December 21, 2014

Washing Machine Shopping Guide

Buying a new washing machine can be daunting. Many consumers find themselves standing in an appliance store looking at so many styles and brands, they are overwhelmed. Add to that the fact that often washer purchases are made in a rush because the old machine is broken and the laundry is piling up.

To help the frazzled shopper, we offer this list of questions to consider before heading out to the store.

What type of washer do I need?
If you are buying a replacement washer, you’ll probably choose the same type. If you are moving into a new home, remodeling or just looking for a change, you’ll want to choose a washer that fits the washer/dryer configuration you prefer; either side-by-side or stacked. If you live in a smaller home or apartment, compact washers require little space. They come in both stationary models and portable versions which can be stored in a closet and rolled to a nearby sink for use. Full-sized washers are now available in either top-loading or front-loading models. Front loaders can be placed under counters or stacked under a dryer, and save on energy costs. They are more expensive to purchase than conventional top-loading washers, and require special low-sudsing detergents to get the best results. If you live in an area with very high water and energy costs, like the western U.S., your energy savings could offset the purchase price difference. If you live in another area, you’ll want to spend some quality time with your calculator to determine if a front loader or a top loader is best for you.

What capacity washer should I choose?
Since your new washer is likely to last 10 to 15 years, you’ll want to consider both your family’s current and future size. Your laundry habits are also a consideration. Do you prefer to do your laundry in frequent small loads, or does your schedule require you to do large infrequent loads? There can also be seasonal factors, like sports and other outdoor activities, which might make a large capacity washer a welcome convenience.

How quiet should my washer be?
With more laundry rooms moving out of the basement and into living areas, quiet operation is becoming an important consideration. If you’re looking for a quiet washer, be sure to check for insulation inside the cabinet. Some models have sound-absorbing pads on all sides. Quality engineering and design also play a big part in sound reduction. A strong frame and suspension can help reduce a washer’s vibration from an unbalanced load. You’ll want to ask your appliance dealer about the quality of the stabilizing springs on models you’re considering, and be sure to check for thick rubber pads on the legs. They not only help reduce sound, they also protect your floors from scratches.

Should I look for an energy-efficient model?
Different washer models do vary in the amount of energy they use, and front-loading washers generally use less energy than top loaders. Front loaders cost more, and you will have to determine if energy costs in your area justify the higher purchase price. If you choose a top-loading washer, much of your energy savings will come from the choices you make when washing. Having a lot of cycle, water level and temperature options on your new washer will allow you to match the amount of hot water you use with your load. Some models offer a cold water rinse feature, which saves energy and gives you the same washing performance as a hot water rinse. Presoaking really dirty clothes can also save energy because, after the clothes have soaked, you can choose a regular wash cycle instead of the highest cycle setting. And, remember… when you’re in the store, be sure to compare the bright yellow Energy Guide labels to see which models run most efficiently.

What features are important to me?

Use catalogues, flyers and the Internet to identify your favorite two or three features. Popular features generally fall within three benefit categories:

* Ease-of-use Features
Consider who does laundry in your family before deciding which type of controls you want. Do children or an elderly family member need special consideration? Washer controls have become more advanced and, in many cases, easier to use. Electronic controls offer one-touch cycle selection and have easy-to-read digital displays. Other models have color coding and cycle indicator lights. A large lid opening can make loading and unloading easier. Most manufacturers offer automatic detergent, fabric softener and bleach dispensers, which make washing simpler and help avoid damage to fabrics. Some models also have self-cleaning lint filters. And, if you choose to stack your washer and dryer, you’ll not only reduce bending over, you’ll also save floor space.
* Performance Features
New washers offer a wide range of water temperature and cycle options, which allow you to customize your laundry for different fabrics and garments. Generally, the more cycle options your new washer has, the cleaner you’ll be able to get really dirty jeans, while protecting your fine delicates. You’ll want to find a washer that gives you the cycle and water temperature selections which match the clothes you normally wash. Some models have a water temperature sensor which automatically monitors and adjusts the hot and cold water flow to insure the ideal temperature for best washing results. And, remember to check your water heater setting to make sure the water coming to your new washer is hot enough. Normally, a setting of 120 degrees F. to 140 degrees F. will get good results.
* Durability Features
Washers must endure the corrosive effects of water and laundry chemicals, so rust protection is important. Ask your appliance dealer about the rust-proofing features which different manufacturers provide on washer cabinets and frames, as well as on working parts, like the pump. Check the fill hoses and fittings to make sure they are rust resistant and strong enough to last under high water pressure. Most washer models have a porcelain-coated wash tub, but you’ll want to find out if the coating is thick enough to withstand years of use without chipping. Stainless steel and plastic tubs won’t rust, but check the surface to see if it’s smooth enough to protect fine fabrics. If you’re going to use the top of your new washer as a work area, a porcelain enamel surface is more durable than paint. And, be sure to check the warranty. Some manufacturers cover rust and corrosion.

Good luck and enjoy your new washer!

Here are some of the Washers and Dryers available on the WEB:

Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing this wonderful article. Your article is very useful for people, who are looking to buying a washing machine.

