Washing Machine

My washing machine died yesterday, refusing to have anything to do with a spin cycle. I am left with sodden bedding and a lack of jeans. I suppose I am thankful, at least this happened on a week that I am home and not on the road.

I googled the problem, discovering quickly that the average life of a washing machine is 8 years, (11 with good maintenance) and realized that the transmission on my machine is gone and it is simply not worth fixing.  The cost to fix it will come close to the cost of a brand new machine, and that my friends, is that. My washing machine is 7 years, 1 month and 5 days old. It hasn’t had maintenance, good, bad or otherwise. I did run some vinegar through it about 3 months ago, but apparently that didn’t get me anywhere.

I find myself annoyed and flummoxed. The microwave oven my parents had lasted for 20 years. The television lasted for thirty. The vacuum cleaner was 25 years old when my mother replaced it.

Most of all I am annoyed because I am looking at new washing machines. You can spend, and I wouldn’t joke about this, just under $2,000 on a washing machine. Not actually a washing machine that retrieves your laundry from your closet, sorts it, washes it according to instructions, hangs your delicates and returns your t-shirts and socks to the right drawer either.

Nope, it’s just a washing machine. Well, actually not quite, because it uses steam, and I don’t understand at all how that works, nor do I care. It does seem to me that if you use steam you are ironing more than washing.

When we bought the first machine, front loading washers were just coming out and the price differential was more than twice the cost of my Maytag. Now it is about $150, and I find myself even more annoyed. When the price was double it was easy to disregard. It was simply out of our price range.

Now I am looking at them, which leads me to the next part of my problem – location. At least, for once in this blessed house’s existence there is no issue about space. The basement is wide open. It’s also concrete and crypt like and dank. I am a bit concerned that I will find myself, having bought a shiny new front end loader, fixing up the basement to give the washing machine a space worthy of it’s appearance. It seems distinctly likely, as I type that, that this is the way crazy lies.

And then there’s the problem of matching. The non functioning washer and the functioning dryer (as long as it hasn’t gotten any ideas) match. And whatever I buy, they won’t match any more. So, does this matter? I grew up in a house where they didn’t match; but then again, I grew up in a house where things lasted decades not years. Maybe things should match. Maybe if I get a front loading washing machine the dryer will develop feelings of inadequacy and it will die sooner. I think about these things you know.

Finally, the problem is that this is a still a small problem. I am a woman with about three loads of laundry. I am not the only bulwark against three children in cloth diapers, with the tummy flu. I am just me. I can get through another week. It’s not actually a crises, at least not yet. So, I click away at websites and I marvel at the costs and the colours and I don’t actually go and buy anything. Other than more underwear for Mr. Spit. I might do that today.

Oh tell me internets, have you bought a new washing machine lately? Any recommendations?

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16 Responses to Washing Machine

  1. sharah says:

    Ours is 3 years old, and we bought the top-of-the-line-that-still-uses-dials-instead-of-a-touchscreen top load from Sears. I don’t like the load-sensor that decides for you how much water to fill and will probably downgrade to an even more basic washer next time.

    Also, I’ve been seeing commercials for front load washer “cleaners” lately. Like if you don’t run cleaner through, they start to smell? I can’t stomach the idea of having to wash out my washing machine.

  2. loribeth says:

    Things sure don’t last the way they used to, do they?? :p I was livid when the practically new dishwasher conked out after a little more than two years. Even the guy who delivered the replacement commented, “Well, that sure didn’t last long, did it?” :p The replacement has lasted longer, thankfully. (Knocking wood.)

    We replaced our washer & dryer a little over two years ago and I posted about it here:


    Still loving them. : ) The dryer can be a bit finicky at times, but it usually means I haven’t shut/latched the door firmly enough. (You have pets so if you get a front loader & leave it open, you will have to check carefully to ensure there isn’t a cat curled up inside before you start it.) ; ) Feel free to ask me any questions. I was told the German-made machines were the best, but the Koreans were quickly catching up.

  3. a says:

    I love my front loader, although we are on our second one (the first one lasted approximately 9.5 years, with no maintenance). They do smell if you leave them shut, but so would a top loader. The only difference, I think, is that you are more likely to close the door to your front loader so you don’t walk into it. Regardless of how fancy it might look, it’s still just a washer, so there’s no need to spiff up the place. And who cares if it matches? You might. I don’t. I would rather my 11 year old dryer continue to work for another 10-20 years, rather than replace it just to match.

  4. a says:

    We have an LG washer. I think the dryer is GE or Whirlpool – can’t remember offhand. The old washer was a Whirlpool. My friend says don’t buy a Kenmore washer, though. They don’t last at all.

  5. a says:

    Ha! And I just read Loribeth’s post – maybe it’s the Kenmores for the American market that don’t last. My friend had his for just over a year, I think, and something major broke.

  6. Betty M says:

    I bought a new washing machine last year. Front loading as top loaders don’t exist this side of the Atlantic outside laundrettes. It’s a marvel. So much more efficient, energy saving and quieter than the old one ( that lasted about 8 years). It’s a Bosch. With front loads they suggest you leave the door open after you have finished to make sure it completely dries out and do a very hot wash every now and again to stop it getting smelly – apparently the smelliness is due to everyone doing colder washes these days. Ours hides behind a cabinet door so I don’t mind about it not matching the drier.

