Not designed for American homes
We were a Whirlpool family, and have been using a Whirlpool front loader – Duet Steam Model # WFW9500TW - for the past nine years without any issues until recently when it started to vibrate. Technician sent by Whirlpool blamed it on failing bearing and that it was cheaper to replace than to repair. (In hindsight, I wish we had tried repairing.) Naturally, we decided to replace with a new front loader from Whirlpool - Model # WFW6620HW. Our previous version had a max spin speed of 1000 RPM and a capacity of 3.5 cu. ft. This new one has a top spin speed of 1160 RPM and a capacity of 4.5 cu. ft. The main problem with our old one was vibration, and this was being caused by the washer going into high spin while the clothes were not evenly distributed throughout the drum. In one spin, the clothes would spin perfectly without any vibration, but in another spin of the same cycle, the washer would not allocate that same clothes properly throughout the drum, which leads the drum to cause vibration from unbalanced high spin. Vibration is a problem, because like most Americans, we live in a wood frame house, and have a basement underneath with the washer located on the main floor. Vibration from unbalanced high RPM spin gets sent down to other areas of the house, causing damage, drywall cracks, separation in trims, etc. And these are all only the damages one can see with their eyes.
One point about vibration and some myth busting. Provided that all your washer legs are meeting the floor and not on a saggy floor, your washer should not vibrate more than it does during an empty spin. If it does, then it is due to faulty, poor design/engineering. What happens is when the steel drum becomes unbalanced with laundry in high spin, it starts to shake as more of the weight is on one side, which one can notice looking inside the washer window. There are concrete weights fastened to the top and bottom of drum to keep the drum in place and to reduce its shaking tendencies. However, this weight also causes the washer cabinet to wobble if the drum itself is shaking. This wobble in turn causes the washer legs, which may be firmly grasping the floor, to very slightly come off the floor, which one can feel if touching both the washer feet and floor with their finger at the high spin of an unbalanced spin. And that motion of legs coming off the floor and hitting back at high RPM is what causes vibration to be felt on the floor and to be seen on the cabinet. Of course, this effect is amplified with washers that decide to go into an unbalanced spin with an even higher max spin. When our old washer perfectly balanced the clothes, it behaved like it was running high spin while the drum was empty. This is how all washers should behave, especially in America where the vast majority of homes are wood frame based. However, that was not what we experienced with this new Whirlpool. If a washer is not capable of balancing out the clothes, extra function or feature should be deployed in containing the drum shake to within the drum, and not allow it to escape.
First, our old front load Duet Steam Whirlpool was Made in Germany. This new one is 'assembled' in America. The door window of the new one is plastic and feels cheap and flimsy, but I expect all the darker color door windows of newer front loaders to be plastic. Consider it cost cutting. We did not look for additional anti-vibration technology because our old Duet didn't have anti-vibration features aside from its two springs and four suspensions. We decided not to use Load & Go because I have personally seen liquid HE detergents gum up over time, so I didn't want to risk it gumming up inside the washer.
After the installers left, I spend an hour cleaning the outside of the washer to perfection. Sadly, time wasted. Once I was done, I first did a wash without clothes, and then with clothes in Normal, fast spin cycle with drum about 2/3rds full. Just pants and t-shirts. There is a recirculating pump at the top of the drum to distribute the water, and to also distribute soap mixed water. But I am not sure if this is without problems. These pumps can collect soap residue with time, and you will eventually end up rinsing the laundry with soap mixed water even in rinse cycle.
In getting to the first spin in wash cycle, I was flabbergasted to see how, just how rudimentary, I want to reiterate the word rudimentary, the load detection was before entering high spin. Our nine-year-old washer had a more comprehensive one. The new washer would spin the clothes at very, very low spin and simply see if the drum is most evenly spinning. That's all. Compared it to our old washer which would also shake the drum to see if there was movement from side to side, because clothes can change their position when entering high spin. This rudimentary load detection causes the new washer to create an even worse uneven load distribution around the drum before spin, even though it may seem even at very low RPM. So, why is the new washer's load detection so basic? I believe it is due to ball bearings.
Front load washer models from other companies employ ball bearings to reduce vibrations from uneven loads. Whirlpool does not employ such feature, at least, they do not advertise them. However, to my surprise, I hear metal balls hitting each other every time the drum direction changes during the wash cycle. I inquired Whirlpool about this and I received contradictory responses. My theory is that the basic load detection before spin speed is used because Whirlpool assumes any changes to load distribution will be taken care of or reduced by the ball bearings of the washer. But this ultimately allows the washer to go into more uneven spins. The bearings may also be used to increase the tolerance of what is considered an 'unbalanced load' in order to get the washer to go into spin cycle faster, decreasing the time involved of the washer to go into spin cycle. Sadly, to my dismay, the new washer ended up causing a worse vibration than our old one with failing bearing.
I called up the retailer the same day of delivery and complained of vibration. He first sent an installer to see if it was installed properly, and upon showing the installer of the vibration issues, the retailer sent me a new washer couple of days later thinking the first one was a lemon, and even though it has less noisy draining noise, it too exhibited the same issues with it going into significantly uneven spin. In the end, we decided to return the Whirlpool washer all together, at a loss of $200 because the retailer did not hold up to their spoken return policy.
We have done many loads in this washer to see if our loading is an issue, loads of varying sizes, loads of varying types, loads of weights, and we maybe only had an evenly distributed load around the drum about once or twice. Once it was a King comforter. But, like our old washer, this too ended up not distributing properly around the drum in the final spin cycle and started vibrating, even though it was vibration-free in the previous high spin cycle. This proves that the problem exists directly within the washer, not the floor, leveling, load, etc.
Some other problems with the washer:
-The washer door, Load & Go dispenser at bottom, and single load dispenser at top are all plastic parts which all vibrate significantly during fast spin cycle. Especially the Load & Go dispenser which keeps hitting the cabinet to make banging noise.
-Drain sounds are much, much louder than our previous Duet. It was even louder in the first one we received. Combine this to uneven spins and this washer can perhaps compete with a engine in terms of the sound it generates.
-Single use dispenser at top left will hit the washer door if washer door is opened when the dispenser is also in open position.
- Buttons are sometimes unresponsive, to which I have to power off and try again. But this has only happened a couple of times.
-There is a small ¼ in. opening where the steel drum meets the rubber gasket, opening in which items like coins, etc., may fall through and are irretrievable. Don't think small socks would be affected.
To potential buyers, I suggest you proceed with caution when it comes to this washer. Understand the retailer's appliance return policy and make sure it is shown in paper. It can save you a lot of headache. Get the extended warranty of three years because manufacturers only give you one-year warranty for a reason. I would also suggest that you avoid this washer at all costs if you have any floor level below where this washer is to be installed, especially if the level below is a basement. Your house is more important and more valuable than a $1000 washer.
In the end, I am very disappointed in Whirlpool, an American company. Perhaps Whirlpool focuses their attention on top loaders, not front loaders. But Whirlpool had nine years to improve their washers, and it is sad that we may now have to go outside of America for a quality product to be used in American homes.
P.S. No solicitation please, Whirlpool. This washer is in the process of being returned.
Originally posted on Whirlpool.com
No, I do not recommend this product