Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Jake, Your Friendly Virtual Repairman: Appliance Assistance at's Forums

When our 4 year old front -loading washer got hungry for the sweet, sweet taste of cotton, I was pretty bereft. Not only had a mechanical ally in the ongoing war against household chaos turned traitor, but the laundry piles were also rapidly mounting while decisions had to be made.

We had a repairman visit back in the spring when the clothes were just being nicked by the washer. He told us that it was a common issue with that model when overloaded. The problem was intrinsic to the washer's design, so there was no repair available. We stopped stuffing the washer and found no improvement. It actually cut the clothes more with fewer items in the load.

So, late one night in an appliance decision quagmire, I stumbled, via google, into's forums and Jake, the real life repairman behind them. This place is a DIYer's dream. Good, well-written, and sound advice offered promptly by a compassionate and seasoned professional.

I posted a "Can this washer be saved?" question and got plenty of useful advice that helped us make a confident decision to replace our fabric-hungry washer with one that we will be more able to repair ourselves. We are planning on getting a washer repair guide (like Chilton's auto guides) for our new washer from Jake's affiliate online parts sales.

Jake also offered us valuable social-engineering advice about working with the retailer where we purchased the item. They offered us a great deal on service (no labor or service call fees, only parts costs), but we decided not to take them up on this offer as 1) we believe the problem to be an irreparable defect in the machine's design- and 2) the only way to test the machine's repair is to feed it more of our wardrobe. The advice however was sound as the retailer did offer us a GREAT repair deal if it hadn't entailed further risk of our clothing.

The affiliated site has great illustrations of the appliances deconstructed, so it looks like common fixes could be found here as well as in the applianceblog's forum.

His site offers a great hack for people looking to purchase new appliances. Just search the forum the model and brand to see what kinds of problems are common to the appliance being considered. These search results offer a real-life, long-term perspective that a simulation-based tester like Consumer Reports might miss (like the mold that is known to build up on some front-loader seals).

It's nice to have a new ally in the war on household chaos...
Now does anyone have ideas for a slightly hungry Kenmore front loader? Maybe we could turn it into an aquarium....


Anonymous said...

Please oh please tell me that photo isn't the washer that went out on you - that's the exact model we have! *shudder*

adrienne said...

The picture looks much like our washer (the teeth and and eyebrows didn't look so menacing when we bought it), but it isn't the correct model (ours is 4 years older than the one pictured.)

I suspect they've corrected the drum container's edges in future versions. The next time I end up near Sears, I'll look at the current model and see if it has the same design. If so, I'll post back a warning.

The irony of our model is that it is so gentle on the clothes when it's not eating them... It's efficient and does a fine job washing.