soap.

I did not buy a matching dryer since I had a fairly new dryer.

I would get the drawers underneath since I have to squat to put laundry in and out without the pedestal.
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Old 06-17-2008, 01:39 PM   #8
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Thanks for the replies, all.

Brewer, we don't need a new dryer, but I want a new dryer. Ours is too big for the space it's in (an alcove off our hallway). I'd love one that fit so we could close the area off and not look at it all the time.

ERD50 -- I just read the thread about the Staber -- I'll run the numbers and see if such a thing makes sense for us.

To all -- reading your posts I realized that I really, really care about durability. I want something that will hold up under heavy use for at least 10 years, and I want it to use as little water as possible.
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Old 06-17-2008, 01:40 PM   #9
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We had an LG for quite a while... loved it.

Roommates have a Kenmore. It works well but has some odd water retention issues with the bleach and softener containers.

edit: The LG dryer was very nice as well. One thing about front-loaders is that, if you can get the door latched, you're good to go. We'd cram all of our towels in there.

And, anything that was delicate, handwash-only, or dry clean (marked 'dry clean' but not 'dry clean only') went in the washer. We never lost any clothes to the washer and some pretty darn lacy stuff went through there.
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Old 06-17-2008, 02:35 PM   #10
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We've had the LG front loader and matching dryer for almost 2 years and are very happy with them. Since it's only been two years, I can't say too much about reliability but I do know the washer uses a lot less water than our old traditional machine. Our only source of water is collected rain, so water use was very important to us when picking this washer. We've also noticed that drying times are less too.
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Old 06-17-2008, 04:02 PM   #11
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I miss having the ability to soak clothes before washing...or during the cycle. I am a gardener and sometimes have clothes that have rubbed in dirt. Even rubbing in liquid laundry soap does not get all the dirt out the way it did when I was able to soak the clothes.

I have a Sears Kenmore, front loader. I use the "prewash" setting for those items that need "soaking". It runs thru a relatively short cycle and does not spin the soapy water out...... just sets there soppy wet until you move the dial over to Wash.

You can wash a much larger load, large blankets, etc in the front loaders that you wouldn't consider doing in a top loader. E.g. I can wash 10-11 pr of jeans in one load. The downside of that is you can't wash one or 2 items as they don't really get clean, some of the cleaning action actually being from the clothes rubbing against each other.

I read in Consumers' Report that you save $ on getting mismatched pairs of washer/dryer, because merchants often inflate the price of the dryer to put its mated washer on sale. There isn't significant difference in the quality or function of today's dryers. Therefore, they recommend getting the most economical dryer (unless of course the esthetics of "matching" are important to you.)

Those "boxes" (or whatever they are called) that you essentially have to buy to keep you from lying on the floor to access the front loader are way overpriced, imo. Our washer/dryer are in the basement, outa sight. We have the washer up on concrete blocks. I guess we could "pretty it up" a bit, but haven't done anything so far. The dryer is also Kenmore, not really "matching" per se, but both are white.
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Old 06-17-2008, 05:57 PM   #12
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I bought a front-loader and unmatched dryer (each on clearance) about a year ago. My Frigidaire front loader is very quiet; I'm surprised that one could be noisy.

My apartments aren't individually metered, so I am seeing less than 1% of the water savings I get. I don't have a way to compare the electric savings of having to heat less water.

I also can't tell yet if it's easier on the clothes, but I do notice less lint on the dryer screen which I assume means my clothes are wearing out more slowly.

Some people have mildew smell problems with front loaders, but I always leave my door open and my soap tray open so they can dry out properly. No smells so far, but if you have one of those shallow hallway closets the doors might get in your way. My washer closet lets me keep the doors open without being in the way.

The front loader hardly ever gets out of balance in the spin cycle like my top loaders have. And it does spin clothes dryer than a top loader.
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Old 06-17-2008, 07:11 PM   #13
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We've had good luck with a Kenmore H2 for a couple of years now. Really spins the clothes dry. We use ours on a concrete slab, but I can see where one on a joist supported floor might shake the whole house. I think that a matching dryer is a sales gimmick, as are the overpriced pedestals. But to each his own.
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Old 06-17-2008, 08:30 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Urchina View Post
Thanks for the replies, all.

ERD50 -- I just read the thread about the Staber -- I'll run the numbers and see if such a thing makes sense for us.

To all -- reading your posts I realized that I really, really care about durability. I want something that will hold up under heavy use for at least 10 years, and I want it to use as little water as possible.
Yes! Another washer post!

As you've no doubt surmised from my previous posts--I don't think you can beat a Staber for reliability.
Built to last: Works as efficiently as a front loader, washes clothes in the same gentle way, but avoids the two Achilles heels of that design: The front door seal and the cantilevered drum that has only one bearing.
Built to be easy to fix: Once you see all the plastic parts, the proprietary bubble-membrane switches, and the inaccessible components of a typical modern washer, you'll appreciate the "anyone can fix this" design of the Staber.

