The Washer Sunset Approaches

When we bought our current home back in 2011 we also bought a new washer and dryer. I don’t remember why we bought a new washer and dryer. I don’t even remember being dissatisfied with our old ones. I guess Susan just wanted new appliances for the new house.

We bought our new washer and dryer from Hahn’s. I consider Hahn’s to be the Aldi’s of appliance stores. I don’t mean that negatively. Hahn’s sells things inexpensively because they don’t spend money on superfluous things in their showroom, like carpet. Also if I recall our Hahn’s was having a grand opening sale at the time.

When it comes to purchasing a particular make, model or style of washer, dryer, dishwasher, refrigerator, oven, stove, or any other appliance, I believe the person who will be using it most often should make the choice. Susan had her heart set on owning a front loading washer and dryer, so that’s what we bought.

I don’t remember much about the salesman at Hahn’s who sold us the washer and dryer, and that’s probably a good thing. I really only remember three things about the purchase. I remember that the display units were sitting on small plastic drawers, which we were told at the time of sale were not included in the purchase of the washer and dryer. The cost of the plastic pedestals was $400. When I threatened to leave, they found us a pair with scratches on the side for half that price. My vote was vetoed (milk crates) and we bought the stands. The second thing I remember is that the paperwork and sale took far longer than I thought it should have. The biggest television on display was showing Avatar on Blu-Ray, and the kids and I spent at least half an hour watching it. The last thing I remember is that it rained on us the whole way home with the washer and dryer in the back of my truck. We stopped and ate dinner at Whataburger and I stared out the window the whole time to make sure nobody stole the washer and dryer from the bed of my truck as we ate. Nobody did.

Including the cost of the pedestals, we paid nearly $1,500 for the washer and dryer.

Last year, the washer began “pausing” itself. The washer has a pause button. I’m not sure who starts a load of laundry and then decides to pause it, but the option’s there. Anyway, our washer now pauses itself. You press “play” to start washing a load (I don’t know why the washer has VCR-like controls on it) and three minutes later, the washer pauses itself. This seems like an entire problem that could have been avoided by not even putting a pause button on the washer, but there it is and that’s what it does.

The solution is to simply press play again, at which point the washer resumes and you eventually end up with a load of clean laundry. This was semi-annoying when it did it once per load. Now it does it three or four times per load. Every load. That means when you put the clothes in the washer and hit play, the timer reads “60 minutes.” If you come back in 60 minutes the timer will be flashing “57 minutes” and be paused, at which point you must press play again and come back in 57 minutes. Then it’ll say 40 minutes, and be paused. And so on and so forth. Like I said, it now stops three or four times per load. Everyone in the house has been trained to check the front of the washer when passing by the laundry room and press the button if it is flashing.

A few weeks ago, Susan called a repairman to come out and look at the washer. Based on some internet troubleshooting, we thought there was a problem with the water filter. We were wrong.

Turns out, the washer’s motherboard is “going out” according to the repairman. It’s not dead yet, but eventually it will die. The problem will continue to get worse until eventually the washer simply won’t unpause again and our clothes will be stuck in the washer while it’s full of water. The repairman showed us how to manually open the front of the washer should this happen.

“You’ll probably want a bucket to catch the water,” he offered.

The cost to replace the motherboard is $900, plus $70 for this last service call and $70 for the next one. I’m not sure if the $900 includes labor, but the washer new cost $600 so it’s a moot point. The manufacturer’s warranty was only good for a year. The extended warranty, which we did not purchase, would have covered the washer for three years. We have owned the washer for three years, three months.

We’re going to keep unpausing the washer for as long as that trick works. When it dies, we’ll replace it — probably with a top loader, and hopefully with one that doesn’t contain a motherboard.

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7 comments to The Washer Sunset Approaches

  • Something to keep in mind: Whirlpool top-loaders are pretty dependable, and the parts are cheap. Whirlpool sells their stuff under multiple brands, so check the off-brands that your local stores sell. Roper and Crosley are two you may see that are made by Whirlpool and use the same parts.

    I don’t think I’ve ever needed parts for a washer, but the last time I needed Whirlpool dryer parts, they cost me $25.

  • Jimmy

    I just so happen to have some experience with that style and very nearly that same model of washer.
    You gave me a coin door once and I’d be happy to return the favor now if possible. Send me a snapshot of the serial number sticker and let me go see what the real cost of a motherboard is.

    Those mobos are usually in the back at the bottom towards the right side (as you face the back). Easily installable.

  • Zeno

    I recently had a very similar problem with my dishwaher abruptly pausing in the midst of every wash cycle. My own online troubleshooting efforts revealed that while this could be caused by a faulty main board, it was also possible to be a problem with the input panel itself. The parts were more or less the same price, so I gambled that it was the panel and not the main board and I turned out to be right.

    Secondly, at about this same time I had to replace the water pump in my mother’s front-loading washer which necessitated a breakdown of that unit to a point where either the panel or board could have been replaced if needed. That being said, and knowing younas I do, I believe that your washer is a repair job well within your personal range of capability. You should look online to see if you can find a replacement board (or panel) cheaper than you were quoted and try replacing them on your own. At the very least you won’t have to pay for labor.

  • Mom

    I too bought those front loaders (the set plus drawers) and lets just say I’m less than impressed. Already had one service call for a broken plastic door latch, and they underperform my old set in every way. (The dryer not so bad, but the washer in EVERY way!) Smaller loads, frequent off balanced loads, no way to reset, you have to take some wet clothes out and do the complete load again, then a second load with the remaining clothes. Wash cycles take about twice as long. The list goes on and on. When mine goes out I’ll turn it into a compost bin and get an old style top loader!

  • Hi, as Zeno says, it may very well be the input panel: were it faulty, the movement of the load inside the washer could trigger the “Pause” button. Once you find that your machine is unuseable, you could disassemble the input panel and make sure that you get rid of the pause button (maybe by cutting a track in the panel). Also, check the connections and loose wires. Washers tend to shake when spinning, and some connection could have gone loose. If you are going to get rid of the machine, then there is little to loose anyway, and it may be worth having a look inside. Who knows, it could end up being your next hardware project: write a piece of software for one of your Commodore 64’s so you run the machine by software, having the input panel connected to a joystick port and controlling the motor via relays activated from the user port. It is technically feasible!

    By the way, the pause button can be used if you start the machine and after that you realize that you want to put more clothes into it. If the washer is not full of water then it will probably unlock the door as to allow you to top up. The button can also be used in case of trouble, like when you discover a disconnected sewage pipe that would flood the laundry room would the water pump run.

    Regards, and good luck!

  • HomerSimpson

    Even if it was the MB, you could pull it and see what the caps look like. You’d be surprised at how many “modern appliances” stop working because one cap is bulging or blown. Put your arcade game troubleshooting skills to use. :) No sense spending $900 on a MB if it only needs a $0.03 cap to fix the issue.

  • Craig

    Rob,

    After replacing our second set of washers and dryers over a 20 year period, I wanted to find ones that could possibly last the 20+ years that most of them used to last.

    That’s when I found Speed Queen. Most people have never heard of them, but have seen them. Speed Queen makes most of the washers and dryers in commercial laundromats. Surprise of surprises when I found out they make a home model of each. All metal, no plastic. Over-engineered. Now, we’ve only had them for two years, but so far, so good.

    Just a little nugget for future consideration…