  7. Reese says:

    Went to Sears and spent $400 on a Kenmore 4 years ago and its been a fine, simple machine. We want a front loader eventually, but I can’t seem to cough up the $1800 for the pair yet. I may when this dies in a few years.

  8. I have a front loader Bosch that lives with its door open. Hot wash = my usual sheet/towel wash. I envy the top loaders you ladies have. I think they have a much better capacity for large loads. I can’t get the sheets *and* the mattress protector for my bed in my machine in one load.

    I need to deal with our oven, which keeps randomly not working….

    You could check what Yarnharlot bought when Mr Washie died?

  9. Kate Smith says:

    Got a plain-jane basic GE washer and dryer from Lowes in 1999 – they’re still working (knock wood). The reason I prefer top loaders is that occasionally, I like to felt/full a knitting project. Not easy to do with the front loader. My mom does tons of laundry, and loves her front loader.

    Normal and delicate cycles are plenty for my needs, so I went with the most basic I could find, on the theory that there would be fewer things to go wrong. The two together were $600 US, but that was 13 years ago. I did have to replace something on the dryer 5 years ago – it ran me $150.

  10. loribeth says:

    I actually feel like I can do bigger loads in my front-loader — no agitator taking up space in the middle.

    My washer has a “clean cycle” feature — I use it with a cup of bleach once a month or so & that’s supposed to help keep the machine clean & smell-free. There are actual products you can buy to clean your washer, but I think the bleach does the job just as well.

    And oh yes, I remember the saleslady we dealt with, as well as a few things I read, were rather dubious on the merits of steam.

  11. HereWeGoAJen says:

    We have a giant top loading machine. I went for that one because Matt is so tall that all his clothes are huge. With this machine, I can get all our darks in one load per week. (With our old tiny rental house washer, it took five loads.) It is a Cabrio, I think. When I bought it, it was the big one but now I think there are a bunch of other similar ones out there.

  12. Carmen says:

    Ours was about 8 years old and went a few mo ths ago. We tried to sell the functioning dryer on kijiji for cheap to no avail. We were told by the guys at Sears that our dryer probably had another three years in it. Sadly it looks like it is headed to the landfill. We decided since it only had a few years left to buy a matching pair. Might be worth asking how long your brand of dryer probably has left. Also look at what you want your washer to do. I looked at a top loader but many no longer can match the agitation of a front loader. I also wanted one that could handle quilts. Good luck!

  13. debby says:

    I do not know anyone who has a Maytag Neptune that has not had a problem. Ours has had the control panel replaced twice, once under warranty, once not. It sounds like a freaking airplane taking off, and I am grateful that it is in the basement of a very large house. Avoid them. FYI? Whirlpool and Kenmore are supposedly made by the same manufacturer.

    Have you considered beating your clothes on a rock. Rocks last forever. Modern technology? Not so much.

  14. Dawn from the frozen North says:

    My uncle was a Maytag repair man (nope, not the guy in the commercials) His advice – buy the simplest machine you can find. Just like a dishwasher, the average person uses one or two settings, and not the 50 that seem to be available. He also did not recommend a Neptune.

  15. Maureen says:

    I got a front loading washing machine 7 years ago. Love it. I definitely can get a lot more in it, and the clothes seem to be cleaner, than my previous top loading. At that point, we needed both a washer and drier (just moved out of an apartment, and had got rid of everything like that when we had moved there). We bought a cheap drier off of craigslist for $50, hoping it would last 6 months. It still works fine (with no maintenance), and we will not be replacing it until it craps out. So our obviously don’t (and at this point most likely never will) match. Can’t say that anyone has noticed or commented. Can’t say that I would really care if someone did (other than look at them in wonder what type of person they are to notice or care that my washer and drier match). Around here, a washing machine malfunction would be a quick crisis.

  16. Sigrun says:

    We had a 2o+ year-old Maytag set, the washer started bouncing, and the dryer needed $300+ worth of work. The technician said the washer would be more expensive than that to repair. So I quickly checked consumer reports, and got a new set (top-loading because I use the washer to soak and spin my lovely hand-knit sweaters, and there are too many variables on front-loaders–they often felt your sweaters.) So we took the old ones to the dump, had to use the loader to move them off the deck and to the truck–heavy as heck. Had a little tribute ceremony at the dump, then went for the new set. The guy loaded them onto the truck by hand-lifted them up all by himself.
    Installed them. The dryer is great, lots of temperature variables, and a sensor so it knows when to quit. The lint screen is on top, which I HATE. Dust and lint everywhere when I pull that long thing out. And the washer bounces worse than the old one. Figured out that the bouncing is because of the new (Armstrong Natural Fusion, textured, very resilient)floor. Even balancing it didn’t help. It washes very well, but at the end of every laundry day (or week, as the case may be) I have to pull it back into place. My other technician who came for the dishwasher said that a front-loader would have vibrated worse under these circumstances–I’m going to get a sheet of heavy plywood to put under to see if that helps.

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