What a Week!

This was one of those weeks when doing what I needed to do didn’t leave any extra room for things I wanted to do. So no writing, and very little photography.

But let’s talk washing machines, shall we?  That has been the most trying issue of the week.

I have a lot of laundry, and a poorly functioning or non-functioning machine is not an option.  We just plain wore out our last machine, a GE, and I replaced it with another, but the newer model was a hybrid HE machine.  Supposedly, it had user selectable water levels, which is very important to me.  I’ve had HE machines before, and they just don’t work.  No water means no cleaning.

The precise fill setting is supposed to let the machine sense the load and choose the appropriate, ecologically friendly water depth. The other settings are supposed to allow the user to select water depths, which is very important to me for things like diapers. They need more water than you would think in order to wash clean. Then again, everything needs to swish in actual water in order to come clean.
The precise fill setting is supposed to let the machine sense the load and choose the appropriate, ecologically friendly water depth. The other settings are supposed to allow the user to select water depths, which is very important to me for things like diapers. They need more water than you would think in order to wash clean. Then again, everything needs to swish in actual water in order to come clean.

Everything went fine for a couple of months, but then I started noticing that our laundry was coming out tangled up – a sure sign that they were not getting enough water – and so I put a magnet on that annoying lid device and watched it run.  I could see the water line that it should have been getting to, but it was several inches below that.  Even more disturbing, it filled up to different levels, depending on whether there was laundry in it or not, or how much laundry was in it, even while on the same super setting.  In fact, the small setting sometimes filled higher than the super setting!

You can see the max fill line on the tub wall, but the reality is that it hasn't filled up this high in months. Maybe even since we first bought it. I know that it should have been able to handle a twin comforter, but Jon's fluffier one never made it entirely into the water and still had soap on it when it came out, even using the wash cycle appropriate for bulky items.
You can see the max fill line on the tub wall, but the reality is that it hasn’t filled up this high in months. Maybe even since we first bought it. I know that it should have been able to handle a twin comforter, but Jon’s fluffier one never made it entirely into the water and still had soap on it when it came out, even using the wash cycle appropriate for bulky items.

We don’t usually buy warranties, but we did this time, considering how quickly we used up our last machine, so I called the repairman.  Three weeks later, and after waiting all day for him to arrive, he ordered some parts.  “These won’t fix your problem, but that’s all I can do.”  Two weeks later, another man came out to install them.  “These won’t fix your problem, but there’s nothing else we can do.”  He ran the machine empty, on super, and it filled to the max fill line.  I put a load of diapers in, and it filled to less than halfway.  Later, I filled it again, empty this time, and it still only filled halfway.

This is the real max fill line, most of the time. Less than half a tub full of water. 10-12 gallons of water. This is worthless to me.
This is the real max fill line, most of the time. Less than half a tub full of water. 10-12 gallons. This is worthless to me.

I checked the advertised specs on my machine and did some math.  It was advertised as having a 3.8 or 3.9 cu. ft. tub, depending on the website.  My measurements – and I generously did not remove space for the agitator, and measured all the way to the bottom of the dip at the base – yielded a maximum of 3.2 cu. ft.  Measured to the max fill line, I really only had, at most, 2.3 cu. ft.  And measured to the actual fill line?  1.7 cu. ft.!  Less than half the advertised tub capacity!  Again, clothes don’t clean if they aren’t in the water, so the water level really has to dictate the load size.

I called the warranty company again.  “The repairman’s work is guaranteed for 90 days, ” she said, “so we’ll send him back out to repair it again.”

“There’s nothing wrong with his repair, ” I replied.  “It’s the machine.”

“If he didn’t get it fixed, he’ll have to come back out and do the job right,” she said.

I was feeling pretty angry by now.  “There’s nothing else he can do.  Sending him out again will achieve nothing.  How do we get this machine replaced?”

“The manufacturer won’t do anything about the machine until you’ve had three service calls on it, and because the repair is warrantied for 90 days, this is just considered an extension of your first service call.”