  2. David Field says:

    Some of the front load machines have aluminium (Al) spiders connecting the spin drum to the drive pulley.
    Aluminium is corroded by, amongst other things, sodium hypochlorite (NaOCl) otherwise known as ‘bleach’, Sodium carbonate, Sodium percarbonate, (these later two I found listed on the contents of a popular laundry aid), sodium Hydroxide (NaOH) (this one is sometimes used as a stabiliser in ‘bleach’ but I did not find it listed on the two containers of ‘bleach’ I found in our house).

    To demonstrate what ‘bleach’ can do to aluminium just find a piece of scrap aluminium, without any coating, or remove the coating and let it sit in air for a couple of days to develop the naturally occurring oxide coating, then put one drop of ‘bleach’, straight from the bottle, onto the aluminium and leave it overnight. The following morning you should have a nice little pile of corrosion products on your aluminium. This is what can happen to aluminium components in your washer, albeit at a much slower rate because the ‘bleach’ is diluted.

    To check if any of your laundry products are harmful to aluminium perform an Internet search for the material safety data sheet for the chemical concerned (e.g. Sodium Hydroxide Material Safety data Sheet).

    I know these spiders are fitted to some ‘Kenmore’ (manufactured by Frigidaire) machines, some Frigidaire machines sold under their own name, and some GE machines. Very likely there are many others. Additionally any aluminium component in the water area is susceptible to corrosion.

    This information has been passed to Sears and Frigidaire.
    Sears advise that the information ‘will be passed to the appropriate departments’ but have refused to pass any further information on to us.
    Frigidaire have assured us that they use only the best quality materials and that they will pass on the information to their design engineers, the very people who would have specified aluminium in the first place. Hardly re-assuring.

    My wife and I have two Sears ‘Kenmore’ washing machines built by Frigidaire.
    I recently had to tear down the old one (8 years old) because of bearing failure. Nothing to fantastic there, those bearings take one heck of a pounding. In addition to the failed bearings and failed ‘spider shaft’ seal, likely caused by the bearing failure, the brass sleeve on which the lips of the seal run was scored, by the spring in the seal, rendering it unserviceable.
    What I also found on dismantling the machine was a build up of a deposit, resembling powdered detergent that had got damp and ‘clumped’ adhering, quite strongly, to the spider (a shaft [of steel], and aluminium hub with three spokes) which attaches to the stainless steel inner drum and the driving pulley. This ‘deposit’ would not flush away, as powdered detergent, being soluble in water, would have. I took my pressure washer to ours but still did not get it completely clean. Whereupon I discovered that the aluminium portion of the spider was quite heavily corroded towards the centre with almost no corrosion towards the outer third of the spokes.

    At first I thought this was galvanic corrosion caused by the steel of the shaft and the aluminium of the hub. There is quite an informative paper on Galvanic Corrosion, use ‘Yahoo’ and search for ‘UN1001 Reactor Chemistry and Corrosion’ and open the link that gives ‘un1001_Galvanic Corrosion’, the authors are Lister and Cook. The ‘deposit’ though had me puzzled until I researched corrosion of aluminium and discovered that it is normally corroded when immersed in an aqueous solution with a pH value below about 4.0 or above about 8.0 (nitric acid is apparently an exception). Common household bleach (sodium hypochlorite NaOCl) is a strong alkali. I placed a drop of bleach, straight from the bottle, on an undamaged section of a spoke from my spider and a drop of vinegar (acid), which my wife favours, on another arm and left them overnight. The following morning there was nothing left of the vinegar and no signs of damage to the spider. Where the bleach had been was a small pile of a whitish powder, which resembled the ‘deposit’ and was also, for the portion immediately adjacent to the spider, quite difficult to remove.

    Numerous detergents are alkaline, they have to be or they would not work, also alkaline are numerous other laundry aids. Reference to the ‘contents’ labels on the containers and the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) on the Internet will give more insight. In addition to ‘bleach’ I have found sodium carbonate and sodium percarbonate in laundry products in our house. Sodium hydroxide, which is sometimes used to stabilize ‘bleach’, is also strongly alkaline, and corrosive to aluminium, it was not listed however on the two ‘brands’ of bleach I found in our house.

    For some time prior to the bearing failure my wife had been complaining of a ‘moldy mildewey smell’ coming from the washer and leaving an odour on our laundry, particularly the towels. After I rebuilt the washer, new drum and spider, they are not available separately, together with new bearings and seal, it ran a lot quieter, no surprise, but here is the kicker, according to my wife ‘no smell’. Conclusion, the only thing different is no ‘deposit’. Now does the ‘deposit’ itself cause the ‘smell’ or does it collect undesirable compounds that cause the offensive aromas? I don’t know but it is certainly ‘food for thought’ particularly when I found two references on the Internet to people stripping their washers down and getting ride of ‘deposits’ which cured their ‘smell’. The odours, I fear, will return unless the owners alter their laundry habits.

    To see what corrosion of aluminium can do perform an Internet search “Why Kenmore Front Loading Washers Fail” and watch the short video. I do not agree with the comment that it is galvanic corrosion between the spider and the stainless steel drum, should this have been the case one would have expected the spider to be corroded adjacent to its connection to the drum. Neither do I believe the deposit the gentleman showed to be caked detergent for the reason stated above (mine would not flush away).