Sunday, February 12, 2012

Modern appliances

It is no secret that, although I enjoy and take advantage of many parts of it, there are parts of modern technology that frustrate me.

I will give you a good example.

In 1985, when Wife and I bought our first house after being married less than a year, my parents bought us a house-warming gift: a Maytag washer and dryer. My mother told us we would have them at least 20 years and she would have never had another brand.  They had very simple little knobs and controls and the washer had the normal cycles like gentle, delicates, permament press, etc.  All of this was, of course, operated with a little dial that would point you to the various features. Even I could work it.

Through the years of raising a family we washed and dried, I am certain, literally tons of laundry. 

In 2006, after 21 years of faithful service from the two machines, Wife and I dedcided it was time to replace them. We were not having any significant trouble but the drier was taking longer and longer to get clothes dry and the washer seemed, well, "tired."

We had gone a year past the time my mom had said they would last.  We had never had one repair call for the washer. We had had the drier serviced a couple of times but, as I remember, neither time was anything major or expensive.

We did a little research back in '06 and decided the front loading washer and dryer would be a good kind for us. The washers were reportedly very efficient and used less water and with a front load washer, we might as well have the same feature in a dryer.

I was on a trip to Colorado in September of that year and Wife called and said she had found a set she liked. I told her it was fine with me and when I got home, they had arrived.

We opted out of the little platforms you could buy to set them on so you wouldn't have to bend over as far.  They added several hundred dollars to the price and we reasoned that we could still bend down just fine and even envisioned maybe building (or having built) a custom platform sometime in the future.

Both machines have digital displays which are, of course, more difficult for me to deal with than what we previously had. But Wife was excited to have these new, modern appliances and I was confident we could both master operation of the updated controls.

We did learn how to work them but I am sorry to report that these machines, especially the washer, have been a major disappointment. The dryer has never seemed to get clothes completely dry on its normal run and we almost always have to add additional time to it. I've always felt like there was something I could probably do to remedy that problem but have never taken the time to try to figure it out.

The washer has been a nightmare. It is noisy beyond belief and it shakes the ENTIRE HOUSE. It sounds like an airplane about to take flight and if I'm upstairs and the windows begin to vibrate, I know that Wife is downstairs washing clothes. This is no exaggeration.

As to its ability to wash clothes, I would rate it a mediocre -- at best.  Clothes have seemed a little mildew-y at times. But the noise is by far the worst feature. 

We are throwing in the towel. Last weekend the digital display on the washing machine stopped at 22 minutes. Then it started flashing "N-D" which we, upon investigation, learned to mean "No Drain."  So our clothes were sitting in the machine, soaked, and the water was not draining. And we couldn't open the door.

I pulled it out from the wall and fooled around with the drainage hose.  Long story short, we were able to get it running again and got the water drained so we could get the clothes out, but this went on all week. We can operate the thing but we have to stop and start and it takes about 1.5 - 2 hours to wash a load.

Friday we had a repair guy come and he pronounced the control panel "fried."  The cost to repair?  A whopping $700 -- MORE THAN THE COST OF THE MACHINE!   In other words, this way cool, up- to-date washer lasted less than six years, about a fourth of the time of our first one.

We are going back to top loading and we're getting the simplest one we can find.   You know, all these digital displays and controls are just as cool as they can be but if they are not going to last any longer than this, I'm really not interested. 

Wife says we'll continue to live with the dryer for a while but I wonder about that.


Kelly said...

I have been considering the front load variety next since my older daughter loves hers. Now I wonder. Fortunately my current pair (Maytag, which replaced my original Maytags that lasted for years) is still in good working order. What brand are your front loaders?

Michael said...

We're on our third washing machine in five years, due to similarly-fried computer parts.

We've agreed that no matter how long the new one runs, and how many other newgangled features come out in future years, we will not replace it if it keeps running. We've spent enough money on that appliance for a lifetime!

Bob said...

Kelly -- they are Maytag! Susan has done some research and read some online reviews and apparently Maytag merged with Whirlpool a few years ago and the quality is not as good (in the opinion of some).

Michael - you are not encouraging me, Man!

Bob Barbanes: said...


That's funny, a friend of mine just bought some fancy (expensivo!) front-loaders, and he even got the elevated platform that you eschewed. People do like that style of washer, but heh- I hadn't thought about what happens if the pump craps out or it won't spin ;and you can't drain the water. What, do you lay the thing over on its back and pry the door open with a screwdriver?

I'm keeping my old top-loader washer.

Bob said...

Hey Bob . . . I don't know if you were subtly trying to point out a misspelling but according to, "dryer" is the conventional spelling, but apparently "drier" is also acceptable. The more I look the more I think "dryer" seems better and that's how it's spelled in the ads. I'm changing it. Thanks.

Debby said...

Bob? Is it a Maytag? Our control panel has been fried twice.

It might be a Whirlpool?

I find it very interesting that the complaints about these two brands are virtually the same.

Pencil Writer said...

I've looked at those "fancy" front-loading fancy priced laundry appliances because they are beautiful! And shiny. One of my sisters owns one--has had problems with hers and allows NO ONE else to use them. One of my brothers has one, two. When staying with him and his wife a year or two ago, I tried to make the washer work. Oh. My. Goodness. I told my husband, we can't afford the new-fangled beautiful washing machines or dryers. It's a lot of bells and whistles that, frankly, I don't want to have to worry about. I want an old fashioned SIMPLE top-loading washer with as few load options as possible--except for variable water levels--and I'll be good to go. I think after 42 years, we're on our third washer, second dryer. I'm going cheap. Besides, they don't make appliances to last these days. It makes me sad. Quality and integrity used to be valued. Not so much now. :(