So… you have to wait 90 days between service calls to reset the clock so that it counts toward your service call quota?!  Not amused, my friends.  Not amused.

So I called Lowes, the store we purchased it from – in July – and spoke to a manager.  He didn’t even quibble about taking back the machine.  “You still have your purchase and warranty receipts?  Just bring it in and we’ll exchange it for any washer you want.”

“Actually, I’d rather have my money back.  You don’t carry any other washers I want.”

“No problem, “he said.

So, kudos to Lowes.

Except I’m going to be needing a washing machine, and one that works.

Here’s some other disturbing information I’ve acquired in the past couple of weeks.  Water fill levels are dictated by the federal government.  So are water temperatures.  Mine fills with hot water when selected, but this machine just missed the cutoff for new water temp standards; most newer machines will actually fill with lukewarm water, even if hot is selected.

What to do?

I need a reliable, top-loading washer that actually fills with water; I’m perfectly capable of deciding how big my load is and how much I need.  I need it to fill with hot water when I want it to, because, once again, diapers.

You’ve probably guessed I’ve been looking at commercial washers.  Speed Queen makes a home line (meaning they don’t have coin slots) that is produced, they say, to the same standards and on the same line as their commercial models.  It’s supposed to last 25 years.  (I’ll be happy with 10!)  It fills to the full capacity of it’s 3.3 cu. ft. tub.  Unless it’s on the eco setting required by California law, it will not dilute the hot tap water, if hot is the selected temperature.  And they have a model that doesn’t have electronic controls; it works by old fashioned knobs.

Sounds like a dream machine to me!  I’m picking one up on Monday, right after I return this lemon to Lowes.  I’ll let you know how it works out.

5 Comment

  1. Ug! This is so frustrating! I despise the fact that the federal government is more and more involved in our everyday lives. In my opinion, I should not notice what they do. If it is effecting my life in some way, they’re going too far. (Hello Obamacare! And the stupid lightbulb law!)

    We have an old GE top loader that still works great. I’m guessing it’s at least 10 years old. I’m dreading having to replace it. I’m curious about the commercial washer you’re looking at. Is the price comparable to other washers?

    1. Agreed, CMerie! Mind your own business, government. The Speed Queen is not badly priced. I paid $404 plus tax, and another $100 for the warranty, for the GE; the Speed Queen is $800 and comes with a 3 year warranty, 5 years if you get an electronic model. So it’s more than some, but a lot less than others. If it works, it’ll be worth it!

  2. I bought a Speed Queen almost 2 years ago, after several moms in my homeschool group recommended it. It’s the best washing machine I’ve ever had. My mom bought one last year, and the appliance store manager told her most of his employees — and ALL of his repairmen — wouldn’t buy any other brand.

    1. I’d been looking at commercial brands kind of half-heartedly, till I asked the repairmen what they would recommend. Speed Queen it was! I’m glad you’ve been happy with yours, and I can’t wait till we get ours tomorrow! I might hold off on at least one load of wash till we get home with it. 🙂

  3. Well, I know what my next washing machine is going to be. 🙂 I am so glad you posted this story.

    I have an LG Tromm front loading HE machine. It is really a workhorse. I have had it for 8 years now and it has done laundry for anywhere between 4 and 9 people (we used to share it with tenants, and now we’re a family of 8 by ourselves), and cloth diapers for 7 years straight. I do have an issue with the water use-you are right that it needs more. I have struggled with ammonia build up in my diapers for years. I have finally began to do a pre-rinse and two extra rinses in addition to the 2 hour long sanitary cycle (which uses extra hot 160 degree water) for the diapers. It seems to be working better. I feel like after 8 years, my machine is living on borrowed time. Everything is such garbage nowadays, I am surprised it’s still going. I live in dread of its death. But, at least now I have an idea of where to go next!

    I hope your Speed Queen is all you’ve hoped and more.

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