Someday, a car company will produce a modern car designed with a philosophy similar to the Staber washer, and it will have an instant loyal following. Anyone who has replaced a heater blower motor or a windshield wiper motor in a modern car knows the problem I'm talking about.
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Old 06-17-2008, 08:49 PM   #15
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The only routinely "bad" front-loaders I've encountered are Neptunes and HE2s. They've probably all rusted/rotted away by now (or burned out their electronics) so you shouldn't encounter any surprises during your shopping.

Some front-loader users complain about mold around the door seal or mildew smells. The solution is to leave the door open after a load for a few hours (or even overnight) and to clean out the occasional hairball from the rubber seal. We've never had a mold problem.

We bought our Kenmore front-loader off Craigslist. It's at least five years old now and nary a problem.

"Shaft deflection" concerns indicate a lack of quality. The drum on our Kenmore is supported from below by several shock absorbers. The drum rotates around the door but it's not a load-bearing surface. There's a bearing in the back of the drum but again I doubt it sees more force than is needed to keep the drum from spinning off the shock absorbers. And boy, does it spin! Clothes are practically dry at the end of the cycle.

We had water-retention issues in the dispensers for the first couple loads, but it turned out to be from using too much detergent & fabric softener. You'll use about two tablespoons (one-eighth of a cup!) of detergent and you may find that you no longer need fabric softener. You may decide to open the dispenser door after a load to let it dry too.

I wouldn't buy a new dryer unless it was included at a huge discount. Shrug your shoulders at the sales clerk and walk away. You may not be using your current dryer much now, and you'll use it even less with a front-loader washing machine. Heck, when you're hanging a load the first couple pieces might be dry before you finish hanging the rest of the load.
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Old 06-17-2008, 09:01 PM   #16
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I might have to replace the washing machine before too long; I am thinking either Staber or Asko.

I like the Asko self heating.
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I just got a Staber washer
Old 06-17-2008, 09:17 PM   #17
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I just got a Staber washer

Quote:
Originally Posted by Urchina View Post
Our old (10+years) Kenmore super-capacity top-loader is starting futz out, and we're planning to buy a new washer in the next six months. I'm really interested in a high-efficiency front-loader and wondered if anyone here had experiences, recommendations or thoughts they'd like to share.

While we've been happy with the Kenmore (bought from the previous owner of this place when we moved in 6 years ago) and it's been durable and reliable, we're not attached to a brand.

I like the water-saving features of the front loaders, and the fact that they use less soap, too. Also, they seem to put less wear on clothes because there's no agitator.

I probably do about 10 loads of laundry a week.

Advice on matching dryers is appreciated -- ours works fine and gets much less use than the washer because I line-dry most of our stuff, but it will probably make sense to buy a set and sell or recycle the set we have.

And, we'd be interested in durability. We'll pay more for quality that will last a long time.

Thanks!
After doing a fair amount of shopping after my 2-1/2 year old top-load Maytag crapped out on me due to a seal failure that would've cost over $500 to fix, I was anxious to find a washer that would last me a LONG time, give me good washing results, and save money, too.

I think the Staber fits the bill. I've only had it about a month, but I am pleased with it. It seems to have a lot of the benefits of a front loader without the negatives of a front loader.

>>It has a pre-soak setting, unlike some of the front loaders.

>>Also, unlike most front loaders, it allows you to access the drum anytime (except when it is spinning), if you need to add clothes, etc.

>>It allows you to choose cycle times -- 5, 10, 15 minutes of "soap sloshing" time.

>>It is designed to be maintained by the end-user -- so I won't be paying a repairman $140 again (for the "entertainment value" of having him attempt a repair and then still have the washer need yet a more expensive repair).

>>It uses very little soap (I'm using 1/2 Tablespoon per load) and water (something like 14 gallons per load). This should result in savings as the cost of utilities is always increasing. I'm not on a septic system (I have city sewers), but I'd guess that fewer soapy gallons of water per load is better for the septic system.

>>I'm not on a solar power system -- but the installer told me that it is the only washer whose warranty will not be invalidated if used "off the grid". He sold 5 Stabers to adjacent homes along the shoreline that are using solar power.

On the other hand, if you are looking for something "glamorous-looking", this washer isn't it -- as looks like a bit of an "ugly duckling". It has zero chrome on it and the switches and knobs are functional, though a bit dated-looking. On the other hand, they should last a long time and I can fix them if they ever fail.

When I was shopping, I was overwhelmed by all of the washer choices out there -- ones that can steam your clothes, etc. I sat down and made a list of what I needed my washer to do (clean clothes efficiently, etc.) and not do (have agitator blades that catch straps, etc.). After this analysis, the Staber rose to the top.

Hope that helps,

omni
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Old 06-17-2008, 10:11 PM   #18
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Here's a YouTube video about the Staber. Very interesting. I'll consider this when my Maytag top loader needs to be replaced.



I like the idea of the more efficient front loaders, but I see that you really have to buy the pedestal or mount the machine on top of a raised platform. The pedestals are usually overpriced. So the top loading, but horizontal axis Staber solves that problem.
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