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Consumer Reports takes washers for a spin

High on my list of post-recession (and I mean the real recession, not the statistical one that allegedly is finished) home improvements is to install a stacked, front-loading washer and dryer combo upstairs near my bedrooms. But, as I've written before, noise and vibration (not to mention flood risk) still worry me.

My concerns are hardly unfounded, according to the just-released February issue of Consumer Reports. They tested 68 washer models--and found a few problems.

According to Consumer Reports, the LG WM2010C-model front-loading washer, at $600, moved several inches during their test. The machine's SpinSense option, which is supposed to help reduce or eliminate vibration, did keep the machine in place, but then it extracted about 20 percent less water during the spin cycle. They found the Frigidaire FTW3014K top-loader, a $500 machine with "Sound Silencer Plus" technology to be "pretty noisy" and a mediocre performer.

Consumer Reports found that their reliability survey showed that 8 percent of front-loader problems were caused by mold or mildew. They said LG and Maytag front-loaders were "slightly more susceptible than most brands surveyed."

Their "Best Buys" included the Frigidaire Gallery GLTF2940F[S] model, a $650 front-loader, and a GE top-loader, model WJRE5500G[WW] priced at $480.

The good news: The magazine reports that prices are down as much as 33 percent from last year. A subscription is required to the magazine, but you can also find their full report online.

How about it? Does your upstairs sound like the Coney Island Cyclone when you wash a load of towels?

By Elizabeth Razzi  |  January 7, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Home features  
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Comments

We just went through this whole process when our washer broke (well, I could make it go by taking the control panel off and jiggling it just right, but that didn't seem like an appropriate long-term solution, given the exposed wiring and all). We did a lot of research in Consumer Reports and elsewhere, and my ultimate conclusion was that there just wasn't a lot of difference among the top 3-4 brands -- there has been so much consolidation that the big risk seemed to be whether you got a lemon vs. whether you picked the right brand (and, again, the top 3-4 brands all seemed to have about the same 10% chance of giving you a lemon).

We ended up deciding based on capacity, so we ended up with a Whirlpool top-loader without the agitator (shopped price between Whirlpool and Maytag, since they're both exactly the same). But it is definitely noticeably quieter than my old one, especially on the spin cycle (where the old one would periodically threaten to rattle the house down). Depending on how old your current model is, I suspect any of the new models would be a significant improvement.

Since you're talking about next to the bedroom, you also may want to look into something like a rubber pad underneath the unit to try to isolate the vibration from the floor joists underneath and keeping them from transmitting it throughout the house.

Posted by: laura33 | January 7, 2010 10:49 AM | Report abuse

I'm renting and have a 3-year-old front-loading washer. It shakes pretty bad. Water gets under the rubber molding around the door and makes it mildewed. You can't stop and start again to put in more clothes or change the temperature or anything. You have to start all over again if you ever stop it. I would rather have a top-loader.

Posted by: abcd51 | January 7, 2010 7:06 PM | Report abuse

We just bought a Samsung because our 5 year old Maytag Neptune had a mold issue. We leave the door open now after a wash.

We have the upstairs laundry configuration in our house. Both washers are fairly quiet and we have a decent sized pan and drain in the room. We still found it annoying to use when the kids were taking naps or asleep. Even though the washers and dryer aren't that loud, the noise of doing laundry up there meant that you couldn't do it while others were sleeping.

Overall though, it's better than lugging it all up and down the stairs.

Posted by: staticvars | January 12, 2010 9:29 AM | Report abuse

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